Panasonic HIT solar panels in the UK

by James Martin II on December 12, 2012

Panasonic HIT solar panels in the UK

Panasonic HIT solar panels (formerly Sanyo HIT) have proven to be some of the most popular solar panels in the UK thanks to their high quality standards and efficiency. Panasonic also manufactures a wide range of energy-efficient white goods and energy-related products such as heat pumps and fuel cells, not to mention batteries and energy storage systems for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. This article is an overview of Panasonic’s HIT solar modules and the company itself.

Panasonic HIT technology overview

A non-technical explanation of the benefits of HIT technology

Panasonic’s HIT solar modules stand out on the UK solar market for their performance and the ingenuity behind the technology. In plain English, here is what makes them stand out:

-High sunlight-to-usable-power conversion ratio: There are a few different models of HIT panels, but all of them have impressive efficiency specifications–up to 19% in standard conditions. This means more power is produced per square meter of panel, so fewer modules need to be purchased/installed to get the same results. It also means that you can generate enough power yield for self-consumption, even on roofs with limited space.

-High heat tolerance: HIT solar panels have been engineered to withstand hot conditions. Although admittedly not  a problem in the UK’s cooler months, high temperatures on sunnier, hotter days can drag down module performance significantly.

-Durability and quality assurance: HIT solar panels are designed and built by Panasonic, one of the biggest, most diversified and well-known manufacturers of electronics in the world, adding a strong level of assurance that 1) they will perform well over time and 2) their warranties will be serviceable well into the future. Panasonic continues to invest in research and development (R&D) to ensure the best possible quality and efficiency, and HIT solar modules have been tested for salt and ammonia resistance and ‘potential induced degradation’ (PID) resistance. The are also MCS certified.

A slightly more technical explanation (just in case)

Panasonic’s HIT solar modules use a unique hybrid solar cell technology that combines crystalline silicon with amorphous thin film silicon. HIT actually stands for ‘heterojunction with intrinsic thin-layer’. ‘Heterojunction’ simply means ‘different junction’, referring to the fact that the monocrystalline cell sits sandwiched between amorphous cells (a junction between the 2 technologies). ‘Intrinsic thin-layer’ refers to the ultra-thin layers of amorphous silicon around the monocrystalline silicon wafer that forms the ‘meat’ of the sandwich.

Thanks to this setup, HIT solar cells exhibit the primary benefits of both types of cell technology: i.e. an innately higher conversion efficiency of the monocrystalline silicon, and the heat tolerance of the amorphous.

Panasonic HIT technology diagram.

HIT solar cell structure detail. (Click to enlarge. Image via Panasonic Solar.)

The Panasonic HIT solar panel range

If you’re thinking about having a solar PV system installed on the roof of your home or business, you’ll be faced with decisions about what type of solar panels to use and what the difference is between them–even within the same brand. Panasonic has two different models to choose from in the UK, each of which has features of its own that differentiate it from the others, even whilst they all belong to the same HIT family. They are explained below.

N series–N235, N240: Solar panels with up to 19% module efficiency

Panasonic HIT N solar panelThe N235 and N240 are ‘no frills’ panels boasting conversion efficiencies of 18.6% and 19%, respectively–some of the best on the market. Their rated output capacity is 235 watts (W) and 240W, respectively.

Download a datasheet: Panasonic HIT N235, N240 (pdf)

Panasonic HIT Black solar panelN ‘black’ series–N235B, N230B: Black-backed panels for uniform black colour

The N235B modules are the most efficient black modules in the world as of December 2012, with a conversion efficiency of 18.6%. This is particularly noteworthy when one thinks about the effect that dark colour has on solar panels (and any object): that is, they absorb light more easily, making them hotter, which as mentioned above can reduce power yields. Rated power outputs for these modules are 230W and 235W, respectively.

Download a datasheet: Panasonic HIT N235B, N230B (pdf)

Panasonic HIT Double solar panelHIT Double series–VBHN210DE01, VBHN205DE01: Double-sided solar panels (Available in the UK from 2014)

The HIT Double series is one of the most innovative solar panels in the world. These panels use the bifacial feature of HIT modules to convert light into electricity on both sides. The panels are translucent, letting a portion of the light that falls on them through, where it may reflect back onto the other side of the panel if there is a reflective material below them, increasing the amount of energy produced by up to 30% compared to ordinary HIT panels. This is a useful characteristic for applications such as solar car ports or for building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), where buildings may be internally lit.

Download a datasheet: Panasonic HIT VBHN210DE01, VBHN205DE01 (pdf)

About Panasonic Solar

Global Headquarters: Panasonic Corporation, Osaka, Japan

UK Headquarters: Panasonic Eco Solutions Energy Management Europe, Munich, Germany

Manufacturing Plant: Cells for Panasonic HIT panels are made in Nishikinohama and Shimane, Japan. Module manufacturing for the UK takes place in Hungary and Malaysia

History in the industry: Before Panasonic became a full stakeholder in 2009, Sanyo had already been undertaking research in solar PV since 1975. Sanyo and all its products were officially merged with the Panasonic Corporation at the beginning of 2012.

Additional information:

Panasonic has numerous environmentally progressive initiatives across the world, including numerous corporate social responsibility projects and a ‘green cities’ program for building ecologically-conscious communities from the ground up. Panasonic is also the force behind the world’s first solar bridge–the Blackfriars Station bridge in London (pictured below).

Panasonic HIT Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on new Blackfriars bridge

Panasonic HIT Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on new Blackfriars bridge. (Photo by Ralph Hodgson/Network Rail, via the Guardian.)

Top image via Panasonic Solar

© 2012 Solar Selections Ltd

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