At the heart of any solar power system for your home are the residential solar panels. These are the part of the system that does the actual conversion of sunlight to current and are the most critical element in the systems ability to power your home. Even though these residential solar panels may look similar, they are in fact quite different from each other and there are few things you need to consider before making your selection on which one to use on your home.
The good news is that all of the current residential solar panels available are much better in both construction and efficiency than older solar panels. This means that no matter which brand or style of panel you choose, you are better off than you would have been a few years ago. Even with these improvements, there are still differences in these residential solar panels and deciding between models should be based on your budget and your goals for the amount of power you want to generate.
The first thing to consider is they type of output the system you are designing requires. There are several standard voltages that these residential solar panels can produce and you need to decide on what voltage your system will be. This decision will affect which panel you use and also which inverter you select as well. There are some advantages to selecting a higher voltage panel since they suffer from less loss with long cable runs than a lower voltage panel would, but they tend to be more expensive. Solar panels are typically designed to have output voltages in multiples of 12v, so they are usually 12v, 24v, 48v and some newer, even higher voltage systems are being released. Having a higher voltage allows you to have a better efficiency since there is less loss in the lines. Choosing the highest voltage you can afford will help you over the long run by producing more power that you can use for your home.
The next major difference between residential solar panels is their efficiency. Again, even though the solar panels may look the same, there could be a difference of almost 10% efficiency between different models. This will make a huge difference in the amount of power you can generate for a given amount of sunlight and will also mean you need less of these residential solar panels as well. The key here is to know the difference between the solar panels efficiency rating and pick the one that has the highest current output and the highest efficiency you can afford. Spending a little more in getting a better panel will pay for itself several times over the life of your solar power system.
One other consideration is looking at some of the newer specialty panels being released. For example, there are a few panels that combine the electrical generating features of the basic residential solar panels with thermal elements in the same panel that can be used for solar water heating. These new combination panels allow you to maximize your roof space and use the power of the sun to lower the cost of two of you homes needs at the same time. Another group of residential solar panels include a micro-inverter right in the solar panel itself. This eliminates the need for a larger inverter in your system and does the DC to AC conversion right at the panel. This also eliminates the loss from sending this DC current down to the inverter in your home over a long run of wire. These panels are more expensive than the standard residential solar panels, but allow you to eliminate the cost of the inverter.