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How to Read a Solar Panel Spec Sheet

If you have been shopping for solar panels in San Antonio, you’ve likely encountered a solar panel spec sheet. These are important documents to help understand the different aspects of a particular type of solar panel. Let’s take a look at all you need to know to make sense of these data forms.

What is a Solar Panel Spec Sheet?

A solar panel spec sheet is essentially a concise listing of various types of metrics and data related to the particular brand of solar panel. Here is an example of what a solar panel spec sheet can look like. This data contains important information that can help you evaluate a solar panel’s performance and if it is a good fit for your home in San Antonio.

This specification sheet will typically contain five different sections of information. These include the electrical data, mechanical data, dimensions, I-V curve, tested operating conditions, and warranties and certifications. Let’s take a look at each of these sections and what they mean.

Electrical Data

Electrical data is a section that has metrics which were calculated using standard testing conditions. There are many different things that you will see here; however, some are more important than others.

One of the most important is peak power. This is the maximum power that the system is capable of producing. It is calculated by multiplying current by voltage. The wattage for this tends to range between 250 and 400 for the top-rated systems. Higher values mean more efficient systems.

Voltage is another important metric found here. You want your solar system’s overall voltage does not exceed a preset threshold, often 600 volts. Thus, consider the voltage times the number of panels for your system to make sure it does not go beyond this metric.

The final thing to look at under electrical data is the temperature coefficient. This is a value that describes the amount of productivity that a solar system will lose per degree Celsius as temperatures increase above a certain threshold. Values closer to zero mean the system is more efficient.

Mechanical Data

The mechanical data section of the solar panel spec sheet is the one that is the easiest to understand. In fact, you probably have a good idea of what it refers to already. It discusses the materials and features of the panel’s components.

You will see the number and type of cells in each solar panel. One thing to note is whether the cells are monocrystalline or polycrystalline. The former is cut from a singular source of silicon while the latter is blended from multiple sources. Monocrystalline tend to be more efficient.

You’ll also see descriptions of the front glass, junction box, frame, and output cables. The junction box is the part attached to the back of the panel that serves as its electrical brain, so to speak. Finally, this section will list the weight of each solar panel.

Dimensions

We are only going to discuss dimensions very briefly as these are fairly self-explanatory. These essentially show the height and width of different components in inches and millimeters. This helps give a sense of the size of an installed unit.

I-V Curve

The I-V curve section provides a graph with the x-axis being voltage and the y-axis being current. The lines on the graph illustrate how voltage decreases at different currents based on the level of irradiance and temperatures.

This can be a bit difficult to read and is a bit technical. Fortunately, it is also not important for you to be completely familiar with the graph as you can understand the solar panel’s performance using other ratings found on the spec sheet, such as those in the electrical data section.

Tested Operating Conditions

Another important thing to consider is the tested operating conditions section. There are two very important metrics to look at in this section. The first is the operating temperature. This will show the minimum and maximum temperatures that the solar panels have been tested at. Fortunately, you should find that they are greater than the typical temperatures in San Antonio.

Secondly, you will see the impact resistance. Since San Antonio does have hail from time to time, this is an important section. For example, you may see that the panels have been tested against 1 inch hail at 50 miles per hour.

Warranties and Certifications

This is another section that is fairly easy to understand. The certifications listed show the standards at which the solar panel was tested to meet. The warranties illustrate the length of time there is a warranty on the equipment and performance of the solar panel. The solar panel spec sheet will not list the workmanship warranty as that is provided by the installer.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have a sense of how to read some of the more important metrics on a solar panel spec sheet, you are ready to continue comparing different products on your search for solar in San Antonio. Of course, we are always happy to help answer your questions.

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Solar Edge Pros is a trusted leader in the solar energy industry. Since 2005, we have provided solar energy solutions to over 5,000 Texas residents making the switch to cleaner, greener, cheaper, solar power. We believe in the positive effects of working hard, treating people with respect, and doing the right thing. Our values transfer to both the customer experience as well as the culture within the Solar Edge Pros Family. 

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Meet The Author

David M

David M

David is an Air Force veteran with a Masters in Diplomacy from Norwich University. He is currently Solar Edge Pros' Director of Marketing.

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