When we design a solar installation for a Massachusetts home, available roof space generally is the limiting factor. High efficiency equipment should be considered to pack the most power in the least square footage. High efficiency isn’t the only thing that matters, though. An installer should also look at the manufacturers’ financial health, longevity, and warranty, among other things.
High efficiency PV modules generally have limited availability and premium prices when matched up against their standard efficiency counterparts. When a customer asks for high efficiency equipment, price will be a consideration when choosing what we design with. For instance, if “Brand X” just started selling a 275-watt solar panel, that panel usually has a higher cost per watt. “Brand X” probably has a 270-watt panel that is also considered high efficiency, but offers a better value. Since 5 watts per panel is hardly a significant upgrade in power, I would recommend the 270-watt panel.
Additionally, when a solar module manufacturer introduces a top-of-the-line efficiency panel, they usually ship it to distributors in limited quantities. It may take a year before the module is in full production. If a prospective customer prefers the install to happen in the near term, generally we won’t suggest a panel in high demand and short supply. It certainly makes sense to ask your installer why they aren’t showing you a specific model, but, many times, there is a valid reason.
I included a comparison of the high efficiency module PV manufacturers and as well as the model number of their highest efficiency panel below:
|Manufacturer||Model #||Watts||Peak Efficiency|
|SolarWorld||Protect SW 275||275||16.4%|
The above chart only includes crystalline silicon panels. Concentrating solar and thin film are not useful or cost prohibitive in residential solar applications.
SunPower is the world leader in solar panel technology. Along with offering the highest efficiency, they offer the best warranty, most rigorous testing standards, and lowest cell degradation over time. They are an American company and considered the largest employer of solar jobs in the country. If high-efficiency and aesthetics are priorities, their 335-watt panel is the sleekest, “blackest” all-black panel on the market. SunPower panels come at a premium, but no manufacturer can touch them in the categories they excel in.
LG is a trusted name in electronics, but a relatively new player in high-efficiency modules. They made a commanding entrance into the market with the roll-out of their “MonoX Neon” technology in early 2013. They are the only panel manufacturer who comes close to SunPower, but the Neon modules sell out before distributors can stock them on their shelves. If you’re interested in LG, be prepared for a wait and uncertainty when the equipment will be available.
Similar to SunPower, SolarWorld has been in the solar industry for more than 25 years. They have one of the largest American solar manufacturing presences with their factory in Hillsboro, Oregon. T he light-capture and energy-conversion technology platforms underlying SolarWorld’s high efficiency solar modules combine several advances in materials, process and design.
Suniva, an American company backed by Goldman Sachs, designs and manufactures their modules in the United States. Their modules contain only the highest-quality materials, beginning with their cells, incorporating their ion implantation technology.
If you’re looking for a high-efficiency solar PV module, Brightstar Solar will guide you in finding the most appropriate equipment for your project. Our company builds residential and commercial solar panel projects throughout Eastern and Central Massachusetts. We offer a full-service solution, including managing the rebate, utility, and permitting process, maximizing available incentives, and locating solar financing options (if required). Please request a free consultation or call us directly at 617-564-0050 to find out if solar power is right for your home or business.