Solar photovoltaic (PV) solar cells are readily available technology, but we are working to make them cheaper, longer lasting and more environmentally sustainable. We have partnered with CHOICE to test household solar PV panels and provide recommendations that can guide decision making.

The challenge

How can we be sure of quality in a flourishing solar PV market?

Many Australians are committed to generating their own solar power, but until now there has been no way for them to make an informed decision as to which solar PV system best meets their needs.

Not only is household solar a major investment, but users want to be certain that the power generation is as optimal.

Our response

Laboratory and 'real world' testing

Partnering with CHOICE, we are testing 15 PV panels from leading brands at our solar testing facility in Newcastle, NSW – the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere.

Through indoor and outdoor tests over a period of 12 months, we are examining:

  • the amount of sunlight actually falling on the panels (solar irradiance)
  • the relationship between output power and irradiance (irradiance response)
  • how the power output depends on temperature (temperature coefficient)
  • what temperature the panel runs at for a given irradiance and ambient temperature (thermal coefficient).

The results

Twelve months' data

Our final report will come after the panels have endured a full 12 months outdoors, in late 2016.

This information, along with meteorological data for various locations around Australia, helps the lab team calculate how each panel would perform in those locations. CHOICE will then analyse our results and present findings to readers .

Throughout the testing process, we are presenting plain-English findings and engaging directly with manufacturers for information and updates as necessary.

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