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Solar Voltaic
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Solar Voltaic Panels

 Plain Facts:

There are several technologies available, however, a 100 Watt photovoltaic panel is a 100 Watt panel no matter what the technology.  Efficiency is a matter of square inches to watts.  If a few extra square inches don't matter, use what's cheapest.  Your decisions are usually cost sensitive.  Cost does matter!  We help you find the most cost effective solution for your situation.  For this reason we do not list "packages"  with specific items and specific manufacturers.  We shop the manufacturers to find out what's most cost effective today.

PV Colour Matters:

Colour matters in Canada. Photovoltaic panels with white separating borders are great in the south where heat dissipation is important because photovoltaic panels lose some efficiency with heat. However experience has proven that light coloured patches on the panels will accumulate and not melt or slide snow off.   Of course does not matter if you only need your solar panel to create electricity in the summer.

PV Technologies:

Photovoltaic panels are manufactured with differing materials.  Some are more dense requiring smaller panel area for the same power output - Polycrystalline.  An older and less dense technology is Monocrystalline; the panels are just a bit larger.  Both technologies carry warranties of 25 years or more.

New technologies such as Thin Film Silicon (TFS) and Copper Indium Gallium Diselenide (CGIS or CIS) are also available. Thin film materials are less efficient and generally cost less.  Remember again, a 100W panel is a 100W panel!  Only size will be different.  Less efficient only means you need a larger surface area to achieve the same amount of power.

Making Photovoltaic panels more efficient (smaller) is the focus of considerable effort.  The two primary methods used concentrate light on photo voltaic systems are by use of mirrors and lens.

Sharp Corporation recently displayed its new system. A Fresnel lens was used to focus more sunlight onto super efficient solar cells. The more expensive  multi junction semiconductors used were about twice as efficient as conventional silicon cells.

Efforts for more efficient panel substrate continuously feeds the news media.  U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Alexander Karsner recently (Dec. 06) announced that with DOE funding, a concentrator solar cell produced by Boeing-Spectrolab has recently achieved a world-record conversion efficiency of 40.7 percent, establishing a new milestone in sunlight-to-electricity performance

What Output can you really expect ?

Time of year (angle of sun and number of sunlight hours), haze, clouds, rain and snow and of course location all affect the performance of your photovoltaic array. Performance logs taken over a period of years from a location a number of miles from you may not apply exactly to your location, however, they will be a good indication of what you can expect. 

The following measurement is based on how many Watts are actually produced not the number of sunlight hours in a day.

Based on logs developed over the past three years at our area in Ontario at a Latitude of about 450 North we get an annual average of almost 3 3/4 hours of sunlight per day taking into account all of the points listed in the previous paragraph. To get to the point quickly, expect about ONE Hundred kilowatt hours of power per year from a 100W photovoltaic panel.  If your usage is only in summer you can expect about 5 usable hours of sunlight daily in our area.  Latitude has less to do with available light than environmental conditions.  South of us humidity haze and smog reduce productive hours to just over 3 1/2.  To the north of us in the Sudbury area they average just under a four hour annual average. 

Cheap Solar Panels!

Be careful and make sure your solar panels are certified electrically.  Even brand name PV panels with their brand name on them can be sold and not be solar certified panels.  How's this?  Like every other fabrication process there are seconds (usually visual blemishes) and thirds (don't come up to output specification).  Seconds usually have a shortened warranty period, third tier product has no certification and no electrical approval.  We've had people ask us to install panels they brought in cheap but we have to refuse as our electrician would lose his license if he installed unapproved electrical equipment.  This will affect you if you had an insurance claim as well.  The people that sell second and third tier product rarely tell you about reduced warranties and lack of electrical certification.

The solar panels we sell are all first tier product and are electrically certified for use and installation across Canada.

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Last modified: November 23, 2012