Going solar is a unique consumer experience. Unless you are a licensed electrician or solar installer, you’re probably not going to buy a rooftop solar system’s individual components and assemble the system yourself. Instead, you’ll probably choose a solar contractor who will work with you to design a system tailored to your roof’s size and shape, as well as your family’s power requirements.
Most homeowners choose solar panels as their solar system, which are a proven and mature technology produced by a highly-competitive industry. Thanks to recent innovations, there are more solar panel options to choose from than ever before. The competition helps keep prices down, and has resulted in a range of choices to suit different power requirements and roofs. Solar panel options may be categorized as standard, premium, and supreme. Let’s look at the benefits of each, so you’ll have an idea of which would work best for your home.
Standard Solar Panels Yield the Fastest ROI
Standard panels are the least expensive. They are still made to rigorous standards and should be covered by the same solar system warranties as premium and supreme panels. The difference is that higher-level panels are more efficient than standard panels, so they can produce more power than comparably-sized standard panels.
Standard solar panels typically contain 60 individual solar cells, stand about 5.5’ high, are about 40 inches wide, and weigh anywhere from 40-50 pounds. The number of panels you need will depend on your exact requirements, but a 30kWh system would require roughly 30 panels.
If your roof is big enough and you don’t have any special need for hyper-efficient and space-saving panels, standard panels are the best option to help you achieve the quickest return on your solar investment. To put it another way, if you have three options that all produce the same amount of power, and you’re satisfied with the aesthetics of the lowest-priced panels, there’s no need to spend more.
Representative standard panel manufacturers and models include the Canadian Solar 320W (pictured), Hyundai 290W, and the Yingli 315W (the “W” in each of these model names indicates the panel’s maximum production capacity, in watts).
Premium Solar Panels are More Efficient than Standard Solar Panels
If your roof shape limits the size of your rooftop solar system, you might need to use more efficient panels (which can produce the same amount of power as larger, standard panels) to meet your power requirements. Maybe you have a distinctive Victorian home with cupolas or other features that would make installing solar a challenge. In that case, premium panels, which produce more power than similarly-sized standard panels, might be your best bet.
Representative manufacturers and models include the SolarWorld 290 (pictured) and the LG 320W and LG 300W. Specifications vary by manufacturer, but SolarWorld’s panels are 10% more efficient than the average standard panel, so you’d need 10% less mounting space to generate the same power compared with standard panels.
Supreme Solar Panels Have the Highest Efficiency and Smallest Footprint
As mentioned, speedy ROI is one of the benefits of standard panels. However, there is more to consider than just price per panel, or even price-per-watt. Although price-per-watt would seem to be the main factor that determines how quickly you’ll see a return on your solar investment, your particular power and roof space requirements mean you can’t just pick the lowest-priced option.
If your roof has especially limited mounting space and/or you need to maximize the power production of your solar system, you will be best served by premium solar panels. These are the most efficent panels available–they generate the most power per square inch. So depending on your needs and preferences, they may be your best choice.
Makes and models in this panel class include the Panasonic 330W and 325W (the 330 is pictured), and the Sunpower 327W, Sunpower 345W, and Sunpower 360W.
For the Most Current Options, Talk with Your Installer
LA Solar Group evaluates new panel makes and models constantly, so you’ll want to talk with us or whomever you select as a solar installer for the most current information.
If you have questions about panel efficiency, size, or other aspects of going solar, let us know. There are also many solar power incentives in Los Angeles, which can help you see a return on invesmtent more quickly. LA Solar Group has helped thousands of homeowners throughout California go solar, and we’re ready to help you too.