How To Choose The Best Solar Panels in NZ

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How To Choose The Best Solar Panels in NZ

The industry standard is that solar power companies will do the research for you, finding the best solar panel brands and models for your unique solar power system set up.  On this page we discuss the specifics of solar panels, giving full access to the finer details.

More useful pages:
Learn the solar basics
How a grid-connected solar power system works
Solar panel prices
How to choose the best solar panel installer

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How to choose solar panels - simplified

  1. Determine the type of panels to be installed, it could be any of the following; monocrystalline, polycrystalline or thin film.
  2. Find out the efficiency of the solar panels, this is normally between 15% - 21%. Remember, expensive panels often equal high efficiency, cheaper panels equal lower efficiency. Low efficiency doesn't mean low quality.
  3. Check the solar panels performance warranty, it should be around 25 years.
  4. Find out what tier the solar panels are. Tier-1 is considered the best, while Tier-3 is not as highly rated.

Types of Solar Panels

The 3 main types of solar panels are; monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin film. Monocrystalline is the most sought after panels, while polycrystalline is following closely behind. With around 1% difference, monocrystalline is fractionally more efficient, and expected to last a year or two longer. Thin film panels are the least efficient, won't last as long and are generally the cheapest.

Because monocrystalline panels are more efficient, they generate more solar power within a smaller roof area. If limited space is available for solar panels consider monocrystalline solar panels. If there is ample roof space and the quote for polycrystalline panels is cheaper (than monocrystalline) then polycrystalline panels could be the better option.

solar panel types - monocrystalline, polycrystalline, thin film

Learn more about these 3 types of solar panels here.

Half-Cut Solar Cell Technology

Another solar panel decision you might come across is whether to install solar panels with whole cells or go with the newer half-cut solar cell technology.  The two main benefits of half-cut solar cells is that they are more efficient and better at handling shade, but this normally comes at a price.  Find out more about the benefits of half-cut solar technology here.

Solar Panel Efficiency

A highly efficient solar panel comes at a premium price; it's important to select the solar panel that is best suited to your budget, and electrical needs. The efficiency of most solar panels available in New Zealand range between 15% to 21%.

Efficiency rates calculate: how much of the sun's energy is being transformed into electricity as it makes contact with solar panels.  

For example, the Yingli's Panda Series panels, which are 290W, have an efficiency of 17.9%.

High-efficiency solar panels are the preferred option; with higher efficiency, they produce more power per meter square. Therefore, you require less roof space for panels, and other marginal benefits such as less mounting gear, less labour installing etc.

Here is a list of all the solar panels available in New Zealand and the efficiency of each.

Warranties on Solar Panels

Most solar panel manufacturers have 25-year performance warranties, suggesting the manufacturer is confident that their solar panels will last 25 years, if not longer. Solar panels also have a manufacturer's warranty (or product warranty) which is generally 10 years.

It is important to know how to claim warranties. For instance, a solar installation company that a buyer has purchased solar panels from might not be in operation in 15 years time. If this was the case, the next point of contact could be the New Zealand wholesaler of the solar panels, or the manufacturers themselves. Know who to talk to in the future with regards to your solar panels, the professionals are always there to help.

black solar panels by the beach in auckland

Big Name Brands Vs. A Foreign Brand

Household brands are a rarity when shopping for solar panels. These unfamiliar brands should be considered! Always research solar panel brands. Some of the best solar panels are of Chinese origin. We advise you to google the brand you have been quoted for, followed by the word 'review'. You may not find many New Zealand based solar panel reviews, however many websites have dedicated review sections in Australia and beyond.

Some of the best brands on the market include; REC, Yingli, Canadian Solar, JinkoSolar, Trina Solar, Renesola.

Some brands you may have heard of before; Hyundai Solar, LG & Mitsubishi.

Selecting Solar Panels By Tiers

The solar power industry grades solar panels via the tier system.

Tier 1 : Considered to be the best solar panels. Manufacturers are vertically integrated; they have control over the entire manufacturing process. They use high-grade silicon solar cells and are the best performing solar panels.

Tier 2 : These panels don't necessarily have substandard quality compared to Tier 1, but tier 2 manufacturers don't control the whole process. They spend less on research and design, but they often still feature the latest developments on design and construction.

Tier 3 : These manufacturers are the largest percentage in the market. Often tier 3 businesses only assemble parts, and source their products on the open market. These panels aren't recommended by My Solar Quotes.

Solar Panel Tier Rating System

Solar Panel Specifications

Want even more details of on solar panels? Ask solar installers for data sheets (if they haven't already sent them to you).  On these sheets you can find out the solar panels power tolerance, temperature co-efficient rating, dimensions and a lot of other technical specs. To learn how to read solar panel data sheets please click here.

BIPV (Building Integrated Photovoltaics)

BIPV solar panels replaces conventional building materials such as roof tiles, skylights and glass windows.

Only a limited number of BIPV panels are currently installed in New Zealand (due to the substantial cost).

BIPV panels examples: Tesla's solar roof tiles, glass on glass solar panels and transparent solar glass.

Click here to view what BIPV materials are available in New Zealand.

Zero Energy Home Auckland

The Zero Energy home in Auckland (pictured above) used solar tiles. Read more information here.

Solar Power Skylights

Above is an example of glass on glass solar panels a.k.a solar power skylights.