Smart selection makes for an efficient end result
We can’t overemphasize the impact that the components of a photovoltaic system will have on the efficiency and longevity of your installation. While there are a range of brands and styles, we only offer high-quality products from established companies that have demonstrated excellence in product design and customer support.
Through evaluating your energy needs and site considerations - such as the space available and the temperature and weather patterns, our experts will pinpoint the style that will deliver the greatest return on your investment.
Solar modules, or panels, consist of solar cells that collect sunlight and convert it into direct current (DC) electricity. Each panel can produce 50 to 220 watts, depending on its construction and the conditions at the site.
The most common solar panel styles are: Monocrystalline solar panels The oldest and most frequently used style of solar panel, monocrystalline modules deliver the biggest “bang” per panel, but also the most expense. Each cell on the highly efficient and space-saving modules is made from a single silicon crystal, which enables the cells to convert about 17 percent of exposed solar power into electrical energy – which currently is more than other styles of panels on the market. The efficiency of monocrystalline panels also doesn’t decrease as dramatically as other styles when the temperatures get above 115 degrees or so.
In terms of the amount of energy produced by a photovoltaic installation, the solar inverter, which converts DC voltage into usable AC voltage, is just as important as the solar panel. Simply put, the more efficient the inverter, the less energy that’s lost during the conversion from DC to AC.
Here is a general look at the several different types of inverters available. Our experts will help you select the exact style that will deliver the greatest efficiency and utility for your application.
String Inverters vs. Micro-Inverters
With a string inverter, the photovoltaic installation is wired “in series” – meaning that the inverter receives the DC energy from all the panels en masse. This is an established method, and usually has a lower initial cost than micro-inverters. But like a string of Christmas lights, each panel’s power output depends on all of the panels working. So, if one panel is shaded, it significantly diminishes the power produced by the whole system. Likewise, problems with one panel can take out the entire system, and can be difficult to pinpoint.
Micro-inverters are a newer technology. They are installed near each solar panel and transmit the power independent of the other panels in the array. Micro-inverters often are more expensive but typically generate more power than string inverters, and make it easier to expand a system if needed. The recent introduction of dual micro-inverters – which connect to two panels – has helped reduce the cost.
Choosing the right type of mounting system for your solar panels has everything to do with your specific site and geographic location. It requires considering factors like: the solar orientation of your building or home; the time of year when you see peak energy usage; if snow, dust or excessive wind is a concern; and the potential shade from nearby objects, which shifts throughout the day and around the year.
While there are styles that can hold one panel or several, we recommend planning ahead and purchasing a mount that can accommodate the total number of panels you hope to have, or think you may someday need.