How Efficient Are Solar Panels?

Solar panel efficiency is a measure of the amount of sunlight, which makes contact with the cells of a solar panel, that’s converted to electricity.  More efficient panels will have a higher solar conversion. Under standard laboratory conditions some commercial solar panels have as much as 29.8% efficiency, but under real world conditions, the average commercial solar panel has an efficiency that’s within the range of 15-18% with some higher end panels having an efficiency that’s just above 20%.

Efficiency Vs Power

So does higher solar panel efficiency mean that a solar panel produces more power than a less efficient one? No, it doesn’t. It simply means that it will require less space to produce the same amount of energy as it’s less efficient counterpart. Take for instance two 300 watt solar panels with different solar panel efficiency. Under standard test conditions, both panels will produce 300 watts of power. So if you’re wondering about whether or not you should buy the more efficient solar panel system then the answer is that depends on the situation.

Costs Of Solar Panels

The cost of solar panel systems may have decreased over the years, but they do still cost a pretty penny. So if you’re looking to purchase one the most important thing to keep in mind is what the return will be on your investment. If you’re not limited by the amount of roof space that’s available or the amount of roof space that is in the permanent shade on your house then a solar panel with lower efficiency will do just fine.

How To Maximize Efficiency

More efficient solar panels are more expensive but are advantageous in scenarios where roof space is limited because they require less space to produce the same amount of energy as a less efficient solar panel system. Some other factors will determine how efficient your solar panels will be once installed. To achieve peak efficiency, solar panels must be installed on roofs that are facing East, West, or South with a 10-60 degree slope.

If your solar panels are within shaded areas for the majority of the day then they’ll produce less energy. Higher temperature usually coincides with greater sunlight intensity so naturally,

you’d assume that a solar panel system will be more efficient at higher temperatures. But that’s not entirely true. You see, when the temperature rises above 77o F a solar panel’s power capacity decrease. Some brands of solar panels actually experience a 1% drop in electricity production for every 40 F increase in temperature above 77o F. And of course, the time of the year will determine how much power your solar panel will generate.

During the winter months there’s less sunlight available, so your solar panels will produce less electricity. During the summer there is more irradiation, so your solar panels will produce more electricity. But remember if you’re still struggling to decide whether or not to buy a solar panel system with top notch solar panel efficiency, in most cases, it’s best to opt for the solar panel system with lower efficiency