Who has the best photovoltaic solar panels?, 12°

Nick Lewis 2448°

We are thinking about adding a DC solar system to our small manufacturing facility to supplement the feed from the grid. Does anyone have a view on how we can find the best panels for this use?

6 replies

Russ M. 130°

Hi Nick,

While I can't tell you specifics, the forum over at http://www.buildyourdream.co.nz as well as the info and company profiles at http://www.ecobob.co.nz, should start you off on the right track.

Wellington based "Smart House" (http://www.smart-house.co.nz) and RightHouse (http://www.righthouse.co.nz) will also be able to advise.

I'd be interested to see how you go with this, any chance you could post your research outcomes to a Celsias blog or Celsias project?

We're doing something similar for our home; "grid-tie" solar PV and wind (http://kapiti-off-grid.pbwiki.com) and of course http://www.celsias.com/project/kapiti-off-grid/ ;-)

Good luck.

Written in June 2008

1 person thinks this is a cool reply

C Robb W. 429°

Find the best warranties and then shop for the highest efficiency for the money. Higher efficiency panels mean you can buy fewer panels to achieve the desired output but they cost more, so it may come down to space available. Mono and poly crystalline panels have the best track record but are not as applicable in the widest range of conditions. Amorphous tends to perform better in low light conditions but has more degradation issues.
If twere me, I'd look at one of the major manufacturers first, Sharp or Kyocera perhaps, and spec out what your budget can handle in terms of output at first quotes from several dealers and then shop for alternatives. You should also look carefully at MPPT controllers which really come into their own on larger arrays. Different manufacturers use different algorithms to maximise outputs. You need to find one that suits your typical light level characteristics. Also look at the efficiency of the grid tie inverter. Investment in quality controlling electronics is worthwhile.

Written in June 2008

2 people think this is a cool reply

Yes, please let us know what happens, Nick. I bet a lot of people and businesses who are thinking of going solar have the same question.

Written in June 2008

Daniel S. 12°

the choice depends on how much power you want to produce.
with facilities bigger than 1 kW, I suggest solar concentration. I listed three producers.
those companies come with a few trucks and after a few days ask you where to plug it in.
they also know best about long term financing and tax-cuts.
send a evaluation request for the required power.

Written in July 2008

Google SunEdison in Beltsville, Maryland. If you are commercial, they will build you the system. They pay for the system, they own the system, you get the better electric bills, they get the SRECS that flow from your system in your state for the life of the system. Tell them SOWINERGY sent you.

Written in July 2008

Charles M. 110°

Be careful.

Much of the PV industry is really just a form of greenwashing.
Do the calculations and convince yourself that there is a real energy payback. In many cases PV makes more problems than it solves. That's because the energy that goes into making PV is so huge, making the energy payback time very long.

Making silicon wafers uses huge energy. First you have to melt sand and keep it melted for a long time. Then you have to dope the silicon which requires heating to hundreds of degrees for a few hours.

Hopefully the non-silicon technologies will catch on. These can potentially provide far better energy payback.

NB I say *most* because there are some systems out there that do better.

For domestic applications: If you have an electric cooker/water heater and live in an area where electricity is generated from oil or natural gas, then you can probably do almost as well as PV by switching to natural gas or LPG for these functions. Then it might make some sense to fire up PV for functions that really must be electric (refrigerator, computers etc).

"Think system".

Written in July 2008

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