Top Three Solar Myths

Posted on 08/16/2019 at 12:00 by Seth Hansen

Top Three Solar Myths Title Graphic

Myths are everywhere.


They pervade nearly every field. From sports to literature to psychology, myths are ubiquitous.


Why are they so prevalent? 


Myths are often easy to understand, simple enough to repeat and are reiterated loudly enough until the truth simply fades into the background.


Unfortunately, the solar industry is not immune to this phenomenon.


Today we are going to address solar’s most famous myths, why they are so attractive and the truth behind them. 


The first and arguably most pervasive myth is that solar-label efficiency trumps all and is the most critical factor when designing a solution.


For example, someone might say:


“Monocrystalline solar panels are 18-23% efficient; therefore, they are always better than amorphous silicon solar panels that are 5-7% efficient.” 


Not only is this a dramatic oversimplification, but it could be a costly mistake.


The Standard Test Conditions (STC) efficiency of a crystalline solar panel is significantly higher than an amorphous panel (learn more about different types of solar panel testing conditions). To make a comprehensive comparison, you have to factor in the operating environment, weight, flexibility in design, portability, performance in expected light conditions, and temperature coefficient (learn more about amorphous vs crystalline solar panels).


STC produces accurate numbers only at a single instance (very rare in real-world conditions). Normal Operating Cell Temperature (NOCT) accounts for more realistic operating conditions providing a much more accurate comparison of solar technologies.


A second myth is either solar can power anything under the sun (pun intended) or solar isn’t capable of powering anything at all. 


These ideas persist due to a fundamental misunderstanding of how solar panels generate power. 


Individuals assume that solar produces a consistent amount of power, much like plugging a device into the wall in your home using grid power. 


Solar is capable of powering an incredible number of electronic devices or providing reliable power to a home. It requires thinking through your solution’s design building in buffers to account for variation in the sun’s intensity and the amount of energy you will be creating. 


After considering the amount of power your device consumes and the energy your solar array creates, we can determine if your setup will be viable.


Learn more about the considerations involved in creating a solar setup by reading these previous posts: Your Power Budget, Calculating Your Power Budget, Power Supplies vs Solar Panels


The last myth and one of the most damaging is the idea that the next significant solar advancement is right around the corner. 


Someone might say, “I’ve heard great things are about to happen in the solar industry. I’m waiting to make a large investment until the new tech is released.”


As consumers, we witness the incredible upgrade cycles of mobile phones. Samsung, Apple, and Google release new devices each year with upgraded features, qualities, and improved battery life. 


While this upgrade cycle is achievable in consumer-level computing, solar experiences a more methodical upgrade cycle developing slowly over time. There have been immense cost reductions in solar, but those aren’t due to technological advancements but instead increases in manufacturing techniques and volume. 


One might even argue that the next big thing in commercial solar isn’t coming at all. 


For a new solar technology to supplant existing technologies, it would have to achieve an enormous scale and a better price point. With the lead that today’s technologies have established, it doesn’t seem realistic for anyone to expect significant commercial breakthroughs any time soon. While the next big thing might not be anything at all, there are fantastic opportunities to create solar solutions today. 


If you install solar panels on your home and start offsetting your energy consumption today, rather than ten years from now, that’s ten years worth of energy you wouldn’t have seen waiting for the “next big thing.”


Rather than waiting around for a more efficient portable panel get the highest quality panel today and enjoy access to power and freedom from the grid. 


In the end, there are exceptional options for solar solutions on the market today, so take advantage rather than waiting for an inevitable upgrade that might not be so inevitable.


Like any other field, myths are all over the solar industry. 


It’s essential to not merely believe these loud voices but to do the research for yourself. 


Remember, there’s more than meets the eye with efficiency.


Solar panels are great options for any number of applications.


The next big thing in solar is already here, so don’t wait around and waste time when you can be generating clean energy today.


Are you interested in creating a solar solution and need some help with the design, engineering, or manufacturing? 


We would love to learn more about your goals and how we can work together to take your product to market. 

Contact us, and let’s get started today.


Categories: Solar Education