Solar panels has come a long way in terms of price reduction, particularly over the last decade. Solar Panels used to be in the vicinity of 5 -7 dollars per watt in 2004.
As of July 2017, Panels can be purchased for as low as 0.5 $ per watt. The technology has progressed leaps and bounds and open doors for many other compositions and chemistry other than crystalline Silicon cells. Both Perovskite cells and Organic Solar cells have shown early promise, while thin-film technology is also getting commercialised.
The list of cheapest cells include mainly poly-crystalline panels. Compared to Mono Crystalline, the Poly-crystalline cells are cheaper to manufacture because of the less intricate manufacturing process. This reduction in manufacturing cost is reflected in the price. The list is as follows:
|Manufacturer||Model||Type||Power (Watts)||Price Per Watt||Country|
*As can be noticed that the cheapest panel is the Chinese Prostar panel but it requires a minimum order of 33 panels.
Similarly the second panel on the list namely, Photon-Solar also requires a minimum order of 27 panels. The other panels on the list have no minimum order requirement. Canadian Solar has been providing low cost Solar panels for over a decade. They also have Panels that have DC optimizers built in to them. DC optimizer help the panels to produce maximum power even in adverse condition (shading, soiling etc).
It should be noted that most panels are above 250 W power. The larger the panel, the cheaper it gets.
Tips for buying cheaper panels:
- Buy bigger panels in larger size. The price per watt of panels with power of 200 to 300 watts comes out to be cheaper than panels from 50 W to 200 W category. It is always better to buys one 300 W panel rather than two 150 W panel of the same capacity.
2. Second hand panels are available for almost ½ the price and sometimes even less. Websites like Bimblesolar provide 2nd hand panels that become available after upgrades in Solar Farm. Most of these panels are less than 5 years old and still have 20 years plus life in them.
3. Brand new Solar Panels can be purchased from websites like Alibaba brand new for as low as 0.4 dollars per watt. However minimum purchase threshold should be met. For some suppliers it is 10,000 Watt capacity minimum order.
4. Purchase your local brand. Solar Panels are being made in Australia, North America, Europe and Asia. Choosing a supplier in your vicinity reduces the logistics cost.
5. Do not look for high efficiency panels. High efficiency panels always carry a premium on them. The only advantage with high efficiency panels is that they require lesser space for a certain power capacity. If space is not an issue than efficiency of the panels should be generally ignored.
6. Instead of buying panels, buying Solar cells and assembling them yourself can also bring cost benefits. Solar cells can be purchased at a very low price (almost 0.2 $ per watt). These cells can be soldered together and mounted on a substrate. Perspex sheet or glass cover can be added to save the cells from the elements.
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