Stiebel Eltron

Simply the Best 800-582-8423

17 West Street West Hatfield, MA 01088 [email protected]

SBB 300 Plus Storage Tank

Pump station with SOM 6 Controller

Because every installation is different, we have a full line of SOLKITS and mounting hardware kits available. All components and accessories are available for individual sale.

Home Power's 2007 Solar-Electric Module Guide hen we talk with people interested in investing in PV, we often get the same question: "What's the best module?" Our stock reply is that choosing a module is similar to buying a Ford versus a Chevy—both are dependable trucks that will get the job done. While this response is oversimplified, it is sound general advice. Compared to most consumer products, the cost, performance, and durability of PV modules are relatively consistent—as long as you purchase UL-listed modules that carry a warranty of 20 years or more.

But when you dig into module specs and compare them side by side, the distinguishing characteristics begin to emerge. Because PV modules have 25-year-plus operational life spans, small distinctions in performance or suitability for a given application will be magnified over time. What may seem to be minor differences in daily array output can result in megawatt-hours of energy lost or gained over the life of the system.

A Changing PV Market

Over the last few years, a shortage of silicon—the main material in nearly all PV modules—resulted in a tight seller's market. This left many installers who had been loyal to a specific brand scrambling to get their hands on any available modules to keep their projects rolling. The silicon shortage limited options for choosing the optimal module for a given application.

More recently, increased investment in production and long-term contracts between module manufacturers and silicon producers has eased the availability crunch significantly. Existing PV manufacturers have ramped up production capacity, and new players are joining the manufacturing base. As a result, consumer choice is back on the table, and that's good for the PV industry, good for installers, and good for businesses and individuals ready to invest in solar electricity.

How to Use This Guide

This article provides a comprehensive listing of PV modules that are UL listed and available in the United States (or in a few cases, conservatively projected to be available in the first quarter of 2008). Included modules have a rated output of 100 watts or higher at standard test conditions (STC) and a minimum power output warranty of 20 years.

To navigate the detailed specifications tables on the following pages, get familiar with the definitions and descriptions provided. They'll give you an understanding of each spec's relevance to designing a high performance system. The specifications included in the table will help you determine which modules will allow optimal integration with a given system's inverters or charge controllers, and overcurrent protection. They will also assist you in specifying the highest power array for sites with mounting space limitations. (Note that specifications were collected from spec sheets, provided directly by the manufacturers or calculated, and are subject to change.)

PV systems represent a significant financial investment. How an individual module model performs when coupled with a given inverter or charge controller can make the difference between a design that is simply functional and a design that performs optimally over the system's decades-long operational life.

by Joe Schwartz with Doug Puffer

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