How Efficient Are Solar Panels?

How efficient are solar panels: the short answer

Different solar panel types come with different efficiency ratings, but most modern options fall anywhere between 13 and just about 25%.

Of course, the higher the efficiency rating, the higher the price tag as well. So, the goal is to just get the most efficient solar panel type for your budget instead of just shooting for the most efficient one out of all available options.

But what exactly are the options available to you? Let’s take a look at the most common ones:

 

Monocrystalline solar panels

Boasting an efficiency rating of around 20%—thanks to being manufactured using a single piece of pure silicon—monocrystalline solar panels are one of the most efficient options you have today.

But that’s not all they’re known for. They’re also highly regarded for their superior durability, making them perfect for homes located in areas with harsh weather conditions.

Unfortunately, these benefits all come at a price—literally. You see, monocrystalline panels are more expensive than most other options primarily because they are made using a single piece of pure silicon. Given the way they are manufactured, up to 50% of each silicon crystal used ends up wasted.

 

Polycrystalline solar panels

Slightly less efficient than their monocrystalline panels at about 15-17%, polycrystalline solar panels are perfect for you if you’re looking for a less expensive yet equally durable option.

These panels are manufactured using the exact same material as monocrystalline ones. The only difference is that instead of being made with just one crystal, they’re made using several cut up pieces. This means significantly less crystal gets wasted during manufacturing, which is exactly why they don’t cost as much.

 

PERC solar panels

Short for passive emitter and rear cell, PERC solar panels are pretty much the same as monocrystalline and polycrystalline ones in terms of the primary material used. The biggest difference is that they have an extra passivation layer behind their main cell, which does three simple things:

  • Reflect sunlight back to the main cell, increasing the total amount that gets absorbed by the panel
  • Resist the natural propensity of electrons to regroup, allowing them to flow more freely in the system
  • Allow each panel to absorb higher wavelengths of light, preventing the back sheet from heating up and the panel’s efficiency from going down

The result is about a 5% increase in the overall efficiency of each panel—but that’s not all PERC panels have going for them. Aside from their top-notch efficiency, they’re also smaller than most other solar panel types, making them great for homes with limited roof space.

And, to top it all off, they also don’t cost significantly more than monocrystalline panels to produce, so they also generally don’t cost significantly more to acquire. So, if you’re already looking at getting the former, then you might want to consider spending just a little more to upgrade to the latter.

 

Thin-film solar panels

If you’re willing to sacrifice efficiency to save money, then thin-film solar panels may be the option for you. With an efficiency rating of just 13-15%, they’re the least efficient one out of the four solar panel types we’ve talked about today.

 

Is there a way to increase the efficiency of my solar panels?

Unfortunately, no, there’s no way to increase the efficiency of your solar panels. What you can do, however, is keep them working at peak efficiency for a long, long time.

First, you need to make sure that your home is solar ready. As a general rule, it should have a south-facing roof that slopes anywhere between 15 and 40 degrees and has unobstructed access to direct sunlight. In addition, the roof surface itself must be big enough to accommodate enough solar panels to generate the amount of power your household requires.

Second, you need to make sure that your solar power system is properly installed and set up. This means that unless you’re a certified expert when it comes to solar installations, it’s better to let a professional take care of it for you.

Finally, you need to make sure that your solar panels are not covered in leaves, snow, and other forms of debris, so be sure to clean them from time to time. And, if you spot signs of damage, get in touch with your solar provider immediately so they can fix the problem before it gets worse.

Given that most modern solar panels are designed to work at peak capacity for at least 25 years, if you have yours properly installed and keep them well maintained, you should be able to enjoy a healthy return on your investment.

 

Is efficiency rating everything?

The short answer is no, efficiency rating is not necessarily the be-all and end-all when it comes to choosing what type of solar panel to invest in.

While it may seem like going for the option with the highest efficiency rating is a great idea, there are actually several other factors you need to consider to ensure you get the right solar panel type for your specific needs and situation, such as:

  • Your budget
  • The size and condition of your roof
  • The location of your property
  • Your total power requirement

Let’s take a closer look at each one:

The first consideration is how much you have to spend on a solar power system. Even if you wanted to get the most efficient option, if you need to burn through your life savings to do so, then it might not be the best decision. Keep in mind that it takes time for solar energy systems to pay for themselves and become an actual asset.

Second, the size and condition of your roof would also dictate the type of solar panel you can use. There’s no point in going for the most efficient option if your roof is not big or strong enough to house it.

Third, you also need to consider your home address. if your property is located in an area that’s constantly exposed to harsh weather conditions, then you’ll also need to strike a balance between efficiency and durability when it comes to choosing the type of solar panel to use.

Finally, you need to remember that there’s more than one way to ensure your solar system meets your home’s power requirement. The goal is to find the most cost-effective setup that would last a long, long time—which doesn’t always require the use of the most efficient solar panels available in the market.

Long story short, if you want to make sure you get the perfect solar power system for your home, it’s best to hire an expert to not only help you choose, but also take care of installation, set up, and maintenance for you.

 

Is there a way to make switching to solar more financially feasible?

Absolutely! In fact, there are several ways for you to either significantly reduce or completely eliminate the upfront costs associated with switching to solar. Let’s take a look at the three most popular ones: solar loan, solar lease, and solar PPA.

Solar loans are just like any other kind of loan. They allow you to purchase your solar system without having to pay up front. Instead, you pay a significantly smaller monthly fee until the total cost of the system is paid off.

If you get your solar loan through LGCY Power, you’ll get access to benefits such as:

  • Monthly payments lower than your energy bill
  • System maintenance
  • Product and workmanship warranty
  • Federal solar tax credit and other government incentives

A solar lease, on the other hand, works pretty much the same way, taking the upfront cost of switching to solar out of the equation. The only difference is that if you choose this option, you won’t actually get to own the system. In fact, even the benefits are exactly the same when you get one from LGCY Power.

The third and final option we’ll be taking a look at today is solar PPA (power purchase agreement).

Unlike the first two options where you either pay in installments for the system or pay to borrow one, a solar PPA completely eliminates the need for you to purchase or lease a system. Instead, the solar company retains ownership of the system and you just pay for the amount of power you use—which typically costs less than what your utility company is charging you now.

The advantage of going with this setup is that you get to enjoy clean, affordable energy without having to worry about things such as depreciation and maintenance.

At the end of the day, it all depends on your needs.

If you prefer to have your own solar power system but don’t have the cash to pay for it up front, then a solar loan is your best bet.

If you just want a system installed but don’t mind not actually owning it, then a solar lease would be better for you. This option not only eliminates the need to pay for the system up front just like a solar loan, it also takes depreciation out of the equation just like a solar PPA.

Finally, if you just want more affordable energy but don’t want (or are unable) to install a solar power system in your home, then a solar PPA is exactly what you need.

 

What’s next?

Again, if you want to make sure you get the right solar power system for your home, the first step is to talk to a solar power specialist who can take care of not only helping you choose the correct system, but also installing, setting up, and maintaining it.

Book a no-obligation free consultation with one of our solar panel consultants today so we can answer all your questions and guide you every step of the way.

3 Lesser-Known Benefits of Residential Solar Power Systems

You probably already know how residential solar power systems are not only great for cutting energy costs, but are also more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels.

 

But did you know that they can actually help you make money, save money for decades, and enjoy improved economic security?

 

Let’s take a closer look at how each one works:

 

#1: They can help you make money

 

Investing in a residential solar power system helps you make money not only by giving you access to all sorts of government incentives, but also by helping increase the value of your property.

 

In terms of government incentives, you’ll get access to things such as:

 

  • Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit

 

If you have your residential solar power system installed on or before January 1, 2023, you’re entitled to a 26% tax credit based on the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which also covers fuel cell, geothermal heat pump, and small-scale wind turbine installations.

 

But even if you have your system installed at a later date, you’ll still receive a 22% tax credit—and this is regardless of the condition of your home. Whether you live in a pre-existing property or a newly constructed one, you’re covered by the provisions of the act.

 

  • Performance-Based Incentive (PBI)

 

As the same suggests, this incentive involves payouts based on how much energy your residential solar power system generates over a set period of time.

 

In some states, the payouts are released every month; in others, you’ll have to wait anywhere between one and five years. Either way, though, you’re still earning regular payments from a one-time expense.

 

The only catch is that if you want to get paid a lot, you will have to really take care of your system and keep it in peak condition.

 

  • Solar Rebates

 

Selling any excess energy your system generates back into the grid is another one of the many government benefits you could enjoy when you have a residential power system installed in your home.

 

Just like with PBI, if you want to enjoy sizable rebates, you’ll have to make sure your system is operating at 100%—or near 100%—capacity.

 

In terms of increasing your property’s value, on the other hand, the actual numbers would ultimately depend on where it is located.

 

Properties in New York, Orlando, and San Francisco, for example, typically see a 4.4-5.4% increase. Those in New Jersey, on the other hand, see a jump of up to 9.9%. Depending on the average price of the properties in your area, these numbers could translate to tens of thousands of dollars added to your home’s price tag.

 

#2: They generate long-term ROI

 

Another lesser-known benefit of residential solar power systems is that most modern options are designed to work at peak capacity for at least 25 years after you have them installed. And even after that time, they should still work at about 85% capacity for years to come, allowing you to still enjoy sizable cost savings without having to worry about spending on a replacement.

 

Of course, the actual lifespan of your solar power system would ultimately depend on factors such as:

 

  • The manner in which it is installed
  • The climate in your area
  • How it is maintained

 

You’ll know it’s time to get a replacement when you’re no longer getting the amount of energy you need from your current system or if it suffers irreparable damage at some point during the course of its lifespan.

 

#3: They can help provide improved economic security to everyone

 

The third and final lesser-known benefit of residential solar power systems we’ll take a look at today is how they help the country become less dependent on imported fossil fuels—that cost whatever the countries that supply them decide they do—for energy.

 

This means that with each installation, we, as a nation, take one step closer to enjoying improved long-term economic security.

 

The fact that even the US federal government has invested over $100 million to make solar energy more cost effective for everyone highlights just how promising the technology is and how much the country as a whole stands to gain from it.

 

Ready to find out more about getting a solar power system for your home?

 

Book a no-obligation free consultation with one of our solar panel consultants today! Just tell us what you need and we’ll help you find the best and most cost-effective option for your home.