Choosing Solar Panels

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Choosing Solar Panels

My Solar Quotes lists only premium solar power installation companies. These companies have done their research to find the best solar panels available, not only in terms of quality, but also price and efficiency.

Selecting one of My Solar Quotes recommended solar power installers means that you can rest assure knowing that the companies have your best interests in mind. They will select the best solar panels for your individual requirements. 

Should you want to conduct your own research, please see the information below about the types of solar panels available, tier rated solar panels and how the solar panels perform in real-world conditions.

Types of Solar Panels

The 3 main types of solar panels are; monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin film. Monocrystalline is the most sought after panel with polycrystalline gaining momentum.  With around 1% difference, monocrystalline is a fraction more efficient and expected to last a year or two longer.  Thin Film panels are the least efficient and generally the cheapest, with polycrystalline and monocrystalline being at the higher end.

Because monocrystalline panels are the more efficient, you generate more solar power within a smaller area on your roof.  If you have limited space for solar panels you might want to choose monocrystalline solar panels.

When comparing types of panels, your choice will normally come down to a cost-benefit analysis and what panel type will fit within your budget.

solar panel types - monocrystalline, polycrystalline, thin film

BIPV ( Building Integrated Photovoltaics)

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

The high cost of BIPV solar panels indicates that there has only been a handful of these systems installed in New Zealand.

A 3kW system using solar tiles will cost around $18,000 versus a standard solar panel system which costs $9,000 (approx.).

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 solar power skylights.

Selecting Solar Panels By Tiers

The tier system is the solar power industry’s way of grading solar panels.   

Tier 1 – Considered to be the best solar panels, these manufacturers are vertically integrated; they have control over the entire manufacturing process.  They use the highest-grade silicon solar cells and are the highest performing solar panels.

Tier 2 – These panels do not necessarily have substandard quality compared to Tier 1; they just don’t have control of the whole process.  They spend less on R&D, but they still keep up with the latest developments on design and construction.

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

Solar panel tier rating system pyramid diagram

Find out how the perform in real world conditions:

To find out how solar panels perform in real world conditions you can look at the manufacturers data sheets or you can go to Photon Magazine for independent testing.

Photon Laboratory Solar Panel Yield Measurement Results 2014

Performance Data to look out for:

Power Tolerance

Each solar panel manufacturer claims a specific watt power for their solar panels e.g. 250W.  However, manufacturers also indicate the range a solar panel is expected to exceed.  Most companies indicate both a negative and positive tolerance.  The range can vary as much as +10% to -10%.  If this is the case, then a 250W panel could produce as much as 275W or as little as 227W in ideal conditions.  To ensure expected power output, look for solar panels with a small power tolerance range or a positive only tolerance.

Temperature co-efficient rating

This rating describes the decreasing power output as the outside temperature increases.  Temperature coefficient Pmax for REC Peak Energy Eco Panels are -0.46%, therefore each degree over 25˚C the maximum power output of the panel is reduced by 0.46%.


Efficiency shows how much of the sun’s energy the solar panel transforms into electricity.  For example, the Yingli’s Panda Series panels have an efficiency of 17.2%. Efficiency ratings normal range between 14% to 21%

Warranties on Solar Panels

Most solar panel manufacturers have a performance warranty of 25 years, which indicates the manufacturer is confident that their solar panels will last 25 years, if not longer.

It is important to know that a warranty will only be honoured if the company is still in operation, if they are not in operation the performance warranty could still be covered, so long as the company was insured when you purchased the panels.

Therefore, selecting a solar manufacturer that has a good history is worthwhile.