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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.  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 can find the most cost effective solution for your budget and plans.  For this reason we we have never sold "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.



Colour matters in Canada. Photovoltaic panels  lose approximately 20% of their efficiency with heat at operating temperature. Solid dark colour panes in Canada help snow to slide off. When some PV cells are covered in snow while others are not will cause the snow to slide off covered panels sooner. Basically the un-snow-covered cells convert the electrical power to heat melting off the snow more quickly.  Take heart at -40C solar panels produce 30% more power than rating!


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 are being worked on and refined for commercial production but many aren't commercially viable. It seems that durability and efficiency are mutually exclusive.

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

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 by use of mirrors and lens onto photo voltaic systems and have achieved higher efficiencies.

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 may not apply exactly to your location, however, they can be a good indication of what you can expect. 

Natural Resources Canada publishes irradiance information for about 3500 municipalities across Canada. We use their data.

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 100 irradiance 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. These statistics use 100% clear sky irradiance.  

Weather: Even a light haze affects PV 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.
  • PV 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? ...again.
  • 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.

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Last modified: January 12, 2023