Although the cost of purchasing solar panels is relatively high, it is undoubted that this investment can be well recouped over time, because the electricity bill saved in the long run will slowly make up for the initial cost of the solar power system. For anyone who wants to install a solar panel, it is essential to consider solar panel efficiency, because good efficiency ensures the completion of daily power generation tasks and recovers the purchasing cost more quickly, and saves more money.
Read on to learn more about solar panel efficiency, its influencing factors, types of solar panels, and ways to improve your solar panel efficiency for more electricity.
What is Solar Panel Efficiency?
Solar panel efficiency refers to the amount of sunlight that is converted into usable electricity by a solar panel, and it is expressed as a percentage. For example, if a solar panel has an efficiency of 17%, then it means that its output will be about 17 Watts provided 100W of solar potential energy shines on the panel.
The higher efficiency the solar panel has, the more electricity it can generate from a given amount of sunlight, which means more power to charge your devices and more economic benefits created. For example, when exposed to the same amount of sunlight, a solar panel with an efficiency of 20% generates more electricity than a panel with an efficiency of 15%.
Currently, the average efficiency of solar panels ranges from approximately 15%-22%. High-efficiency solar panels can reach an efficiency rate of nearly 23%
What Factors Affect Solar Panel Efficiency?
Types of solar panel: Different materials used in the manufacturing process results in various photovoltaic cell efficiency of solar panels. The three main types of solar panels are monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and film panels.
Sunlight: The amount of electricity generated by a solar panel is proportional to the amount of sunlight falling on the panel. The more sunlight is captured, the higher the conversion amount of the solar panel. However, many factors can affect sunlight, such as weather, cloud cover, and the orientation of the panel.
Environmental temperature: The air temperature around the solar panel also affects its efficiency. If the solar panel surface becomes hot, its efficiency will decrease. In fact, solar panels operate best in cold conditions with abundant sunshine.
Shadows: If a solar panel has shadows on it, such as shadows from tree branches, it will consequently generate less amount of electricity.
Dust: Dust accumulating on solar panels can influence normal functioning, reducing the amount of sunlight they can convert, and decreasing their efficiency.
Maintenance: Regularly inspecting and maintaining solar panels can improve their efficiency and extend their service life.
Types of Solar Panels and Their Efficiency Levels
There are three types of solar panels mainly used nowadays: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and film. The three solar panels has different performance, way of manufacturing, and costs.
Made with single silicon crystals, Monocrystalline solar panels can reach an efficiency of about 15-20%, which is the highest among several types. Under the same lighting conditions, its performance is better than that of polycrystalline solar panel and it can generate four times the electricity of film solar panels. Monocrystalline is the most popular one in the marketplace. However, monocrystalline solar panels are relatively expensive compared with other types of solar panels.
Polycrystalline solar panels are made up of many different silicon crystals and the manufacturing is less complicated. Therefore, it is cheaper compared to monocrystalline solar panels. However, its efficiency is also lower than monocrystalline (around 13-17%.) Polycrystalline solar panels also have lower heat resistance, meaning their performance is lower at high temperatures.
Being made from various materials like amorphous silicon, cadmium telluride, or copper indium gallium selenide, film solar panels are produced on a large scale. They are cheaper than monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels. They are light-weighted, flexible, and highly heat-resistant, meaning they are less affected by high temperatures compared to other solar panels. However, they are not usually suitable for residential homeowners since they occupy large spaces. What’s more, the lifespan of film solar panels is lower than that of polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar panels and it needs additional fees for installation and maintenance.
How to Improve Solar Panel Efficiency
With efficient solar panels, the electricity they generate can not only help lower or even eliminate hefty monthly electric bills but also contribute significantly to environmental conservation efforts. To get the most out of a solar panel installation, here are some tips on optimizing its performance and ensuring maximum efficiency.
Orientation and Slope of Panels
Install solar panels wisely by setting the correct orientation and angle for them to receive the maximum amount of sunlight throughout the year. The solar panel should be placed in a sunlit orientation based on the latitude and season of your region.
An appropriate tilting angle of the panel is also important. To optimize the angle of the solar panel, it is important to keep that sunlight shining perpendicularly on the solar panel to maximize their sunlight absorption, especially during peak sunlight hours.
For example, in the United States, the ideal place for solar panels is on south-facing roofs, and its installation angle should be between 30°and 45°.
Cleaning and Maintenance Best Practices
Generally speaking, solar panels need minimal maintenance compared to other devices. What you need to do is simply clean them occasionally and get them an annual inspection. It is recommended to occasionally clean the solar panels, as dust, leaves, or other items may be brought to the surface of solar panels and accumulate in them, causing an obstacle to sunlight and reducing their efficiency. An annual inspection could also be scheduled just to make sure everything is working well. Besides that, any other maintenance is not required regularly, and you can arrange them whenever you notice a problem with your solar panels.
Being obstructed by shadow is one of the main factors that affect the efficiency of solar panels. Therefore, to get the maximum output, make sure the solar panels are not near or under any shadows. If there are items that cause potential shadows on the panel, like tree branches, it is advised to remove them.
Installing Solar Concentrators
Solar concentrator use lenses or mirrors to focus sunlight on the receiving panels, capture more concentrated light and maximize the efficiency of solar panels. It is a good idea to use it for your solar panel when there is not enough direct and strong sunlight.
Buying Efficient Solar Panels
The greatest determiner of solar panel efficiency is the material and quality of the solar panel itself. If you need a high solar panel with high efficiency, the best thing to consider is to choose a high-quality monocrystalline solar panels product. Made with Monocrystalline solar cells, Anker 531 solar panel has a superior sunlight-trapping surface design, ensuring a 1.5X higher conversion efficiency rate of up to 23%. It is the best choice to fill the need for high efficiency and performance. Anker 531 solar panel is designed to have an adjustable kickstand for user to set right angle and catching more sunlight.
The future of solar panels is promising, as solar energy continues to play an increasingly important role in the development of sustainable and clean energy. Nowadays, many governments around the world have implemented policies and incentives to support the growth and adoption of solar energy. There is no doubt that investing in solar panels is a good bet that help you save your electricity bill and embrace environmental sustainability.
FAQ about solar panel efficiency
What is the Most Efficient Type of Solar Panel?
Monocrystalline solar panels offer the highest efficiency rates of about 15-20%, which is the highest among several types. Leading solar panel products like Anker 531 can reach an even higher efficiency of 23%.
How does temperature affect solar panel efficiency?
The higher the temperature of your solar panel, the lower its efficiency. Many people mistakenly believe that heat can help generate electricity, but that is not the case. Solar panels convert light energy instead of heat energy, into electricity. Generally speaking, for every degree Celsius above 25°C (77°F), a solar panel's efficiency declines by 0.3% to 0.5%.
How to increase the efficiency of my solar panels?
The most important one is to choose a monocrystalline solar panel since it is the type with highest performance. You can also increase the efficiency of your solar panels by setting the correct orientation and angle of them, cleaning it regularly to prevent dust or leaves from covering them, and clearing obstacles between your solar panel and the sunlight and the shadows on it.
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