The Race to the Most Efficient Solar Panels

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The Race to the Most Efficient Solar Panels

As with all forms of renewable energy and electricity generation generally, solar companies are continually looking for ways to increase solar panel efficiency. Producing more electricity per square foot of solar panels makes your solar power system both more cost effective and more sustainable, as it reduces the amount of raw materials required for each system.

WHO MAKES THE MOST EFFICIENT SOLAR PANELS TODAY?

Most standard efficiency solar panels range from an average of 14% to 17%. The largest manufacturers of standard efficiency panels globally include Trina Solar, JinkoSolar, and Canadian Solar. U.S.-made solar standard efficiency panels are available from Mission Solar,

Commercially available high-efficiency solar panels range from 18% to 22%. The solar companies who make high-efficiency panels include SunPower, Panasonic, and LG. Some Sunpower panels have been rated at 24%.

ManufacturerSolar Panel ModelMaximum Rated Efficiency*
SunPowerX-SeriesUp to 24.1%
SunPowerE-SeriesUp to 20.4%
LGNeON 2Up to 19.8%
PanasonicHIT N330Up to 19.7%
UpsolarMono 60Up to 19.7%
HanwhaQ.Peak DuoUp to 19.3%
SolariaPowerXTUp to 19.3%
Trina SolarALLMAX M PLUSUp to 19.2%
SunpremeMaximaUp to 19.1%
Silfab SolarSLG-MUp to 19.0%
RECOMBlack PantherUp to 18.98%
Heliene60MUp to 18.9%
Itek EnergySE 60Up to 18.78%
JA SolarJAM6K-72-360PRUp to 18.57%
Yingli SolarYGE 60 Series 2Up to 18.5%
SolarTech UniversalQuantumUp to 18.4%
RenogyEclipseUp to 18.35%
SunSparkMonoUp to 18.2%
Mission SolarMSE PERC 60Up to 18.05%
CanadianSolarMAXPOWER CS6UUp to 18.0%
First SolarSeries 6Up to 18.0%
SolarWorldSunmodule PlusUp to 17.89%
CentrosolarC-seriesUp to 17.8%
SunivaOptimusUp to 17.57%
WinaicoWSP-P6Up to 17.46%
MotechXS60Up to 17.4%
AxitecAXIpowerUp to 17.21%
GintechMono 60Up to 17.2%
RECTwinPeak 2Up to 17.1%
SunTechSTP330Up to 16.9%
China SunergyPoly 325WUp to 16.78%
Phono SolarDiamond SeriesUp to 16.75%
AmerisolarMonocrystallineUp to 16.69%
JinkoSolarJKM270P-60Up to 16.5%
SharpNDAH320Up to 16.5%
SeraphimSRP-6PAUp to 16.49%
KyoceraKT SeriesUp to 16.1%
ReneSolaVirtus IIUp to 16.0%
Mitsubishi ElectricMLE SeriesUp to 15.7%
Grape SolarGS-STAR-100WUp to 14.63%
StionElevation 4Up to 14.3%

* According to the manufacturer’s published product data sheet as of June 2018

WHAT DETERMINES SOLAR PANEL EFFICIENCY?

The primary determinant of solar panel efficiency is the materials used in the panel. The most efficient solar panels are made from monocrystalline silicon. Other materials used in the panel also make a difference, such as the material and design of the panel’s conductive metal foundation, the type of glass used on the front of the panel, and the interconnects between the cells. If you see thin lines of metal ribbon on the front of a cell, it is subject to increased breakage compared to a solar panel with a copper-backed foundation.

There are limits to the maximum potential efficiency of solar cells. The theoretical limit of efficiency under ideal conditions is estimated to be up to 85%. A study last year demonstrated that a solar panel achieved 44.5% efficiency by layering different materials over a single panel surface to enable it to capture a broader range of the light spectrum.

Solar radiation in different parts of the country, roof pitch, and azimuth (horizon angle), temperature all affect solar panel efficiency, and there may be other energy losses throughout the system related to the length and type of the cabling, voltage limits, and inverter efficiency.

Most efficient solar panels SunPower Mission SolarStratos

Efficiency Beyond The Panel Rating & Troubleshooting Generation Issues

Keep in mind that beyond a solar panel’s rated efficiency, there are some practical real-world conditions that contribute to variances in efficiency for a particular solar panel over time, including cloud cover, sun intensity during different seasons, and humidity.

Lower than expected solar generation could be related to one of these factors rather than indicating a problem with your system. Here are a few steps you should take if you notice that your solar production is lower than normal:

Check your monitoring system.

If you have panel-level monitoring (made possible through integrated microinverters), you may be able to isolate the issue to a single panel or inverter that could require repair or replacement.

Check the weather.

Keep in mind that rainy or cloudy weather can affect your system’s generation. If you have noticed more inclement weather days than normal (compared to recent months or the previous year), that may be the cause of reduced energy production rather than any issue with the system itself.

Clean your panels.

It is always a good idea to visually inspect your solar array periodically to look for debris or an accumulation of dirt or dust, and you should clean your panels once or twice a year with water and a soft cloth or sponge.

Call your installer or the manufacturer.

If your system is underperforming and none of these factors seems to the cause, contact your solar installer or the solar panel manufacturer for their assistance.

Most efficient solar panels SPWR comm install opt (2).jpg

GET THE MOST EFFICIENT SOLAR PANELS ON YOUR HOME

If you’re considering going solar, we recommend using the most efficient solar panels on the market, available from SunPower.

Freedom Solar is proud to be the first and only SunPower Master Dealer in Texas. SunPower by Freedom Solar was recognized as the 2017 “Residential National Dealer of the Year” and “Residential Regional Top Producer of the Year” for consistently putting customers first, demonstrating exceptional industry knowledge and leadership, and installing more residential solar than any other dealer in the central U.S.

To request a quote on SunPower® solar panels for your home, call us at 800-504-2337 or contact us online.

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Willie Nelson for Freedom Solar

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