dont-make-these-solar-mistakes
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Recently, we published a video from Solar Mango, titled Why a Solar Panel is Like Your Wife
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No, it was not a funny video – at least it was not supposed to be. On the other hand, it was a damn serious video.
Because, you see, when you invest on solar panels, you are investing on a 25 year relationship!
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I see many folks are selecting a solar module as if it were just another product. Many of them choose the lowest priced panels, thinking – heck, how does it matter? All panels are the same.
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And those who are quality conscious and are willing to pay for quality feel that they just need to choose a good brand of solar panels, and that should ensure that they get a good enough panel.
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They could not be more wrong. The quality of solar panels, made of a number of critical components in addition to the semiconductor cells, can vary significantly from one to another. Even for the same company and brand, the quality of panels could differ from one model to another. The same company and brand for instance could offer a panel that returns a high efficiency even at low sunlight conditions, while another model from the same company could return a much lower efficiency for low sunlight conditions. Now, having this beneficial characteristic alone could enhance your electricity generation by 5% – that would be close to an increase of 2 million units of power over a 25 year lifetime for a 1 MW solar power plant.
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While a 5% loss could result even from pretty good quality panels but with lower performances on relatively minor aspects such as low light performance, really poor quality solar panels could hurt you a lot, lot more.
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A poor quality panel might cost only 20% less than a good or a very good quality panel, but it might degrade in just 5 years – thus generating 80% less than a high quality panel. For a 1 MW solar power plant, that would mean a loss of 25 million units compared to a 1 MW solar power plant that works well over 25 years. Just imagine, 25 million units, even at Rs 5/unit (8 US cents) will mean you are losing Rs 12.5 crores ($2 million).
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Does that sound dramatic and unbelievable? Are you feeling that I am exaggerating the potential loss from low quality panels?
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I would suggest that you talk to those who have put up solar power plants in Rajasthan in the initial phases (2010-12 period). As it was not well known how to evaluate the quality of solar panels, some of the power plant developers went for poor quality panels, and by 2015, a good number of those panels had to be replaced.
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Sure, such a dramatically poor panel performance happened only in a minority of cases if you consider all the solar power plants in India, but if you consider those power plants in which poor quality panels were installed, such failures with panels seem to have happened in a MAJORITY OF CASES!
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Well, all the above story-telling and (truthful!) scaremongering are to make this point: It makes huge sense to spend time and efforts in selecting good quality solar panels.
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But how can you select the best solar panels? What are the parameters to watch out for?
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Ah, this is what I am coming to: At Solar Mango, we have done extensive research on these questions, and have compiled concise answers for you too.
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Use some of the insights here, and you would have made some really wise decisions!
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All the best!
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Team Solar Mango