How to choose a solar power plant for your home

Solar power plant is the general name of a photovoltaic modular station. It includes phot modules, an inverter and a set of switching equipment.

The main component in phot modules is silicon. In nature, it is abundantly available in the form of sand, which is why they predict a grandiose future for solar stations and a gradual decline in prices due to the development of technology.

Electricity is generated through panels. Their task is to convert the light of the sun into a direct type of electric current. The essence of the inverter is to convert the current into alternating current, and then redirect it to the general power grid.

The demand for parts for solar power plants in Ukraine is now higher than ever before. This makes alternative energy a steadily developing industry and is economically attractive not only for Ukrainian, but also for foreign investors. Thanks to various government programs (affordable lending, leasing, compensation programs in certain regions) and a simple scheme for obtaining a “green” tariff, alternative energy has become available to both owners of private houses and residents of high-rise buildings. Own solar power plant has become a reliable investment in the future. It is this investment that is able to provide the household with free environmentally friendly electricity and guarantee a stable income for many years.

However, the question arises – how to choose the right solar panels so that they are inexpensive and of high quality, when the market offers so many different options and all manufacturers claim that their product is the best? What type of solar power plant is right for you? What power is needed?

In this article, anyone who is thinking about investing in their power plant will receive some useful tips on the criteria that should be taken into account when planning to install a solar power plant for their home.

How to choose a solar power plant for your home: three levels of quality

Each PV module has a number of standard measured indicators: operating efficiency (COP), power ratings, voltage, current, operating temperature coefficients, etc. All these characteristics are measured under the usual criteria by laboratory testing.

It has long been no secret that price is not the only measure of the quality of any product, and solar panels are no exception. According to the totality of various production factors, such as the production method, the material from which the panel is made, etc., it is customary to divide all solar panels into three levels: TIER1, TIER2, TIER3.

The TIER1 category includes only 2% of all global solar panel manufacturers. These companies not only carefully control each stage of production, but invest heavily in research and development, use advanced technologies to produce panels, and have been operating in the global market for at least 5 years. These manufacturers use the best silicon, which provides better conversion of solar energy into electrical energy. The most famous manufacturers of the TIER1 category are REC Solar, SunPower, Ja Solar, LG, Benn.

Manufacturers of the TIER2 category invest less in various kinds of development and research, use both robots and manual labor in the production of panels, and work on the market mainly for 2-5 years. These manufacturers can produce good value for money panels, but how lucky…

TIER3 are companies that produce cheap solar panels and only assemble them. This category includes about 90% of all solar panel manufacturers. Representatives of TIER3 use exclusively manual labor, which means that the quality of soldering depends on the skill or conscientiousness of each individual worker. Manufacturers data panels win the market at a low price compared to others, but their quality is usually appropriate. Often, a panel of the TIER3 category does not perform well in the long term, since it brings financial losses to its owner due to a sharp decrease in efficiency already in the first years of service and high factory defects. The warranty obligations of such companies are also quite doubtful.

The combination of these criteria also shows how much you can trust the manufacturing company:

Tolerance

This criterion indicates overage or out of range of the panel power rating. For example, you may have purchased a 270W solar panel, but due to quality control issues, the output under ideal conditions could be 268W or 273W.

Work efficiency (COP)

The efficiency of how the solar panel converts solar energy into electrical energy will determine how much power the solar installation generates. If the cost of two panels is the same, but the efficiency is different, then this means that these panels have different operating efficiency, and in the future they will bring different profits, generating different amounts of electricity.

silicon tray type

An equally important criterion that is taken into account when choosing solar panels is the type of silicon tray. There are three main types of panels – polycrystalline, monocrystalline and amorphous (thin-slick).

Monocrystalline silicon (single-layer) – silicon, the structure of which is unshakable and indivisible throughout (Wikipedia). In other words, for single-crystal panels, silicon grown by a single crystal is used, which has a number of features. Monocrystalline panels are inherently more efficient in cloudy weather. Such panels usually have more power, and with a limited roof area, a monocrystalline module produces more energy compared to a polycrystalline one. Such advantages are reflected in the cost of the panels.

Polycrystalline silicon (multilayer) consists of many crystals arranged randomly. Polycrystalline panels are cheaper and more common among owners of both domestic and commercial solar stations. Thanks to significant investment in manufacturing and development, polycrystalline panels are now able to perform at almost the same level as monocrystalline panels. In particular, the world’s leading manufacturers, such as REC, Ja Solar, produce modules of two types, thereby providing the consumer with quality products in different price segments.

Amorphous (thin-film) silicon is the least efficient. Based on it, thin film panels are produced that can be used for any surface, but you should not count on their high performance.

Solar panels are an expensive product for an ordinary Ukrainian. I would like this investment to justify itself not only with the profit from the sale of electricity, but also with a long service life. Along with the warranty period for the product and materials (this is mainly 15 years), it is necessary to take into account the warranty of the linear manufacturer.