A Guide to Solar PV – What to look for in Solar PV Panels

Samsung 245w solar panelThere are thousands of different PV panels and every one different in a certain way. If you are considering solar PV the initial outlay is large, so you want value for your investment! So this guide really breaks down to the simple things you need to look for in a panel, how to compare them and to make sure you are getting value for money. After this if you are still confused a simple chat to an installer (such as ourselves) would allow you to understand quickly. For now these are the three main attributes for solar PV panels.


1. Output: This means the maximum output of electricity the panel could generate from the sun in watts. To find this out, most panels have their wattage in there name, so a Schott 230 watt panels can produce 5 watts less than a Schott 235 watt panel. So the bigger wattage, the greater the maximum output, the more you save and earn. However the higher spec panels obviously cost a lot more and sometimes the price increase isn’t worth the extra wattage, this leads me on to the next attribute to look out for


2. Efficiency: This is important, the efficiency is quite literally the efficiency of turning the UV rays into electricity we can use and export. The average is quite low, they range from really low end panels of around 10% and can reach heights of 17%. Efficiency is the best way to split up similar wattage panels, if two panels have a maximum output of 235 watts but one has an efficiency rating of 15.4% and the other has an efficiency rating of 16.9% the obvious choice is the better efficient panel. Again though you must consider price in all of this, if the increase in price doesn’t warrant the increase in efficiency then there really is no point. If you are unsure on what constitutes a higher price then just ask our Energy Renewables Manager.

The Schott Solar 235w panel3. Warranty: Photovoltaic (PV) panels are an ever growing technology and with that they are constantly improving the technology and with that the lifespan. Currently the industry standard warranty is 5 years, however Schott have increased this to 10 years and I’m sure they wont be the last. Another industry standard is to have the manufacturer guarantee of 80% performance over 25 years so your panels wont fall below 80% performance throughout the Feed-in Tariff, this is all checked when the solar PV system is serviced.


4. Cost of Panel: As previously mentioned this really is dependand on the wattage, efficiency & warranty but my advice to you is if you get a quote where you feel the panel price is too high, simply look on the internet. One simple rule, if you can get it yourself cheaper than what the installer is offering, do so.


This guide is all well and good but I’m sure the first thing you would say is

“yeah that’s great, but where do I find all of this out?”

Well to find this kind of information out is very simple all you have to do is Google Search your panel’s Brand and watt number followed by data sheet. So for example if I wanted to find out the spec on a Samsung 247w panel I would type into Google ‘Samasung 247w panel data sheet’ then find a relevant link and open what is called a PDF file and will look like this when you open it.


You may be asked to download it but as long as the file is .pdf it can contain nothing but text and images so you will be absolutely fine!


I really hope that has helped you in the minefield of information that is Solar Photovoltaic.


This is just one part of our “Solar PV Made Easy” Guide and we hope you enjoy. Links to the rest to follow….



Lewington Solar


Part 2 – Guide to Solar PV – Mounting Systems


















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