The choices for home solar panels are dizzying. If you are an installer or a DIYer, you may simply look at the price. And many of our customers are only interested in the bottom line: what is the lowest cost per watt? But there are some other critical specs that may affect your decision of which panel to purchase. We want to make your decision easier and are offering a new feature on SolarTown: Solar Module Comparison.
Our customers are interested in many other matrices that affect their decision of which solar home panel to purchase from us. We have tried to include the major considerations in our comparison table. If you need a refresher on some of the rules of thumb in selecting a panel, please review our Consumer Guide to Buying Solar Panels.
Let’s look at some of the issues that we address. If you are looking only for a moncrystalline panel, then you can quickly go down the list to see which of the current monocrystalline panels are available. Maybe aesthetics are important to you and we also have included the colors of the panels. Yes, most but not all polycrystalline panels are blue. We couldn’t include everything on this table, and if the color of the frame is important, then you need to go to the panel description to figure out which color frame is available—or you can call us.
If you are trying to squeeze as many panels as possible on the roof of a home, then the size of the panel may be a consideration. Take a look at the surface area expressed in square footage in the solar module comparison. There may be as much as a 10% difference in the dimensions of some of the panels. You can find the exact dimensions on the spec sheets attached to each solar module we offer in the SolarTown store.
And you are keenly interested in how much this panel is actually going to produce. We have a number of standards that will help you sort out the expected solar module output. You can start out by looking at the nameplate rating that the manufacturers advertise. But other customers are interested in comparing panels based not just on the nameplate rating, but also on the rating by an independent on standard testing agency, the PTC (PVUsa Test Conditions) rating. We also have included panel efficiency, which for the panels we are currently selling, range from 13.7% to 15.1%. You probably will want to look at the power tolerance, which is another measure that we have included in the comparison.
Now if you are interested only in discount solar panels, and want to know which is the cheapest based on nameplate or PTC ratings, just go down the column and you can easily pick out the least expensive panels based on wattage. For those panels currently on sale in the SolarTown store, there is as much as a 30% difference based on dollars per watt, if you are considering the PTC rating. That is a big difference, but you will want to select carefully.
We have much more information available such as solar module comparisons based on manufacturer warranty, connectors, weight, maximum voltage, maximum power current, and open circuit voltage. We just couldn’t include everything in one table. Please contact us at SolarTown if you would like to discuss these other measures that may influence your decision of which home solar panel to purchase. We will be updating the Solar Module Comparison as new modules hit the market and others leave the market.