Mon, 11 Dec 2023

Are 500-watt solar panels the perfect choice for you?

08 Feb 2023, 04:04 GMT+10

The solar power business is seeing fast technological advancement. Solar photovoltaic technology continues to increase in efficiency and durability while decreasing in price. The 500-watt solar panel has become one of the most inventive solar industry breakthroughs in recent years.

What is a solar panel of 500 watts?
The 500-watt solar panel was created to meet the solar energy production requirements of medium and large solar systems with fewer panels, improving efficiency and reducing costs. In the past, solar panels were significantly smaller than 500 watts (less than 300 watts just a few years ago), representing a significant technological advancement. There are two ways to increase the power of an individual panel: either by making it larger (e.g., from a 60-cell module to a 72-cell module that occupies more space) or by increasing the overall efficiency of the solar panel (how well it captures sunlight) by improving the silicon cell manufacturing process, the solar panel itself, or both. Numerous 500-watt solar panels are produced utilizing half-cut solar technology, resulting in high efficiency and longevity with a half-cell. Additionally, these panels are always monocrystalline, which is more efficient than polycrystalline panels. This kind of efficiency/power output from a single solar panel would have been unimaginable ten or even five years ago.

Which firms provide solar panels of 500 watts?
The product landscape for 500-watt panels is limited but will undoubtedly expand. Trina Solar and JinkoSolar are the two key competitors.

Duomax and Tallmax V models by Trina Solar
Trina Solar, a Chinese solar panel company, has produced high-powered bifacial solar panels for some time. Both of their current models of bifacial monocrystalline solar panels, the Tallmax and the Duomax, include 500-watt power outputs and are primarily designed for utility-scale installations. Current Duomax bifacial panels offer a maximum voltage of 41.5 volts (V) with a 12-year warranty.

The JinkoSolar Tiger Pro
In 2020, JinkoSolar joined the 500-watt solar panel market by introducing its Tiger Pro series. JinkoSolar is a worldwide solar manufacturer and supplier with a presence in both the commercial and residential solar markets. Their Tiger Pro module offers a 585-watt power output and 21.4% efficiency.

How has the wattage of panels evolved throughout time?
When we began tracking the wattages of individual panels offered by our installer network in the first half of 2016, a greater proportion of bids featured panels with 300 watts or less. Few quotations contained panels more than 325 watts. 

Two elements contribute to the panel's achieving this power rating. First, these panels are primarily meant for large-scale installations; therefore, they are physically larger than residential panels. Second, solar panels are bifacial, which means they can absorb sunlight from both the front and back, thereby boosting the total amount of electricity generated. Less frequently are bifacial panels installed in residential applications.

Will panels keep growing more powerful?
There are two basic ways to increase solar panels' power: their efficiency and size. The maximum efficiency of the most efficient solar panels available for residential use is approximately 23 percent. That equates to a maximum output of 425 watts for a residential-sized panel. The power rating rises by around 10 watts every half percentage point when a solar panel's efficiency increases. Just five years ago, this level of efficiency in solar panels would have been unimaginable; if home panels were to raise their efficiency by another 5 percentage points to 28 percent, this would likely result in a 525-watt panel.

Alternately, solar panels could continue to increase in size from 60 cells to 72 cells and beyond, resulting in panels that occupy a greater area. While this may result in more powerful solar panels, it would also cause system design or integration challenges due to the modules' increased size and weight. Risen, a German firm, stated this year that they have successfully developed a 700-watt PV module.

Applications for solar panels with greater wattage
When combined with a solar inverter, charge controller, solar battery, or another kind of energy storage, panels with a higher wattage bring up many possibilities. If space is limited on your roof, installing more efficient and powerful solar modules might help you offset more of your electricity consumption with your solar system. When paired with a battery, your 500-watt solar panels will charge the battery faster than nearly any other choice.

Depending on where in the country you reside, a 20-panel installation of 300-watt solar panels - a 6-kilowatt (kW) solar power system - may generate enough electricity to balance a $120 monthly electricity cost. On the other hand, a 20-panel installation of 400-watt panels might theoretically offset a $160 monthly electricity bill. Moreover, suppose you plan to purchase an electric vehicle or switch to air-source heat pumps for your heating and cooling needs. In that case, panels with a larger wattage allow you to enlarge your solar panel system to accommodate these future needs. Due to their size, 500-watt solar cells may be more difficult to install, making off-grid or do-it-yourself solar systems even more challenging. Due to their size and relative scarcity, the price of a 500-watt solar panel system tends to be somewhat higher.

QuesGreens allows you to evaluate solar panel alternatives
If you're interested in comparing solar panels' wattages, efficiencies, or sizes,  QuestGreens is an interactive, user-friendly, and free resource for researching solar equipment. In addition, QuestGreens integrates this information immediately into any unique solar bids you receive from local installers through our platform, allowing you to compare your options directly.

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