Solar power is the most practical source of energy for the majority of American households. With the declining cost of solar panels, improved efficiency and government incentives on the federal, state and local levels, converting to solar power is cheaper than ever.
This article will compare a few 190-watt photovoltaic (PV) modules, also known as solar panels. If you are considering installing your own system, this will most likely be the first item you look into purchasing.
The review compares PV modules from three prominent brands: Evergreen, Kyocera and Sanyo. Uni-Solar, Mitsubishi, Everstep and Sharp are also popular PV manufacturers.
First, let’s take a look Sanyo solar panels ($904), which won the title of the most efficient home solar panel. Sanyo’s 190 watt PV modules are 17.4% efficient. Most solar panels average 12% efficiency. Their high efficiency is achieved through their patented heterojunction with intrinsic thin layer (HIT) technology. Through HIT technology, the PV module can obtain max power within a fixed space creating a lower de-rating related to temperature.
What precisely is temperature de-rating? As the temperature rises, Sanyo’s solar panels produce more electricity than conventional crystalline silicon modules. HIT PVs structure allows them to reduce recombination loss of the electrical element by surrounding the energy generation layer of single thin crystalline silicon with high quality ultra-thin amorphous silicon layers.
As the efficiency improves and rises above the 25% mark due to improved technology, we will begin to see solar power systems essentially paying for themselves in as little as three to five years. Right now, the average is ten years. What happens after that? Free electricity.
Next, Evergreen solar panels ($593) are known to be the greenest home solar panels. They are optimized for grid-tied solar powers systems and work well with high-voltage-input MPPT charge controllers. Each model features anti-reflective glass, an anodized aluminum frame, 108 cells per panel and watertight junction boxes that never need maintenance.
Evergreen features what is called a “low energy payback”. The energy payback of a solar panel refers to the amount of time it takes for the environmental footprint of the manufacturing process to be offset by the clean energy generated by the PV module. It takes as little as 18 months for Evergreen’s Spruce PVs to recuperate the environmental impact. This is due to a combination of efficiency and environmentally conscientious manufacturing processes.
Evergreen Spruce PV modules also use less lead than other panels because of lead-free solder.
Finally, if you are in search of a spectacular deal, the Kyocera solar panel ($595) holds its own when it comes to quality. It attains a high level of efficiency (15%), comes with a 20-year factory warranty, and a 25-year power output warranty. It also costs $100 to $200 less than comparable models from other brands.