What is most important when selecting a panel?

JetMechJetMech Solar Expert Posts: 71 ✭✭✭✭
When it comes time to purchase a new panel, what do you consider to be the most important or determining factor besides wattage? Efficiency? Warranty? There are so many variables listed in the specs of a panel, it's hard to decide what to compare.

Comments

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,482 admin
    Re: What is most important when selecting a panel?

    The standard Poly and mono-crystalline panels are all starting off on pretty much the same footing. Good performance and long life.

    However, some brands have thin sliced the wafers (to reduce costs) with a possible shortening of life (easier for wafers to crack/lift metal).

    That leaves the packaging (glass frame with a environmentally sealed backing). Packaging is both a material and, potentially labor issue; a costly portion of manufacturing. The Europeans, Japanese, and American companies seem to have these processes pretty well in control--The new imported panels from Asia--probably would want to let others see if those panels are worth the money.

    And even a good company has been known to mess up on 1-2 years worth of production--which did not show up for several years.

    Kyocera, however, stood 100% behind their product--shipping replacement product and (IIRC) even covering the costs for removal and replacement.

    Solar Guppy has his own forum and discussing quality of solar panel vendors and other related issues here.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • WindsunWindsun Solar Expert Posts: 1,164 ✭✭
    Re: What is most important when selecting a panel?
    BB. wrote: »
    Solar Guppy has his own forum and discussing quality of solar panel vendors and other related issues here.

    -Bill

    Yeah, but who listens to a fish :p


    But basically you have to be a bit more specific for anyone to really recommend a panel, such as what you are planning to do with it.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: What is most important when selecting a panel?

    I'd say besides the obvoius about voltage/amp ratings, avoid panels with proprietary connections. Go for those with standard screw terminals inside a junction box that is mounted on the back of the panel.

    I have a couple of small panels whose name I won't mention but they now have an intermittent electrical connection to the panel itself. I upgraded to the new Kyocera KC85 (ordered & received quickly from NAWS!) and it works great. It is so much more reliable & better quality.

    Having fun getting my ham radio room off the grid. It is a work in progress as time & funds permit, and yes it is addictive. See here if interested.

    http://www.lancesanders.com/solar.htm
  • JetMechJetMech Solar Expert Posts: 71 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: What is most important when selecting a panel?

    Well....I have several ideas running around in my head. Putting panels on my shed to power a few strings of landscape lights, making a "portable" setup as seen in one of the Home Power magazines (issue #96) just to power an aquarium, or even to just take a circuit or two off my main panel's load. I haven't settled on any one specific idea yet though.
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