If you're interested in outfitting your home with a solar energy system, it's smart to buy the most efficient solar panels available.
Making the transition to solar energy can yield any number of benefits, from eliminating your monthly utility bills to curbing your direct impact on environmental pollution and reducing your ecological impact.
All of this hinges on having an efficient home solar system — but what actually makes a system efficient, anyway? The short answer: The solar cells themselves. As you shop around for solar panels, make sure you're seeking the most efficient solar panels available to you.
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Understanding the Efficiency of Solar Panels
To begin with, it may be helpful to define what we're talking about when we discuss the efficiency of solar panels.
Basically, efficiency is the term used to convey the amount of sunlight that falls on the solar panels that is converted into energy, or solar power.
Thanks to significant leaps forward in photovoltaic technology, the efficiency of solar modules has increased by quite a bit just over the past few years. It used to be that the average efficiency level peaked at around 15%, but today there are many solar panels that offer an efficiency level of 20% or higher. In other words, 20% of the sunlight that falls on the surface of these panels is converted into electricity.
What Determines Solar Panel Efficiency?
There are a couple of factors that contribute to the overall efficiency of solar panels: There's the efficiency of the individual cells, along with the efficiency of the panels. Let's take a quick look at each of these factors.
Solar Cell Efficiency: First, the structure and design of individual cells can have a huge impact on overall solar panel efficiency. The different materials used to make the silicon solar cells — most commonly thin-film, polycrystalline or monocrystalline silicon — also have different efficiency ratings.
Solar Panel Efficiency: The other factor to consider is solar panel efficiency, something that encompasses the interconnectedness of the cells, the cell type, and the temperature. The amount of power your system puts out also depends on how your panels are positioned, the type of inverter you're using and more.
What are the Most Efficient Solar Panels Available Today?
With all of that said, what are the most efficient solar panels on the market today? Based on our research, we've determined these to be the best solar panels for efficiency:
|Most Efficient Solar Panels||Efficiency||Power|
|SunPower Maxeon 3||22.6%||400 W|
|LG NeON R||22%||380 W|
|REC Alpha||21.7%||380 W|
|FuturaSun FU M Zebra||21.3%||360 W|
|Panasonic EverVolt||21.2%||370 W|
|Trina Solar Vertex S||21.1%||405 W|
|Jinko Solar Tiger Pro 6Rl3||20.7%||390 W|
|Winaico WST-375MG||20.6%||375 W|
|LONGi Solar Hi-MO 4||20.6%||375 W|
|Q Cells Q.Peak DUO G9||20.6%||360 W|
As you seek the most efficient solar panels for your residential solar system, you'll want to keep these high-efficiency solar panels at the top of your list.
What Makes the Efficiency of Solar Panels So Important?
When it comes time to buy solar panels, you'll certainly see plenty of references to efficiency. But is solar panel efficiency really the most important attribute to consider?
Certainly, solar panel efficiency has a big impact on real-world performance, and on the extent to which your solar panels help you reduce your reliance on traditional utility companies. With that said, there are a number of other factors that can determine the power output of your solar system, including the capacity of your solar panel battery bank and the overall quality of the panel construction. Additionally, factors like warranty and durability should be considered as you seek the best value.
One reason why efficiency matters so much is that the more efficient your solar panels are, the more quickly you'll start recouping your initial investment. For many homeowners, the cost of solar panels can be steep, but the more you slash those utility bills, the more quickly you'll approach a break-even point.
Something else to consider is that the more efficient your solar panels are, the fewer total panels you'll need to achieve your home energy goals. This is especially relevant for those who have limited roof space for solar panel installation. Investing in a higher-efficiency solar panel means you can still have a robust system, even with comparatively fewer panels in your array.
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Are There Other Factors That Can Impact Solar Panel Efficiency?
While solar panel efficiency is determined in large part by the solar cell technology and construction of the panels themselves, there are also a number of other contributors. Because of how solar panels work, there are a few factors that cause real-world energy production to either increase or decrease, including:
- Shading and cloud coverage
- The directional orientation of your solar panels relative to the sun
- The external temperature
- Your home's location, particularly its latitude
- The season or time of year
- Dirt and dust
With these limitations, are solar panels worth it for your home? The good news is that even with less-efficient panels or a shaded roof with a small surface area, you can get your money's worth if your panels are optimally positioned and if you have a system that's designed strategically.
Finding the Most Efficient Solar Panels for Your Home System
Top solar companies will typically use the highest efficiency panels available to them. As you consider solar panel installation, it's only natural to want a system that works optimally, supplying you with plenty of electrical energy while lowering your reliance on utilities.
In pursuit of this goal, it's important to seek the most efficient solar panels, while also keeping in mind that there are plenty of factors that can impact the real-world performance of a solar system.
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