Energy Efficiency

What Is Solar Panel Efficiency & How Does It Impact Me? 

installing solar panels on a home

More households are jumping on the trend of solar panels. Still, many people do not fully understand the benefits of solar power and why it is growing in popularity.

Having an efficient solar panel system can save you a lot of money on your monthly energy bill.

Solving Solar aims to inform you of all the ways that solar energy is changing the world. Plus, we can connect you with the best solar panel installers near you. We provide several resources for you to learn more about solar power.

Also, we include information about energy savings, pricing, financing, and more. Our expert team will help you reduce your carbon footprint and increase your energy efficiency.

What Determines Solar Panel Efficiency?

The concept of solar power is to convert the sun’s energy into electricity you can use in your home via a solar panel. Thus, you can determine solar panel efficiency by measuring how much of the sun’s energy your panels are successfully converting to electricity.

When a solar panel seizes the electrical current from the sun, it transfers it to your main home panel. Once the main energy panel receives the electrical current, it spreads it throughout your home to increase your energy efficiency. Many things impact the efficiency of your solar panels, such as cell type, structure, temperature, and more.

Factors That Affect Solar Panel Efficiency

Various factors affect solar panel efficiency, including materials, reflectance, and thermodynamic efficiency.

Panel Material Components: Panel material components refer to the material that makes up your solar panels. Firstly, there is monocrystalline, which utilizes a singular silicon source. For efficiency, we recommend monocrystalline as these solar cells perform better in extreme conditions. Because of this, monocrystalline is the most common solar panel material you will see in homes.

Reflectance Efficiency: On the other end of the spectrum, reflective efficiency refers to the amount of sunlight your panel reflects away from your home. You want a solar panel that does not reflect a lot of light. Instead, an efficient solar panel should absorb sunlight and transfer it into energy.

Thermodynamic Efficiency: Thermodynamic efficiency is the maximum amount of sunlight your solar panel can convert to electricity. Typically, this number hovers around 86%. You want a solar panel that is as close to thermodynamic efficiency as possible.

What Is the Maximum Possible Efficiency of a Solar Panel?

Your aim as a homeowner should be for your solar panel to convert the maximum amount of sunlight to usable energy. The highest possible efficiency for solar panels is approximately 23%.

Most solar panels fall between 17% and 19% efficiency. However, solar technology is improving each year, and efficiency ratings will continue to increase in time.

What Limits Solar Cell Efficiency?

Many things impact the efficiency of your solar panel.

Firstly, the material of the solar panel is crucial to its efficiency. If you use material without a high purity level, you will get subpar results. Plus, highly reflective material can be detrimental to generating solar power.

Also, the setup of your solar panels can affect the amount of solar energy you generate. You could opt for a grid inter-tied residential solar power system, allowing you to easily switch between your residential energy system and the utility grid.

Alternatively, you can choose to go with an inter-tied solar system with a battery backup. The battery helps protect your home from power outages. This system takes any excess energy from your solar panels and stores it in the battery.

Lastly, you can go with an off-grid solar system. Note that batteries are necessary for a functional off-grid system. Plus, most homeowners install an electric generator alongside their off-grid system.

What are the Most Efficient Solar Panels Available Today?

Solar panels continue to improve each year as solar technology progresses. When in the market for solar panels, you should keep a few things in mind.

First, ask yourself if your roof needs repairs before moving forward with a solar system installation. You do not want to install panels on a damaged roof. It will cost you thousands of dollars in repairs and add to your stress level.

Also, when it comes time to install your solar system, make sure you are comfortable with the contractor you select. While solar panels are not hard to install, you do not want to hire an installer who could do damage to your roof. Roof repairs can be costly, time-consuming, and delay your solar panel installation.

Top 5 Most Efficient Panels on the Market Today

Here are the top five most efficient solar panels on the market today.

LG – A staple of the electronic industry for decades, LG is now a part of the solar panel industry. Recently, it brought their NeON 2 and NeON R series’ to the market to rave reviews. These models have average efficiency ratings of over 20%.

SunPower – SunPower is atop the solar panel industry, with products that have efficiency ratings of over 20%. It offers more solar products than any other distributor and has a premium line consisting of some of the best panels on the market.

REC – This Norwegian company tests its products thousands of times before releasing them to the public, ensuring it never puts out a subpar panel. It has solar products to fit any budget and features efficiency ratings of over 21%. Check out its Alpha Series for a sample of the manufacturer’s best products.

Panasonic – While Panasonic does not sell many solar products, the ones it does are of the highest quality. Their pyramid-shaped design gives your panels a stylish touch and adds to the aesthetic appeal of your home. The company’s 340W panels are its most efficient, with ratings of over 20%.

Solaria – Solaris separates itself from its competitors by integrating world-class technology into its solar panels. The panels are efficient in harsh conditions and have a classy look. Plus, these panels are durable and feature lower system costs.

What Is the Highest Efficiency Solar Panel?

After testing every solar panel system on the market, we are confident that SunPower’s Maxeon 3 is the most efficient. We see the Maxeon 3 have efficiency ratings of over 22%. Plus, it contains over 400 watts of power.

Additionally, these panels have the best warranty in the solar industry, with over 25 years of protection. With a high-efficiency rating, the Maxeon 3 does not need a lot of space to convert sunlight to electricity.

Not far behind the Maxeon 3 is LG’s NeON R and REC’s Alpha. Any of these solar panels will help you start seeing a return on investment immediately.

How To Compute Solar Panel Efficiency

Depending on many factors, the equation of solar panel efficiency changes. To find your solar panel efficiency rating, you must take the incident radiation flux of your geographic location and multiply it by your panel’s area. Then, divide that number by the maximum wattage of your solar panels and multiply by 100.  Several websites can help you find the incident radiation flux of your region.

However, finding your solar efficiency can be tricky because many things factor into the equation, such as nominal operating cell temperature and temperature coefficient of Pmax. The best way to identify if your solar panel system is efficient is if you see a decrease in your monthly energy bill.

Energy Efficiency vs. Cost Efficiency

There is a sizable difference between energy efficiency and cost-efficiency.

Ultimately, the principal advantage of a solar panel system is it saves you money. If your solar panel installation will cost you more money than you’ll save, then it is not a wise investment.

That’s why you want to invest in a cost-effective system. Most solar panel installation websites offer tools that inform you if solar panels are practical for your home. If your energy bill does not decrease with solar panels, installing a solar system is a waste of money.

Instead, you may be better off leasing your solar panels. Many solar manufacturers give you this option with $0 down. You can get a fixed rate that will keep your solar panel costs at a minimum. Plus, you can add a solar battery that can protect you from high electricity costs.

When Efficiency DOESN’T Matter…

While efficiency is vital to getting the most out of your solar panel system, many people misunderstand efficiency ratings. You calculate the solar panel efficiency rate by square meter. Thus, a smaller solar panel may be more efficient than a sizable one.

Do not let efficiency ratings be the deciding factor when choosing a solar power system. Instead, look at wattage statistics or the panel size to make a final decision. Plus, you want a panel that looks stylish on your roof and consists of high-quality materials.

Are There Other Factors That Can Impact Solar Panel Efficiency?

Several other factors come into play when discussing the efficiency of a solar panel. For instance, the positioning of your solar system panels can make all the difference in how much energy your panels can convert. If your panels face away from the sun, you will see tempered results. A solar panel contractor will help you determine where to direct your solar panels for optimal performance.

Also, if your roof retains a lot of dirt and dust, it can impact your solar panels’ performance. Make sure you clean your panels regularly to avoid residue buildup and keep your system operating at its maximum potential.

Do Solar Panels Become Less Efficient Over Time?

Solar panels do become less efficient each year. We refer to this factor as a solar panel’s degradation rate. Over time, your panels form microcracks that affect their efficiency.

The average annual degradation rate for a solar panel is 0.5%. Thus, your solar panels should be productive for over two decades. Most solar panel warranties account for degradation and lessen their guarantees once your system is a decade old.

You may get over 30 years out of your system. However, if you have the budget, it is recommended to replace your solar energy system every 20 years.

How Does Weather Affect Solar Panel Efficiency?

Climate and external conditions can affect your solar panel efficiency. For instance, your geographic location plays a sizable role in how much solar energy you can expect your panels to generate. If you live in a place that does not get a lot of sunlight, you will not reap the full benefits of a solar system.

Similarly, if you have several trees in your yard that shade your roof, it will decrease the amount of sunlight that your solar panels can absorb.

That said, solar panels can still generate power in these conditions. Make sure to choose the appropriate material for your solar panels if you face a lot of extreme weather.

Interested In Installing Solar Panels At Your Property?

If solar panels seem appealing to you, you can begin your deep dive into solar panel installation by determining if solar power is right for you.

You can start by analyzing the shape, size, and style of your roof. Your roof must have adequate space to hold solar panels. Plus, it needs to be sturdy enough to handle the weight of a solar system. If you do not have a lot of space, installing a solar panel system can be counterintuitive.

Hire a professional to inspect your roof before contacting a solar panel contractor.

Get a Quote

If a roofing expert determines that your roof can safely support a solar panel system, the next step is to research solar panel installers near you. Our website allows you to find reputable solar contractors in your area and compare quotes to find the best deal. Plus, you can take advantage of our solar panel calculator to see how much you can expect to pay for your solar panel installation.

Solving Solar aims to help homeowners like you reduce their carbon footprint and save on their energy bills. Within minutes, you can compare estimates from all the top solar panel installers in your neighborhood.