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Plain Facts:

There are several technologies available, however, a 100 Watt photovoltaic panel is a 100 Watt panel no matter what the technology or efficiency.  Your decisions are usually cost sensitive. Efficiency is essentially a matter of square inches to watts produced, a 5% difference is solar panel size doesn't matter to most off-grid installations. However, cost does matter!  We help you find the most cost effective solution for your budget and plans.  For this reason we do not list "packages",  but design your system with without specific items and specific manufacturers in mind.  When it comes time to finalize and cost the system out, we shop the manufacturers and distributors to find out what's most cost effective.

Differences:

Colour matters in Canada. Photovoltaic panels  lose approximately 20% of their efficiency with heat at operating temperature. Experience has proven that light coloured patches on the panels will accumulate and not melt or slide off snow.  Take heart at -40C solar panels produce 30% more power than rating!

Technologies:

There are three common types of solar cell materials, which are distinguished by the type of crystal used in them. They are monocrystalline, polycrystalline and amorphous.  There are many of other PV technologies being worked on and refined for commercial production but they are not yet commercially viable.

A monocrystalline silicon cell must be made with absolutely pure semi conducting material. Monocrystalline rods are extracted from melted silicon and then cut into thin plates.

Polycrystalline cell manufacturing is more cost-efficient. The same process as monocrystalline manufacture is used.  However, during solidification of the material, crystal structures of varying sizes are formed, at whose borders defects emerge resulting in somewhat less efficiency.

Amorphous or thin-layer cell are formed when a silicon film of 1/1000 meter is deposited on glass or another substrate material. Material costs and efficiency are lower than monocrystalline and polycrystalline cells

 

Making Photovoltaic panels more efficient is the focus of considerable effort. Solar panel size has currently found a standard of 1 meter by 2 meter.  Large solar plants have concentrated light onto photo voltaic systems are achieved by use of mirrors and lens.

Efforts for more efficient panel substrate continuously feeds the news media. No solar technology has been as durable and cost effective as

What Output can you really expect ?

Time of year (angle of sun and number of sunlight hours), shade, 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. 

Natural Resources Canada publishes irradiance information for about 3500 municipalities across Canada.

Summarizing Factors affecting PV performance

Temperature: Photovoltaic cell efficiency improves as temperature drops, producing higher currents in cold temperatures. Voltage improves by 0.3 - 0.5% for every degree Celsius below 25° C.

Seasonality: (hours of light per day) Depending upon where you are, the near north of Ontario receives about 3.7 average hours of sunlight per day. Winter average in most of Ontario  is about 2 hours per day with the summer peaking during the longest days with an average of more than six hours per day.

Weather: Even a light haze affects performance adversely.  On an overcast day the solar module may generate as little as one tenth of its rated power.

System Voltage: PV cells operate at a relatively stable voltage while the direct current (amps) they produce varies with light intensity.  The current and power output of photovoltaic modules is approximately proportional to sunlight intensity.  At a given intensity, a module’s output current and operating voltage are determined by the characteristics of the load.  If the load is a directly attached battery, the battery’s internal resistance will dictate the module’s operating voltage. 

Photovoltaic Power Generation Makes Sense

If you use power frugally and produce just enough for your needs, Photovoltaic generated power:

  • has no negative environmental impact that we've ever heard of.
  • products are warranted for 25 years so you won't be loading landfill.
  • your power costs will not go up ...did I hear that the cost of electrical power was to up within the next year?
  • helps you become self sufficient,  independent of the power served to you by others.
  • is available where grid-supplied electricity is not available or only available at huge infrastructural investment.

Links to our Photovoltaic Panels

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Last modified: November 14, 2018