To explain which solar modules (same as solar panels) fall under the category of first generation, we must first learn which types of panels currently exist and which of them is produced by Sharp. These types of panels are known under the name of Polycrystalline and Monocrystalline. Both are known for higher cost and thus higher efficiency. Their solar cells are manufactured out of pure silicon which is very efficient in terms of utilizing the sun’s energy. The Mono panels (short for Monocrystalline panels) can produce more energy in shadows and afternoon suns, while Polys (short for Polycrystalline panels) aren’t as good at that.
The main component of Sharp’s solar panels is Silicon, which is widely used in electronical chips, like computers. First generation Sharp solar panels are using only the best Silicon chips that can be produced. And these First generation panels are the main reason why Sharp is still the leading manufacturer. In fact, market share of First generation panels out of all sold panels in year 2007 was still 89.6%. In Sharps later generations of panels, which use cheaper versions of Silicon, it allows them to cut the costs and offer more competitive panels.
Nowadays we see a declining trend in sales of more powerful and expensive panels. The reason for this is our economical situation and tendency towards greener solutions for every home.
Now let’s take a detailed look at First generation solar modules that are produced by Sharp. Among the two type of first generation panels mentioned above, let’s discuss Monocrystalline panels.
Sharp’s Monocrystaline panels:
- NU-E245 (J5) – 245 Watt output / 14.9% Efficiency
- NU-E240 (J5) – 240 Watt output / 14.6% Efficiency
- NU-E235 (E1) – 235 Watt output / 14.3% Efficiency
Monocrystalline panels offer better performance when compared to Polycrystalline panels. They were designed to output higher power for lower light conditions. Locations that have shorter days usually can’t accumulate enough energy throughout the day. So Sharp has added an NU-E (see above) series of solar panels to allow you to create more efficient solar arrays (collection of linked panels). Especially when you look at product items NU-E240 and NU-E245 that use special anti-reflex coating to increase a light absorption and therefore increase overall efficiency of the panel. That coating is decreasing the deduction of solar beams and thus absorbing more solar power. Sharp has also created NU line with NU-180 and NU-185 solar panels to fill the gap between higher performance Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline. So we have all the characteristics of Mono with lower prices (see below).
- NU-180 (E1) – 180 Watt output / 13.7% Efficiency
- NU-185 (E1) – 185 Watt output / 14.1% Efficiency
- NU-180 (E1H) – 180 Watt output / 13.7% Efficiency
- NU-185 (E1H) – 185 Watt output / 14.1% Efficiency
Modules with numbers E1 and E1H that are listed above are smaller in size and weigh less than NU-E ones (NU-E stands for Efficiency, or more efficient panels), which were explained earlier. Efficiency is less and as we can see the output power is lower also. Power output for this series is 180 Watt or 185 Watt. So this solar panel will be sufficient for smaller homes and offices. To continue with our First generation panels we have to look at Polycrystalline modules from Sharp.
Sharp’s Polycrystalline modules
- ND-210 (E1F) – 210 Watt output / 12.8% Efficiency
- ND-220 (E1F) – 220 Watt output / 13.4% Efficiency
- ND-220 (E1J) – 220 Watt output / 13.4% Efficiency
- ND-225 (E1J) – 225 Watt output / 13.7% Efficiency
Here are the most popular Polycrystalline modules (see above). They do offer quite a lot of power output, but the efficiency is low when compared to Mono type of panels. Many consumers purchase cheaper panels and place many solar panels together to create a large array of solar panels. This is applicable when you have a larger roof or any other place to install a solar panel array. We have to look at two additional Polycrystalline type panels.
- ND-E220 (A2) – 220 Watt output / 13.4% Efficiency
- ND-E230 (A2) – 230 Watt output / 14.0% Efficiency
More demanding users that prefer cheaper Poly panels and want more powerful panels will go after A2 (part number of the panel) panels.
First generation don’t have a short term return on investment and thus can be considered expensive: that is they may take years before they pay off their purchasing cost. Reason for that is production process, which is more expensive when compared to second generation (Thin-film panels, where layer is placed on top of another layer, to create one panel), but still more popular because of higher efficiency. If you are concerned whether to buy Polys or Mono panels, I would suggest getting the Mono as the price is almost the same when you look at Polys Sharp panels.
In summary, Sharp has developed quality First generation panels and proved that it is still number one in solar panel industry. They are producing two types of panels, by the name of Poly and Mono crystalline. Both types uses the finest quality Silicon that improves solar panels efficiency. Mono panels have better characteristics and are able to generate power even at night. If you want top quality solar panel from Sharp and can spare some extra change I would choose Polys.