High efficiency solar panels are an excellent way to reduce your carbon footprint in a time of high electricity bills. Solar panels are also very practical, adding beauty and value to the home. They work efficiently and reliably to generate energy throughout the day.
However, we need to compare certain factors before deciding on installing high-efficiency solar panels for your home. The following is a guide that discusses some of the benefits and considerations of going solar.
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Though a solar energy system can provide clean energy even at low levels of efficiency, it’s better to build one that operates with higher efficiency so you get the most bang for your buck.
Here are two reasons to optimize your solar power system for high performance:
Efficiency is an essential factor in the installation process. The less efficient your panels are, and thus the more of them it takes to reach your targeted power output, the more you’ll need a larger array and more space on your roof for all those extra photovoltaic cells.
You can reduce installation costs and enjoy greater energy efficiency by opting for a monocrystalline panel over the cheaper polycrystalline option.
The more power your solar panels omit, the sooner you recoup their cost. On average, solar panels pay for themselves within six to 10 years, assuming they operate at peak efficiency.
A Table of the Top 10 High-efficiency Solar Panel Options to Consider for Residential Installations
Factors Affecting the Cost of Efficient Solar Panels
According to the Center for Sustainable Energy, factors such as local labor costs and materials prices can affect the cost of efficient solar panels. The average installation cost is around $3–5 per watt.
The cost of installing a residential solar power system averages between $15,000 and $25,000 before some states offer tax incentives.
Solar panels can be made from different types of materials, and this affects their overall cost. The most common type is monocrystalline silicon, which is more efficient than polycrystalline silicon but costs more to manufacture. Thin film solar panels are made from amorphous silicon or cadmium telluride, and these are cheaper than crystalline silicon panels but less efficient.
The size of your home and how much energy you use will determine the size of your solar system. The larger the system, the more expensive it will be to build and install. If you live in an area with high electricity rates, having a smaller system may be more cost-effective than having a large one because it will save on installation costs by not having to install as many panels.
The size of the panel is one of the most important factors determining its cost. Large-size panels are more expensive than smaller ones because they have to be made from thicker glass and have stronger frames to support their weight. The weight also matters when it comes to transportation costs, which can be quite high if you live in a remote area.
Installing solar panels can be quite expensive, especially if you do not have any experience with electrical equipment or are unfamiliar with how solar power works. However, there are many companies that offer free installation and maintenance services for their customers. You can also look online for information about how to install your own solar panels or ask friends and family members who have already installed theirs.
You can choose to buy your own equipment and then own it outright, but this type of system typically costs more than one that uses a lease or loan option. Leases allow homeowners to pay less upfront by allowing third parties to install, maintain and even own their solar panels with no money down! Loans offer homeowners the same flexibility with monthly payments instead of up-front costs.
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In the United States, tax incentives for solar panels are available for homeowners, businesses, and non-profit organizations. These incentives can reduce installation costs by up to 30 percent or more. The federal government offers a 30 percent tax credit for solar energy systems placed in service before 2020.
This credit is scheduled to drop to 26 percent in 2020 and 22 percent in 2021, then drop again to 10 percent in 2022 before being phased out entirely at the end of 2022. The federal government also offers a 30 percent investment tax credit (ITC) for business owners who install solar panels on their buildings.
Because of the high efficiency of SunPower Maxeon and LG panels, homeowners can reduce their solar system’s footprint with limited rooftop space.
To get a 6-kilowatt photovoltaic power system for your home, you need to have approximately 24 of 250-watt conventional solar panels installed on the roof.
If you have a large, south-facing roof, then conventional solar panels should generate enough electricity for your home.
However, if you have limited space on your rooftop and want to generate 6 kilowatts (kW) worth of electricity without taking up too much more room in addition to the panels themselves, then get just 15 Maxeon 300 W solar panels from Sunpower should do it.
In a crowded environment, high-efficiency solar panels are the most effective.
While high-efficiency solar panels may not be as effective during daylight hours when shadows cast by buildings make it difficult for the sun’s rays to reach the rooftop, they are still more valuable and efficient than traditional flat or low-slope solar panels.
Solar panels can generate electricity with high efficiency, even when the sun isn’t shining brightly or on rainy days.
The initial cost of a photovoltaic system made up of high-efficiency panels is several thousand dollars higher than that of conventional solar panels.
Comparing the average cost of $3.06 per watt ($2.78–$3.50 range) for conventional panels before the federal tax incentives vs.$ 310 to $335 per watt for LG Neon R and SunPower, buyers can see that their options are more limited than they thought when considering price and quality combined.
Here’s an example of how much you can save by going with a larger system:
Conventional PV system: $3.06 * 6kW = $18,300
SunPower Maxeon PV system: $3.40 * 6kW = $20,400
LG Neon R PV system: $3.25 * 6kW = $19,500
Although conventional solar panels will degrade at a faster rate than high-efficiency ones, the amount of energy produced by the two types over time is about equal.
After 25 years, high-efficiency panels still have 90% of their initial output, while conventional ones only retain 80%.
Monocrystalline solar panels are the most efficient and cost-effective option for an energy system. Still, other options like the polycrystalline or thin film may be more economical, depending on your needs.
However, if you have a large roof space or require low-energy output for your solar project, then polycrystalline or thin film panels may be more suitable. For the pros and cons of each type, we refer to below:
Monocrystalline Solar Panels
Pros of Monocrystalline Solar Panels
- Has an average efficiency of 15% to 25%.
- It produces the highest yield per unit volume, so it requires the least amount of roof space.
- Has the longest average lifespan of 35+ years.
Cons of Monocrystalline Solar Panels
- Sometimes experiences a decrease in efficiency in colder climates.
- Tends to have a higher up-front cost than other types of solar panels.
Polycrystalline Solar Panels
Pros of Polycrystalline Solar Panels
- Features an average efficiency of 11% to 17%.
- Average lifespan is between 25 to 35 years.
- Cost less than monocrystalline solar panels.
Cons of Polycrystalline Solar Panels
- Has less heat-tolerant than monocrystalline panels
- It has less power output than monocrystalline, so it needs to be spread over a large area.
- Polycrystalline panels often have bright blue exteriors.
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Thin-Film Solar Panels
Pros of Thing-Film Solar Panels
- Features an average efficiency of 10 percent to 20 percent.
- The film has a high heat tolerance compared to both monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels
- Tends to be the least expensive option
Cons of Thin-Film Solar Panels
- Efficiency ratings vary according to the material used in the panel.
- Less durable than other types of panels.
- Is the most difficult to install on a roof.
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Factors Impacting Solar Panel Efficiency
The solar cell type is the most important factor in the efficiency of a solar panel. The most common types are monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and amorphous. Monocrystalline cells are made from a single crystal wafer of silicon, while Polycrystalline cells are made from multiple crystals that have been joined together to make one larger unit.
Amorphous panels use thin layers of silicon deposited on glass or plastic substrates. Monocrystalline cells are more efficient than their polycrystalline cousins, but they also cost more to make and manufacture.
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The wiring used in your solar panel array can also have an impact on its efficiency. Solar panels are wired together in series to share the same voltage or current rating, depending on how you connect them. The wiring should be as short as possible so that no unnecessary resistance is added to your system.
This will help improve efficiency because less energy will be lost during transmission through wires than if you had long runs between your different components.
Backings are designed to reflect the maximum amount of light onto the PV cell. This is done using a highly reflective material with low emissivity (low emissivity backing). Backings can be made of metal or glass, depending on the type of PV module.
Metal backing is used for most types of PV cells (amorphous silicon, polycrystalline silicon, and monocrystalline silicon), while glass backing is used for thin-film solar cells.
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Shading also affects solar panel efficiency, which is why keeping trees and other objects away from panels is important. When sunlight hits a tree leaf, branch, or any other object close to your solar panels, it will prevent them from getting all of their potential power supply from the sun.
This means that if you have trees close by or buildings with large windows near your solar panels, then these areas should be kept clear at all times for maximum efficiency.
Weather conditions such as low humidity, high winds, and rain can affect solar panel efficiency. Wind blowing across a solar panel can cause dust to settle on its surface and reduce efficiency by blocking some light that would otherwise reach photovoltaic cells.
Rain causes water droplets to stick to photovoltaic cells, reducing their ability to absorb photons. Low humidity decreases the rate at which water evaporates from photovoltaic cells after rainfall, leaving behind residue that reduces their ability to generate electricity.
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Solar panels are vulnerable to dust and dirt. The more dirt, the less efficient the solar panels will be. This is because the dirt blocks some of the sunlight from reaching the cells, thus preventing them from generating electricity.
The amount of dirt that accumulates on your solar panels depends on where you live. If you live in a high-wind area, there is a good chance that dust particles will blow off your rooftop and land on your solar panel. But if you live in an area with little wind, it will take longer for dust particles to accumulate on top of your panels.
Solar power generation is one of the leading renewable and sustainable energy sources, but the costs can be prohibitive. High-efficiency solar panels are limited in availability and can be complicated to implement for those without proper training or experience.
If you’re thinking about going solar, however, be sure to do your research before putting down any money on a company.