Everyone has had their input into this subject, which is great because I am re-designing my solar setup too. There's been good input on size of banks /batteries vs. amount panels /wattage required vs. daily consumption /load and controllers.
However what about the type of solar panel to harvest all this free energy?
Can I generalize and say there is three types around ATM that are economical, being :-
Good power-to-size ratio: efficiency typically within the range of 135-170 Watts per m2 (13-17%, with notable exceptions).
Outstanding performance in cooler conditions.
Some leading units now have over 18% conversion efficiency.
Previously the most commonly used technology in the world, with over 50 years of technological development.
Excellent life span / longevity. Usually come with a 25yr warranty.
Good efficiency: typically 120-150 Watts per m2 (12-15%, with notable exceptions).
Generally speaking, marginally less expensive to produce than monocrystalline.
Slightly better performance in hotter conditions (lower heat derating coefficient)
Excellent life span / longevity. Usually come with 25yr warranty.
NB: Monocrystalline solar panels are not necessarily better or more efficienct than polycrystalline, as many in Australia believe. Read more: Monocrystalline vs polycrystalline silicon solar cells Busting some myths
Amorphous Thin Film
Low conversion efficiency: typically 60-80 Watts/m2 (6-8%, with notable exceptions).
Expected lifespan is less than crystalline panels.
Optimal efficiency in hot weather, less effective in cooler conditions.
3-6 month breaking in period where long term output is exceeded.
Requires 2-3 times more panels and surface area for same output as crystalline.
Ideal for example for inland Australia, where conditions are hot and vacant space abounds. (More about thin-film solar cell technology.
How important is panel efficiency in your system?
Remember that, especially if you have a large roof, panel efficiency may not be the most important thing for you to worry about. It is more important to consider your system as a whole. The ultimate cost and performance of your system will depend not only on the panels you use.
So we have another can of worms to consider..........
My system on 'Nimiane' is a collection of panels both mono and crystalline collected over the years, setup with several PWM controllers to avoid conflict between the different panels - a real dog's breakfast.
What's your take on the type of panel to suit your particular weather conditions or will you just seek a happy compromise. Remembering some of us live in the tropics -ie. Florida/Queensland or the other hand Great lakes/Southern Australia. ?
Looking forward to some /any opinions.