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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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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Tesla Solar Roof Problems | What’s Next?

Tesla roof woes – Some early adopters have been experiencing Tesla solar roof problems – with one roof in Colorado catching fire and whispers of a secret “Project Titan” which Tesla have launched last year to fix faulty wiring/connectors on Tesla solar roofs America wide.

Tesla Solar Roof Problems

Tesla solar roof problems have been plaguing the company as people begin to wonder about the company’s cashflow, vision, and whether they may have overextended themselves. Well, by people I mean me – talking about Tesla as a whole. Powerwalls, Powerpacks, Model 3s, Solar Roofs. Let me know what you think in the comments. Certainly can’t blame Elon Musk for being conservative or not taking risks! 

An article by Business Insider notes that Briana Greer from Colorado was contacted by Tesla in late July about some ‘voltage fluctuations’ for the past couple of days. They promised to come and fix it on August 8 but unfortunately the house experienced a Combustible Episode before the techs arrived. According to Greer, they also wouldn’t tell her what went wrong:

“They purposely keep a lot of people in the dark. For an energy company, that’s ironic,” Greer told Business Insider in an interview last month. Wonder how long it took her to think up that one. Still, good burn.

Tesla Solar Roof
Tesla Solar Roof Problems (source: tesla.com)

According to the same article Tesla were quoted in Fox Colorado as saying “its solar panels are safe and very rarely catch fire.” Well, that’s reassuring! 

The system was installed by Xcel Energy and made by Trina (who recommend panels be inspected twice a year – something Greer says Telstra didn’t do).  

In August, Walmart sued Tesla after seven of its stores caught fire – Walmart are also complaining that Tesla can’t (or won’t?) tell them why the fire started. According to Walmart’s research, Tesla used faulty Amphenol connectors which failed in their task of heat regulation. This lead to the solar panels being subjected to a barrage of temperature spikes (which, ultimately, can lead to Walmarts on fire). Not great news. In any case, the ‘Project Titan‘ is pretty interesting, click to read Business Insider’s article on it.

If you’re interested in reading more articles talking about solar roof technology and goings on please click!

Got one of these Tesla roofs and having issues with it? Please let us know in the comments. 

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Solar Recycling Update | Breakthrough at Deakin

 There’s been a big announcement from Deakin University who have figured out a process to remove the silicon from used solar panels – repurposing it for lithium-ion batteries. Let’s learn more about this solar recycling update which was also discussed over at Renew Economy. 

Solar Recycling Update | Breakthrough at Deakin

(source: https://www.deakin.edu.au/ifm)

There’s been a new advancement in solar recycling research. The relatively short lifespan of solar panels and the huge issue of e-waste has been something researchers have been wrestling with for years.

Deakin University’s Institute for Frontier Materials has been where Material scientists Dr Md Mokhlesur Rahman and Prof Ying (Ian) Chen have conducted this groundbreaking research. Probably makes more sense coming from them, so here you go:

“Our discovery addresses several significant challenges currently facing industries dependent on batteries and energy storage heading into the future, Dr Rahman said.

“First, being such an exceptionally high value commodity with widespread applications we do not want any of this precious product wasted. Battery grade nano-silicon is highly expensive and retails for more than $44,000 per kilogram.

“Second, with the automotive industry set to be battery driven in the future, the push to find ways to increase battery capacity is growing.

“Part of the silicon repurposing process is to nano-size the battery grade silicon, leaving a nano-silicon which can store about 10 times more energy in the same space.” Dr Rahman continued.

His colleague Dr Chen elaborated on the importance of being able to extract the silicon cells and reuse them:

“Silicon cells are the most important component of a solar panel, transferring the sun’s energy into electrons,” Professor Chen said.

“They’re also a high-value material being a chemical element and far too precious to end up as waste, which is why this finding is significant.

“We can’t claim solar panels to be recyclable, in a circular economy sense, until scientists find a way to harvest and repurpose their most valuable components,” he said.

So whilst it’s not solar recycling per se, it’s certainly a gigantic step in the right direction. What will this mean for solar panel recycling companies such as Reclaim PV? Hopefully it’ll give them a big push as well. The lifespan of solar panels has always been the white elephant on the roof so the more we can extract and repurpose from old panels the better.

According to an article on Renew Economy, the project is supported by Institute for Frontier Material’s Circular Economy Strategy Lead, Catherine McMahon, in collaboration with Deakin Research Innovations’ Senior Commercial Manager Andrew Rau and industry partner Delaminating Resources Melbourne.

 

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Silent 55 – Solar Powered Catamaran

The Silent 55 solar powered catamaran has been announced and will debut at the 2019 Cannes Yachting Festival. The 2019 model is twice as powerful as the 2018 model with the Austrian manufacturer advising that one has already been build and 3 more are on order.

Silent 55 – Solar Powered Catamaran

“Our best-selling 16.7m innovative solar electric catamaran has been upgraded and become even better than it used to be,” says Michael Köhler, Silent-Yachts founder and CEO. “We did these updates and changes because we always try to improve and to install the best and latest technology available to satisfy our clients. We have built one new Silent 55 already and we’ve got three more orders for this model, which shows that we’re heading in the right direction.”

The Silent 55 includes 30 high-efficiency solar panels rated for approximately 10 kilowatt-peak. The catamaran uses MPPT (maximum power point tracking ) solar charge regulators and lithium batteries, allowing it to cruise through all the way through the evening (i.e. when the sun’s not shining) as well. 

A 15-kVA inverter provides the required power for household appliances. The electrical system also powers an aft swim platform and a 1,500-watt electric windlass. There is also a generator on board in case you run out of solar power. 

According to Robb Report the base price of the Silent 55 is €1.4m. Interested? Go check it out at the Cannes Yachting Festival or click here to learn more about the solar catamaran on the Silent Yachts website. And take me for a spin, please! 

Silent 55 Specifications

Length overall 16,70 m (54.8‘)
Beam overall 8,46 (27.7‘)
Draft 1,20 m (3.9‘)
Light displacement 19 tons
Water 500 – 1.000 L
Waste-Water 2 x 500 L
Fuel 500 – 1.600 L
Solar Panels 10 kWp
E-Motors 2 x 30 kW / 2 x 250 kW
Generator 22 kW / 100 kW
Battery Capacity 120 kWh
Cruising Speed 6 – 8 kt / 12 – 15 kt
Top Speed approx. 12 kt / 20 kt
CE Certification CE-A
Range Trans-Ocean

 

Silent 55 the Solar Powered Catamaran (source: RobbReport.com via Silent-Yachts)
Silent 55 the Solar Powered Catamaran (source: RobbReport.com via Silent-Yachts)

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