Solar Panel Installations are changing! How? Why?

When connected, your Solar Panel Installation looks like the image above. However, with advances in technology the average solar panel system is changing the way it looks, sounds and costs. Whats been changing recently in the system and how does it effect you?

Solar panels consisted of several circular navy-blue solar cells with gaps between the cells in the modules and the solar cells looked like they were as thick as a Lindt Square chocolate.

Solar panels consist of square shaped cells as thin as a piece of paper with no gaps between the cells in the module. The uniform navy-blue is still around but the crystal-marble-finish solar cell is now more common.

Why did this change happen?
– Multi-crystalline Silicon became cheaper to produce than Mono-crystalline Silicon, which is produced in square blocks and not cylindrical ingots like Mono-crystalline Silicon.

What did that change mean?
– A reduction in cost of manufacturing
– An increase in module efficiency

Solar panels produced electricity in Direct Current (DC) and required a device to convert DC to Alternating Current (AC). The reason why this change in output current is required, is because this is the type of electricity that your electricity retailer provides, and this is the type of electricity that your household appliances use. Transformers are the objects that allow an Inverter to convert DC into AC. This conversion of current-form used to happen mechanically and therefore caused noise/vibrational “humming.”

Solar panels still produce electricity in Direct Current and require a device to convert DC to AC. However, today this process is not done mechanically any more, it is done electronically through devices known as capacitors and mosfets and the concept of oscillator circuits.

Why did this change happen?
– Buildings in Europe that were feeding electricity back into the grid from their solar panels already had transformers in them, so the transformer in the the inverter was redundant
– The cost of capacitors and mosfets (as mentioned above a crucial component in electrical current processing) had decreased enough to replace the old electro-mechanical method of current conversion

What did that change mean?
– A reduction in cost of system
– An increase in system efficiency
– An increase in aesthetic appeal as there is no vibrational noise coming from the inverter any more

There are changes happening every day in the effort of making your solar panel more efficient and less expensive, we will try to keep you informed about as many of them as possible!


Written by Prateek Chourdia

MEngSc – Photovoltaics and Solar Energy, UNSW

Solar Energy Analyst

Solar Choice

© 2010 Solar Choice Pty Ltd


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