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commercial solar

The sun has fascinated humanity for millennia. Today, humans are no longer just content with gazing at it—many are harnessing its power to fuel their everyday lives. Solar energy is a clean, renewable resource, and many are increasingly turning to it to cut costs and reduce their environmental impact.

For example, in New Zealand alone, data reveals that 43,641 solar systems are installed across the country. This shows that people are now learning the benefits of this renewable energy source. (1)

But with so many different types of solar panels available, choosing the right one for your commercial property can feel overwhelming. But fret not, as this guide will equip you with the knowledge to choose the most suitable type for your needs.

  1. Monocrystalline silicon solar panels

Imagine a black mirror reflecting sunlight. That's the image that comes to mind with monocrystalline silicon solar panels. Made from a single, pure silicon crystal, they boast the highest efficiency among commercially available options, typically ranging from 15% to 20%. This translates to more electricity generated per square foot of panel, making them ideal for situations with limited roof space.

Since your commercial building is a prime piece of real estate, every square foot counts. Fortunately, monocrystalline panels allow you to maximise your power generation without sacrificing valuable rooftop space. Plus, these panels perform well even in low-light conditions, making them suitable for regions with less sunshine.

However, there's no such thing as free electricity. Monocrystalline panels are the most expensive option due to the complex manufacturing process involved in creating those pure silicon crystals. But your initial investment would pay off in the long run.

  1. Polycrystalline silicon solar panels

Polycrystalline silicon solar panels, formed from multiple silicon crystals melted together, offer a more affordable alternative to their monocrystalline counterparts. The manufacturing process is simpler, reflected in their slightly lower efficiency range of 13% to 16%. While they might not pack the same punch per square foot as monocrystalline ones, polycrystalline panels are still a compelling option for many businesses. (2)

To understand the difference, think of buying a pre-built computer vs building your own high-performance one. Polycrystalline panels are like the pre-built option—they have good value and are easier to install due to their lower cost. They also perform well in hot climates, making them suitable for regions with very hot summers.

If you want a balance between affordable cost and decent efficiency, polycrystalline panels could be a good fit for your commercial property.

  1. Thin-film solar panels

Thin-film solar panels are made from a thin layer of photovoltaic material deposited on a substrate, such as glass, plastic, or metal. This innovative design makes them lightweight and easier to install on unconventional roof structures.

Perhaps your commercial building has a curved roof or weight limitations. Thin-film panels can be a great solution in such scenarios. They also perform decently in low-light conditions, making them suitable for areas with diffused sunlight.

However, there's a trade-off for their versatility. Thin-film panels have the lowest efficiency among the three types, typically ranging from 5% to 13%. This means you'll need more panel area to generate the same amount of electricity compared to monocrystalline or polycrystalline options.

So, thin-film panels might not be the first choice for businesses prioritising pure power generation. But for those with unique roof structures or a focus on aesthetics, they can be a valuable option.

Choosing the right fit for your business

Now that you're familiar with the main types of solar panels, it's time to consider some additional factors to make an informed decision when choosing a solar panel solution for commercial use:

  • Budget: As mentioned earlier, monocrystalline panels offer the highest efficiency but come at a premium. Meanwhile, polycrystalline panels strike a balance between cost and performance. Thin-film panels, on the other hand, are the most affordable option. Consider your budget and the payback period for your investment based on your electricity consumption.
  • Location: The efficiency of solar panels also depends on the sunshine hours where you’re located. For example, if you’re in New Zealand, the annual average sunshine hours would be around 1,400 to 2,600. So, when choosing the type of panel, you should also factor in your commercial building's location. (2)
  • Roof space: If your commercial building has limited roof space, monocrystalline panels might be the most suitable option due to their higher power output per square foot.
  • Warranty: The electricity generated by solar panels may degrade over time, so warranty is an important factor to consider. Usually, the panel could last up to 25 years, so look for manufacturers offering warranties within this duration. (3)
  • Solar installer expertise: Choosing a reputable and experienced solar installer is vital. They can assess your specific needs, recommend the most suitable panel type for your situation, and ensure proper installation for optimal performance.

By carefully considering these factors, it would be easier for you to choose which type of solar panel is best for your commercial property. Remember, there's no 'one size fits all' answer. The ideal choice depends on your budget, roof space, local regulations, and long-term goals.

In closing

Solar energy represents a bright future for businesses. Aside from being a sustainable choice that would contribute largely to the environment, you’re also making the most of your money. So, invest in a greener future with a commercial solar system now and reap all the benefits that come with it!