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Solar Power Modules from Sharp, BP, Sanyo, and Evergreen: a Comparison

Solar cell technology is no longer experimental. With the emergence of a mass market for solar cells, suppliers like Sharp, BP, Sanyo and Evergreen are moving to reinforce their proven technologies with refinement and efficient manufacturing. In some ways, the situation is analogous to the automobile business in the 1920s when Henry Ford and William Durant were moving to mass production and mass marketing, either acquiring traditional suppliers or forcing them into niches. Now that anyone can buy a home solar power system off the web, the consumer needs to better understand the options.

Most customers looking for home solar power are well served by the major brand name suppliers: Sharp, BP Solar, Sanyo and Evergreen.

Sharp OnEnergy Roof-Mounted Solar Electric Systems

Sharp Solar panel modules offer a practical combination of technology and design. Their OnEnergy Roof-Mounted Solar Electric Systems replace bulky look of traditional roof mounts with a low-profile rack design to blend with a traditional home's roofline. Sharp solar panels come in many forms to mate with almost any roofing system.

The Sharp ND series of photovoltaic cells is designed for applications with a high power requirement. These polycrystalline quality modules produce a sustained, reliable yield even under demanding conditions. All Sharp ND series modules offer optimal system integration – both technically and economically – and are suitable for installation in grid-coupled systems.

Sharp offer an array of physical configurations, connector types and power and voltage outputs, including rectangular panels like the Sharp ND Series, and Triangular panels for use on roof gables. The list of specific panels is long, offering many options.

Sharp ND solar roof shingles integrate into the roof in the same manner as common, flat concrete tiles, as used in new residential construction, like Eagle and Monier, each solar roof module replaces five concrete tiles. Sharp’s solar modules surface texturing process increases light absorption and efficiency while providing a more subdued, “natural” look on the roof.

Sharp’s exclusive triangle-shaped solar module blends with roof lines and creates additional energy production by covering more surface area on hip and angled roofs.

Sharp also offers Ground-Mounted Solar Electric Systems. Ground mounted solar panels feature angled modules on steel supports anchored in concrete footings. These systems are ideal for large arrays on estate properties.

BP Solar SureGen Solar Panels

BP SureGen Solar panels from BP are modules from of the world's largest energy companies. For more than thirty years BP solar panels have provided monocrystalline and multicrystalline modules as a dependable and practical energy solution, so you can have the confidence to invest in solar power today. BP's SureGen solar panel reliability allows BP to offer a 25-year solar module warranty of 80% power output, a 10 or 12 year warranty of 90% solar power output, and five-year limited warranty of materials and workmanship. BP Solar panels come from the kind of company you can expect to be here for the duration of this extraordinary SureGen warranty.

BP solar modules come in many sizes shapes power and voltage outputs, so BP Solar panels can be mounted to almost any kind of roof, flat or sloped, with slate, metal, Spanish tile, asphalt and shake shingles. BP’s Line up of solar modules includes:

BP Solar Home Solutions is part of BP Alternative Energy, a company committed to making low carbon power an accessible and affordable option for people and businesses everywhere. BP is one of the largest users of their own product, with solar panels installed on thousands of gas stations around the world.

BP Solar Home Solutions include a Grid-tie inverter, which converts the electricity produced by the solar modules from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC), and allows you home AC to tie to the grid. BP Solar offers “Utility net metering”. A BP Solar Home Solutions system connects to the main electrical panel. A meter tracks net energy usage, spinning forward when electricity is used from the grid, and backwards, generating a credit, when solar power creates more electricity than the house requires. The optional system monitor wireless in-house display communicates with your BP Solar Home Solutions system and your home’s main electrical panel to provide a digital readout of useful information. You can easily see how much power your system is producing, how much power your house is using, the current time, the solar intensity outside, and the cumulative energy production of your system.

Sanyo HIT Double bifacial solar panels

Sanyo solar panels are very different. First, they use a different form of semiconductors. Sanyo HIT bifacial solar cells are hybrids of single crystalline silicon surrounded by ultra-thin amorphous silicon layers, available solely from SANYO.

This gives Sanyo Solar Panels the highest conversion efficiency in the industry. This means fewer Sanyo panels, occupying less roof area, will generate equivalent power to other technologies.

Sanyo, as a company, seem to be pushing the limits of technology. Indeed, in the lab Sanyo HIT Solar Module technology as achieved, in a practical size silicon solar cell, the world’s highest solar cell conversion efficiency of 22.3%.

Sanyo’s advanced HIT technology Solar panels offers three unique features. First, they have High Conversion Efficiency, which means fewer panels can offer the same or more power. This is important if roof area or load bearing capability is limited. Second, Sanyo solar modules have Excellent Temperature Characteristics. At the high temperature typical of most applications, their conversion and power output degrade less than other semiconductor technologies. Finally, the optical qualities of the Sanyo Solar Module surface are such that it offers considerable output under diffuse and low light conditions.

This special optical property allows Sanyo to offer “Bifacial” cells, solar modules that collect light from both sides. Reflected light on the backside of the cell can increased output by as much a 30%.

This means instead of sitting ‘on’ a roof, Sanyo Bifacial HIT cells can be the roof of structures. This is perfect for use as Awnings, Balconies, Bus Shelters, Walkway Covers, Deck and Porch Coverings, Canopies, Carports, Trellises, Fences, Facades, Siding, Trellises, Skylights, and more.

Sanyo solar panels guarantees customers will receive 100% of the panel’s rated power (or more) at the time of purchase, enabling owners to generate more kWh per rated watt. Sanyo silicon wafers are made in California USA, and assembled in Mexico.

Evergreen String Ribbon Solar Panels

Evergreen String Ribbon solar panels are made by state of the art manufacturing using Evergreen’s proprietary, low-cost wafer technology. Evergreen manufacture everything — wafers, cells and panels — all under one roof for efficient quality control, and it’s not surprising then that Evergreen solar panels are among the highest quality products in the industry. Evergreen pride themselves on their unique manufacturing process which results in the lowest carbon footprint of any solar cell manufacturer.

Rather than spending the energy to grow a large silicon wafer and then cutting it into slices, Evergreen, have a different system. String Ribbon wafers originate from “surface tension” between two filaments drawn thru a vat of melted Silicon. The molten silicon spans and solidifies between the filaments as they are drawn from the vat. No silicon is wasted, and no silicon is crystallized and heated that does not go into a cell. Less energy consumption during manufacturing gives Evergreen String Ribbon wafers the lowest carbon footprint in the industry.

The new ES-A Series with black anodized frames feature high quality String Ribbon solar panels made with the latest generation of our revolutionary wafer technology. No other solar panels combine exceptional performance and industry-leading environmental credentials with the ability to be installed on virtually any roof in almost any climate.

Evergreen solar panels come in two types. Evergreen ES modules can be used for battery charging with an MPPT charge controller such as the OutBack MX-60, Apollo T-80 or the Blue Sky series of charge controllers. Evergreen ES-A modules give a 18-volt peak power voltage which allows easier string sizing and fewer strings in grid-tie systems and also provides optimum voltage for battery charging with conventional as well as MPPT charge controllers.