Solar Panels

What do they do & how to pick the right one?

Solar Panel parts labelled. Electrical Sensations Toowoomba

Solar panels (or also called modules) are installed on your roof and their job is to collect energy from the sun’s rays. They are a super important part of any solar power system!

Choosing a solar panel is usually the first component that people research when considering going solar. But not all solar panels are created equalWith hundreds of different brand solar panels, multiple ranges within each brand and different wattages within each range, there are literally thousands of different options to wade through! Panel selection can be one of the most confusing aspects of having a solar power system installed. There are always new technologies on the horizon and every installer or retailer will tell their customers that their panels are the best – it can get pretty confusing real quick.

Table of contents:

The three types of solar panels

Thin film, polycrystalline and monocrystalline

There are 3 major types of panels and all have relevant advantages and disadvantages. There is not a great deal of difference between the size, price and performance between the multi/polycrystalline and monocrystalline, but there is a great deal of difference between the multi/polycrystalline and monocrystalline and the thin-film panels. The choice of the type of panel will be largely dependent upon the amount of available roof space, climate and whether there are any shading issues. While the type of solar panels is important, the type of cell within the panel impacts the efficiency and performance of the panel much more.

Blue number 1 in circle. Electrical Sensations Toowoomba

Thin Film

Usually perform better than other panels in very hot climates such as northern Queensland. Can take up to 3 times as much roof space to achieve the same sized system using other types of panels.

Blue number 2 in circle. Electrical Sensations Toowoomba

polycrystalline

Usually perform marginally better than mono-crystalline in low light conditions such as where shading is an issue. Generally take up the same roof space as mono-crystalline system and much less than thin film.

Blue number 3 in circle. Electrical Sensations Toowoomba

Monocrystalline

Perform very similarly to and generally weigh less than polycrystalline. Monocrystalline will usually be slightly more efficient than polycrystalline. The LG NeON H & REC Twin Peak 4 that we install are monocrystalline.

Types of solar panels cells

P-type & n-type
Boron chemical symbol. Electrical Sensations Toowoomba

p-type

 In p-type solar cells, its silicon wafer (the building block of a solar panel) has been doped with boron. Boron has one less electron than silicon which makes the cell positively charged. P-type panels are usually more affordable and are quite common. However, p-type cells may get boron-oxygen defects, which can degrade the cells and cause decreased efficiency.

Phosphorus chemical symbol. Electrical Sensations Toowoomba

n-type

In n-type solar cells, its silicon wafer (the building block of a solar panel) has been doped with phosphorus. Phosphorus has one more electron than silicon which makes the cell negatively charged. N-type cells are more efficient and are not affected by light-induced degradation (LID). The LG NeON range of panels that Electrical Sensations install contains n-type cells.

Important things you should consider

Manufacturer

Look for a proven manufacturer. You need to ask yourself whether the manufacturer is likely to still be around in 5, 10, 15 years time when inferior panels may start to fail. Many consumers get peace of mind from manufacturers that produce more than just solar power panels.

Warranty
  • Performance warranty. To be eligible to claim the STC ‘rebate’, all panels installed in Australia must have a minimum of 25 years, 80% performance warranty.
  • Manufacturers product warranty. In addition to the performance warranty, solar panels must also carry a manufacturers warranty which relates to defects of workmanship. The manufacturer’s warranty can vary from 10 through to 25 years and is considered to be a good indicator of the quality of the panels. It stands to reason that panels that carry a 25 year manufacturer’s warranty are probably going to last longer than ones that carry a 10 year warranty.
  • Back up support. Any warranty is only as good as the company that produces the panel or the company that sells the panels.

Questions to ask BEFORE signing

About the Manufacturer
  • How long has the manufacturer been in existence and producing that particular product?
  • How financially stable is the manufacturer?
  • Do they have an Australian office to handle any potential future warranty issues?
  • What is the manufacturer’s product warranty? This is very different toand much more important than the output performance warranty.
  • What is the warranty claim/failure rate?
  • Is the factory automated? Panels produced in fully automated factories are typically higher quality and more reliable.

About the Panel Itself
  • What is the physical size and wattage of the panel? With roof space becoming a valuable commodity, lower wattage panels are an inefficient use of space and can make upgrading or expanding the system in the future difficult. As a rule of thumb, panels below 310W are outdated now.
  • What is the temperature coefficient of the panel? This is an indicator of how it performs in hot weatherThe lower the percentage per degree Celsius, the better. Just for reference, the LG NeON H panels have a temperature coefficient of -0.33 percent per degree Celsius.
  • What type of cells does it have? Most panels contain either PType or NType cells. NType cells are typically more efficient and are contained in the LG NeON panels.

Solar panels that we install

LG, REC & SolarEdge

While the choice of panels is important, we do not recommend making a solar buying decision based on the brand of the solar panel alone. There are many other factors that need to be taken into account – not least of which is the brand and type of inverter as well as the installer and quality of workmanship.

LG Neon range

Our preference is to install LG NeON H (previously NeON 2) solar panels. LG needs no introduction – they are an incredibly diverse manufacturer with a solid reputation. The NeON range of panels carry an impressive 25 years manufacturer’s product (parts & labour) warranty. Industry standard is 10 years. I don’t believe there is a better panel than LG in terms of performance and back-up support. 

rec twinpeak 4

We also install the Singaporean produced, REC brand, TwinPeak 4 solar panels. The REC panels also carry a 25 year manufacturer’s product (parts and labour) warranty when installed by a REC Solar Professional, which Electrical Sensations is. REC’s combination of product quality, company reliability and commitment to sustainability makes REC panels amongst the top performers in the marketplace.

solaredge smart panels

SolarEdge now has its own brand of solar panels with integrated power optimisers, called Smart Panels. Smart panels are a cost-effective solution for customers who want all the benefits of power optimisers, without having to deal with multiple different suppliers. The new 375W SolarEdge smart panels have a 20.59% efficiency and a 25-year product warranty.

Want some more information?

Check out our blogs about solar panels or contact us