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  • First Solar

    If you have had experience with First Solar please post it here. If you would like to see reviews on First Solar click here

  • #2
    First Solar is one of the largest module manufacturers in the world (I believe they were #1 a couple years ago). As far as I know, they only really target utility scale projects.

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    • #3
      I am searching for first solar review but in your link there is no review. Could you please provide me reviews of solar panel?
      Last edited by BrentEMarvin; 05-14-2016, 03:45 AM.

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      • #4
        First Solar is a company to keep an eye on. I have noticed that they are making their modules more efficient every year. And are better quality and less expensive than their current competition based overseas. Amorphous tech is still in its infancy while multi and mono tech is at it's max. IMO, amorphous has a long way to go and I think it will eventually beat out crystalline tech in the long run. This tech is already proven to outperform multi-mono tech in the hotter regions like the deserts. Shucco also proved this as they had an amorphous array and a mono array same sized by module wattage, same orientation, inverter etc. and matched as close as possible for performance comparison. Their data showed that annually the amorphous tech harvested more energy than the mono tech. The problem was, more space was needed for amorphous tech vs mono tech and the costs associated with more equipment etc. did not outweigh the production gained. I think First Solar will eventually bridge this gap and are almost there.

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        • solar pete
          solar pete commented
          Editing a comment
          Not so sure about that, we have replaced many Amorphous or thin film panels seems they dont last to well, in fact the company that installed many thousands of them in Aust, who at the time were the largest solar company in Australia went broke go figure

        • ncs55
          ncs55 commented
          Editing a comment
          I agree, the early ones are still failing, sadly. But the amorphous tech has gotten much better. Time will be the test.

        • SunEagle
          SunEagle commented
          Editing a comment
          thin film cell have been around a long time (I had hands on experience with the Cadmium Sulfide type back in the mid 70's) but heat is still it's #1 enemy. Figuring out how to keep the panels cool will increase their longevity.
          Last edited by SunEagle; 05-16-2016, 09:06 AM. Reason: added to statement

      • #5
        thin film cell have been around a long time (I had hands on experience with the Cadmium Sulfide type back in the mid 70's) but heat is still it's #1 enemy. Figuring out how to keep the panels cool will increase their longevity.

        Correct me here if I am wrong. But from what I learned from unisolar, amorphous has less heat degradation than crystalline as they said. Because as the amorphous gets hot the molecules inside would be closer and supposedly this small efficiency gain caused less degradation. I do not know if that is correct. I do know that amorphous does produce better than crystalline in hot desert climates. Shucco also said the same about their amorphous modules.

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        • #6
          Originally posted by ncs55 View Post
          thin film cell have been around a long time (I had hands on experience with the Cadmium Sulfide type back in the mid 70's) but heat is still it's #1 enemy. Figuring out how to keep the panels cool will increase their longevity.

          Correct me here if I am wrong. But from what I learned from unisolar, amorphous has less heat degradation than crystalline as they said. Because as the amorphous gets hot the molecules inside would be closer and supposedly this small efficiency gain caused less degradation. I do not know if that is correct. I do know that amorphous does produce better than crystalline in hot desert climates. Shucco also said the same about their amorphous modules.
          They may be correct but how many unisolar products do you see being sold and why did they go bankrupt?

          There is also a difference between being "flexible" and "thin film deposit" cells. Each has a slightly different manufacturing process as well as different weak points.

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          • #7
            Originally posted by SunEagle View Post

            They may be correct but how many unisolar products do you see being sold and why did they go bankrupt?

            There is also a difference between being "flexible" and "thin film deposit" cells. Each has a slightly different manufacturing process as well as different weak points.
            Bad management is why they went bankrupt. But that is not the topic here. First solar is not a flexible module and vastly different from unisolar. Unisolar had a layering process using different colored substrates over each other. First Solar has a much different process with different type of substrate. Say what you will, but for large desert arrays, Amorphous is the way to go. There is a casino in Coachella that has more than a megawatt of pv and their system was designed by several electrical engineers and they chose Amorphous due to the production gains over a mono array. I have seen the reports and they are impressive, especially in the hottest months. And it does produce much more annually than mono cell systems of the same or similar size in the desert climate. You guys should really get out in the field and look at what is happening with solar systems.
            Last edited by ncs55; 06-03-2016, 10:39 PM. Reason: added verbage

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            • #8
              Originally posted by ncs55 View Post

              Bad management is why they went bankrupt. But that is not the topic here. First solar is not a flexible module and vastly different from unisolar. Unisolar had a layering process using different colored substrates over each other. First Solar has a much different process with different type of substrate. Say what you will, but for large desert arrays, Amorphous is the way to go. There is a casino in Coachella that has more than a megawatt of pv and their system was designed by several electrical engineers and they chose Amorphous due to the production gains over a mono array. I have seen the reports and they are impressive, especially in the hottest months. And it does produce much more annually than mono cell systems of the same or similar size in the desert climate. You guys should really get out in the field and look at what is happening with solar systems.
              Based on this response and a few others I see you still have a chip on your shoulder and feel anyone that contradicts what you say as being wrong.

              While there may be a few instances thin film works in high heat most of the early versions failed a lot sooner then either mono or poly cell panels. That is based on many years of existing pv systems and their overall production numbers.

              First solar has changed the way they manufacture their panels which has improved their lifespan but being better than mono or poly is still a hard point to prove.

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              • #9
                Originally posted by SunEagle View Post

                Based on this response and a few others I see you still have a chip on your shoulder and feel anyone that contradicts what you say as being wrong.

                While there may be a few instances thin film works in high heat most of the early versions failed a lot sooner then either mono or poly cell panels. That is based on many years of existing pv systems and their overall production numbers.

                First solar has changed the way they manufacture their panels which has improved their lifespan but being better than mono or poly is still a hard point to prove.
                I am not sure why you think I have a chip on my shoulder, that was not what I was trying to relay at all. Nor did I think that anyone said that I was wrong. Nor was I referring to the early thin film modules but specifically First Solar and Unisolar. If mono is better in high heat climates then I would expect to see more mono's in the desert, however I see thin film more than not. I always ask why they chose the thin film over crystalline modules and usually get the same response that the production is higher in the hot desert climates. I also see the production from the monitoring systems. And there are more than a few instances of thin film outperforming crystalline in the desert from what I have seen. And I am not trying to prove anything here, I am simply telling you what I see and hear from the owners of these large systems specifically in the desert.
                As far as the other responses I think you may be referring to the comment in the LG bifacial thread. I just think that all of the negative remarks are unwarranted and based on someone's distant past. And I will say it again, get more field experience before shooting people down who see this stuff first hand on a daily basis. I have been honest in my postings of what I have been finding and usually get persecuted by someone who is book smart yet never sees the failures in the field. I find that I have to defend myself instead of being able to discuss the problems rationally with others who only want to seem like they know everything about this industry. That is a problem in this forum as well as unwarranted rudeness and foul language. So if my posts seem a little defensive that is why, sorry, but some of the others create this kind of environment in here.

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                • #10
                  Originally posted by ncs55 View Post

                  I am not sure why you think I have a chip on my shoulder, that was not what I was trying to relay at all. Nor did I think that anyone said that I was wrong. Nor was I referring to the early thin film modules but specifically First Solar and Unisolar. If mono is better in high heat climates then I would expect to see more mono's in the desert, however I see thin film more than not. I always ask why they chose the thin film over crystalline modules and usually get the same response that the production is higher in the hot desert climates. I also see the production from the monitoring systems. And there are more than a few instances of thin film outperforming crystalline in the desert from what I have seen. And I am not trying to prove anything here, I am simply telling you what I see and hear from the owners of these large systems specifically in the desert.
                  As far as the other responses I think you may be referring to the comment in the LG bifacial thread. I just think that all of the negative remarks are unwarranted and based on someone's distant past. And I will say it again, get more field experience before shooting people down who see this stuff first hand on a daily basis. I have been honest in my postings of what I have been finding and usually get persecuted by someone who is book smart yet never sees the failures in the field. I find that I have to defend myself instead of being able to discuss the problems rationally with others who only want to seem like they know everything about this industry. That is a problem in this forum as well as unwarranted rudeness and foul language. So if my posts seem a little defensive that is why, sorry, but some of the others create this kind of environment in here.
                  OK. Maybe i read your post wrong and made a wrong assumption. I will apologize to you.

                  I will say the one reason you see a lot of thin film in the desert is because the panels probably cost less and reduced the price of the overall project. No doubt the hardware was price out by bidding and the low bid got the project. If that was First Solar then hurray for them. It does not mean their panels are better or will not fail due to the heat. It just means they got the job.

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                  • #11
                    Most all commercial Solar Panel farms are built by Venture Capitalist looking to make a fast buck. They use public funding to pay for a large percentage of the cost. They use Thin Film panels to keep cost low. As soon as the plant is built it is sold for a nice profit. It now becomes the problem of the new owner to replace the panels when they fail in 5 to 7 years. That is what happens to thin film.

                    I would not brag much about First Solar. In 2008 they were worth $300/share, today less than $50. No solar panel manufacture is making money.
                    MSEE, PE

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                    • #12
                      Originally posted by SunEagle View Post

                      OK. Maybe i read your post wrong and made a wrong assumption. I will apologize to you.

                      I will say the one reason you see a lot of thin film in the desert is because the panels probably cost less and reduced the price of the overall project. No doubt the hardware was price out by bidding and the low bid got the project. If that was First Solar then hurray for them. It does not mean their panels are better or will not fail due to the heat. It just means they got the job.
                      No problem, I did not see where anyone said that I was wrong.
                      While the thin film modules may cost less than crystalline modules, in the PV array you have to use more thin film modules to power the inverter than crystalline. That equates to more labor, racking, combiners, wiring etc. These are both ground mount systems also. I am not so sure the large 1-2 megawatt systems are much cheaper if any cheaper when going with thin film as opposed to crystalline. As far as the customer that I was referencing, they put a meg in and followed with another meg a few years after and used thin film on both. This customer owns their system and was initially more concerned on the ROI and overall performance for their area in the long run. Both systems are producing very well and the oldest is around 10 years old. They have had zero module failures in this time frame. Only some inverter power supplies failed due to the lack of a good grounding system which has since been fixed with no reported errors since the repair. Also I never said that the modules were better or would not fail in the heat. I said that the thin film arrays produce more annually than crystalline in the desert and hotter climates. So, in a sense and in that climate the modules actually are a better fit for overall production. and these modules are not first solar.

                      "Most all commercial Solar Panel farms are built by Venture Capitalist looking to make a fast buck. They use public funding to pay for a large percentage of the cost. They use Thin Film panels to keep cost low. As soon as the plant is built it is sold for a nice profit. It now becomes the problem of the new owner to replace the panels when they fail in 5 to 7 years. That is what happens to thin film.

                      I would not brag much about First Solar. In 2008 they were worth $300/share, today less than $50. No solar panel manufacture is making money. "

                      Yeah for some projects that may be true, but not for all of them. And not for the one that I was referring to. And not all of the modules fail in 5-7 years either. The most failures in thin film that I have seen are mostly the Chinese made modules. Oh, and I am not bragging about first Solar either, that was the topic of the thread from the beginning and why I was writing about what I have seen with that brand. I personally think that they are making some of the better thin film modules in the market currently. It does not matter in this conversation what the company shares are worth, that is a little off topic in my opinion. When I said that they were a company to look out for I meant that they are making a pretty good module and have come a long way and are ahead of most thin film manufacturers currently.

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                      • #13
                        I still hope that a breakthrough could be made in finding a solar cell around 50% efficient that is low in cost and does not need the sunlight focused on the cell or use any other type of device to improve the eff that might add to the installation cost.

                        Thin film may be the direction or some other type of solid state material that is cheap to use and build a panel with and lasts for 50 years. One can only hope.

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                        • ncs55
                          ncs55 commented
                          Editing a comment
                          You will be hoping for a long time. Although I think the technology exists. Manufacturers want their products to break, just not to soon. I believe they call it planned obsolescence.

                      • #14
                        I have one simple question. Can you connect a AC lamp to the load terminals of a charge controller.

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                        • #15
                          Originally posted by Jim Middletown View Post
                          I have one simple question. Can you connect a AC lamp to the load terminals of a charge controller.
                          Usually no. If it is 12 volts AC and does NOT contain a transformer you can usually connect it to the terminals of a charge controller, but it will flash on and off annoyingly.

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