Specifications of Solar Panels

Helen Akers

Solar panels are used to generate a natural source of electricity and heat. The panels are made of cells that capture energy from the sun, which is then converted into electricity. Available in a variety of sizes and shapes, solar panels vary by design, material composition, wattage, voltage, cost efficiency, amps, power tolerance and weight. The use of solar panels ranges from basic electric lighting to heating a home and supplying the electricity for hot water through a standard water heater.

The Use of Solar Panels

Solar panels come in a variety of capacities and designs to meet different energy needs.

Although solar panels have yet to be fully adopted by the mainstream population, the idea of renewable energy is becoming increasingly popular with the rise of traditional fuel costs. The purpose of solar panels is capture enough energy from sun rays to provide power to devices that use electricity to operate. In states that receive an ample amount of sunshine, such as Arizona or California, solar power is an attractive alternative fuel source. The emergence of tax rebates and renewable energy credits has increased the attractiveness of solar power for some homeowners.

Types of Solar Panels

There are four main types of solar panels. These types consist of mono-crystalline silicon, polycrystalline silicon, string ribbon silicone and amorphous silicone. Mono-crystalline panels are comprised of one silicone sheet and require a higher start-up cost. However, mono-crystalline panels tend to be more cost efficient in the long term. Polycrystalline panels are made up of individual cells, requiring less start-up and maintenance costs. The premise behind string ribbon panels is similar to that of the polycrystalline panel. Cells are made up of silicon strips. Amorphous panels are made from metal with a sheet of silicon film that sits on top. This type of panel produces the least amount of power.

Specifications to Consider

Besides price, the specifications that a potential buyer needs to consider when looking at solar panels is the weight, size and design. Solar panels come in a variety of shapes and sizes to accommodate different building structures and power capacities. Maximum power and power tolerance ranges are crucial to the selection process since adequate capacity depending upon intended range of electrical use is mandatory. Related to capacity is solar efficiency or the electricity return rate. The average solar panel has a electricity return rate between 14 and 22 percent.

Benefits of Solar Energy

In terms of long-term energy savings, solar panels are a sound investment for homeowners who live in a geographic location with ample sunshine. Not only does the use of solar energy lower electricity and heating bills, but a solar energy system typically increases a home resale value, as well. Some individuals receive a sense of intrinsic value from contributing to an environmental cause. Solar panels also offer roof protection since they shield the shingles from the harsher elements of snow, wind and rain.