When you decide to add a solar energy system to your home, you want to know you’re getting the most for your money. These systems often require a large upfront cost and can disrupt your home life during installation, so it pays to know exactly what you’re getting. The more you know about your new energy system, the more accurately you can calculate how long it will take to recoup those upfront expenses.
There are three efficiency terms that anyone thinking about a solar energy system should know and understand: peak watt, normal operating cell temperature and AMPM standard.
This efficiency standard refers to how well a photovoltaic cell functions under the most perfect conditions. The cells are tested in a laboratory under simulated weather conditions, including optimum lighting, air mass and cell temperature. You can’t replicate these exact conditions at your own home, so this rating will often be quite high. Peak watt is useful to know, but you should look at other efficiency standards when choosing the right system for your house.
Normal Operating Cell Temperature
This efficiency rating provides a more real-world look at a solar system because it measures the cells under actual outdoor weather conditions. The NOCT measures a cell’s average temperature once it calibrates with the ambient temperature of its installation site, which can impact the system’s efficiency. This rating gives a lower watt rating than peak watt, but it also provides you a much more realistic understanding of the system’s capabilities.
This rating looks at how a system performs over the course of a typical day, not just during the peak sunshine hours. This rating takes into consideration the level of light the cells are exposed to, the temperature of the air around the system and air mass. This rating provides a realistic rating of how well the system will perform during the regular course of the day.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about solar energy systems and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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