How much electricity does a solar panel generate per day? What’s a tier 1 panel?

Having the world’s highest average solar radiation per square meter, Australia is considered the most potential and viable solar energy source whether you’re a home or a commercial entity looking to install panels on your premises.

Choosing the right solar system can be very confusing as there’s a lot of misleading jargon and buzzwords – especially with the solar panels! You’ll also have to ensure they are compatible with your entire solar system – you’ve then got to see how they interact with each other before trying to calculate their output, which can be challenging as well.

It is impossible to tell you with certainty that your solar panel produces this much power – as this varies from brand to brand and panel to panel. There’s also something else you need to consider in addition to choosing a panel – the quality of manufacturer, generally ranked via solar panel tiers.

How much electricity does a solar panel generate per day? Photo by Ryan Searle on Unsplash

How are solar panels tiered?

Solar panels are categorized into three tiers, with tier 1 as the best. This can affect output depending on the brand and number of watts per panel (especially over longer periods of time). Your location will also be important – obviously someone in Australia is going to get better value out of a solar installation than someone in Glasgow (only 50 days of sunshine a year there…).

Let’s discuss the concept of a Tier 1 solar panel. This is a bit of a misnomer – in the sense that Tier 1 or Bank-ability solar panels come from companies which have been in the industry for many years and are financially capable of dealing with your warranty issues, repairing issues or any problems you encounter over the ~10 years you will use their product. That’s my convoluted way of saying Tier 1 denotes the ranking of the manufacturer itself, not the solar panel. It is the manufacturer who will back up your product in the case of potential future defective panels or installations. Banks or investors may not want to put their money in your solar power project (commercial solar or residential) unless they’re satisfied your manufacturers are likely to be around if and when your solar systems malfunction. How many successful projects has the company undertaken? How long have they been around? The answers to these questions will impact which tier the manufacturer is.

It is important to keep in mind that Tier 2 or Tier 3 solar panels are not always a poor choice per se – these manufacturers can also offer high quality panels, it’s just riskier to rely on them because the company is recently established, and you may not be sure how long they’ll be in the industry. Maybe their manufacturing standards aren’t as robust as some of the bigger brands – as always, you get what you pay for. It’s a matter of weighing up the pros and cons and ensuring your solar investment is making money within your risk tolerance. And if you’re going for a bigger installation, it’s generally worth going for a quality manufacturer and a tier 1 panel. Preferably more than one, but you get the point.

Who chooses solar panel tiers?

This tier-based ranking (remember, it’s per manufacturer, not per panel) is decided by Bloomberg New Energy Finance – a research organization. There are other ‘tier’ lists out there which are better off avoided as it can be very confusing – the Bloomberg list has been well trusted for a long time.

If you’re interested in more detail in how a company’s tier is decided, the official BloombergNEF site has a useful PDF you can download here.

Just remember, there’s a lot of marketing involved in solar, so be sure to ask as many questions as you can to the salesperson. Grab a copy of the spec sheet for the panels they’re showing you and check it out yourself. Do your due diligence and you can even end up with a cashflow positive solar installation.

How much electricity does a solar panel generate per day?

Your location and the amount of watts in the solar panel will also impact the amount of power your panels are able to generate. solar panels will be in terms of making the most of the solar power.

Your inverter also plays an important role in regulating and maximising generation of solar power. A top-notch quality solar inverter determines how well your solar output is distributed, applicable once the DC power turns into AC.

In Australia you can generally bank on 10-12 hours of sunlight during summer. For simplicity’s sake, let’s call average sunlight 10 hours for our calculation, and the capacity of the solar panel we’re measuring is 300 watts:

Total Watts = Average time of sunlight x Solar Panels watts x Number of Panels

= 10 x 300 x 1

= 3000 Watts Hour or 30KWH Daily

But we also need to consider solar panel efficiency. A solar panel has a maximum of 15–22% efficiency, due to the Shockley-Queisser limit silicon panels will never reach greater than 1/3 efficiency.

Let’s calculate total watts from a single panel, daily, with 20% efficiency:

3000 Watts x 20% = 600 Watt Hours or 0.66KWH per day.

If you want to measure solar output you have numerous options depending on which inverter you’ve chosen. Most of them offer a web-based interface so you can keep an eye on how much money you’re saving – you could even pipe the solar statistics to a Raspberry Pi, or automate reports showing how much you’ve saved. Solar power in Australia has never been cheaper – we’re seeing a meteoric rise in commercial solar installations nationwide, whether you’re Ikea or an SME – it’s time to go green and choose solar power for your business.

Which manufacturers offer tier 1 solar panels in 2021?

As per review.solar for Q1 2021:

  • LONGi
  • Jinko
  • JA Solar
  • Trina Solar
  • Canadian Solar
  • Risen
  • QCells
  • Suntech
  • Talesun
  • First Solar
  • ZNShine
  • Seraphim
  • Eging
  • Haitai New Energy
  • Astronergy
  • Jolywood
  • SunPower/ Maxeon
  • Jinergy
  • VSUN Solar
  • Jetion
  • LG Electronics
  • BYD
  • AE Solar
  • Phono Solar
  • Waaree
  • HT-SAAE
  • REC Group
  • URE
  • ET Solar
  • Renesola
  • Adani
  • Boviet
  • Vikram
  • Ulica
  • Leapton
  • Hansol
  • Kyocera
  • S-Energy
  • Recom
  • Shinsung
  • Heliene
  • Sharp
  • Swelect
  • Photowatt

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4 Main Types Of Batteries For Solar Storage

(source: Unsplash.com)

When choosing a solar battery, there are various essential things to consider such as the battery’s lifespan, cost, how much power each battery can provide etc. There are multiple models of batteries which can store solar energy, all with advantages and disadvantages. The best ones for storage applications are recognized as the safest to use by the NEC 2020.  

Here below are the most trusted batteries currently available in the market for solar storage purposes.

Nickel Based Battery

Nickel-based batteries are used on a large scale for energy storage purposes because their characters perform well in all kinds of temperatures. Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) is the most common technique used.  Nickel-based batteries have been used in large-scale energy storage projects as they perform well in all types of temperatures. Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) is the most common Nickel-based battery technology used with the lowest cost than the other batteries. They are more appropriate for off-framework establishment as they have a dependable reinforcement framework and don’t need regular maintenance, yet the absence of support will lessen their cycle checks. They don’t require ventilation or cooling and have a long life cycle. They are available in a wide range of sizes and performances and even can be stored in a discharged state because of their long shelf life. Moreover, Cadmium used in these batteries is a toxic metal that makes the battery types less user-friendly and leads to lead-acid batteries.

Lead Acid

Lead batteries are renowned for decades. Either they are the bulky ones but are still rapidly being eclipsed by other technologies with more extended guarantees or lower prices as solar battery storage becomes more popular. They have a low self-discharge rate among the presented rechargeable batteries. They have the specific power and are well capable of the high discharge of current among many others, but it charges slowly (14+ hours) among the others and has a low specific energy. The lead batteries are not so eco-friendly, and in case if they are not discarded properly, they can contaminate the environment. That can result in a threat to human health and nature as they contain sulfuric acid and lead that are dangerous elements. So that’s why these batteries are heavy because of their materials. 

Lithium-Ion

The lithium ions are gathering more repute after evolving electric car industry development both in technology and cost. There are two kinds of lithium-ion batteries that exist and are used for large-scale solar battery storage applications: Lithium Manganese Oxide (LMO) is a fast charging but can only enter the C&I market. The Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (NMC) is high energy-specific and stable but relatively new. Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) has a long life cycle with no requirements for ventilation or cooling. At the same time, these batteries have high energy thickness and a somewhat low self-release. They don’t require delayed preparation when new, and one charge is adequate. Lithium-particle batteries are overall poor support, and an occasional release isn’t needed. Anyway, the vast majority of them are still similarly costly to fabricate and are liable to maturing, even while not being utilized and transportation limitations. They likewise require an insurance circuit to keep up voltage and current inside limits.

Flow

They are the new entrants to the battery storage technology family, and even the technology has been used for years. They are known as flow batteries because of the water-based solution of zinc-bromide inside them. They have more prominent plan adaptability, permitting more blend between capacity limit and force yield limit. These Redox flow batteries (RFB) have high flexible energy storage technology and low energy density and less expensive. The Hybrid flow battery has a high storage technology with common charge and discharge rates and less costly. Rather than adding more batteries to a storage system to build its ability, stream batteries need more electrolyte fluid. This electrolyte can be recharged whenever without intruding on power yield. The electrochemical cell can convey power as long as the electrolyte arrangement is accessible.

Wrapping Up!

Settling on the battery innovation will affect the entire power system use and life span. As we have seen, lead-acid batteries are more dependable and have been utilized for quite a long time. Yet, they are not as adaptable or practical as the other batteries appeared previously. It is unquestionably challenging to pick battery storage or the correct EMS that will work with it. After selecting the battery type, one needs to appropriately estimate their battery fleet and track down a viable EMS for choosing a battery based on your demand. 

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What’s in the future for Solar Power in Australia?

The International Monetary Fund has underlined revisions to the growth prospects of the Australian economy. This marking an end to the economic growth that followed the 2008 financial crisis, as Australia is faced with bleak prospects in the 2020-2021 financial year. As politicians and fund managers scramble, the golden question seems to be what will spur growth not just in the short term, but into the future.

Australia is looking to leaders in Europe who have their own stimulus package coming in at $1220 billion AUD in size, which is heavily investing in energy and clean transport. This vision is supported by not only the economic benefit of job creation, but it provides a sustainable environmental solution, in what is fast proving to be a daunting threat in climate change around the world. 

Leading economies seem to share this vision, although not entirely. China is approving coal-fired plants at the fastest rate since 2015, while also heavily investing in electric transportation. India is heavily invested into renewable energy and so is Japan. Australia in its own right has continued to pursue its national projects including the “200% renewable Tasmania” announcement by the Tasmanian government. While bright spots are found, there is still an abundant need for a stimulus that looks beyond the next 5 years of economic recovery. 

The prospect of renewables seems to be improving for businesses and home owners. With renowned problems such as costs and efficiency being gripes of consumers in the past, the renewables market has shown a continuity of innovation over the past two decades. The improvement in engineering has pushed the efficiency of silicon solar cells closer to their theoretical maximum while improving innovations seek to maximize the sunlight the panels can be exposed to. Resulting in higher returns coming from renewable energy systems, such as solar, while being more accessible to individuals around Australia.

Solar energy increasingly has been lowering in cost as the market for the products matures and the labor required is more accessible, resulting in Australians moving from a reported 16% of all electricity generated by Solar or Wind to 40% in 2030. This being attributed to lowering costs and increased return on investment. It seems that the market for solar in particular is an enticing offering for consumers.

The question comes then of how to formulate a stimulus to drive the growth of renewable energy, to not only fight climate change, but fight the impending economic catastrophe of COVID-19. Demand from consumers and businesses present an opportunity for further incentives, while the fallout of 2020 may have a profound impact on the targets set for the next 20 years, which will have far reaching effects.

Whether we emerge from a turbulent 2020 looking towards a better future is entirely up to us, and it seems apparent that renewables, particularly solar could be the way to look when looking to drive productive economic growth. 

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Solar inverter efficiency – how much does it matter?

It’s almost human nature to assume anything above 95% is excellent – and, it is. However over the lifetime of your solar inverter, the difference from 98% to 97% can reveal itself on your power bills. 

Efficiency is a critical specification, that is directly correlated to the production of your system, before you can utilize those solar rays in the form of AC power, an inverter must convert it, and although the core principals remain the same despite using alternative solutions such as a micro-inverter, the power must be converted. So, the higher the efficiency is, the more kilowatt-hours can be created. Simply put this may seem to be  the perfect number, the closer to 100% the better, however it isn’t always.

Solar Inverter Efficiency isn’t as simple as it looks 

Typically there will be two figures when it comes to efficiency, these will be maximum efficiency and European efficiency. European efficiency is the more reliable figure as it outlines average performance, as opposed to the highest level of efficiency possible. Unavailable to us are efficiency figures for Australia, as Europe is very different in terms of conditions, but that is not possible. This leaves us in Australia will slightly less accuracy, however, they are the best indicator available. 

What do the numbers look like?

For the purpose of this article we won’t delve too much into the other possible types of inverters, such as Hybrids or Off Grid, we will focus on the String inverters which are the most common solution. Micro inverters won’t be as efficient as string converters, so they haven’t been included below.

Popular brands for Australian solar panel systems are,

A few of the relevant scores are below, all for a 5kW Inverter,

  • Fronius Primo  5.01-1 : 97.1%
  • SMA Sunnyboy : 96.5%
  • Delta Home Series : 97.5%

Assuming these are used for a 6.6kW system, which is a popular option for larger households, the difference between a SMA and Delta inverter represents a meager 1%. If we translate that to production numbers on the Gold Coast, the difference between using a 96.5% inverter, vs a 97.5% inverter is 96kW in a year – over 10 years let’s say, that makes up a 960kW difference, or in dollars $199.3 over a 10 year span. 

Now these numbers are very far from perfect, they don’t account for a number of factors, and assume all other aspects of your solar panel system maintain in perfect working order for the next 10 years. However, it does show that it does make a difference, not only in production but in the money you spend. 

What else is important in an inverter?

While $200 Is nothing to scoff at, it’s hardly a game changer. There are many other factors that play into installers and consumers’ minds, namely how durable an inverter is. This is a tradeoff, as to increase efficiency, some short cuts may be made in durability, such as effective cooling within the inverters. Removing this, therefore removes the required energy to cool the inverter, resulting in marginally higher efficiency. 

Manufacturers will have warranties associated with their inverters which can provide some insight into the tradeoff. 10 years is considered a minimum for a lifespan, with warranties ranging to around 12 years on the high end. The higher the warranty, the more confident consumers can be in the longevity of their choice. 

When working with a solar installer, it is important to discuss most important factors to yourself. Get them to explain why they have made particular choices for equipment, as there is never a correct answer, only a choice that applies better to some circumstances. 

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Tesla Solar Inverter – first looks!

After an unprecedented 2020, Tesla have been busy in the background and this week have announced the launch of a new solar inverter.

An inverter is an important part of any solar system – it’s used to convert DC power (generated by your solar panels) into AC power (i.e. usable for grid export or usage in the home). For Tesla to dip their toe in this end of the market shows an interesting insight into their overall strategy to help manage renewable energy as widely as possible. Their website has a bit of a spiel about the product:

“Tesla Solar Inverter completes the Tesla home solar system, converting DC power from solar to AC power for home consumption. Tesla’s renowned expertise in power electronics has been combined with robust safety features and a simple installation process to produce an outstanding solar inverter that is compatible with both Solar Roof and traditional solar panels. Once installed, homeowners use the Tesla app to manage their solar system and monitor energy consumption, resulting in a truly unique ecosystem experience.”

Tesla Solar Inverter
Tesla Solar Inverter (source: Tesla.com)

Can I buy the inverter in Australia?

You can’t actually view the Tesla Solar Inverter page on the official Australia Tesla website yet (it just 404‘s) – but according to their press release “(the inverter) completes the Tesla home solar system”. You can use the American link which will show you the (fairly utilitarian) details they are currently providing.

So you still can’t get this in Australia but we’ll keep you posted as soon as there’s any information. Tesla are very US focused so hopefully they bring the party to Australia sooner rather than later! And on that note, no news yet on the Tesla Powerwall 3 but we’re still waiting with bated breath. The site for the new inverter notes that it’s “built on Powerwall 2 technology for exceptional efficiency and reliability” so maybe we are a ways off yet?

Tesla Solar Inverter Specifications

The product 660mm high and 411mm wide. It’s available in two configurations, depending on how many solar panels you have on your roof – 3.8 kW and 7.8 kW.

The new inverter will be compatible with ‘standard’ solar panels as well as integrating seamlessly with the Tesla Solar Roof.

A warranty is available for the product and will be a strangely chosen 12.5 years. Haven’t seen a half year in a warranty in a while!

The product will also feature Wi-Fi, Ethernet and cellular connectivity with OTA (over the air) updates, and has been “designed to integrate with Tesla Powerwall and Tesla app”. Matching inverters, batteries and panels can be quite the mission if you’re looking to get the best result so it’s nice to see Tesla working hard to offer more of a ‘full stack’ approach to renewable energy (not just solar power either!).

Lastly, it has 4 MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) controllers. Most inverters have two so it’ll be interesting to see what we’re in for with the Tesla Solar Home lineup!

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