Solar Panels Discussion
In response to several readers questions, we thought it could provide value to look at some of the less commonly asked, but relevant issues around solar panel choice, developments in solar technology and trends.
Solar Panel Efficiency and Sizing In Typical Adelaide Solar Installation?
The average solar panel size, in terms of power output, used around Adelaide is currently around the 200 Watt level. Several manufacturers have notification of up to 300 Watt panels being available by Q4 of 2013. This is probably less important than considering the panel efficiency, which is a measure of the panels ability to covert sunlight incident on the solar panels into usable electricity.This efficiency can be measured (in simple terms) by watts per square metre generated. Current solar panel efficiencies of commonly used panels in Adelaide range from around 11 percent (eg for B.P. Solar BP350J panel) up to 17 percent (eg Sanyo HIT panel range, see video below) and even up to 19.4 percent ( for example the Sunpower 315 panel). Sanyo cells have an amorphous layer around the silicon cells which (some may say importantly for warm to hot climates like Adelaide) maintain the electrical output of the panels during hot weather conditions (in general, solar p.v (photo-voltaic) cells efficiency, decreases as temperature increases).
Solar Panel ‘Ratings’
Some P.V. panel manufacturers rate their panels at plus or minus five percent of the rated panel wattage – eg; 200 watts plus or minus 5%, meaning the panel you receive could output anywhere from 190 watts to 210 watts at ambient temperature. Contrast this with some of the more ‘premium’ brands that rate their solar panels at (for example) a minus zero, plus five percent tolerance on their rated power output, meaning that your panels will produce at least 200 Watts (in the 200 Watt example) and possibly as high as 210 Watts. In a large (say 5KWatt solar system) this difference could be quite substantial) so it is worth looking at the detail of your proposed solar installation.