Solar Panels

Most popular Tier1 PV modules in South Africa include Trina Solar, JA Solar and Canadian Solar.

These robust and reliable panels all included an industry standard warranty, with sizes ranging from 365W to 600W panels and efficiency rating of up 21,3%

With a variety of PV modules suitable for both residential and commercial applications, grid tie and off grid environments.

Trina Solar

Trina Solar is one of the worlds largest solar panel manufacturers and are investing heavily in low-cost, high-efficiency panels. The well known Trina Honey range of panels are considered great quality and very good value for money, in particular the Honey M (monocrystalline) panels which are now available in the more efficient half-cut 120 cell format up to 370W.

Trina Solar offers a very diverse range of panels from cost-effective mono-crystalline PERC panels to advanced bifacial panels. The latest Vertex and Vertex S (small) series of high-performance panels boosted Trina Solar’s standing as a manufacturer of advanced high-efficiency panels.

 

 

  • Power rating (W): 330W to 670W
  • Efficiency (%): 19.6% to 21.3%

  • Price range: Low to Med

  • Product Warranty: 12 to 15 Years

  • Performance Warranty: Min 84.8% after 25 years *

Trina Solar

JA Solar

JA Solar is a well established Chinese producer established in 2005 that is one of the world’s top five solar panel manufacturers by volume. The company is known for developing reliable, cost-effective solar panels for various applications, including residential, commercial and utility-scale systems. While not generally offering the most efficient panels, JA Solar focuses on incorporating proven solar cell technologies to produce reliable and affordable panels.

The new Deep Blue 3.0 series of mono PERC based panels are available in a wide range of sizes for different applications from 340W up to an impressive 555W. Along with Longi, JA Solar has also incorporated Gallium-doped silicon cells to improve performance, reduce light-induced degradation (LID), and increase lifespan.

  • Power rating (W): 340W to 555W

  • Efficiency (%): 19.6% to 21.5%

  • Price range: Low to Med

  • Product Warranty: 12 or 15 Years

  • Performance Warranty: Min 84.8% after 25 years *

JA Solar

Canadian Solar

Canadian Solar is the fifth largest solar panel manufacturer in the world and produces a wide range of cost-effective, reliable panels. The company generally focused on more cost-effective polycrystalline cells and developed some advanced high-efficiency panels based on the half-cut polycrystalline cell design. However, over recent years, Canadian Solar shifted to developing more efficient mono-PERC cell-based panels like the HiDM and HiKu series.

The new-generation HiKu6 and HiKu7 range of monocrystalline split-cell panels from Canadian Solar are becoming more popular among installers as a quality, affordable, high-performance panel backed by good support from local offices

 

  • Power rating (W): 350W to 665W

  • Efficiency (%): 19.6% to 21.3%

  • Price range: Low to Med

  • Product Warranty: 12 Years

  • Performance Warranty: Min 84.8% after 25 years *

Canadian Solar

Genral Solar Panel Information

Solar panel specifications what it all means and what you will need to consider when chasing solar panels.

This is an example of the specs you will encounter when deciding on what solar panels will suit your needs best
We will give a basic explanation of what it all means and what you will need to consider when purchasing solar panels.

Solar panel Specs

Solar Panel efficiency, what does it mean?

Yes and no, most solar panels have a similar efficiency rating varying by a few percentages, which is normally around 17% or 22%.
What is the efficiency of solar panels and how is it calculated.
The efficiency is calculated by the physical the size of the solar panels in ratio to the amount of power it is rated for.
To put it simply if you have two solar panels of the same physical size that at rated at different watts the higher wattage panel is more efficient than the lesser of the two.

Example

Brand A panel Size 1,900 x 900m power rating 335w
Brand B panels size 1998 x 995m power rating 335w
Brand A is more efficient than brand B

To understand this better you need to understand how the efficiency of solar panels are calculated.
Sunlight is calculated to have 1kw of power per m2 on the earth’s surface so to calculate the efficiency of a solar panel you need to multiply the width and breadth of the solar panel then multiply by 1000 then divide the wattage by the area and multiply that by 100 gives you’re the efficiency rating.

Calculation example for Solar Panel A and B

Solar Panel A
1,900L x 0,990W = 1,881
1,881 x 1000 = 1881
335 / 1881 = 0,1781
0,1781 x 100 = 17,81
Panel A has an efficiency of 17,81%

Solar Panel B
1,998L x 0,99W = 1,98801m
1,98801 X 1000 = 1988.01
335 / 1988,01 = 0,16851
0,16851 x 100 = 16,85%
Panel B has an efficiency of 16,85%

So as shown by the above calculation the only time when you would concern yourself with the efficiency is when you are limit with space and those extra centimeters count.
The higher the efficiency the smaller the space required for the same the same output.
Weight

You will only need to consider weight when you suspect the structure you are going to mount the panels to may not be able to withstand the combined weight of the panels you need for your installation.
Generally most residential and commercial roofing structures are suitable for panel installation when it comes to weight.

Rated Power

The rated power indicated is the minimum power the panel can produce under optimal conditions.
You would use this to work out how many and what size panels you would need to produce the required amount of energy.
Here is an example if you need to produce 10KW of power per day.
In South Africa we work on an average of 5 sun hours to calculate how much energy solar panels can produce in a day.
So to get to the 10KW of average energy production we will divide 10KW by 5 this leaves us with 2KW, so we would need a string of panels that totals roughly 2KW.
6 x 335W panels leaves us with 2010W or 2kw of capacity
8 x 250W panels = 2KW
MCS

No need to concern yourself with this, this is a certification code for the solar panel

Dimensions

You only need to concern yourself with the length and width of the solar panels.
You should easily be able to calculate the space / area required for your panels. You don’t want to be in a position where you order a system and you don’t have enough usable space available to install all your panels.
The key here is usable space you need to allocate space that has optimal sunlight for energy production avoid area where you will have shadows or incorrect alignment, even if only one of the solar panels or part of a panel has a shadow over it will greatly reduce your energy production, not just for that individual panel but the entire PV string.


VMPP

The Vmpp is the voltage when the power output is the greatest. It is the actual voltage you want to see when it is connected to the MPPT solar equipment.
The voltage of the solar panel when under load.

IMPP

The rated amps for the solar panel, multiplying the VMPP x the IMPP should give you the rated power in watts eg on the image specs above of the Canadian Solar solar panel the Vmpp is 37,4V and Amps are 8.96A 37,4V X 8.96A = 335,105W the rate power in watts of the solar panel


Voc


This is the open voltage of the solar panel, this is the maximum voltage of a solar panel when there is nothing connected to it.
This is an import number to consider when sizing your array for your MPPT/charger this voltage should fall within the range specified on the MPPT.
We can use the Goodwe ES Inverter inverter specs as an example the Goodwe has built in MPPT’s and has a start-up voltage of voltage of 125V and Max Voltage of 550V so the solar panel array should fall within the range, anything below 125V the system will not start anything above 550V will damage the MPPT.
Using the above Voc of the Canadian solar panel which has a Voc of 45,8 you would require a minimum of three panels connected in series which will give you 137,4V above the minimum start required form the solar panels and up to a maximum of 11 panels per string in series which leave you with 503,8V which is safely below the 550V rating of the MPPT.
Important note when designing a solar system the higher voltages you can achieve will reduce on cabling cost and also allow for smaller rated solar cable and reduce resistance over the solar cable keep in mind not to go over you Maximum voltage rating of your MPPT.
How to position your Solar Panels

Basically for optimal efficiency in South Africa your solar panels should be facing true north.
If the angle or tilt of the panels can’t be altered for seasonal changes the best would be to position them to the angle of latitude for Gauteng round about a 25°

angle fixed. If you have a system where you could change the angle, the optimal angle for winter would be about 45° and summer would be about 10° degree , some installers prefer to set the solar panel tilt in favour of winter angle to optimize for the shorter days which would result in a more equal energy production throughout the year.
Another option is always to over spec the number of solar panels required so you always have more capacity than your require.

Warranty on Solar panels

Most solar panels have a limited 10 year manufacturers warranty and up to a 25 year performance warranty – warranties and performance warranties vary between manufacturers.
A performance warranty would normally warrant that a module will maintain a specific level of performance with in the number of years specified by the manufacturer.