This is a guide to the different types of solar panels and cells available in South Africa. A price list has also been provided.
Types Of Solar Panels
Mono-crystalline Solar Panels
Mono-crystalline Solar Panels are very efficient, even in low-light conditions, because they are made of one large crystal of silicon. They are not common as they are more expensive than Poly-crystalline Solar Panels to manufacture. Mono-crystalline Solar Panels can be ground-mounted or roof-mounted.
Poly-crystalline Solar Panels
Poly-crystalline Solar Panels are not quite as efficient as Mono-crystalline Solar Panels, but are the most common type because they are less expensive to manufacture. They are made of many small silicon crystals. Poly-crystalline Solar Panels can be ground-mounted or roof-mounted.
Amorphous or Thin-Film Solar Panels
Amorphous Solar Panels are less efficient than the above two types, therefore they require a larger surface area for the same level of power generation. However they are the cheapest to manufacture. They are made of a thin film of molten silicon that is spread across large plates of stainless steel.
A great advantage of Amorphous Solar Panels over the above two is that they continue to charge when only part of the solar panel receives sun.
They work better in hot climates than traditional solar panels and work well on large vehicles and ships.
Mounting Of Solar Panels
Ground-Mounted Solar Panels
Ground mounted solar panels are attached to poles that should be cemented into the ground, especially if you live in a region that has strong wind.
Roof-Mounted Solar Panels
It is easiest to install roof-mounted solar panels on a shingle roof, though it is possible on many different types of roof.
Glued To The Surface
Thin-film Solar Panels require no drilling as they are glued onto the roof or other flat surface, e.g. on ships. You might also consider Thin-film Solar Panels if the strength of the roof is suspect, because they are much lighter than the other types of solar panels.
Factors To Consider When Choosing Solar Panels
Roof-mounted solar panels are an option in the case of a strong roof that slopes towards the sun. Roof-mounting is possible on many types of roof, but easiest on shingle roofs. If you have weak roof, look at ground-mounting your panels or apply thin-film panels. If the roof does not face the sun you will have to look at ground-mounting your solar panels.
If do not wish to drill holes in your roof, then you will have to go for Ground-mounted solar panels or Thin-film Solar Panels. Thin-film solar panels need a larger roof area for the same output.
For an easy installation, choose Thin-film Solar Panels because they are simply glued onto the roof. The other types are not difficult to install, but do require more effort than simply gluing. The technically-minded person can do a DIY installation.
Here is a table to help you choose the correct type of solar panel for your situation:
|Strong Roof||Weak Roof||Large Roof||Roof Not Facing The Sun||Not Willing To Drill Through The Roof||Limited Direct Sun||Easy Installation|
What Do Solar Panels Cost?
There is a wide range of solar power panels at various prices and some suppliers offer regular discounts to encourage you to make the decision to buy.
You can expect to pay about R24 per watt for Poly-crystalline Solar Panels.
Solaire's Poly-crystalline Solar Panels are believed to be the most efficient modules in the world, meaning that they provide the highest number of watts per square metre (Wp/sqm). High yield modules output at least 130 Wp/sqm in a prime position. Solaire has captured 90% of the Solar Panel world market and their panels have a life expectancy of over 30 years.
Thin-film Solar Panels produce about 74 Wp/sqm (peak power).
To give you an idea of what solar panels cost, I have included the prices of Solaire Poly-Crystalline Solar Panels from www.sustainable.co.za Check for price changes on their site.
Short On Roof Space?
If you are critically short on roof space, you should look at the "Peak Power In Watts Per Sqm" column in this table. This suggests that you should avoid the solar panels with a low Power Per Square Metre Figure (shown in red) and buy the solar panels with a high figure (shown in green). Of course, you would also have to consider the how many panels are required to make up the required voltage.
After investigation you may find a similar anomaly with the solar panels of other manufacturers.
|Solaire Poly-Crystaline Solar Panel Models||Cost Per||Dimensions||Sqm||Peak Power In Watts||Max Volts|
|SDT-100-10w||R 350||R 35||368x310x25||0.112||9.0||80.6||10||16.50|
|SDT-200-20w||R 480||R 24||630x280x25||0.176||18.0||102.0||20||17.10|
|SDT-300-30w||R 720||R 24||630x280x25||0.176||27.0||153.1||30||17.20|
|SDT-300-35w||R 840||R 24||630x280x25||0.176||27.0||153.1||35||17.20|
|SDT-500-40w||R 960||R 24||660x550x36||0.363||38.0||104.7||40||17.10|
|SDT-500-50w||R 1,200||R 24||660x550x36||0.363||48.0||132.2||50||17.40|
|SDT-800-75w||R 1,800||R 24||1210x550x36||0.666||73.0||109.7||75||17.70|
|SDT-800-80w||R 1,920||R 24||1210x550x36||0.666||78.0||117.2||80||17.80|
|SDT-800-85w||R 2,040||R 24||1210x550x36||0.666||83.0||124.7||85||17.97|
|SDT-1000-100w||R 2,400||R 24||1480x680x36||1.006||97.0||96.4||100||17.20|
|SDT-1200-125w||R 3,000||R 24||1480x680x36||1.006||117.0||116.3||125||17.20|
|SD-410-130w||R 3,120||R 24||1660x672x45||1.116||130.0||116.5||130||18.00|
|SD-410-135w||R 3,216||R 24||1660x672x45||1.116||135.0||121.0||135||18.40|
|SD-410-140w||R 3,360||R 24||1660x672x45||1.116||140.0||125.5||140||18.80|
|SD-410-145w||R 3,480||R 24||1660x672x45||1.116||145.0||130.0||145||19.20|
|SD-410-150w||R 3,600||R 24||1660x672x45||1.116||150.0||134.5||150||19.60|
|SD-410-155w||R 3,720||R 24||1660x672x45||1.116||155.0||138.9||155||19.90|
|SD1-510-180w||R 4,320||R 24||1687x864x50||1.458||180.0||123.5||180||24.00|
|SD-510-200w||R 4,800||R 24||1645x840x45||1.382||197.5||142.9||200||24.30|
|SD-610-210w||R 5,040||R 24||1660x990x45||1.643||210.0||127.8||210||28.30|
|SD-610-215w||R 5,160||R 24||1660x990x45||1.643||215.0||130.8||215||28.60|
|SD-610-220w||R 5,280||R 24||1660x990x45||1.643||220.0||133.9||220||28.80|
|SD-610-225w||R 5,400||R 24||1660x990x45||1.643||225.0||136.9||225||28.90|
|SD-610-230w||R 5,520||R 24||1660x990x45||1.643||230.0||140.0||230||28.30|
|SD-610-235w||R 5,640||R 24||1660x990x45||1.643||235.0||143.0||235||29.40|