Sun Light & Power staffer Nancy Summers interviewed Eric Nyman, solar warrior and one of SLP’s Senior Project Developers on the topic of what to look for in quality solar panels for commercial use. You can read the first part of the story here.
Nancy: If a company was thinking about buying a solar system for their business, what questions should they ask a solar solutions provider about the solar panels they choose for their customers?
Eric: They should ask, “What brand of panels do you use? Are they a tier one manufacturer? How many years have you been working with that product?” And, “What’s your experience been with those modules?”
Nancy: What’s a tier one manufacturer?
Eric: Tier one means they are a major PV producer of at least 1 GW in annual production, committed to the business for the long term, and with a solid warranty along with the history to back it up.
Nancy: OK, great. What else?
Eric: They should ask, “Have you seen failures? And, has the company been responsive if there has been a failure? “
Nancy: Should they ask about the warranty?
Eric: Certainly. The warranties tend to be fundamentally similar. They generally all have that same 25-year power guarantee in terms of how much power they will generate at the end of 25 years. That varies – generally it’s 80 percent, and in some cases its 82 percent. Sunpower’s warranty is for 92 percent of its original output after 25 years, so it varies a bit but it’s certainly a viable question.
Nancy: Okay. thanks. Is there anything else you can think of that a purchaser of solar panels should ask about the solar panels before they decide which provider to choose?
Eric: I think one of the questions you want to ask is not necessarily about panels themselves but about the EPC they’re buying from. I would want to know how long the company has been carrying the modules they recommend.
The reason for asking that is to find out if they are jumping around from supplier to supplier on a regular basis. If they’re sort of shopping ‘best value of the month’ to see what modules they get the best price on at that given time, that’s not necessarily a good strategy. I think what you want to know is if you’re working with a company that’s making a commitment to the supplier because they have confidence in that product.
Nancy: That’s a great, what does EPC stand for?
Eric: Engineering Procurement Construction company.
Nancy: Cool, that’s like us.
Eric: That’s like us.
Nancy: Okay, that’s very helpful, Eric, thank you.
Eric: You’re welcome.
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