Solar panels are a form of renewable energy source that, in modern times, has seen a stark rise in popularity.
Solar panels take and convert energy from the sun and are known to be a much more cost effective form of energy than the fossil fuels that are so commonly and wastefully used.
Due to the increase in their popularity and pushes from governments, solar panels are now readily available for purchase and fitting. Auction sites such as eBay offer a wide range of solar panels at prices that may be lower than a lot of other solar panel online retailers.
The following guide offers information and advice on the best way of choosing and buying the best solar panels.
Types of Solar Panels
There are a few different types of solar panels that all have their benefits and abilities to power at different levels and for different purposes. It is important to understand the different types of solar panels available so as to be able to buy according to its functionality and efficiency.
Below are the main types of solar panels:
Types of Solar Panel
Evacuated Solar Panel Tubes
Evacuated solar panel tubes are mainly designed for the purpose of heating the water in a water tank. They are appreciated immensely for their efficiency, which can often reach up to a 90% solar energy to electrical energy conversion rate. Evacuated tubes are a series of thin but long glass tubes all connected in one ‘panel’ or plate. These glass tubes are hollow on the inside bar a copper heat pipe that runs along the length of each tube in a vacuum. This pipe then conducts the energy and heats up.
The pipe is attached to a separate pipe, which then heats up the water situated in the water tank. One of the advantages of evacuated tubes is that they even work well in colder conditions as they contain anti-freeze to prevent the tubes and pipes from getting too cold to function efficiently.
Flat Plate Solar Panels
Unlike the evacuated tubes mentioned above, this type of solar panel is designed as flat plate. Solar panels of this nature are the most commonly found in households and most of the time will be situated on rooftops in order to pull in the maximum amount of the sun’s energy possible. Flat plate solar panels will have copper pipes that run through them. The pipes contain water and has the pipes heat up from the warmth of the sun, so does the water inside. This water is then transferred to the water tank, whereby the water is hot enough to use for domestic situations.
There are flat plate solar panels that contain anti-freeze so as to enable the solar panel to work even in the colder months of the year. Flat plate solar panels are appreciated for their durability and will often have a lengthy guarantee of up to anything between 15-20 years, which by the end of their lifespan will have saved a healthy amount of money in energy bills.
Photovoltaic Solar Panels
Whilst the two solar panels mentioned above are used as water heating solar panels, photovoltaic solar panels are used to generate electricity. Originally used to generate small amounts of energy for the likes of calculators and watches, photovoltaic solar panels have been developed for use on a larger scale and are able to create electricity for homes. Often shortened to the name ‘PV’ Panels, they are made up of small silicon cells, which will have a negative and positive layer. This generates an electric field that converts the sun’s energy to electrons. There are three types of PV solar panels:
- Amorphous:Amorphous PV solar panels are not as robust as other solar panels and can be moulded into shapes, which means that they can be used on curved rooftops. They are the least efficient of the PV solar panels.
- Monocrystalline:Monocrystalline solar panels made of one, large panel that is made from a single sheet of silicon. They are the highest on the price scale but provide the biggest solar to electrical energy conversion rate.
- Polycrystalline: Instead of using one sheet of silicon, polycrystalline solar panels use a number of silicon cells and are thus less efficient that monocrystalline solar panels. For this reason are much more reasonably priced.
5 Tips for Choosing the Best Solar Panels
Having an understanding of solar panels available is not enough to make a decision on the best solar panel to purchase. There are several other deciding factors that need to be taken into consideration:
1. Choose for Energy Type: Solar panels can either be used as water heaters or as a means of providing electrical power. It is important to choose a solar panel based on the energy type that is required. For example, evacuated tubes are only good for use as water heaters, whereas PV solar panels are designed to generate electricity. Therefore, one should buy based on this.
2. Consider Positioning: Whilst it is recommended to position a solar panel on a rooftop to be as efficient as possible, solar panels can be placed elsewhere. Solar panels can be used on walls or in gardens. Choose a solar panel that is best suited to the position that it is going to be placed in.
3. Think About Battery Power: There are a number of different battery powers available for solar panels and they are an important component in keeping the solar panel working smoothly and efficiently. It is recommended that a 12V battery solar panel be purchased, as they are the most efficient and long lasting.
4. Consider Fitting: Whilst there are solar panel fitting kits available, they require a certain level of electrical knowledge. Make sure to choose a solar panel that can be fitted by a professional, so as to ensure that the purchase is as cost-effective and efficient as possible.
5. Buy According to Budget: Some solar panels are a lot more affordable than others. Solar panels are designed to save money in comparison to less renewable energy sources, so it is worthwhile to spend a larger amount on the likes of monocrystalline solar panel as it is will save an enormous amount of money in the long run.
Buying Solar Panels on eBay
There are many solar panel retailers online, as well as elsewhere. However, none may offer the buying amenities that eBay does. Most solar panels on the site can be purchased at a Buy It Now rate, however, those that may be pre-owned or faulty but fixable may be able to be purchased by making a Best Offer or by entering into an auction and placing a Bid.
There is a wide selection of solar panels and the various accessories that come with them on eBay. These can be seen by visiting the Home and Garden section of the site and by choosing the Environmental Solutions link at the side of the page. Once on this page, the keyword search bar and refinement tabs can be used to tailor the search to specific solar panel requirements and needs.
A worthwhile idea is to visit the Home and Garden Deals section of eBay, as there are a number of hand selected deals chosen by the site that offer prices for solar panels that may not be found elsewhere.
Choosing the right solar panel need not be a complicated process. Whilst there are many considerations to factor into the decision as to which solar panel to choose, if one is well informed and organised, a solar panel can be found that is efficient and cost-effective.
Remember to read the product description thoroughly when buying on eBay to make sure that the solar panel fully meets personal requirements, as well as having a look at whether the seller has sold similar products before with a positive feedback.
All in all, organisation and knowledge is key to choosing the best solar panels.