How to Choose Solar Panels in Ghana will always be a major question . This is due the the wide assortment of varieties available and the lack of expertise in this specialized area of energy.Solar panels provide renewable energy for your home, which helps the environment and reduces your electricity bill. But not all panels are alike. The material a panel is made of, what solar inverter it uses, and how it mounts to your roof determines what environments it works best in. Before you buy solar panels for your home, research the different factors and decide which option is right for you in Ghana.

Ghana has an average effective sunshine of 5.5 hours daily .As a considerable investment, it’s worth evaluating a solar power system for your home before have it installed. Doing your research and seeking professional advice can help you to make an informed decision. Here are a couple of other things to consider before making the change:

Types of Solar panels in Ghana

There are different types of solar cells, with different efficiencies. Although their names might sound confusing, it is good to know at least the name not to be out-of-topic if your supplier happens to mention this.Popular solar panel brands in Ghana include ,Jinko solar,Victron Energy,LG,Yingli and Canadian Solar.Its however important to seek the advice from a professional as there are many knock offs or  fake products on the Ghana  market.

Monocrystalline silicon offers high efficiency and good heat tolerance characteristics with a small footprint. Polycrystalline (or multi-crystalline) silicon cell based solar panels are now the most popular choice in residential installs. There are also Amorphous (or thin-film) silicon cells, which use the least amount of silicon and are not very efficient. For an equivalent wattage, a crystalline panel will be smaller than an amorphous panel.

monocrystalline solar panels in Ghana installed on a rooftop

Choose monocrystalline solar panels for efficiency. Monocrystalline solar panels are the best at converting light to energy because of their high silicon purity. That being said, monocrystalline solar panels are often the most expensive—this option is best if you want the highest productivity and price tag.

  • Monocrystalline solar panels cost between $150-350 USD per panel.
  • Monocrystalline solar panels also produce the most waste when they’re manufactured. If you’re buying solar panels to go green, another material may suit your needs better.
  • All solar panels are made of silicon. The higher the silicon purity, the better your panel will work, which is why monocrystalline solar panels in Ghana are ideal.

Go with polycrystalline solar panels for an environmentally-friendly option.Polycrystalline solar panels utilize all of the silicon material they’re manufactured with, making them the “greenest” panel option. Polycrystalline solar panels are also cheaper than monocrystalline panels, though they are not quite as efficient.

  • Polycrystalline solar panels in Ghana  usually cost between $100-250 USD per panel.
  • other school of thought claim that Polycrystalline solar panels do not do as well in warm temperatures and that Hot climates with temperatures regularly above around 80 °F (27 °C) are not suitable for polycrystalline panels.This may be true depending on the installation technique utilized.Its important to allow steady air flow underneath the solar panels to produce cooling effect.

Buy thin-film solar panels for the most budget-friendly option. Thin-film panels are cost-efficient to make and are usually the cheapest option. They also, however, degrade faster than other panels. Choose thin-film if you need a simple solar panel that may need more repairs over the years.

There is also another variation called solar cloth i.e photovoltaic textiles we have developed are as thin as bank notes and flexible enough to wrap around a pencil, which allows their use on virtually any type of surface

  • Thin film solar panels usually cost between $125-200 USD per panel.
  • Thin-film panels usually need the most space and are less practical for smaller homes. They may need up to twice as much room as a mono- or polycrystalline solar panel with the same energy output.

Buy amorphous solar panels for smaller homes

Amorphous solar panels are a subset of thin-film solar panels. Generally, they are smaller than other thin-film panels. Through a process called “stacking,” which involves multiple layers of amorphous silicon cells, these panels can reach high levels of efficiency, around twice as high as other thin-film solar panels.

  • Amorphous solar panels are more expensive than other thin-film panels.
  • Amorphous solar panels generally cost between $100-200 USD per panel.

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Solar Cloth:producing power from textiles everywhere .we always need to keep our eye on emerging technologies and how they may relate to our products, both now and in the future. Solar cloth is one such technology that has certainly got me excited. You can see the solar cloth panels embedded in the mainsail of the yacht above, which is ideal as deck area for conventional modules is limited on sailing yachts.

Solar cloth is not just for boats though. Yesterday I spoke to Alain Janet from solarclothsystem.com and learned that it can also be integrated into canopies, to provide power for outdoor events for example or indeed to recharge electric vehicles. Even an awning for an RV or overland 4 x 4 could probably use such a system too.

However, Alain is a sailmaker to trade and naturally it is in that field that his first system is to be deployed, with UK Sailmakers (France). The UK Sailmakers group has over 50 lofts and service centers around the world, so to my mind they are well placed to bring this technology to market.

Below is a press release, concerning these new PowerSails.

SOLAR SAILS TO POWER TRANS-ATLANTIC RACER

Defi Martinique

Frenchman Daniel Ecalard has entered his Open 50 DEFI MARTINIQUE in the 3,500-mile Route du Rhum from St. Malo, France to Guadeloupe in the Caribbean. His goal: to complete the race with zero carbon emissions. Ecalard plans to carry no diesel for generating electricity in a boat that bristles with electronics that do everything from communicating and navigating to making water and moving the boat’s canting keel.

He will use the boat as a test bed for clean energy solutions. His primary source of power will be solar panels laminated into his Titanium® mainsail to cover all the boat’s electrical needs. The sails are being made by UK Sailmakers France, which has developed the technology for solar cells that can be either laminated to new sails or affixed to existing sails. This exclusive technology is called PowerSails and is being developed by Alain Janet, owner of UK Sailmakers France.

These cutting-edge, light-weight films can generate electricity in low light and indirect sunlight. They are supple enough to handle the sail being luffed as well as folded. The panels will be put in the upper part of the main, above the third reef.

Janet says that the mainsail for DEFI MARTINIQUE is expected to produce on average 500 Watts per hour, budget allowing. Ecalard’s boat was built in 1998 for that year’s BOC race. In 2002-2003, Brad Van Liew won the 50-footer division of the 30,000-mile Alone Around Race by winning all four legs with this boat. She still holds the 24-hour distance record for a singlehanded 50-footer when she went 345 miles in a day. In 2008, she won her class in the Newport Bermuda race. In 2010 the boat starred in the Hollywood movie “Charlie St. Cloud” where Solar Cloth:producing power from textiles everywhere

Ecalard’s ultimate goal is to build a sailing freighter for working the inter-island trade in the Caribbean. For more information about this project go to: http://seafretcaraibes.fr/

Credits

Our thanks to Adam Loory of UK Sailmakers International for the interview and text above, with RDR (Route du Rhum) skipper Daniel Ecalard.

As a footnote, we also wish Alain all the best for his PowerSails project. And if there is a place for Victron to assist, then I’m sure we will as emerging markets and technologies are surely a key to business growth for all. So, if on your Victron travels you too come across something new, that is noteworthy of a post here on the Victron blog, do let us know.

John Rushworth