Why we don’t use 72 Cell Solar Panels for residential solar systems

We are increasingly being asked to supply and install 72 cell solar panels for residential customers. Firstly, a quick summary of the differences between a 60 cell and a 72 cell panel.

The difference is as simple as it sounds – a 72 cell panel has an extra 12 cells which mean the output is increased – usually from the standard 270W per panel up to around 310W or 315W, without any increase of efficiency.

The increase in output per panel is simply achieved by making the panel bigger, not more efficient (in fact they are usually marginally less efficient). As a result, the 72 cell panels are much larger (2m x 1m instead of around 1.65m x 0.95m), much heavier (around 28kg vs around 20kg), and in most cases require different mounting than standard panels.

LG Solar Panel NeON 2 335WThese 72 cell panels should not be confused with the high-efficiency panels from manufacturers such as LG Solar.

Most of the 72 Cell panels on the market today are designed for commercial or utility-grade installations where they are transported in bulk, lifted onto rooftops by crane rather than by hand and are normally required to be installed flat because (hence little or no requirement for wind resistance).

When comparing one of the leading manufacturer’s 60 cell and 72 cell panels, there are small (but material) differences in the positive tolerance levels, efficiency and temperature coefficient – and a significantly reduced level of hail resistance. Perhaps this is getting a bit technical but our engineers love going through all this stuff.

The overall issue with 72 cell panels is that they are not designed for residential use.

In particular, they are not structurally designed to be manhandled individually and so the possibility of flexing the panels whilst being carried and installed on a rooftop may reduce the long-term viability of the backing sheet (and therefore the entire panel).

Another factor is that they usually require a different mounting system (3 rails rather than 2) and different engineering certificates from the mounting manufacturer.

But… they are cheaper! Yes, and the reason they are cheaper is that they are often manufactured to a different standard than residential panels.

If you want to install panels with a higher output (or if you just want the best available), instead of trying to install a commercial style panel on your roof, you should consider the LG NeON 2 panels, considered the best panel available in Australia. Otherwise, we would suggest that sticking with the standard residential 60 cell panels is a much safer option that is likely to give you a much better outcome in the long term.

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