Solar Panel Efficiency in 2021
There has been a long-standing question of how efficient solar panels can be, and as years go by (and with us needing more renewable energy than ever before) solar technology companies are ramping up their developments to make solar panel efficiency higher than ever before.
Even though solar energy is the most abundant form of energy on Earth, the level of solar technology that we are currently at cannot capture most of the sunlight that beams towards Earth. There are also a variety of factors that go into how efficient a solar panel can be. In this article, we delve into how efficient current solar panels are, and the top three choices for the most efficient solar panels you can buy on the market today.
Factors that Affect Your Solar Panel’s Efficiency?
1. Your Solar Panel’s Age
There have been many innovations in the solar world in the past 5 years that have made older models obsolete. Things such as half-cut solar cells, multi-busbar technology, bifacial and shingled technology, have all bolstered the total performance that solar panels can now run at.
The issue is, as these innovations develop, so too will the performance of the solar panels. The older your panel is, the more likely that they are not as efficient when they were first installed, and it is absolutely true that they are not as efficient as newer models. This doesn’t mean your panel won’t work well into the future, but they surely won’t be as efficient.
2. The Materials Your Solar Cells are Made of
Solar cell efficiency degrades the longer you use them, and based on the material they’re made of, they can break or become less efficient. Most solar cells are built with silicon, however newer panels like Sunpower’s MAXEON series have silicon solar cells that are backed with copper filament. This leads to better long-term solar cell efficiency as cells made of silicon and copper do not deteriorate as rapidly as silicon-only solar cells.
3. Your Average Sun Exposure
The amount of sunlight your home receives also plays a role in solar panel efficiency. There are many reasons why your roof may get more or less sunlight than other areas, but whatever the reason may be – a change in sun exposure will equal a change in your solar panel’s energy production. Although it doesn’t weigh heavily on your solar panel performance, your panels can be more efficient if there is more sunlight, and less efficient if there is less sunlight.
4. Temperature Coefficient
Your solar panel’s temperature coefficient also plays a heavy role in your solar panel’s efficiency. On hotter days (when there is more sunlight) your solar panel’s performance actually dwindles. This is because like most technology, the hotter it gets, the less effective the systems are because of heat degradation. Likewise, the cooler the day is (even if there is less sunlight) the more optimal your solar panel’s performance will be because of lesser heat degradation.
Different solar panels have different temperature efficiencies, so plan accordingly.
As a solar technology company, we’ve received many questions regarding solar panels performance over the years, and here are some great answers you should know about before you make a purchase for solar panels/solar energy systems.
Do Solar Panels Become Less Efficient Over Time?
The quick answer is yes – solar panels do become less efficient over time. Just like any other piece of technology, it will degrade over time.
However, there are things that can protect you from worsening efficiency such as performance warranties. A performance warranty is a guarantee by the solar manufacturer that your solar panels will be at a minimum a certain percent efficient within 25 years of usage. Brands such as Sunpower, and their MAXEON 5 series have a performance warranty of 92%. This means that after 25 years of usage, your panel should still be at least 92% efficient.
What is a performance warranty?
A solar panel has two warranties. The first one is the equipment guarantee warranty, which will protect your panels between 10-25 years. A performance warranty guarantees 80% to 92% production for your solar panels at 25 years.
This means that if your solar panels perform less than 80% – you can return your panels, and they will give you panels that will achieve said efficiency.
Obviously, performance warranties differentiate between solar companies, Jinko Solar has a 25-year performance warranty at 85%, so make sure to account for that when you are buying solar modules.
What’s the most efficient panel on the market?
There is not a solitary solar panel/solar energy system that is the most efficient. Despite many solar companies are vying for that title, in truth – it’s more about which solar panel is the most efficient for you based on where you live and what you’re going to be using it for.
Here are a couple of comparisons between what we believe are the most efficient solar panels on the market:
SunPower Solar Panels
One of the most reputable solar panel manufacturers in the world – Sunpower has some ingenious developments for overall solar panel efficiency. For example, their A-Series solar panels are built with their latest and greatest solar cells, their MAXEON Gen 5s. These solar cells are backed with a copper filament, which allows them to be more flexible and durable than just regular silicon cells. These panels deliver up to 22.3% efficiency
EGing Solar Panels
With over 17 years worth of extensive Research and Development, EGing Solar panels stand as one of the most efficient solar panels in the world – with an efficiency rating of 21.22%. TheirEG-415 is the flagship of their solar panels and is recognized as one of the most efficient panels in the world.
Jinko Solar Panels
Jinko Solar is also another world-renowned brand in solar technology. Their Tiger Series solar panels have a 22% efficiency rating and are considered to have the highest lifetime power yield, with only a loss of .55% in power.
What is the most efficient solar panel over time?
Jinko Solar Panels are regularly considered the most efficient solar panel in the long term. The 440W Tiger Pro solar panels have TR technology alongside its half-cut cells. This leads to a higher module efficiency, as well as the highest lifetime power yield, with only a .55% loss in power. With higher efficiency and the least amount of power loss, you can consider Jinko Solar Panels as the most efficient solar panel over time that is currently in the market.
What is the most efficient solar panel based on price?
EGing PV’s 415W would be considered the most efficient solar panel based on price. It is the most cost-efficient comparison to Sunpower’s MAXEON 5 series and Jinko Solar’s Tiger Series.
Its solar panel modules can achieve 21.22% efficiency, while having textured solar cell surfaces which allows for great performance, even in low-light or shaded areas. Due to their half-cell technology, their panels are more efficient throughout the time you have them and aren’t as expensive to maintain in comparison to other brands.
What Does the Future of Solar Panel Efficiency Look Like?
As we stand now, solar technology is just at the beginning of efficiency. The day that we achieve 50% or more efficiency for our solar panels will be the day in where non-renewable energy resources will become obsolete.
We are on the path now with great companies such as EGing PV, Jinko Solar, and Sunpower, but it will take considerably more time for us to get to the point where the whole world can benefit from highly efficient solar panels that take up less space and convert more energy.
Temperature coefficient: lower coefficient = colder means it works better.