Selecting Solar Panels
In this knowledge article we will run through the basics of solar panels and how to calculate the solar panel or solar array for your system.
Solar panels we discuss broadly fall into two categories:
- Fixed panels
- Flexible solar panels
Fixed panels have been in production for many years and normally have an aluminium frame and have long term durability. They are ideal for houses, solar power plants or other large fixed structures.
Flexible solar panels are a relatively new technology which is becoming robust and reliable, especially with long life materials such as ETFE now being used. It pays to make sure the panel you purchase is ETFE and has suitable IP ratings to ensure a long life. See our knowledge article on IP ratings.
In this knowledge article we will discuss:
- Selecting your panel type
- Sizing your panel
1. Selecting your Panel Type
Selecting your panel type will mainly depend on the application. If you are installing solar on a house you should use a fixed panel. The fixed panel should have a junction box of at least an IP65 rating and have IP67 connectors. The panel should preferably be a mono-crystalline type as opposed to poly-crystalline. Mono-crystalline panels are not quite as cheap but offer better efficiency due to the uniform crystal structure, meaning a greater power output per area.
If you are using a panel for an automotive or marine application a flexible panel may be more suitable. This is due to its versatility in mounting options, light weight and portability. If the panel is installed in a marine environment, make sure it has a rating of at least IP67. Due to the corrosive nature of salt water it is very important for water to be kept out of the solar panel, junction box, cables and MC4 connectors. At Lux Solar all of our panels and components are IP67 certified.
2. Sizing your Panel
Before selecting your panel it is important to know what your power requirements are. Please refer to our knowledge article on batteries for determining your daily power requirements. There are some very complicated algorithms for determining the size of the panel. We have developed software that determines panel output based on multiple factors such as panel efficiency, panel orientation to the sun (both in vertical and horizontal tilt), latitude of installation, average solar irradiance, sunshine hours and shade conditions. The software tracks the sun every day of the year and integrates what the total output will be. A simpler rule to determine your total power generation is to multiply the panel power by four hours. Using this simplified rule your panel size will be total power consumption per day divided by four hours. Using our fridge example from the battery knowledge article which consumes 100 watts per day results in the following calculation.
Panel size = Total power consumption / 4 hours
= 100 W/h / 4 hours = 25 W solar panel
At Lux solar we have done all the hard work for you. Simply use our Lux solar calculator to determine which one of our pre-designed kits will suit your needs. All of our gear is designed specifically for marine applications so you know you are getting the highest quality.
If you have any questions or feedback on this knowledge article please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org