Note: The following is a guest post, and any views expressed are solely the author's.
Out of all of the renewable energy alternatives we have today, solar power is still the most feasible for the majority of households in America. With federal, state, and local government incentives, the lowering cost of solar panels and improved efficiency, going solar is cheaper than ever!
With that in mind, I decided to review and compare a few 190-watt photovoltaic (PV) modules, otherwise known as solar panels. This will probably be the first item you look into when considering the installation of your own system.
In this review I compare PV modules from three major brands: Evergreen, Kyocera and Sanyo. Other popular PV manufacturers include Uni-Solar, Everstep, Mitsubishi and Sharp.
Sanyo's 190-watt PV modules are an amazing 17.4% efficient. That may not sound very good, but as far as solar panels go it is well above average (12%).
As this number rises above the 25% mark with better technology we will begin to see solar power systems paying for themselves in as little as three to five years. The current average is ten years. After that? Free electricity!
Sanyo achieves their high efficiency through their patented heterojunction with intrinsic thin layer (HIT) technology. This allows the PV module to obtain max power within a fixed space, and creates a lower de-rating related to temperature. What does "temperature de-rating" mean?
Basically, as the temperature increases, Sanyo's solar panels produce more electricity than conventional crystalline silicon modules. The structure of the HIT PVs allows them to reduce recombination loss of the electrical element (charged carrier) by surrounding the energy generation layer of single thin crystalline silicon with high quality ultra-thin amorphous silicon layers.
Evergreen's Spruce series PV modules are optimized for grid-tied solar power systems. These PV modules work very well with high-voltage-input MPPT charge controllers, such as the OutBack Power MX60. Each Evergreen Spruce PV module features anti-reflective glass, an anodized aluminum frame, 108 cells per panel, and watertight junction boxes that never need maintenance.
But what I like most about Evergreens is that they feature what is known as a "low energy payback." The energy payback of a solar panel refers to how long it takes for the environmental footprint of the manufacturing process to be offset by the clean energy generated by the PV module. Evergreen's Spruce PVs recoup the environmental impact in as little as 18 months due to a combination of efficiency and environmentally responsible manufacturing processes.
An Evergreen Spruce PV module only produces 30g of carbon dioxide per equivalent kWh. They also use less lead than other solar panels because of lead-free solder.
The Kyocera 190-watt solar panel holds its own in terms of quality. It achieves a high level of efficiency (15%), has a 20-year factory warranty, and a 25-year power output warranty -- and does all of this for $100 to $200 less than similar models from other brands.
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