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Should you consider black solar panels in Australia?

Some say Yes, and others say No. However, with technology always improving, how well do black solar panels perform in 2024? The good news is that two fundamental specifications listed on a solar panel data sheet answer this in relatively simple terms, but you’ve got to know where to look and how to discern certain manufacturer terminologies. Nevertheless, everyone can agree that the difference gap between normal (white back sheet) and all-black solar panels is closer than ever, and in certain comparisons, different black solar panel architectures of equal Watt-class (E.g: 440W vs 440W) outperform their less-streamlined counterparts.

Key points

In a recent podcast, Markus Lambert from Your Energy Answers interviewed PSW Energy/Perth Solar Warehouse Director Derek McKercher, who has always sought the ideal balance of aesthetically pleasing design and performance when it comes to solar power on someone’s home. But how well does the argument stand up? The answer is in two specific numbers on a solar panel manufacturer’s datasheet. If you’re unsure about module efficiency and power temperature coefficient, we’ve provided some assistance in interpreting this below.

Derek McKercher discusses the benefits of black solar panels with Markus Lambert from Your Energy Answers.

The overall interview is over an hour (now on YouTube). However, in this segment discussing black solar panels, Derek dives into the benefits of a one-colour design toward solar energy generation and the potential proclaimed heat losses usually associated with black solar panels. Taking the opinion that it’s better to enhance the value and appeal of one’s home even if there is a small performance detriment from a one-colour design.


I love black solar panels. In the past there was an argument that black solar panels would retain more heat. The better looking that you can make a solar system on a house [improving overall value - the better]... because it's somebody's [significant] investment.


If it can enhance the value and appeal of your home with a minimal performance detriment, then go for it! They are so close in specifications now [in 2024]. There used to be a wider gap but now there's not.


So the aesthetic look of the solar system is quite important because no there's point saving 500 bucks and then have $20,000 uglier house.


100%. So we [PSW Energy, Perth Solar Warehouse] even include full black mounting hardware because it will complement the [solar panels] black frame. Once you put an all-black solar panel on it, oh it looks amazing.

Markus identified that a small format initial cost saving on the solar package could affect property value further down the line. And Derek agreed. Customers should be concerned about how a solar energy system and its aesthetics appear. It’s a poignant structure externally visible on one’s most significant investment.

In the past, black solar panels retained a lot of heat due to the backsheets incorporated at the time. Now, with semi-transparent black look-back sheets, heat retention and performance losses are mitigated among most leading brands. Many black solar panels now incorporate bifacial ability, meaning they absorb light from the rear of the solar cell thanks to the semi-transparent nature of the all-black appearance. The full black appearance is retained through the solar panel to roof surface shadowing effect complimenting both performance and style.

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But how do you discern which black solar panels are high-performance and which are slightly sub-par? The good news is that you can tell by looking at the solar panel manufacturer’s datasheet. Unfortunately, it’s never a standardised format among manufacturers, and viewing the different formats assists in an educated approach to the ideal solar panel selection.


Black solar panels, what to look for

Module efficiency and Power temperature coefficient. Certainly, other durability factors may come into play among competing manufacturers, but regarding performance, these two specifications combined to assist in calculating improved yield from an area–more power generated from an occupied space.

Module efficiency

Not to be confused with ‘cell efficiency’ (which is always higher). module efficiency is the sum of the entire module architecture on a performance per m2 scale at Standard Test Conditions factoring combined circuitry losses once assembled. However, standard test conditions simulate a controlled environment, unlike real-world conditions.

The higher, the better: A higher module efficiency for black solar panels is what you’ll want to identify. For example, at the time of writing, 22.0% or greater defines superior module designs irrelevant of module power output. Related [external]: Higher power solar panels aren’t better, they’re bigger ›

Temperature Coefficient of Pmax

The temperature coefficient of Pmax determines the loss per degree of temperature from standard test conditions, and 25°C is the nominated cell temperature for most internationally recognised Standard Test Conditions. 

The lower, the better: the less a solar panel derates beyond 25°C. It can be perceived as having higher performance in temperature extremes as this figure multiplies per degree above 25°C. For example, at the time of writing, -0.30%/°C temperature coefficient is considered good among leading solar panel architectures, and anything lower than this, such as -0.26%/°C (E.g. Aiko Neostar S2) is exceptional.



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