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 can 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.
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. While some PV cells covered in snow and others are not will cause the snow to slide off 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 being worked on and refined for commercial production but most are not yet 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 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 which 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 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 will be a good indication of what you can expect.
Natural Resources Canada publishes irradiance information for about 3500 municipalities across Canada. We use this 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 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. These statistics use 100% clear sky irradiance.
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:
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