Shingled Solar Panels
The solar industry is currently in a golden age of innovation, with every company racing to gain market share through the improvement of the classic solar panel design. One of the most exciting recent developments within our industry is the shingled solar panels developed by Hyundai. These panels have disregarded the traditional approach to solar panel cell production, replacing the conventional individual cells with longer strips that overlapped inside the framed model. These longer strips mean that there are no gaps in production that would be present in traditional solar panels. Unlike most solar panels, these cells are connected using an electrically conductive adhesive that allows for greater flexibility than the busbars used in conventional solar panels. To someone who is just beginning their solar journey, these terms may not mean much, but they make a significant difference in the reliability and generation of the panels.
Shingled solar panels can produce more electricity per square meter than traditional panels as they cover a larger surface area while not having any gaps between the cells. This production is also less likely to be interrupted by shading as each shingle can produce individually, unlike conventional solar panels whose production can be stopped entirely by partial shading. This neat design is achieved by cutting a high-performance monocrystalline cell into several smaller strips, which are then overlapped slightly to ensure that there are no gaps in production.
But why bother with this approach? Wouldnt the cell would produce the same amount of electricity if it was left intact as it is in traditional PV panels? The answer to this question is relatively simple, the overlap between cells means that there is a greater area of production, but the usefulness of the electrically conductive adhesive goes far beyond that, especially in tough Australian conditions.
Within traditional solar panels, there are metal strips called busbars attaching the panels which serve as a way to conduct the current around the panel. During an Australian summer, our roofs can get incredibly hot, meaning that these metal components have been known to expand, potentially putting stress on the soldering points within the panel, which can lead to a disruption in the conductivity of a panel. Whenever this happens within a panel, it introduces the risk of hotspots forming, which can be devastating for your system’s generation. The introduction of adhesive strips completely removes the chance of this happening, as the gel used to adhere the shingles removes the need for busbars entirely. Companies such as REC have circumnavigated this issue by introducing more busbars into their panels while managing to keep their production the same
Finally, Many customers also choose to invest in these panels due to their visual appeal. They are much sleeker in design than traditional panels due to the overlapping shingles not allowing for the spaces between visible, leaving the vast majority of the panel a uniform black colour.
As I mentioned above, this is a new technology with a tremendous amount of research and development funding over recent years. This means that many of the problems associated with traditional panels were avoided while designing this technology. Unfortunately, the design was not perfect, and there are still some common issues that hinder the performance of these panels.
While the removal of busbars has reduced the likelihood of hotspots, issues arise from the conductive adhesive that joins the panels together. While they typically have lower failure rates than busbars, there is a history of this material being negatively affected by high temperatures, leading to an uneven production and conductivity through the panel, which can cause panel damage. These faults are relatively rare but keep in mind if you live in a very hot area. While this may seem like a glaring flaw for a solar panel being installed in Australian conditions, the required temperature for this issue to occur would likely cause problems in traditional panels as it would fall outside any residential panels tolerance window.
Past this issue, these panels are traditionally solid and have few flaws. When they first launched, they suffered from lower productivity but have since caught up thanks to research performed by companies such as Hyundai. Like any solar panel investment, it is essential to invest in a reliable solar panel manufacturer as some manufacturers make inferior products at a much lower price point. These do have higher failure rates and should be avoided.
If you want to find out more about which shingled solar panels are currently available on the market or have any questions about another aspect of solar systems, feel free to get in touch with one of our designers here!