Today if you want to generate electricity, you cannot avoid buying solar panels and photovoltaic (PV) inverters. Nowadays they can be bought both online and offline, and they have different prices and efficiency. To select panels and inverters is not a difficult task, while to select qualified ones needs your profound understanding of them. Learning their individual characteristics can surely help.
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Solar panels function to convert sunlight into DC, and so they play an essential role in the whole solar power generation process. Their efficiency is the focal point that consumers and manufacturers care about the most. The current massively produced panels have the maximum efficiency of 20% or so or higher. The lab sample's maximum efficiency can even reach up to 40%.
Each solar panel consists of numerous solar cells. It is these cells that work to turn sunlight into DC. Solar cells are made of silicon in general. In specific, there are at least three types of silicon: monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin-film. Monocrystalline and polycrystalline are materials often used and the former is comparatively more efficient. Thin-film is a newly-introduced method. It is reported this is also very efficient and welcomed by users.
As technology advances, one new method has been invented to boost panel efficiency. This method adds perovskite in silicon and make them placed in tandem. By doing so, cell efficiency can be raised up to 35%. So far this method hasn't been applied to commercial panels yet. In the future, this will become possible. More importantly, panels made of these cells are cheaper than common ones.
PV inverters are also called solar inverters, solar PV inverters or PV solar inverters. Their function is to convert DC into AC. In the whole power generation process, solar panels do half the power generation job, and they do the other part. They have at least three types: grid-tie, off-grid and hybrid. The three types are only used in the grid-tie, off-grid and hybrid systems respectively. They cannot be mixed to use in different systems.
Their efficiency directly leads to the total efficiency of the whole solar PV system. Therefore, their efficiency is also a focal point. The highest conversion rate even reach up to 99% in theory. Inverters for large-scale factories can reach an efficiency of 98.5%, and those for home can be as efficient as 97% or so. The space for conversion rate is not large, and so manufacturers are trying to improve their attached functions such as cooling system and topology.
As for price concerns, these products are always sold in expensive prices. If you buy them in wholesale, you can get cheaper prices. But this is still expensive. The other factor that deeply influences their prices is regional difference. Products from Europe and North America are usually more expensive, while those from Asia especially China are cheaper. However, nowadays some countries like the US and Australia impose more tariffs on them. Besides, inverters from Germany, China, Japan and the US are considered the best ones among the many.
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