JP Electric and Solar’s Facebook Live series: “Know Who and What is Going on Your Roof” goes step by step through the solar process. This episode covers everything about Product and Financing.
There are many different types of solar panels available on the market. Knowing who and what is going on your roof is crucial for your long term investment. The type of panel that goes on your roof not only affects the cost of your system but also your savings. Not all solar is created equal, and there can be big differences in how a solar system is designed and manufactured that not only affect efficiency and performance, but also warranty coverage. It’s important to understand the basics of solar panel quality.
It is important to make sure your solar installer lets you choose the solar panel brand for your home. Many companies will carry several solar brands and will use whatever they have in their warehouse at the time of your installation, or to show you a lower quote, which means you may or may not get the best panels for your needs.
Some of the things to consider when shopping for your solar panel system:
- Quality—The quality of the panel is very important. There are many panel manufacturers, which is why it is important to do your research before you make your investment. Some factors that reflect the quality of the panel are the solar panel rating, power tolerance, temperature coefficient, and of course efficiency of the panel. The average power rating is 200 to 350 watts. A panel with a higher power rating will be more effective at producing energy. “The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has created quality assurance standards for the manufacturing industry known as the ISO 9000 series. Solar panel manufacturers can be certified ISO 9000-compliant to indicate that they meet those standards.” (Energy Sage)
- Efficiency—Solar panel efficiency refers to the amount of sun light that can be converted into usable electricity. A higher solar panel efficiency rating means a panel will produce more kilowatt-hours of energy per watt of power capacity. A high-efficiency panel can generate more electricity than a similarly sized panel with a standard efficiency rating. Efficiency is important if you have limited roof space but high bills.
- Durability—Solar panel durability metrics measure how well panels will hold up over time in real world conditions. Panels are put under stress tests simulating decades of outdoor wear and tear. The durability of a panel will ensure you get the energy production you invested in for years.
- Reliability—Solar panel reliability is all about time – it is how many years your system will last, based on normal conditions. “Many solar manufacturers say their products have gone through rigorous industry certifications, such as UL and IEC. But that hairdryer you bought has a UL certification; it doesn’t mean it’s a high-quality product, only that you won’t be electrocuted while using it! Such certifications are for safety only; they do not guarantee consistent performance over the life of the panel.” (SunPower)
- Degradation—degradation is the loss of energy production over time. All solar panels degrade. But they don’t all degrade at the same rate—and that’s what matters. Panels that have a higher degradation rate will not help you in the long term because they will not produce the amount of energy you originally paid for.
- Warranty—Home solar warranties can be complicated and full of fine print. For example, some only cover the solar panels. So if there’s an issue with another important component (such as the inverter), you could be unpleasantly surprised to discover that you have separate warranties for components that aren’t serviced by the company that sold you your solar system. Those separate warranties likely have different terms and varying time limits for coverage. What’s covered and for how long can tell you a lot about how confident a solar company is in the products it’s selling.
Here is our video on warranties:
Going solar is a long-term investment. You trust it will be on your roof for many years, quietly generating the clean energy you need and lowering – or in some cases completely eliminating – your electricity bills. If you’re shopping for solar, take some time to compare solar panels because it will affect your savings.
Follow along with our video to see what a solar proposal will look like for a cash, loan, or lease contract, then visit our financing page for more information.