Solar Panels & Equipment

When it comes to Solar Panels and Inverters, it can be a bit daunting trying to work out which are the right ones for your project. At Carmichael Browns, we take pride in ensuring you are armed with all the facts, allowing you to make an informed decision from the start.

Choosing Solar panels and invertersWe have no ‘favourites’ with solar panels and remain impartial when it comes to brands and manufactures.

In fact, we have installed panels on almost every type of roof structure, shape and size with panels and inverters from almost every country on the planet!

We believe getting the right equipment is the most important part of designing your installation.

It is incredible to see how much better a system can perform when designed properly, this means taking into account the position of the building, orientation of the roof and the relationship between the panels and the inverters.

All PV system performance levels, under MCS guidelines, must be predicted using the standard government-approved SAP calculation. However, this calculation does not include the type of equipment installed or who is installing it. The SAP figures only take into account the kWp, orientation and pitch of the roof space. 

The SAP calculation is always a good place to start, and no equipment which meets MCS guidelines should perform lower than this prediction as it’s a very conservative method of prediction. However, better equipment and installing them in the correct location will allow for the greatest possible performance of your solar panels. 

Such considerations should not be taken lightly, as they can actually make a difference of up to 25% increased power output from your system if you get it right, which will have a significant impact on your annal income and savings, as well as your payback period.

Don’t skimp on the detail or accept an off-the-shelf solution – talk to Carmichael Browns today about designing a bespoke system for your building.

Call us today on 01245 227100 to discover how we can help your business >

We believe there are 3 main categories for solar panels and a few requirements that you will always want your panels to have:

Strong Yield Performance – The actual conversion from kWp into kWh, often known as the ‘crop’ of your system, as this is the actual amount of units of electricity generated, based on the peak rating. We only use panels which have a proven track record of performing well in independent yield tests, such as the Photon Yield Test, as this is the key factor in giving you a better performing system. More kWh means more Feed In Tariff payments and more energy savings for you.

Positive Power Tolerance – This is the manufacturing tolerance of each module from the production line and in some cases can be as much as 5-/+10%. We will always recommend panels which have a +% tolerance only, meaning you will always get at least the minimum wattage you have paid for.

Warranted Power Output – All MCS approved solar panels must have at least a 25 year performance warranty of 80%, however many will degrade quickly over time. It is crucial that your PV module has a more linear degradation warranty, having either a staggered warranty for performance, e.g. 95% for 5 years, 90% for 10 years etc, or ideally a maximum degradation allowance per year, for example the REC module which has a 0.7% degradation per annum warranty, meaning more power for longer.

Higher Efficiency/Premium Panels

Panels such as Sun Power & Panasonic are often the best in terms of efficiency or can be a hybrid model, meaning they get more output/power from each square metre. This will mean a higher power output can be achieved from a smaller surface area, or an increased total output from a given space.

This level of equipment comes at a slightly higher price point, but provides better power output levels per square metre, lower degradation rates and higher general performance in all types of weather conditions.

European Panels

Panels such as REC, Schueco, Schott – typically manufactured in Europe to a high standard, topping worldwide tests and manufactured by the same company throughout the whole process.

Value Panels

Typically panels from Asia, made by the likes of Suntech, Trina Solar and Yingli – mainly formed from mono-crystalline offering fantastic value for money. There are many such panels in the ‘value’ range.

Other desirable features from a panel manufacturer, although not essential are:

Complete Supply Chain Management – Most solar panels are made by large electronics companies and popular international brands. These companies have a big presence and can make you feel more comfortable, although they only import the different components from multiple suppliers and assemble them together to create their modules. This often leads to lower performance levels in independent tests (the Photon International Field Test) when compared to companies which manufacture all parts of the panel themselves, as well as a longer energy payback time (the time taken for the panel to create the same amount of energy as was required to make it in the first place).

Large Corporate backing –  Solar panels come with long warranties, although these warranties are only as strong as the company behind them. Beware of buying cheap panels from an unknown manufacturer on the other side of the world, as they could be hard to contact should the need arise and are unlikely to be around for the length of your system life, negating any warranty you may have.

Strong Performance in Independent Tests – Photon International publish a monthly magazine with live kWh production rates from a large field installation they have in Germany, which lays hundreds of solar panels side by side and compares their performance. REC panels have performed well in this test over recent years, however Sunpower panels took 1st, 2nd and 3rd places in the 2013 league table.

Inverters

Getting the inverter right is just as important as the panel selection, as this is the component that changes the energy from direct current to alternating current (DC to AC).

By selecting the correct inverter that ‘collaborates’ best with your panels, you will guarantee the maximum efficiency of the system, which in turn will ensure you create the most power possible from the size of your array. We use inverters from manufactures such as SMA, Power 1, Fronius, Arrora and Kostal, to name just a few.

Helping you select the best equipment to suit your property and budget is what we do best – get in touch with us so we can discuss all the potential options with you in more detail.

Call us today on 01245 227100 to discover how we can help your business >

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