With so many options for clean and renewable energy, many people have turned to solar panels as the primary choice for powering their homes. The critical factor for purchasing the right solar panels is how efficient they will be. Thankfully there are several metrics which you can use to measure efficiency. You must get the right panels, which suit all your needs.
How To Measure Solar Panel Efficiency
Solar panel efficiency measures any panels’ ability to convert sunlight into electricity. If a solar panel has 15% efficiency, then that means it is capable of converting 15% of the absorbed sunshine into energy. 17-19% efficiency is the average for most panels in residential use today. However, recent innovations have more than doubled this efficiency. The new, more efficient solar panels are going to make their ways into household use in the coming years. Factors, such as the environment and the panel’s materials, play a role in a panel’s maximum efficiency. Solar panels are a highly competitive market in a booming industry, and the efficiency of panels is only rising year by year, with costs lowering on the consumer side, dropping as much as 50% since 2014.
What Determines Solar Panel Efficiency
The major factors that go into solar panel efficiency are the materials, along with how much sunlight they can absorb into energy.
Most panels are either
- monocrystalline, where solar cells are a single source of silicon,
- polycrystalline, where many cells melt together,
- or thin-film, which are flexible and lower cost, but degrade much quicker.
Monocrystalline panels tend to be more efficient and are the most common solar panels today as each solar cell is in the form of a single crystal with no interruption of the flow of electricity. Electrons have more room to move freely. This results in greater efficiency for the panel as a whole.
Polycrystalline panels, on the other hand, are less efficient because many crystals are in each cell, which impede movement for electrons—less freedom to move results in a lesser flow of electricity. The trade-off is usually a lower price point for polycrystalline panels.
Currently, most Monocrystalline panels deliver about 22-27% efficiency, while Polycrystalline solar panels typically range between 15% and 22%.
Thin-film panels are made up of many more materials, but as they currently lag in efficiency. They are common in large-scale solar farms.
Another major factor in determining efficiency is reflectance. How much does the solar panel reflects sunlight away versus how much is does it absorb the energy. The greater the amount of sunlight being taken in and the lesser being bounced off results in greater efficiency. Anti-reflective coating and substances are common on solar panels today to help mitigate the amount of light that reflects off.
Other determinants in the efficiency of panels are the various environmental factors for the location of installation. Shading from nearby buildings, roof slant, dirt build-up, and direction of the panels all have effects on a panel’s ability to perform in some way, and steps like clearing surrounding foliage can go a long way in raising efficiency. It’s important to consider location factors when choosing where to install panels for maximum output.
As more people every day seek to save costs, reduce their carbon footprint, and get the most out of their energy use, many have shifted over to solar panels. With rapidly improving technology and ease of availability, it’s easy to recognize how the increasing efficiency of solar panels makes them attractive for more and more homeowners.