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What are the best Solar Panels, Components

Choosing the right solar equipment is very important, as components typically last 25 years or more. Covering modules, Growatt inverters, batteries and installation, you’ll learn about the components needed for a complete solar power system.

First, determine which components are needed for a photovoltaic solar array. For grid-tied systems, this would include solar panels, inverters, installation, safety switch disconnects. The Growatt invertercan be a larger capacity central inverter or many smaller micro inverters (1 per module). Mounting can be roof, ground or pole. Grid-connected systems can have an optional monitoring system. For off grid, use all of the above and add an off grid type inverter, charge controller and battery. This often increases the overall cost by 50% or even triples it.

Growatt inverters

1: Choose the best solar panels

There is no easy answer to what is the best solar panel. It can vary based on each item’s price, performance, availability, and overall system design. Brand A might launch a great product one week, then Brand B releases a new product at a lower price the next week. We evaluate the following criteria to find the best solar panels for your home or business.

  • The power rating is the maximum and average wattage the solar panel should produce. The three ratings to know are STC, PTC, and NOCT. These ratings can be used to compare panels. Try to avoid panels with a high STC or factory rating but a low NOCT or daily rating relative to the other.
  • The factory rated maximum DC watts listed by the STC manufacturer, for example a 250 watt solar panel is capable of producing a maximum of 250 watts continuously under ideal standard test conditions.
  • STC Peak Watts is the factory rated maximum DC power produced under standard test conditions of sunlight and temperature. STC irradiance is 1000 W per square meter, cell temperature is 77F (25C), air quality AM 1.5.
  • PTC actual rated maximum DC watts according to PVUSA test conditions, eg a 250 watt STC module may produce a maximum of 225 watts under PTC actual conditions. PTC Peak Watts is the real world rated maximum DC power produced under PVUSA sunlight and temperature test conditions. PTC irradiance is 1000 W per square meter, cell temperature is 68F (20C), air quality AM 1.5.
    NOCT nominally rated average DC watts based on everyday conditions, eg a 250 watt STC module might produce 195 watts under NOCT conditions. Nominal watts are the average continuous DC power produced under everyday sunlight and temperature conditions. The NOCT irradiance is 800 W per square meter, the ambient temperature is 68F (20C), the solar cell temperature is 113F (45C), and the wind speed is 2 mph.
Growatt inverters
  • Module Efficiency: Expressed as a percentage, this is the rate at which a module is able to convert solar energy into usable power. The higher the percentage the better, but be sure to balance it against the cost of the panel. Most standard solar panels have an efficiency of 14% to 20%. Some higher efficiency panels can cost twice as much as an average efficiency panel. You can achieve the same result by simply adding an extra panel of average efficiency, saving a lot of money. Also note that module efficiency is not the same as the efficiency of individual solar cells.
  • Brand: Also known as bankability, brand strength reflects a company’s financial health, market share, product reliability, and service reputation. This doesn’t necessarily mean name recognition alone. Many solar brands are names you may have never heard of, but they are among the largest producers of premium solar panels in the world.
  • Listed Certification: The minimum requirement should be UL Listed. This means that the solar modules have been independently tested for power output and durability by Underwriter’s Labs or an equivalent third-party testing agency.
  • Warranty: Look for at least a 10-year product warranty to cover defects and a 25-year performance or power output warranty, backed by third-party warranty insurance.
  • Cell technology: monocrystalline, polycrystalline or thin film can dictate the power output and durability of a solar panel. Monocrystalline and multicrystalline account for approximately 90% of all solar panel production. While it’s important to compare specific model to model, generally monocrystalline silicon is likely to produce the most power for the longest period of time. You might give up a small amount of performance, but polysilicon costs much less. Membrane modules are often used for special purposes.
  • The price of each module affects the overall budget. Solar panel prices change frequently. Be careful when obtaining quotes for long-planned projects.
  • Price per watt for STC and PTC ratings. We also estimated the expected kilowatt-hour (kWh) production of the PV array to calculate the expected lifetime cost per kWh. This can tell you how your solar panels compare to what you pay for utility power.
  • physical size. Do you have limited space for your modules or your entire array? A standard solar panel has 60 cells and typically measures 65″ x 40″ or 17.5 square feet. There are larger modules measuring 77″ x 40″ with 72 cells, and non-standard modules with 96 or even 120 cells. Use non-standard sizes with caution, as they may not be compatible with future product generations. It all comes down to the right price and performance for your home.
  • aesthetics. Do you care how it looks? Are the solar panels in the visible area? A sleek, all-black look? Silver frame or black frame? Blue vs black look? Generally black to pay a little more.
  • Compatibility, does the module have a unique shape, size, frame, connector, voltage or current that limits compatibility with other solar panels? Solar panels with high compatibility means that you can find similar products from many different manufacturers. Don’t lock yourself into one brand or technology for future upgrades or replacement modules.
Growatt inverters

2: Choosing an Growatt inverter

Solar Growatt inverters convert direct current (DC) from solar panels into alternating current (AC) for home use. For grid-tied systems, the first consideration is to determine whether you need a central string inverter, a string inverter with module optimizer, or a microinverter system. String inverters typically cost 10% to 20% less than optimizer or microinverter systems. They have an expected service life of 15 to 20 years. String inverter warranties are typically 10 years, with most manufacturers offering optional extended warranties of up to 20 years.

The optimizer and microinverter system has a device connected to each solar panel. This means that each solar panel can operate independently of the panels around it. Optimizer and microinverter systems typically cost 10% to 20% more and require additional cabling and hardware, but they can produce more power, especially in shady conditions. Studies have shown that microinverter systems may produce 2% to 3% more power than string Growatt inverter systems in direct sunlight. However, in the presence of shade or other obstructions, microinverter systems may produce up to 20% less power.

They usually come with a 25-year warranty and longer lifespan. Optimizers and microinverters are great for easily expanding your system, and they work better in areas with shade or different roof surfaces. They need a monitoring system to track performance and troubleshoot each individual module when needed.

Growatt inverters

3: Choosing a PV Mounting System

Solar panels can be installed on the roof or on the ground. Roof mounting of solar panels is the most common and cheapest option. Pole mounts are used when there is insufficient south-facing roof space or when the roof surface is unusual. Ground mounts are worth considering if your property has south facing hills or sloping areas.

Rooftop solar panels can be attached to most any type of pitched roof surface including composite or asphalt shingles, flat concrete shingles, curved or S-shaped shingles, slate, shingle or metal roofs. This can include the roof of a house, garage, carport, barn, or most any structure capable of supporting weight. The solar panels can also be slope mounted on flat roofs using accessories or non-penetrating ballast pallets, suitable for all types of flat roof surfaces.

There are several variations of ground mounted solar panels. The most common is a multi-pole ground support using many concrete piers and 2″ or 3″ galvanized steel columns. Solar mounts are attached to this substructure. There are also single pole ground mounts that can mount up to 16 solar panels on a single 6″, 8″ or 10″ pole. If your property allows it, you may also consider an elevated solar carport as a practical solution.

When considering how to install a solar system, there are many options. We can help you determine the best and most cost-effective way to install solar panels for your project

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