Jan 18, 2009 08:24 pm
Re: Looking for Photowatt PW1000 panels in NJ
altE used to carry matrix (photowatt) modules, and we were notified that matrix was closing its operations in the usa (new mexico plant). as far as i know, the word came from photowatt in europe. i had a chance to visit the factory in new mexico, and the folks at matrix were very nice to me and it was interesting to see the modules being produced. if anyone has any, they are either used or new old stock.
To Mr. Schmidt's question, from my experience in the industry the issue seems to be the cells. for manufacturers that don't make their own cells or manufacturers that are beholden to a single or parent supplier, any change in cells means change in modules. for manufacturers that are larger and or in control of their on cell stock, competition seems to drive them to more efficient, more cost effective, less reflective often larger cells. if you have the same nominal voltage schemes 36 cell, 54/60 cell, 72 cell, and the cells get bigger, then the frames must change, and you have new modules, and generally that makes discontinued modules of what used to be made of the old cells.
here are some of the main reasons i have seen for module changes. I don't work for a manufacturer, but these are the things that i have seen.
cell sizes going for 4 to 5 to 6cm have created new lines of modules that often discontinued old lines of modules.
changes in module preferences for nominal voltage.as grid tie dominated, module preferences changed from 12 to 24 to 18v modules being dominant at higher wattages per module. how many new 12v modules have we seen in the last year or so? all i could come up with is sharp 130 (efficiency upgrade from 123) kyocera 135 (new larger cells force different model from 130) and evergreen es-a series (something completely different, changing from a 108 cell 18v module to 114 cell 12[ish]v nominal module)
another issue was the global market. with european states having aggressive feed in tariffs, many manufactures could make more money selling in europe than they could here, so a few left the states. UL listing in the states is also a limiting factor for those that want to be a player here. isofoton and matrix (photowatt) have both left the us market in the last 3 years. unisolar left the framed module market because they decided they could compete better with laminates than they could with framed modules that cost more to produce. there is no shortage of folks that loved the unisolar 64, (myself included), but the pull of the market eventually led to the discontinuation of unisolar framed modules.
those are some of the reasons i have seen. it can be a bummer for folks with existing systems that want to add on, only to find their modules are gone. i experience this phenomenon when they quit making oem parts for my old vw, and when sanyo cut the 195 ba3 without asking me if i wanted any more. luckily i got my hands on one before they were all gone, but many folks are not as lucky and its a bummer. all you can do is try to design with that in mind, and in the worst case add new components to deal with the new modules.
anyway, good luck on your search for photowatts.