Should you go solar with Silfab solar panels?
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Over the past decade, Silfab Solar Inc. has established themselves as one of the most prominent solar panel manufacturers in the industry. Silfab utilizes high precision automation in their manufacturing process that allows the company to produce high-quality products at a fast rate.
Silfab’s state-of-the art technology isn’t the only great thing about its manufacturing facilities. Silfab Solar is a North American-based company, with locations in both Canada and Washington State. That means any product you purchase from Silfab is guaranteed to be manufactured close to home, and is made specifically for the American market.
In fact, many of Silfab Solar’s panels are manufactured right here in the U.S., making them Buy American Act-certified. Not to mention, Silfab’s products have been long used in the U.S. Military and Federal Aviation Administration properties - further solidifying the company’s legitimacy.
Let’s take a closer look at what Silfab Solar products are on the market, and how they stack up against other solar modules.
Silfab Solar manufactures solar modules for both residential and commercial installations. All of Silfab’s PV modules contain monocrystalline solar cells. The primary residential panels offered by Silfab include:
Image source: Silfab Solar
The SIL-360 NX is a 360-watt, all-black, monocrystalline solar module. Each panel contains 66 silicon PERC solar cells, making them slightly larger than other residential solar panels on the market.
You can learn more about how PERC cells work here, but the key thing to know is that they have the ability to produce a bit more electricity than traditional photovoltaic solar cells because of how they are manufactured.
Image source: Silfab Solar
The SIL-330 HL is another all-black monocrystalline solar panel from Silfab. The key difference between the SIL-330 HL and the company’s other panels is its solar cells.
The SIL-330 HL contains 120 half-cut solar cells that increase the panel’s durability and slightly improve performance. Half-cut solar cells are exactly what they sound like - solar cells that have been cut in half with a high precision laser.
By making the cells smaller, the current is lowered and resistive losses are reduced, which increases the cell’s power production. Not only that, smaller cells are less likely to crack under stress because of their smaller surface area.
Image source: Silfab Solar
Silfab offers another PERC panel, the SIL-330 NL. This model contains just 60 PERC cells, meaning it is smaller than their other PERC model. Much like their other solar panels, the SIL-330 NL is all black. By making the framing of the panel black, the entire solar system will have a sleek, uniform look across your roof.
Image source: Silfab Solar
The Silfab Elite is the company’s highest efficiency line of solar panels and is manufactured exclusively in the United States. These high-efficiency panels come in three different wattages: 370 W, 375 W, and 380 W. The panels also contain Silfab’s PERC solar cells for improved efficiency.
Additionally, the Silfab Elite panels use what are called “back contact’ solar cells, which allow more solar energy to be collected by the solar cell. The combination of PERC and back contact technology pulls up the Silfab Elite’s overall efficiency.
You can think of the Silfab Elite’s as the “premium” version of the SIL-360 NX.
Image source: Silfab Solar
The Silfab Prime model is a premium-quality half-cell solar panel. With 120 mono half-cells, the Silfab Prime also utilizes PERC technology.
The main difference between the Silfab Prime and the company’s other half-cut panel, the SIL-330 HL, is the power rating. The Silfab Prime boasts a 370 W power rating, compared to its sister module’s 330 W.
|Specification||SIL-360 NX||SIL-330 HL||SIL-330 NL||Silfab Elite||Silfab Prime|
|Power output||360 W||330 W||330 W||370 W - 380 W||370 W|
|Efficiency rating||19.7%||19.4%||19.4%||20.8% - 21.4%||20.2%|
|Cell type||Mono-PERC 5 busbar||Mono-PERC half-cut 5 busbar||Mono-PERC 5 busbar||Back contact mono-PERC||Mono-PERC half-cut 9 busbar|
|Power tolerance||0 to + 10||0 to + 10||0 to + 10||0 to + 10||0 to + 10|
|Workmanship warranty||25 years||25 years||25 years||25 years||25 years|
|Power warranty||30 years||30 years||30 years||30 years||30 years|
|Product data sheets||Sheet 1||Sheet 1||Sheet 1||Sheet 1||Sheet 1|
The power rating of a solar panel (sometimes referred to as the power output or power capacity) is a measure of how much electricity it can produce.
All of Silfab’s solar panels are in line with the industry standard for power rating of monocrystalline modules. Most solar panels used by residential installers today are at least 300 W and at most 400 W, and Silfab’s panels all fall in that range.
In the past, solar panels were made up of either monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar cells. Almost all solar panels that are installed today are monocrystalline, which is what Silfab uses in its products.
While Silfab is following industry trends by sticking with monocrystalline silicon, they are branching out into using new technologies like half-cut and back contact cells; meaning, they are making sure to keep up with newer trends.
Silfab solar panels have an excellent efficiency rating, especially their high-end panels, the Silfab Elite and Silfab Prime. These products have efficiencies above 20%, landing them in the “premium efficiency” category among manufacturers like Sunpower and LG.
Even Silfab’s other panels have efficiencies that range from 19.4% to 19.7%, which is above the industry standard of 17%. Despite that, panel efficiency actually isn’t as important as many manufacturers would like you to believe. Take it from SolarReviews CEO Andy Sendy, as he explains solar panel efficiency and how much it really matters in this video:
Power tolerance is a measure of how much power a solar panel will produce above or below its rated power capacity under Standard Test Conditions (STC). Basically, a solar panel will have its rated power listed, but the actual amount of power it can produce can fluctuate.
All of the panels in Silfab’s product line have a power tolerance rating of -0/+10. This means that at any point in time, a Silfab Solar panel will be operating at least at its rated capacity, but it could operate 10 W higher.
For example, the Silfab Prime is rated at 370 W so it will always be operating at at least 370, but it could operate at as high as 380 W under STC. The -0 tolerance rating indicates that Silfab has a high-quality manufacturing process and that the panels will hold up well under real world conditions.
This is in line with industry standards, however, most panels usually have the power tolerance rating listed as a percentage, not as a wattage.
A solar panel’s ability to produce power depends on its temperature. The hotter the panel, the less power the panel can produce. To get an idea of how a solar panel is impacted by temperature changes, manufacturers include what is called a temperature coefficient.
The temperature coefficient measures how much a solar PV panel’s output drops for each degree celsius the panel’s surface gets above 25°C. Most of Silfab’s modules have a temperature coefficient of -0.36%/°C, but the Silfab Elite has a temperature coefficient of -0.38%/°C. Both of these are pretty standard for monocrystalline solar panels.
So, if the surface of the Silfab Prime is 26°C, the power output would drop from 370 W to 368 W. It doesn’t seem like a huge difference, but as the panels get hotter in the sunlight, the production could drop much more.
All of Silfab’s solar panels have the same workmanship product warranty. The workmanship warranty covers repairs, replacements, and refunds for defective materials. The panels initially come with a 12-year warranty that starts the date of delivery, but if the panels are purchased and installed by a registered Silfab installer, the warranty will be extended to 25 years.
Most panels on the market have a similar product warranty to Silfab: an initial warranty term of 10 to 15 years, and the ability to register your panels for an extended 25-year warranty.
The power warranty, also called the performance warranty, gives homeowners an idea of how much power the solar panels will produce over time. As solar panels age, they degrade a bit and can’t generate as much power.
According to Silfab’s 30-year performance warranty, the panels will operate at 97.5% of their initial power rating after Year 1. Every year after that, the panel will not degrade more than 0.5% per year. By the end of Year 30, the panels will have a performance guarantee at 82.6% of their original rated capacity.
Going back to the Silfab Prime as an example, after one year, the power rating will drop from 370 W to 360.75 W. After 30 years, it will fall further to 305.6 W.
Almost all solar panels on the market have a yearly degradation rate of about 0.5% listed in their performance warranties. What’s great about Silfab, however, is that they offer their warranty for 30 years. Most manufacturers only warranty their panels for 25 years.
Silfab solar panels cost around $0.70 per watt before installation. Other solar panels with comparable specs, like Sunpower, cost over $1.00 per watt before installation. With Silfab, you get a high quality product for a fraction of the price.
Now, that’s not how much Silfab panels will cost when they get put on your roof. Once installation costs are considered, Silfab solar panels will cost between $2.85 per watt and $3.05 per watt. That falls right in line with the average cost of solar in the U.S. of $3.00 per watt.
If you’re looking to make the switch to solar power, Silfab Solar panels are a great choice. They offer high quality modules and have years of experience in the industry.
Most of Silfab’s products fall right in line with industry standards, but that doesn’t mean that they’re run-of-the-mill panels. Silfab incorporates newer solar cell technology in their panels so you can ensure that you have top-of-the-line products.
But perhaps Silfab’s biggest standout feature is their roots in North America, with facilities in Ontario, Canada, and Bellingham, Washington. It’s refreshing to see, since many solar panel manufacturers are based overseas, mainly in China.
Overall, Silfab Solar panels will make for a great solar power system for your home. You can find solar installers in your area that carry Silfab Solar panels by using our solar panel calculator or by checking out local customer reviews right here on our website.
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