Does Solar Work in My State?

This is an infographic put out by 1Bog Solar explaining why solar works (well) in your state even if you think it doesn’t. Right click and choose “View Image” to view full size. Clicking on the image will take you to 1Bog Solar which is a group solar purchasing organizer. Think of them as the Groupon of Solar (before Groupon).

Yes, I recommend signing up with them, even if you don’t go solar with them.

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How to Choose the Best Solar PV System

Occasionally, people ask me how to choose the best solar pv system, or the best panels. Choosing the best solar system depends mainly on your energy needs, roof space, and budget. Most people really want to know how to choose the best solar value. For example, I was asked the following question on my “Help me help you” survey:

I got bid from 2 different installers. One was SunPower panels; the other Canadian Solar. The SunPower bid (for a 5.2 kw DC system) was $21,000 and the Canadian Solar bid was $14,000 – why so far apart?

Solar Roof PosterizedGreat question. There could be many explanations why there is such a gap in the price. Generally, SunPower’s superior efficiency allows for it/ necessitates that it price its solar panels higher. (They have to pay for the best engineers to get the best efficiency, right?) Each installer may be giving you the best deal he can with both brands of panels. What you should check on both proposals is not the DC system size (in this case 5.2 kw DC), but the kilowatt-hours output. Ask your installer(s) how much energy (in kwh) each system expects to produce in the first year.

Learn About Solar

SRoeCo Solar Answers Your Solar Questions!

  1. Which panels should I choose? – Solar Panel Comparison Article
    1. a) What are the most efficient solar panels? – Solar Panel Comparison Table
  2. What size solar system do I need? – Calculate your solar array size
  3. How many panels do I need? – Calculate the number of solar panels
  4. How much will it cost to install? – Calculate the cost of going solar
  5. How much are the rebates? – Calculate California rebates

Calculate Which Size Solar Panels You Need

Should I use Sanyo 200’s or Suntech 270’s? SunPower 210’s or Canadian Solar 240’s? Which size solar panel you use depends mainly on how much roof space you have available and how much electricity you plan to use (with solar power). Below are 6 steps to calculate which size solar panels you need for your building.

Step 1: Know Your Electricity Usage

Gather your old electricity bills for the past 12 months. Contact your utility company if you don’t have them and your electricity provider should gladly send you a printout with your past electricity usage. You’re looking for 2 things: (1) your monthly kW/h usage, and (2) your monthly cost.

Step 2: Know your Roof Direction

Solar Roof Sunset

Grab a compass (maybe your car navigation, or check Google Maps) and figure out which way is South. Go outside, look at your roof and see how much roof space is facing South, Southwest, East and West. The more South the better, but West is actually okay.

Top 40 Most Efficient Solar Panels

*UPDATE – Check out SRoeCo’s sortable, searchable Solar Panel Comparison Table.

This is a chart of the “Top 40 Most Efficient Solar Panels” available on the market today (11/01/09). All 40 most-efficient solar panels are from 2 companies: SunPower and Sanyo Electric. If you have limited space on your roof and budget is not a concern – these are the best solar panels on the market giving you the highest efficiency (greatest output) per area.

All of these solar modules are Monocrystalline clearly proving that this type of solar panel is the most efficient – more efficient than Polycrystalline and Thin Film. The panels listed at 290 kW and above all take up more than 17.5 square feet per panel. The solar panels rated at 230 kW and below take up less than 13.5 square feet.

Solar Panel Comparison

Yes, some panels are more efficient than others, but that doesn’t mean that they are worth the additional cost.

Many people ask, “Which solar panel should I choose? Which panels are the best?” Though any salesman is going to tell you his panels are the best, the truth is that it is not easy to compare solar power panels and to firmly state that one brand stands out among the rest as the best.

The solar panel comparison chart I created below shows how difficult it can be to compare panels and brands. Listed are common panels between 190 and 230 watts of 5 common solar panel manufacturers (Canadian Solar, Kyocera, Sharp, SunPower, and Suntech).

Silicon not Thin Film: Solar Panels of the Future

Highlights from the Intersolar 2009 North America solar show in San Francisco, California that was held July 14-16 at the Moscone Center.

Michael Kanellos, Editor in Chief of Greentech Media, gives a short tour of the conference asking the question, “what’s the solar panel of the future – silicon or thin film?” View the video after the break…

5 Financial Reasons to Go Solar Now

Many people are under the false impression that you have to be an environmentalist to have interest in installing solar. Paying the upfront cost to install a solar electric system is something only a “green” person would do. Well, that’s not true anymore. Here are 5 financial reasons to go solar now!

1.    Utility rebates are decreasing as more people decide to install solar.

The California Solar Initiative (CSI) program will provide more than $3 billion in incentives for solar-energy projects in California. However, the amount of the incentive is scheduled to decrease in 10 steps over the duration of the program.  Residential Solar Rebate ChartPacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) are already in step 5 for residential projects, while Southern California Edison (SCE) recently dropped into step 4.

The difference between step 4 and 5 for an average size, 4 kW, solar electric system, is approximately $1,000 in your pocket.  The longer you wait, the more rebate money you lose!

Most Efficient Solar Panels

If you have limited space and need to get the most energy for your area, then you need the most efficient solar panels for your project. People always ask me, “which panels have the highest efficiency?” or, “which solar PV panels are the best?” The truth is that solar panel efficiency isn’t as important as you might think. For most homeowners, the better question to ask is, “which panels will give me the most electricity for the best price?” You can find out how much solar might cost for your home by using our free solar calculator. But you’re here to find out the most efficient solar panels, so let’s get on with it.

The most efficient solar panel in 2016 is the SunPower SPR-X22-360 with a 22.07% panel efficiency.

Below is a solar panel comparison chart comparing the solar panel efficiency of all other modules rated at 360 watts like the SPR-X22-360. The 360 watt rating means that in strict laboratory conditions, these solar panels produce the same output. However, because solar panels vary in size, some end up being more efficient compared to others – meaning they can produce the 360 watts using less space (area).

(Updated Sept. 26, 2016)

Manufacturer ID Rating Efficiency Tier
SunPower SPR-X22-360 360 22.07% 1
LG Electronics LG360N2C-B3 360 18.94% 1
Sunpreme SNPM-GxB-360 360 18.55% 1
SunEdison SE-H360-4 360 18.40% 1
First Solar TS-360-R11-02 360 18.33% 1
Sunpreme SNPM-GxB-360 SM 360 18.28% 1
REC Solar REC360PEM 72 360 17.94% 1
Topsun TS-S360TA1 360 14.04% 4
Schuco USA MPE 360 AL 01 360 6.29% 5