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Most Efficient Solar Panels

Psst! Switching your bank can help fight climate change!


November 23, 2021

Solar panels are known to be eco-friendly and cost-saving, but their success largely depends on efficiency. With so many solar companies out there vying for your attention and claiming to be the best, how do you weed through all the options to find the top contender?

The key is to be well-versed in solar panel efficiency - or at least understanding the basics. We’ll make sure you have all the information needed to make a reliable decision plus we have curated a list of our top recommendations.

What is Solar Panel Efficiency?

Let’s start off by answering the million-dollar question - what is solar panel efficiency? In short, it is the amount of sunlight panels can convert into electricity. The higher the amount of sunlight that gets transformed into electricity the better, and the more efficient the panel is.

Photovoltaic technology was relatively new over a decade ago, but it has made huge strides to get where it is today. The panel efficiency alone has increased to over 20%. Solar efficiency hinges on the individual cell efficiency and the overall panel efficiency together.

Cell and Panel Efficiency

Cell efficiency pertains to the conversion efficiency of the photovoltaic cell, otherwise known as the fill factor, or FF. The panel efficiency is determined by undertaking standardized tests. These conditions are a temperature at 25 degrees, solar irradiance at 1000W/m2, and air mass at 1.5.

The result of both the cell and panel calculations is what contributes to a solar panel’s efficiency determination.

Why Does Solar Panel Efficiency Matter?

Efficiency is important if you want superior performance, but it’s not the only thing you should rely on. What contributes to the “best solar panel” is not only the conversion of sunlight to electricity, but also the warranty period, materials used, and overall reliability.

One key benefit of solar efficiency is a faster payback period. This means the money saved on your utility bill thanks to the panels will equate to the initial cost more quickly. On average, it takes decent solar panels about 2 years, but in some parts of the world (due to sunnier climates) and increased efficiency, the time can be cut down to 1.5 years.

Unfortunately, there are a variety of factors that influence the efficiency of the solar panel that are outside of our control. We can pick top-of-the-line products from industry-leading brands with lengthy warranties, but it still comes down to exterior conditions, which brings us to our next point.

What Affects Solar Panel Efficiency

The standard test for evaluating solar panel efficiency follows certain conditions that are not always so in the real world, which is why you should also #### Consider the following:

Dust and Debris

Dust, debris and precipitation such as snow and hail will impact solar efficiency. These conditions not only affect how well the panels and cells can do their jobs, but also maintenance. Your panels will dirty much more quickly over time if you live in a location that’s dusty and sees a lot of wind that can bring debris.

Luckily, there is a way around this (however painful it may be to some), and that is to clean the panels regularly to maintain longevity.

Weather

Then comes weather conditions, which you will have absolutely no control over. For example, if you live in an area where you don’t get much sunlight, or your roof faces in a less desirable direction, then you won’t get the best performance. Then there are those who live in very sunny areas that can gather enough sunlight to convert to electricity to save thousands a year.

Before committing to a solar provider, make sure to have your home evaluated to find the best options for your circumstances.

Temperature

Contrary to popular belief, solar panels operate better in colder temperatures. In hot temperatures the current in your panels will increase, but at the same time the voltage will decrease. Keep in mind that operating better is not the same as generating more power, because solar panels work very well in the winter but they are producing less electricity.

It’s also important to note that the temperature we refer to is not ambient air temperature, but actually the heat within the solar module. 25 degrees is the standard, with panels operating best below that median.

The Most Efficient Solar Panel Options

1. SunPower Maxeon

Our first choice is the panels from SunPower. The Maxeon panels are designed to be efficient, with the company claiming that they are top choice within the industry. Higher efficiency brings more energy, and the Maxeon panels promise to produce up to 30% more power over a 25 year period compared to its competitors.

The Maxeon solar panels are also ones with the one of the most durable builds, as they have been tested rigorously. The result was a lower rate of degradation that means providing maximum performance for longer. Even with that said, the panels still come with a 25-year warranty.

The SunPower Maxeon panels are very aesthetically pleasing as well without any grid lines. The solid backing and thick connectors can handle all weather conditions and temperature fluctuations.

Pros

Cons

Why We Like It

As one of the most durable and efficient solar panels on the market, what’s not to like about the SunPower Maxeon?


2. LG NEON R

LG is no stranger to electronics and appliances, and they have also made their mark in the solar industry with very efficient panels that deliver a high output. Of course, the design is very durable and the efficiency is maximized on sunnier days. Don’t worry about the panel efficiency in higher temperatures because these panels are created with a low temperature coefficient.

The LG NEON R is excellent for smaller spaces due to the higher efficiency. This allows smaller abodes to still enjoy solar power optimally. Much like its competitors, the solar panels are backed by a 25-year warranty as well to ensure #### Consumer protection.

For a visually appealing look, the LG NEON R does not have visible electrodes on the front for a more streamlined appearance.

Pros

Cons

Why We Like It

LG has spent decades proving to #### Consumers that it’s a reliable brand, and has become a name many of us trust. This trust has extended to its solar panels.


3. REC Group Alpha Series

The REC Group Alpha Series solar panels make it onto our list because of their Heterojunction Cell Technology (HJT), which makes sure you do not suffer from power loss with a leading temperature coefficient to lead to more savings.

There is also advanced cell connection technology which improves the flow of the current for prolonged performance. The cells are black with very thin wires because solar panels have evolved past just functionality to be aesthetically pleasing as well.

The cells in the panels are lead-free, so aside from reducing your carbon footprint with its everyday performance, its manufacturing process also creates a lower environmental impact. REC Alpha is ROHS-compliant and backed by 25-year product, performance and labor warranties.

Pros

Cons

Why We Like It

The REC Alpha Series solar panels are widely available and feature top-of-the-line innovation in terms of durability and #### Construction.


4. Panasonic EverVolt

The EverVolt is also a highly efficient choice from a reliable brand. Even with a smaller roof surface, the Panasonic EverVolt still offers optimum module efficiency. The industry-leading temperature coefficient makes the panels close to immune to higher temperatures. However, in order to maximize the output, the Panasonic Evervolt will function better in shaded areas, even with the better temperature coefficient.

The EverVolt features the same Heterojunction Cell Technology found in the REC option, which also contributes to its performance. You also get 25-year warranties that cover labor, performance and the product itself. The panels are on average around 20% more efficient than those with average quality #### Construction and technologies.

The N-type solar cells will also result in a lower degradation rate over the years due to reduced LID and PID, Light Induced Degradation and Potential Induced Degradation respectively.

Pros

Cons

Why We Like It

We love how the Panasonic EverVolt has a very low degradation rate and the solar panels are from one of the most trusted brands in the world.


5. SilFab SOLAR Elite

SilFab Solar Elite also offers solar panels that are around 20% more efficient than the average models. #### Consumers have their pick between the SIL-380 BK or the SIL-370 BK, both of which have technology that reduces front-cell metallization, which works to improve overall performance effectiveness.

The sleek black design is very appealing and both designs are excellent for residential purposes regardless of the size of your roof. The panels are made in America, so you can trust the quality assurance protected by an enhanced warranty.

Pros

Cons

Why We Like It

The SilFab Solar Elite panels come in different voltages suited for different needs. There are residential solutions and commercial and utility options available.


Conclusion

If you are going to invest in something as pricey as solar panels, it makes sense to find the most efficient ones. Remember that efficiency is not just about the technology within, but also the #### Construction and promise from the manufacturer. Now that you know what makes a solar panel more efficient and what factors can impact its performance, you can buy your way to more savings with confidence.