Some of the most common questions we get here at Project Solar are regarding equipment: “If you offer such a low price, you must not have very good equipment, right?”
While it’s always important to do some research on your system’s components (especially with such a competitive price) we want to set the record straight. We aim to offer the best bang for your buck, and with premium equipment choices, we’re able to offer the same quality of equipment as most traditional solar companies; or better.
Keep reading to delve deeper into solar equipment quality standards, Project Solar's preferred equipment, and the key factors to consider while comparing offers from various providers. For a comprehensive list of the equipment components we use, including data sheets, you can visit our equipment specifications page.
Premium Solar Panels
Solar panel quality is generally assessed based on factors such as cell type, efficiency, wattage, and industry ratings. Let's explore these measures and how Project Solar stacks up against them:
Cell Type & Aesthetics
We source exclusively high-quality monocrystalline solar panels, which means each solar cell in our panels is cut from a single silicon crystal, rather than from multiple melted crystals (hence, the “mono”). This single-crystal structure has three main benefits: efficiency, low degradation, and uniform appearance.
The purity and clarity of a single silicon crystal means that our modules are all-black, with a sleek, consistent appearance. It also means that electrons can move more freely, increasing efficiency and lowering degradation rates.
For more information on monocrystalline panels and other cell types, check out our article on the subject.
Our black-on-black monocrystalline solar panels offer around 20% efficiency, compared to the average residential panel efficiency of about 18%.
It is true that higher efficiency panels exist, but they’re pretty rare and expensive, and we believe they often come at a premium that isn’t usually justified by marginal gains.
Additionally, most of the panels we source now are bifacial, which means they can not only capture solar energy from their skyward-facing plane, but also their underside. Bifaciality allows panels to capture light that bounces back from your roof, particularly when the sun is lower in the sky. This further increases efficiency.
Project Solar uses panels with Tier 1 ratings and IEC 61215 certifications - the gold standard for the industry. These certifications show that the panels can withstand tough conditions, and are built to a quality standard.
Perhaps even more important, they also ensure the manufacturers of our panels are legitimate and reliable, indicating a strong ability to meet their 25 year warranty requirements.
Inverter quality is crucial for converting solar energy into usable power. Factors like inverter type, expandability, and failure rate should guide your choice.
We use Enphase microinverters, known for their reliability and panel-by-panel efficiency. Unlike string inverters, microinverters prevent a single point of failure for your system and offer longer warranties, which is especially ideal for customers who are purchasing their systems (rather than leasing).
Each panel has its own inverter in a microinverter system. This greatly simplifies system expansion. It also means that if one panel or inverter goes out, the rest of the system is unaffected while the problem is investigated. To learn more about the different types of inverters, check out this article.
Additionally, Enphase boasts a 25 year warranty for their microinverters: twice as long as the industry standard for string inverters. This shows that Enphase has great confidence in their low failure rate.
Robust Racking & Mounting Equipment
Racking and mounting equipment quality matters for stability and long-term performance of your system, especially if you live in an area with high winds.
We use IronRidge and Unirac components for our systems’ racking, depending on the roof type. Both are ISO and UL-2703 certified, among other industry certifications.
Manufacturers who make an effort towards certification are much more likely to be reputable companies with high quality components.
Our racking equipment comes with a 5-year finish and a 25-year product warranty, which means they’ll retain their structural integrity for 25 years. This guarantees performance over the long haul.
Smart Battery Storage
For those considering battery storage, examining factors like continuous power rating, depth of discharge, round-trip efficiency, and warranty is essential.
Continuous Power Rating
As we use Enphase’s microinverters, an obvious option to integrate with our systems are Enphase’s IQ 5P batteries. These offer a robust continuous power rating of 3.84kW, enabling reliable appliance usage.
We also offer the Tesla Powerwall 2, which can provide a bit more power (5kW).
Depth of Discharge & Round Trip Efficiency
Depth of Discharge (DoD) refers to how much of the battery’s capacity that can be used. Generally, the higher the DoD, the higher-quality the battery. Premium batteries have 90-100% DoD.
Enphase IQ 5P batteries and the Tesla Powerwall 2 both have the best DoD possible: 100%.
All batteries will use some of their power to function, though, which means they aren’t 100% efficient. Round-trip efficiency (RTE) is the percentage of power that you’ll get from your battery from the amount you put in, and a higher RTE also denotes higher battery performance.
Enphase’s IQ has an RTE of 96%, and the Tesla Powerwall has an RTE of 90% - both very high options.
Safety & Warranty
Tesla Powerwalls include a 10 year warranty by default, while Enphase IQ batteries come with a 15-year/6,000-cycle warranty. Both companies provide promising longevity and performance.
Enphase batteries are one of the safest types of lithium ion battery: Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4). The addition of iron to the chemistry reduces heat production, which in turn increases efficiency and safety.
The Tesla Powerwall also uses lithium ion battery chemistry, but utilizes a slightly different type.
Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (NMC) batteries, like the Powerwall, have a higher energy density. This allows for a higher power rating.
The Bottom Line
At Project Solar, we prioritize equipment quality to provide you with reliable, efficient, and durable solar solutions - all without breaking the bank.
Our commitment to transparency goes beyond our pricing, and we strive to help homeowners make an educated decision to buy solar.
Transparent low pricing, premium equipment, and top-tier performance and product warranties set us apart from the industry; we’re here to illuminate your path towards a brighter, cleaner energy future.