North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Local manufacturer makes most durable solar panels


March 12, 2013

Silicon Energy solar panels

Local Marysville business Silicon Energy has long boasted about the quality of their solar panels, but now a test by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory confirms that they have one of the most durable panels available.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), located in Colorado, is the U.S. government's primary facility for researching sustainable energy.

Silicon Energy’s product was tested along with five other solar panels in an accelerated test-to-failure experiment at the NREL. The modules were subjected to extreme environmental shifts, including cycling between -40 degrees and 185 degrees Fahrenheit.

Silicon Energy's solar panel proved to be the most durable, withstanding the environmental testing while the five others suffered from performance degradation. The local company’s panels retained the efficiency of their solar cells and emerged from the tests without electrical safety failures, according to a Silicon Energy press release.

“We appreciate the opportunity to participate in NREL's cutting edge research, and are thrilled with our performance in their rigorous testing environment,” said Silicon Energy president Gary Shaver.

The study indicated that these accelerated tests do cause some failures that wouldn't occur naturally, so the significance of a failure must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

People who have toured Silicon Energy's Marysville office may know of the durability of the panels because of the panel the company keeps suspended above the ground with two blocks of wood. Guests are invited to jump on the panel to see how it withstands punishment.

Three years ago Silicon Energy's solar panels were installed at Puget Sound Energy's Wild Horse Wind and Solar Farm, which is 3,500 ft. above sea level, subjected to severe weather and wind gusts up to 120 mph. Those panels are still there and working, according to a Silicon Energy press release.

Silicon Energy was founded in 2007 and was the first photovoltaic module (aka solar energy panel) manufacturer in the State of Washington.

Officials from Arlington-based inverter manufacturer Outback Power founded Silicon Energy after recognizing the need in the market and seeing the government incentives for building sustainable energy.

Their engineers looked at the 30 years of previous research from NREL solar panel tests and experiments to design their solar panels, according to the company's website.

Silicon Energy panels have now been installed in more than 1,500 projects nationwide.

For more information about Silicon Energy go to


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