At this period of time, most people including homeowners and businesses will be well aware of financial as well as environmental benefits of solar power. This would certainly have influenced to know more about a solar panel in South Africa. If that is true and if you are really interested to know about this promising alternative energy source, you are not alone.
We will help you through this guide to know about the major types of solar panels, their key differences to know and their major applications. So ready to know about the dominant renewable energy sources – solar power? Let us go into the topic.
Solar Panel In South Africa – The Basics
Thanks to solar panels, it is made possible to harness the energy from an eternal natural source of power–the sun. Before we move onto the types of solar panels, let us have a quick glance on what they are.
Solar panels, which are also called PV panels, help in capturing the energy of the sun and convert that energy into electricity. The electricity generated by these PV panels or solar panels is widely used for powering up household appliances and equipment.
Solar panels are considered as an excellent way to cut out energy costs, to lessen the negative impacts on the environment. Moreover, they also deliver a host of other advantages including supporting businesses and the nation to be energy independent by going solar.
Solar Panel System- What Makes Up It?
Like to know more about a solar panel in South Africa ? How about learning about the components that make a solar panel system? Read more to know. You can find only four main components with a solar panel system. As the system has no moving parts with the system, it is very efficient and easy to install and maintain such systems. Find the four components of a solar panel system below:
- Solar panels – the function of a solar panel in South Africa is to convert solar energy into electricity.
- Inverters – Inverters are the devices that convert DC electricity of panel generated power into AC electricity
- Racking and mounting systems– these systems are helpful to affix the solar panels to the roof. In some cases, it can be fixed to the ground, based on the installation type.
- Performance monitoring systems– With this system, it is possible to track and monitor the output of the solar system and panels. This will stand for the good health of a solar panel in South Africa and inverter, if the output is great.
Solar panel in South Africa
In general, solar panels contain a series of silicon solar cells and these solar cells are covered by glass sheets which are brought together by a metal frame. This metal frame has wiring and circuitry for collecting electrical current flow that goes over the solar cells.
Although there are no moving parts in a solar system, yet if the sunlight hits the solar panel’s silicon solar cells, it tends to activate electrons and they start to flow through the cell. The metal frame’s wires that are in the cells will capture the electrons flow and it will combine with the output of other solar panel cells.
It can be said that an inverter is the diligent component of a solar system. The major role of an inverter in a solar system is to transform the direct current (DC) that flows through a solar panel in South Africa into alternating current (AC) for the use of appliances. Apart from this major function, they are also involved in other activities such as grid communication, voltage tracking, and emergency shutoff.
There are 4 major types of solar inverter options for a solar panel system:
- String inverters
- Power optimizers
- Hybrid inverters
Solar Racking and Mounting Systems
While you are on your journey to know about a solar panel in South Africa, you can’t ignore the importance of a solar panel mounting system as they have their key part in connecting the system to the roof. Typically, a solar mounting system is said to have grip on the system with the roof for 25 years or even more.
You can find two types of mounts:
- Fixed mounts – here the panels will be stationary,
- Tracking mounts – here the panels will “follow” the sun, based on its movement in the day time across the sky.
Performance monitoring systems
When you buy a solar panel in South Africa and invest in a solar system, it is sure that you would like the performance of the system whether it functions well. This stands for the essential role of a performance monitoring solar photovoltaic power system, in order to evaluate, and find continuous output optimization.
Solar monitoring systems can give real-time data about the solar energy production from a solar system. With a good solar monitoring system, it is able to know if in cases, a solar panel in South Africa or multiple panels are not capable of producing desired outputAlso you are able to identify if there is any sort of electrical fault.
With the help of a solar monitoring system, you can track the performance of the solar system over a period of, thus helping in troubleshooting the problems. Hence you will have the peace of mind that everything in the solar panel system is working as it has to be.
Major Types Of Solar Panels
The solar panel industry has shown intense growth trends over the years. It has brought a variety of innovative solar panels to the market. If you are looking to know the common and main types of solar panel in South Africa, we have listed the top here:
- Monocrystalline solar panels
- Polycrystalline solar panels
- Thin film solar panels
Monocrystalline solar panels
As the name indicates us ‘Mono’ which stands for the meaning single, these monocrystalline solar panels are made up of single pure silicon crystal. They are also called single-crystal panels, since they are formed from a single pure silicon crystal which is generally cut into several wafers.
As they are made of pure silicon, they can be identified with dark black color. For a number of years, monocrystalline panels have had their wide popularity as they are greater efficient and a reliable option for producing electricity. However, it has to be accepted that the price for a monocrystalline solar panel in South Africa delivers benefits that come with an expensive cost.
The reason for the high cost of these panels is that a lot of silicon will be wasted during the process of producing a single monocrystalline cell. Sometimes, the wastage may reach over 50%. Hence, monocrystalline panels tend to carry a hefty price tag on them.
Few things about monocrystalline solar panels
- It is one of the oldest and most advanced technology
- They are the first generation solar technology panels and have been in existence for a long period of time.
- Monocrystalline solar panel in South Africa stands for durability and longevity
- The performance warranties for most panels of this type will give a life of 25 years. However, with good maintenance, it is possible to continue producing electricity even after 25 years.
- Monocrystalline panels can be a wise choice where the space for installation is limited and also for urban settings.
- Can work better in low light and high heat environments.
- Since a monocrystalline solar panel in South Africa is composed of a single crystal of silicon, they give higher efficiency that can be between 18%-23%
- With increased efficiency these kinds of panels help to produce more electricity per square foot.
Polycrystalline solar panels
PolyCrystalline solar panels are the kinds of panels that constitute solar modules that consist of several crystals of silicon in a single PV cell. In contrast to the monocrystalline type of panels, polycrystalline panels have a bluish hue. The reason behind this is because the light reflects silicon fragments in the cell in a manner that differs in the case of a pure monocrystalline silicon wafer.
However, polycrystalline panels also have various colors for back sheets and frames, just like the monocrystalline panels. If you look for a polycrystalline type solar panel in South Africa, then the frames that you can expect will be in silver, and the back sheets can either be silver or white.
The efficiency of the polycrystalline solar panels seems to be a little lower. However, the advantages that customers get from this kind of panel are more, since they are affordable.
Despite the fact that the polycrystalline solar panels are composed of silicon, they don’t involve single-crystal silicon use. Manufacturing process of Polycrystalline solar panels involves melting of many silicon fragments in order to produce the wafers for the panels. And hence is the reason for its Polycrystalline solar panel in South Africa.
The electrons in every cell of the panel seem to have less space to move as there are more crystals in a cell. Still, the polycrystalline solar panels have lower efficiency ratings.
Features of Polycrystalline Solar Panels
- Poly crystal solar panels are less expensive when compared with other types such as mono and thin film panels.
- Since the cells of polycrystalline solar panels are produced from multiple silicon fragments instead of a single, pure silicon crystal, the price is lower.
- The efficiency ratings of these kinds of panels are found to be between 15 to 17 percent.
- These panels are more reliable and the lifespan of a Polycrystalline solar panel in South Africa is said to be more than 25 years.
- It can be a good option where there is a need for less solar power production and high temperature environments.
- The polycrystalline solar panels cells will be in square shape and they don’t have any rounded edges. The appearance of such panels is a blue color because of the way that the sun interacts with the crystalline.
Thin film solar panels
Thin-film solar panels are made of solar cells which generally have light-absorbing layers. These layers will be about 350 times smaller compared to a conventional silicon panel. Since a thin film solar panel in South Africa has a narrow design and carries an efficient semiconductor into their cells, it can be said that they are the lightest solar cell. However, they are capable of maintaining strong durability.
Irrespective of the individual cost of the thin film solar panel, the overall cost for its installation is lower than when comparing with monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar systems. This can be said in terms of additional labor requirements. The installation of thin-film solar panels is less labor-intensive due to their lightweight nature and moreover they are more maneuverable. Hence it is easy for installers to lift the panels to the rooftops and securely place them. Due to the reduced labor costs, the cost for a thin film solar panel in South Africa can be less expensive for solar power system installation.
Aspects that make thin film solar panels competitive
- Thin-film solar panels are light weighted and they have flexible materials
- Thin film panels are the best choice where a solar system is installed over a large commercial roof which is not capable of handling the additional weight of conventional solar equipment.
- A major benefit of a thin film solar panel in South Africa is its cost and they are almost 30% less than crystalline panels.
- Thin films are able to roll out and they can be directly attached to the rooftop. So it is possible to install the panels on any rooftop without racks, even a weak support is sufficient.
- Flexibility that comes with thin solar panels makes them well suited for urbane building-integrated installations.
- You can expect better performance even in hot weather.
When you are thinking of a solar panel in South Africa and find it difficult to choose between its various types, you should evaluate them based on its efficiencies, life span, temperature coefficient, price, aesthetics and the location where you install.