The main component of any residential solar power system is the solar panels. They do the actual conversion of sunlight to electricity and are at the heart of the solar system that provides energy to your home. Many of these residential solar panels look alike, but there are many differences and there are a number of things that need to be considered before you select which panel to use for your house. If you’re interested in building your own solar panel, visit GreenDIYEnergy.
Newer solar panels are better than older models in efficiency and construction. Because of these advances, any homeowner will be better off with newer panels than they would have been even a few years ago. Even though modern panels are generally better than older panels, care should still be taken when selecting a solar panel to use as there are a lot of differences between panels. Selection should be done based on how much electricity you need to produce and your budget.
The voltage requirement of the system you are building is the first thing to consider. Residential solar panels have several standard voltage levels and you need to choose with one to use for your system. Your choice of solar panels and power inverter will be dictated by this voltage level decision Higher voltage panels have some advantages as they have less power loss in the long wire runs than lower voltage panels have, but they are also more expensive. Residential solar panels usually have output voltages of 12, 24 or 48 volts and there are some that are even higher. Selecting panels with the highest voltage level your budget will allow will usually be the best choice.
Number of volts in your solar system will also influence whichsolar charge controller you use.
Another differentiator between different panels is conversion efficiency. There can be as much as 10% difference in conversion efficiency between different panels, even though the panels may look alike. This is a big difference in the power that will be produced from a given amount of sunlight. Over the life of the panel, this difference in electricity generated will be really big. Greater efficiency also means you will need fewer panels to produce the same amount of electricity and you will need less space for panels as well. It is important to look at the efficiency rating and again select the one with the highest efficiency that you can afford. Getting a better quality panel now, even if you have to spend more money, will pay you back many times over during the lifespan of the panel.
Another consideration is some of the specialty panels being produced now. A single panel that combines both thermal and solar together is one such specialty panel being produced now. These can be used for both electricity and hot water. You will get the most efficient use of roof space with these panels and also get double the benefit.
Solar panels that include a micro inverter are another newer development. A micro inverter is a small power inverter built right into the solar panel. A power inverter is the component that converts the Direct Current (DC) from the solar panels or batteries into the Alternating Current (AC) that comes out of the power outlets in your house. The typical configuration is to the have all of the panels and batteries feed a single, larger power inverter than does the conversion for the whole system. Instead of spending money on a big power inverter right away, you can build up your system slowly. With a micro inverter you can get the benefits of AC power at each step as you build up the system. Higher voltage AC electricity coming from the panels also means less power loss in the wires. If you’re interested in micro inverters, there is an in-depth article at Solar Micro Inverter.
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