Solar PV Panels
Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic cells (also called PV cells) that absorb the sun’s energy and convert it into direct current (DC) electricity.
There are many brands and styles of solar panels, but here are three main types available: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and amorphous thin-film. Monocrystalline are now the predominant type available and Solar Voltaics offer the most advanced versions of these including the latest Topco N-type, glass-glass and Bifacial panels, all with excellent warranties, improved reliability and performance.
Monocrystalline solar panels are made from cells using a single silicon crystal and do not have the multiple grain effect which you can sometimes see in polycrystalline cells. The cells are black and most panels now also come in a black frame to improve visual appearance. For residential use these panels are also available in ‘all black’ where both cells, frame and backing are black, giving a very smart contemporary look.
Polycrystalline solar panels are made up from cells which are formed from multiple silicon crystals and normally have a deep blue appearance. This technology is gradually being phased out as more efficient monocrystalline cells are being produced.
Hybrid panels are typically 20% smaller than mono or polycrystalline panels of the same power output. For this reason they are often used on smaller roofs to maximise the amount of power generated from the limited space available.
Amorphous Thin Film
This technology used to offer high hopes of very low cost solar. However, twice as much space is required to produce the same amount of energy as a monocrystalline panels. Because the cost of monocrystalline panels has now reduced to a comparable level these panels are not generally commercially available now.
Which Panels Should I Choose?
If you’re considering installing solar photovoltaics (PV) one of the factors affecting the final price and performance of the system is which type of solar panels to choose. There are several different types of panel available, but it is worth describing some key factors first.
The term ‘efficiency’ is a much misunderstood term, but it relates to how much power the panel produces for a given area of panel. Note that a 430W high efficiency panel will produce the same amount of power as a 250W lower efficiency panel, but the high efficiency panel will be smaller. Hence efficiency only really becomes important for small roofs, where high efficiency panels are used to maximise the amount of power that can be produced from the roof area. For large roofs there is no real benefit in using high efficiency panels if you can install the size of system you want with standard panels.
When the cells that make up a solar panel are manufactured, they are tested for power output and sorted into 3 or 4 groups, so that the highest power cells are all used in one class of panel and the next group all used in another, and so on. This means that each make and type of panel is often available in different ‘power classes’ – typically say 420W, 425W or 430W. The panels from the different power classes will all be the same size and look identical, but will be sold according to their power class.
The yield of a solar panel relates to how much energy it will produce under typical weather and light conditions throughout the year. It is a very important factor and can significantly affect the overall output of your solar PV system. Panels from different manufacturers with the same power rating of say 430W can have different yields because they behave differently under lower light levels. The power rating of a panel is measured under standard test conditions of 1000W of solar irradiation at 25C, which is equivalent to a very bright sunny day. We rarely have these conditions for very long in the UK, so it is important to select panels that have a good output under lower light levels too. Solar Voltaics use proprietary solar software to analyse the panel power output data under differing light levels to ensure that panels giving the highest yield are specified for our customers. This combination of high yield, quality and competitive pricing is one of our key aims.
Solar Voltaics works with a range of solar panel manufacturers that are listed as Tier 1 by Bloomberg New Energy. Bloomberg assess a manufacturer’s financial stability and credibility in the market to provide a list of suppliers that are considered ‘bankable’ by financial lenders and have the standing to honour their warranties. We use the same list to ensure that the panels we supply to our customers are of the best quality and are from reliable suppliers.
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From the initial call out Solar Voltaics couldn’t have been more helpful or professional. Mark came to visit the house several times and presented us with 6 options for solar panels. The work was prompt and the team polite and helpful. The electrician in particular was brilliant, and very diligent. Despite saying he would clock off early afternoon on the final day, when he discovered a problem connecting the battery he stayed until the job was resolved several hours later. We’ve since had other electricians in to look at other jobs in the house and they have commented on how good a job Solar Voltaics did. When we discovered one of the roof tiles hadn’t gone back correctly, the team came back to address this, despite the works being completed, which was very much appreciated. Would highly recommend.
Excellent Company, good price, excellent customer service, installers installed battery system with minimal mess, explained how to use it. All in all an excellent experience. I would not hesitate to use them again.
Great advice, Very professional and went the extra mile
They were great from start to finish and have continued to provide timely support post installation.
Excellent pre and post installation information and support