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How to Compare the Quality of Solar-Powered Systems

Jessica PirroDecember 23, 20197590

All of the equipment for solar panel installations - from the solar panels to solar power inverters to solar energy batteries - has quite a long list of specifications to help you understand the solar-powered systems performance, the quality, and durability. However, the individual technical specifications and the solar panel installations warranties don’t provide you with a complete picture of how certain solar panels, solar power inverters, and solar energy batteries compare to another, which can make it hard to select the best solar power equipment for a homeowner's specific needs.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), collaborated with another solar power company to develop, a straightforward, industry-standard solar-powered system for classifying and comparing the top-tier solar panels, solar power inverters, and solar energy batteries by evaluating key criteria.

The rating system is going to categorize all of the solar panel installations equipment on a five-tier scale, from Poor to Fair, through Good and Very Good, and ultimately up to Excellent.

How to Compare the Quality of Solar-Powered Systems:

Different Kinds of Solar-Powered System Equipment Types

There are a ton of different solar panels, solar power inverter, and solar energy storage manufacturers on the solar energy market in the U.S. and each will offer many different products. Even the most research-oriented consumer would be overwhelmed by the task of reviewing, aggregating and comparing the technical specifications for each of these products. But, choosing the best solar panels for your solar-powered systems does not have to be a difficult or time-consuming experience.

The objective, fact-based classification was developed to help quickly inform your solar-powered system purchasing decision. The technical specification sheets, support agreements, warranties, and other publicly available documents, have been evaluated and the information was used to assign a rating to all of the solar-powered systems equipment that is available in the U.S. market.

Solar-Powered System Equipment Classification

The classification system is going to incorporate technical specifications for solar panels, solar power inverters and solar energy batteries to compare their performance, durability, solar panel installation warranty, and the overall quality. By assessing each product across a range of metrics, the rating system groups the solar-powered system equipment into five different classifications: Poor, Fair, Good, Very Good and Excellent.

Solar power equipment-regardless if it’s the solar panels, solar power inverters or solar energy batteries-rated as Poor or Fair are going to be at the low end of what will currently be available in the market, or may even be outdated models that are no longer produced by the solar-powered systems equipment manufacturers and are rarely stacked by solar panel installation companies. Solar power equipment receiving Good, Very Good or Excellent ratings must meet a baseline set of criteria that has been rigorously developed so that you can be confident that your solar panel installation will meet your needs.

Choosing the Best Solar Power Equipment for Your Solar Energy Needs

Below is going to be the classified types of solar power equipment translated into an easy-to-understand framework.

Unrated Solar Power Equipment

Solar energy equipment is going to be listed as Unrated if its technical specifications sheet does not include information necessary for the rating system.

Poor Solar Power Equipment

Solar power equipment receiving a Poor rating is at the bottom end of the spectrum for solar power equipment and should be priced accordingly if at all available. This solar power equipment has been surpassed by advances in technology and the performance of other solar-powered systems equipment available in the solar power industry.

Fair Solar-Powered System Equipment

The solar panel installation equipment that receives a Fair rating at the low end of what is available for the solar-powered systems equipment today. This solar-powered system equipment might be older, no longer produced by the manufacturer and likely rarely stocked by solar panel installation companies. Fair solar energy equipment might have received a higher rating during previous iterations of this rating system, but had now dropped in quality as the technology that is available across the rest of the solar power industry has improved.

Good Solar Panel installation Equipment

Equipment that has earned a Good rating is a safe and solid choice for your solar-powered system under most circumstances. This solar panel installation equipment is in the average range for most or all technical criteria analyzed, though they may offer a shorter-than-average warranty. Good solar power equipment is the ideal solar-powered system shoppers that are seeking a bargain for their solar-powered system.

Very Good Solar Panel Equipment

The solar power equipment that receives a Very Good rating is going to perform above average across a range of criteria, and might only miss out on the highest-ranking due to a shorter warranty, lower efficiency, or decreased performance under sub-standard conditions. You can expect strong performance and slightly lower costs than associated with excellent equipment.

Excellent Solar Panel Installation Equipment

The solar panel installation equipment that has earned an excellent rating is ideal for maximizing the performance of a solar-powered system. The criteria vary for each type of solar-powered system equipment and represent the best available technology gin the U.S. market. You will most likely pay a higher upfront price for the exceptional performance, quality, durability, and warranty coverage of Excellent solar-powered system equipment.

- Solar Panels: Produce more solar power over a smaller area and last longer than the other solar panels, though they may come at a higher price.

- Solar power inverters: extremely efficient at converting DC to AC solar power, operate across a wide variety of voltages and have above-average warranties.

- Solar Energy Batteries: Very efficient at storing larger amounts of solar power, and maintain that high performance for years.

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