Easy Guide to Solar Panels

One solar panel looks pretty much like another, so what's the difference?
This easy to follow guide is designed to give you all the basic information you need and help you make an informed choice.

Solar panel diagram

What are the basics of a solar panel?

Dimensions

Your average panel is around 1m wide by 1.7m tall and they are about 4cm thick. They weigh 18kg on average.

Colour

Solar panels come in a few different colours. The frames are typically made from aluminium and are either metal coloured or black. The back sheets are either black or white, some panels make use of the white back sheet to increase the efficiency of the panel (e.g. Sunpower). If you take a look at our Solar panel page you will see the options available.

The silicon slices in the panel are usually blue or black, this is down to the type of technology that is used in making the silicon.

Technology

The fundamental difference in solar panels is whether the silicon is polycrystalline (blue) or monocrystalline (black). Polycrystalline cells are made from parts of many silicon crystals and monocrystalline are made from a single silicon crystal.

Polycrystalline panels usually have slightly lower efficiency but cost less and there is less waste in the manufacturing process. Monocrystalline panels cost a little more but have higher efficiency.

Some manufacturers (e.g. Sunpower) make blue monocrystalline panels.

Panel wattage

A panel's output is measured in watts, they range from around 280 watts to 400 watts. It can be down to what technology the panel manufacturer has used or the panel may just have more cells in it and be slightly larger.

Warranty

Most panels have a 25-year output warranty and a 10-year product warranty. They are tested against wind loads, weight loads for snow and salt mist corrosion resistance for coastal properties.

There are some panels on the market that have an extended "useful life" of up to 40 years. This is down to using higher quality silicon that degrades at a very slow rate.

Anatomy of a Solar Panel

Solar panel diagram

Solar panel construction diagram

Please contact us with a question or to get a free quote for solar panels or battery installation.

We aim to get responses to you within 24 hours, although currently it may take a little longer than usual for obvious reasons.

All surveys and consultations are free and there is no obligation to buy.

We are happy to discuss your needs and answer any questions you have about solar panels or batteries.

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