Worth the Investment? Understanding Solar Efficiency


Solar power is currently the world’s fastest-growing energy technology.

Ten years ago there was only 20 gigawatts of solar power capacity installed worldwide. Now there is a whopping 600 gigawatts of total capacity installed.

Advances in technology have driven this growth, and a race is still on to create ever more efficient solar panels and cells.

This article explores what you need to know about solar efficiency so you can make an informed decision about your solar panel purchase.

What Is Solar Efficiency?

The solar efficiency of your solar panels is simply the percentage of the sun’s rays that your solar panel can convert into electricity.

Most commercial solar panels nowadays convert about 17-19% of the sun’s energy into electricity. The least efficient solar panels convert at about 15%, whereas the most efficient solar panels are just shy of 23%.

Why Aren’t Solar Panels 100% Efficient?

The sun’s rays are made up of a full spectrum of energy types. Our current-day technology restricts us to converting only a fraction of those types into electricity. As technology advances, and we can capture more of that spectrum, the efficiency of solar panels will also increase.

Even though an efficiency rating of 17-19% doesn’t sound like much, the sun’s energy output is so vast that even harnessing a tiny percentage of it can give us enough energy to power many homes and businesses.

What Determines Solar Efficiency?

Solar panel efficiency is dictated by the ability of the panel’s solar cells to produce electricity. This in turn is influenced by the material the cells are made of, their configuration, surrounding components, and many other factors in their makeup.

Once you install your solar panels, however, external factors like the amount of sunlight they receive, weather patterns, and tilt can influence efficiency. A layer of dust and dirt over your solar panels will inhibit their performance. High temperatures too will hinder the efficiency of your solar panels.

Which Solar Panel Is Right For You?

Usually, the more expensive your solar panels are, the more efficient they will be. This is great if you want to save space. However, it is often the case that a higher number of less efficient panels will be cheaper than a fewer number of highly efficient panels, even if the total system output is the same.

So factors such as your budget and how much space you have available are things you need to consider. Find a solar company near you to answer any questions you may have.

Many Factors Influence Solar Efficiency

Solar efficiency measures the proportion of the sun’s energy that a solar panel can convert into electricity. This is determined by many factors such as solar cell efficiency and external factors like temperature.

If you’d like to learn more about solar energy, explore the articles in our ‘home improvement’ category.


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