Solar panel efficiency is an important metric to consider when buying solar panels. The ratings give you an idea of your solar panel’s output. As you install the PV modules, you want to ensure they can meet your home’s electricity demand. For this reason, buying efficient solar panels is a crucial step in attaining energy independence.
The goal of switching to solar for most people is reducing their energy bills. Unfortunately, you cannot do this when your output is limited. In this article, we are going to look at the most efficient solar panels in the market.
What is Solar Panel Efficiency?
Solar panel efficiency refers to a unit of measurement that tells you the panel’s ability to convert the sun’s energy into electricity. Two different solar panels with varying efficiency ratings and accessing the same amount of sunlight will differ in the electricity generation. Solar cell composition influences the production of electricity.
Due to growth in technology, the average efficiency rating is on the rise. Before we look at the most efficient solar panels, let us look at their characteristics. Two factors influence the panel’s efficiency. These are:
- Total panel efficiency, which is subject to the size, configuration, and cell layout
- Photovoltaic (PV) cell efficiency. Cell design and silicon type determine the efficiency.
Efficiency of the Cell
Base silicon material and the cell structure determine cell efficiency. Mostly, the silicon material is either N-type or P-type. To calculate efficiency, manufacturers use fill factor or FF. In this method, optimum voltage and current determine the maximum conversion of the cell.
Another important factor determining efficiency is the design of the cell. Here, the features you can look out for include the number of busbars (MBB), type of silicon, and passivation type(PERC).
The Efficiency of the Panels
Manufacturers measure the panel’s efficiency in laboratories under STC or standard test conditions. The conditions are solar irradiance of 1000W/m2, cell temperature of 77°F, and Air Mass of 1.5.
Factors Affecting Efficiency
Many factors influence solar panels’ efficiency. These include the cell’s temperature, irradiance level, type of the cell, and cell interconnection.
Additionally, the color of the protective panel’s back sheet can also influence efficiency. For example, although a black sheet has excellent aesthetic appeal, its heat absorption rate is high, leading to higher cell temperatures. As a result, this leads to an increase in resistance, slightly reducing conversion efficiency.
The Most Efficient Solar Panels in 2020
The most efficient panels are the ones that are made using IBC cells. After these there are those built using half-cut and multi busbar monocrystalline cells, mono shingled cells, and lastly, standard 60 cells (4-5 busbar) mono cells. Polycrystalline panels or standard 60 cell poly come at a low cost. However, they are the least efficient.
In 2020, the most efficient panels contain high purity N-type IBC cells. SunPower and LG companies manufacture those panels. Also, high-performance HJT N-type cells boost performance in Alpha series panels. Most companies continue to improve on their solar panel manufacturing technology. In the table below, we highlight the ten most efficient solar panels.
1. Sunpower: Maxeon 3
Presently, this is the most efficient solar panel with 22.6% efficiency.
- It has the lowest degradation in the market.
- The manufacturers warranty is longer than any most solar panels at 25+ years.
- The Maxeon solar panels have the best quality. They produce more electricity for less space.
- They have a beautiful design.
- SunPower solar panels have a higher price.
2. LG: Neon R
LG history in solar energy dates back 30 years. With solid years of research and development, they have made some of the best solar panels in the market with 22% efficiency.
- They have strong and durable aluminum frames making it suitable to install in windy areas.
- LG’s solar panels are strictly tested to ensure they meet excellent quality.
- The panels have a 25 year warranty.
- The panels are costly than most panels in the market.
- REC Solar panels
- They use half-cut cells design and split module design to make quality panels with a 21.7% efficiency.
3. REC: Alpha
- They are among the best top performers rating under DNV-GL, an independent solar module testing program scoring.
- REC solar panels use strong frames above the recommended rating.
- They have a 20 year warranty.
- They have a relatively shorter warranty compared to LG and SunPower panels.
4. Longi: Hi-Mo 4
With an efficiency of 20.6%, these panels reliable and advanced.
- They are more affordable than other solar panels.
- The panels have a high yield that can work well in low light.
- They have a 10 year product warranty lower than other premium solar panels.
- It is volume based and quality may not be as high as other solar panels.
5. Trina Solar: Honey M DE08
Trina solar has a solid foundation in the solar industry with distributions across 30 countries. They panels’ efficiency is a 20.5%.
- They have a variety of solar panels for various applications such as residential, utility scale and commercial installations.
- They have a great warranty support system.
- The efficiency and power output has improved over the years.
- They have experienced issues with quality in the past however this issue was handled and improved.
- They have a shorter warranty at 12 years when compared to other companies.
6. Solaria: Power XT
The company has some of the most renowned solar products with over 100 solar patents. Patents involve materials, applications, products, among others. The products have an efficiency of 19.4% to 20.5%.
- Contain an anodized black aluminum frame that is weatherproof.
- They have highly improved shade tolerance from the interconnected substrings in the cells.
- Efficient modern design minus busbars.
7. Jinko: Tiger Pro 6R13
It is one of the largest solar panels manufacturers and they have an efficiency of about 20%.
- They have a huge range of solar panels to suit each sector which gives you a lot of options.
- They are one of the cheapest solar panels available in the market.
- The manufacturers are fairly new in the market which raises the issue of long term service.
- The performance is relatively low when compared to other panels made.
- They may have lower quality control issues as they buy cells from various manufacturers
8. Canadian Solar: HiDM CS1H-MS
They produce some of the best corrosion free solar panels with efficiency ranges between 15.9% to 20.4%. The panels have a 10-year standard warranty. Contrary to the name, the panels are made in China.
- They are very affordable.
- They have cultivated a reputation for being reliable and efficient.
- The company is relatively new in the market raising concerns of their long-term availability.
9. Phono Soar: Twin Plus M4-9B-R
It is a South Korean company known for its quality products. The solar panels are quite efficient with a rating of 20.4%.
- They have great performance.
- They have a 25-year warranty.
- There is not much information available on how its testing compares to other companies.
10. Q Cells: Q.Peak DUO G8+
They are made by a fortune 500 company adding to their credibility. The massive sources of revenue also shows the company will likely be here for long.
- They have outstanding quality solar panels.
- The company is expected to be around for long fulfilling the long warranty periods.
- They are highly priced compared to other panels within their range.
Why is Efficiency Important?
As you consider efficiency, it is also essential to look at manufacturers’ panel quality. Panel quality is directly linked to excellent performance in a real-world setting. Keeping that in mind, here are a few reasons why efficiency matters.
In solar energy manufacturing, there is something referred to as embodied energy. Embodied energy refers to the power to extract the raw materials used for making solar panels. For environmental reasons, solar panels need to pay back that energy. When there is increased efficiency, the solar panels’ payback period is shorter.
According to research, most solar powers pay back this energy within two years. However, due to improved efficiency over the last few years, there is a payback reduction to 1.5 years.
Additionally, solar panels with high efficiency allow the system to generate more electricity in its 20+ year lifetime. That enables the system to repay its costs sooner.
Solar Panel Efficiency in the Real World
The efficiency ratings indicated on the panels are for perfect conditions. In the real world, many factors affect those ideal conditions. These external factors can significantly reduce the output of your system.
Such factors include shading, solar irradiance, your panel’s orientation, temperature, location, and dust or dirt. Atmospheric conditions, latitude level, and time of the year can affect irradiance. If you install panels in a fully shaded area, your system’s output will be close to zero.
Partial shading is also not recommended as it can affect the efficiency of the solar panels. For this reason, it is essential to install panels in an area without shade. Dirt and dust will also affect solar panels. Cleaning your solar panels will prevent that issue.
Efficient solar panels are the key to an effective solar power system. When your panels’ efficiency is optimal, you can generate enough power for your house. Also, if your system is grid-tied, you can earn credits from supplying excess energy.
Real-world factors, such as shading, temperature, and dirt, can affect your system. You can invest in quality solar panels with a long term manufacturer’s warranty to protect your investment. Combining all these factors when buying solar panels will help you make the right decision.
Dynamic SLR is your go-to solar installation company if you want to go solar in Texas. We have quality solar panels and professional installers. You can fill the free solar quote to start the journey to a renewable, affordable, and clean energy source.