The fact that solar energy is gaining in popularity is not surprising. The use of a renewable, affordable and environmentally friendly natural energy source is growing worldwide. Often, solar installations allow you to meet the energy needs of not only your home or business, but even earn a “green tariff”.
- Top solar panel prices
- How the price of solar panels is formed
- What affects the price of solar panels – the main parameters
- Service life of solar panels and durability indicators
- Brand, country of manufacture and quality assurance
But before you take advantage of all the benefits of solar energy, you need to understand how much solar panels cost and what affects their price. At first glance, it may seem that solar panels should be cheap – they are charged by the sun and do not require any additional recharging. As a result, when confronted with the prices of solar panels, buyers are often perplexed by unmet price expectations and the wide variation in the price of solar panels. Therefore, before you choose solar panels, you need to understand what you’re paying for – what their price is made up of, what nuances to pay attention to. After all, solar panels are an engineering device consisting of photovoltaic cells, which have certain characteristics and parameters, sometimes not obvious, but affecting the final cost.
HOW THE PRICE OF SOLAR PANELS IS FORMED
The production of photomodules is a science-intensive and therefore quite expensive manufacturing process. Therefore, despite the development of technology and the associated slight decline in prices in the last couple of years, the installation of solar panels is still quite expensive. Determine “by eye” how much it will cost a solar panel for your home in your particular case, it is difficult. However, as well as why one system costs $120 and another, similar in appearance, is already $220. To answer fewer questions, let’s take a look at what the price of solar panels is made up of.
Some of the main indicators that affect how much solar panels cost for a home include:
- type of photovoltaic cells;
- capacity, size, number of cells;
- the technology used;
- device class;
- service life, durability indicators;
- country of manufacture and brand;
WHAT AFFECTS THE PRICE OF SOLAR PANELS – BASIC PARAMETERS
Type of photovoltaic cells
An important criterion that affects the price of solar panels – the type of photovoltaic cells. According to this parameter solar panels are divided into polycrystalline, monocrystalline and thin-film. The latter are also called amorphous silicon panels, and in obtaining this type of silicon the “evaporation phase technique” is used. The cheapest of these types of solar panels are thin-film, the average price is for polycrystalline and the most expensive are monocrystalline. Due to the introduction of new technologies in recent years, the price difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels has slightly decreased, as well as the difference in their performance (monocrystalline panels have an average efficiency of up to 22%, polycrystalline – 15 to 19%).
Thin-film panels have the lowest cost of production, but over time they lose their properties faster and are characterized by low efficiency compared with crystalline panels. So, with equal energy efficiency thin film and monocrystalline panels will be twice as small area of the latter. Therefore, thin-film batteries are practically not used in everyday life, but are used more at large solar plants and enterprises. Moreover, the technology of their production allows the production of devices with a large area at once. By the way, it is thin-film panels are better in regions with prevailing cloudy weather, so despite the large size, they should be used in such cases.
The most expensive and effective are considered to be monocrystalline panels, it is preferable to choose them if you plan to use solar energy year-round – monocrystalline panels work better than others in winter, on frosty sunny days. Their crystals are oriented in one direction, so the color of their surface is darker and more uniform. Polycrystalline panels are considered average in the price-quality ratio, more productive in diffuse lighting conditions and are currently the most popular among consumers. But even despite the democratic prices for this type of panels, the answer to the question of how much it costs to put such solar panels on the roof or a specific object can be given only after a complete determination of the other indicators.
Power, Dimensions, Number of Cells
These parameters significantly affect how much solar panels for an apartment or a house will cost in the end. For example, the price of solar panels can vary, even if they are the same type, equal in size and area. And most likely, it will be a matter of power – the amount of energy that the system provides, in fact its capacity. This situation can be due to differences in the production of the panels, such as the use of different impurities to the silicon. In this case, even with the same size of photovoltaic cells, their “output” power will be different, and this is one of the most important performance indicators for a solar panel. And despite the higher price, it is worth choosing a more powerful panel with otherwise identical characteristics.
Another influence on the price is the number of cells and the size of the solar panel. As a rule, they are directly proportional to the power, but you should not forget about the difference in the type of photovoltaic cells, as we wrote above. It is important to consider all of these parameters in order to properly combine the energy needs of the solar panel and your budget.
Technology also affects how much solar panels cost. They are constantly being developed to make solar panels more efficient, last longer, less wear and tear, and more resistant to the environment. For example, a standard housing module includes a metal substrate, silicon laminated cell plates, a tempered transparent glass-coating and an aluminum frame. Recently, more and more often used and frameless bi-glass versions of the panels, which are easier to clean from snow, easier to install, better protected from mechanical damage, work more effectively in harsh conditions and extreme ambient temperatures. And this technology, Double Glass, improves panel performance, reduces overheating and extends service life.
Increasingly, 5VB-cell technology with five conductors instead of 3-4 conductor rails, which are an important element of the battery. They are the ones that collect and transmit the current, which means increasing their number increases the efficiency of solar panels.
Split technology helps increase panel performance by reducing resistive losses through the current collectors. Its essence is the use of half photovoltaic cells instead of one-piece.
PERC technology increases efficiency by passivation of the back of the cell. This allows the light that reaches the back surface of the cell, without creating any free charge carriers, to be reflected into the cell, where it gets a second chance to create an electrical current. They are 1-1.5% more efficient than standard panels.
And these are just some examples of technologies that are used today in the production of solar panels and, of course, affect their cost.
SOLAR PANEL SERVICE LIFE AND DURABILITY INDICATORS
Quality solar panels tend to last quite a long time, which means that such modules cost more than their counterparts. On average, their service life of solar panels is about 30 years. But as practice shows, high-quality panels can be used even longer, but if the panel was originally defective, degradation will begin more quickly. Proper use, type and class of module, installation system, level of maintenance, operating conditions of the device also affect the service life of the panels and their durability. In addition, there is a direct correlation between the quality of the panels and the responsibility of the manufacturer, as discussed below.
BRAND, COUNTRY OF MANUFACTURE AND QUALITY ASSURANCE
This point is directly related to both the price and the quality of the panels. Products from European, American or Japanese brands, as a rule, are more expensive, but you can be sure of their quality. Budget Asian (Chinese) panels have always been cheaper, but many treat them with caution. How much do solar panels cost in China and how much in Europe – this question was decided by consumers on their capabilities and desires: what is more important, better quality or cheaper price. Recently, however, prices have become markedly equal, and Asians began to supply quite decent and competitive products that are not inferior in quality to solar energy meters today. There are also good brands of domestic panel manufacturers with very good prices. In turn, German and Japanese manufacturers have been forced to gradually lower prices to defend their “place in the sun” – both literally and figuratively. But the rule when choosing a brand is standard – before buying carefully study all the information about the manufacturer, the duration of its presence on the market, the projects implemented, check the certificates, ask about the customer reviews. This spent time will more than pay off, because you are buying solar panels for more than one year, and there should be no minutiae. And do not forget that a reliable manufacturer gives a warranty on its products for a long period, which is also important.