How Efficient are Modern Solar Panels?

When making a choice to get or learn about solar panels, it is important to consider solar panel efficiency. More efficient panels will have a higher upfront cost, but they will also produce more electricity and offset more emissions.

The average efficiency of solar panels today is 17-18 percent. The most efficient solar panels available range from 20-23 percent and on the lower end, some panels have only 15% efficiency.

Solar panels offer a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and lower your electric bill. Solar panels are most efficient when installed on a south-facing roof that receives direct sunlight throughout the day. The angle of your roof and the amount of sunlight it receives will affect the efficiency of your solar panel system.

Image of Solar Panel (generated by AI)
Solar panel perspective (generated by AI)

What is solar panel efficiency?

Solar panel efficiency refers to the amount of sunlight that hits the solar panel and is converted into usable electricity. As an example, if the efficiency is 17%, this means that out of all the sunlight that hits a solar panel, only about 17% is converted into electricity.

Solar efficiency is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing solar panels for your home. This refers to the amount of sunlight that is converted into electricity and the higher the efficiency, the more electricity you will get from the solar panel.

Solar panels are rated by their efficiency, which is usually measured in a percentage. The higher the solar panel efficiency, the more solar energy will be converted into electrical energy.

For example, a 22% efficient solar cell is going to give you more electricity at the end of the day than a 15% solar cell. This is assuming both panels have the same wattage.

Solar panel efficiency is the percentage of solar energy that is converted into electrical power. The higher the efficiency, the more electricity you will produce.

A solar system efficiency is determined by several factors, including the type of solar panel, the size of the solar panel, and the angle of the sun.

The benefits of solar panel efficiency

solar panels in front of sunset colored clouds

There are several benefits to having a solar panel with high efficiency. An example of one of these benefits is saving money.

  • You will produce more electricity, which means you will save money on your energy bills.

  • You will need fewer solar panels to meet your energy needs which means you will save on installation costs.

  • A high-efficiency solar panel will last longer than a low-efficiency solar panel, so you will save money on maintenance costs.

  • Maximum efficiency solar panels are more environmentally friendly than a lower efficiency solar panel, because it requires less light energy to produce the same amount of electricity.

The most efficient solar panels produce more electricity

One of the biggest benefits of most solar panels’ efficiency is that you will save money on your electric bill. Solar panels are expensive, so you want to make sure that you are getting the most for your money.

Abstract look of many solar panels

How to choose solar cells with high efficiency

There are two main types of solar cells: monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Monocrystalline panels are more effective than polycrystalline panels, and there are also thin-film solar panels which are the least efficient.

  • Monocrystalline cells are the most efficient.

  • Polycrystalline cells are less efficient.

  • Thin-film solar panels are the absolute least efficient, but they’re also the cheapest option.

Think of these options as good, better, and best. Monocrystalline solar panels being the best money can buy.

Monocrystalline solar panels

Monocrystalline solar panels are the most efficient type of solar panel available on the market today. They are made from a single, large crystal of silicon and are cut into thin wafers to create solar cells.

Monocrystalline solar panels have the highest solar cell efficiency level of any type of solar panel, typically around 20%. But there are some of these panels that have higher than 25 percent!

Polycrystalline solar panels

Polycrystalline solar cells are less efficient than monocrystalline solar cells, but they are also less expensive to manufacture. Polycrystalline solar panels are a good choice for homeowners who want to reduce their carbon footprint and save money on their electric bill.

Thin film solar panels

Solar panels are a great way to generate clean, renewable energy. However, traditional solar panels can be bulky and expensive. Thin film solar panels offer a more affordable and compact alternative.

Thin film solar panels are made by depositing layers of photovoltaic material onto a substrate, such as glass or metal. Thin film solar panels are less efficient than traditional products, but they have many other advantages.

Thin film solar panels are lighter and more flexible and can be installed on curved surfaces. They are also less expensive to produce than traditional solar panels. Sometimes these are installed on RVs or portable surfaces.

They also tend to be less expensive than traditional solar panels, making them a more attractive option for consumers. As the world looks for ways to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, thin film solar panels offer a promising solution.

Generate more solar power with less panels

Another benefit of solar panel efficiency is that you will [typically] be able to generate more electricity with less panels. Although this isn’t always the case, it’s a general fact.

This is because solar panels produce the most electricity when they are directly in the sun. Higher efficiency equals generation of more electricity during the day, which creates more energy output.

Panel Size Vs Efficiency

Panel efficiency is calculated using power ratings divided into the total space within the panel, therefore, having bigger panels doesn’t always equate to greater efficiency.

Larger panels with larger cells increase cell surfaces thereby increasing efficiency. Commercial and residential panels use larger format 72-cell panels. However, as described above the industry trend has exploded for much larger panel formats built around larger size cells that increase panel efficiency and increase Power Output by up to 650W!

Cost Vs Efficiency

Solar panel manufacturers offer various panel styles with varying efficiency ratings in accordance with their silicon types, as well as their integration with other cell technology, such as one called PERC.

The most efficient panel above 22% can be very expensive. If cost is a major limitation it would be better suited to locations with limited mounting space. Otherwise, you may pay a premium for the same power capacity.

Why does solar efficiency matter?

The most important criteria when choosing a solar panel include efficiency and reliability as well as the manufacturers services and warranties.

abstract image of many solar panels in grid

Another thing to consider is the size of your solar panel. Larger solar panels will be more efficient than smaller solar panels.

Don’t forget to look at the manufacturer’s specifications to see how efficient their solar panels are. The leading manufacturers are open with the specs for consumers to see.

When you’re looking for a solar panel with high efficiency, it’s important to do your research and compare different options. There are a lot of great solar panels on the market today, and you’re sure to find one that fits your needs and budget.

There are a few key factors to consider when selecting solar panels for your home or business in order to get the most efficient system possible.

Remember that solar efficiency is a measure of how well a solar panel can convert sunlight into electricity. The higher the efficiency, the better the panel can generate electricity.

Solar panel efficiency is important because it determines how much power you can generate from a given amount of solar panels. It also affects the cost of your total solar energy system, as more efficient panels typically cost more.

What factors affect solar panel efficiency?

The most efficient solar panels are those that are able to capture the most sunlight. South-facing roofs that receive direct sunlight throughout the day are ideal for solar panel installation. The angle of your roof and the amount of sunlight it receives will affect the efficiency of your solar panel system.

beams of light
beams of light

Maximizing energy is crucial when it comes to [solar] photovoltaic panels. They are affected by a number of factors, including:

  • the angle of your roof – if it is too steep or too flat.

  • the amount of roof space – a more efficient panel might be able to help limited space.

  • the amount of sunlight it receives – more sunlight can create more electricity.

  • the type of solar panels that are installed – more efficient can mean more electricity.

Solar panel efficiency

Solar panels are designed to provide energy to the environment by reflecting sunlight on the surface. Because photovoltaic technology has evolved over the last decade the average panel conversion rate has increased 12% to nearly 30%.

It has been seen that this big boost in efficiency result in a surge power rating for panel sizes from 250 watts to 400 and beyond.

High efficiency pv cells are defined by two primary factors: the photovoltaic (PV) cell efficiency, the solar cell layout, and the silicon type.

Which factors determine the efficiency of solar panels?

Solar panels can typically convert 15%-22% solar power into usable electricity based on factors like position, orientation, and weather condition. Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity by generating electricity, and the output determines solar panels performance.

Real-world efficiency

The efficiency of a solar cell depends largely on external factors like depending on local environmental conditions, these different factors can decrease panel performance. The best solar panels can withstand harsh conditions without affecting operating efficiency.

For some technical jargon, the major factors which affect panel energy efficiency include irradiance, shading, panel orientation, temperature locations (longitudes), and a couple of other technical factors.

The factors that have the most significant impact of panel efficiency are irradiation (w/m2) and shading.

The Efficiency of Solar Panels Under Extreme Conditions

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has been working on building low cost, high-efficient solar cells that work well on the Earth’s surface or any place that has sunlight shining.

If you aren’t familiar with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, they try to find answers about to solve today’s energy challenges.

At the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), we focus on creative answers to today’s energy challenges.

From breakthroughs in fundamental science to new clean technologies to integrated energy systems that power our lives, NREL researchers are transforming the way the nation and the world use energy.

Source: About NREL

Extensive testing evaluations

Solar panels have been evaluated for their efficiency so that they can not be sold in low-end markets. Companies must demonstrate that solar cells are long-lasting and efficient.


Snow is strong and dense. This will affect panels if over 5 cm of snow accumulate on solar panels reducing their efficiency.

Tilted solar panels allow snow to slide off easily, but in cases that are not automatic the snow must be removed. Under winter conditions, solar panels can and will still flourish and produce electricity.


Hail tests involve shooting artificial hail with speeds of around 20 and 30 meters per second. Solar cells will not be damaged at this speed. According to National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) analysis of more than 500,000 solar systems installed over the past five decades, the number of systems affected was 0.4%.

UV Degradation

In some solar cells they may become de-laminated by oxidizing sunlight. Other consequences may involve discoloring of solar cells. In the first 1,000 hours of exposure to the sun, panels may have formed boron oxide layers that reduce efficiency.


Ice can form on solar cell walls when there is no silicon coating. The build-in of ice could reduce the power output anywhere from 25 – 100%.

Every consumer is not looking to buy solar panels that do not have technical integrity. There are many advantages to solar energy and a well planned and/or thought out installation is necessary. In order to ensure quality of solar panels they have been extensively tested in the most severe environments.

Warmer climate benefits

Warmer climates can benefit greatly by using high efficiency solar cells since these areas are naturally capable of fulfilling renewable energy needs. These climates can capture sunlight and solar systems don’t struggle with harsh weather like the cold.

Summary about Solar Efficiency

The benefits of solar panel efficiency are twofold. First, higher efficiency panels produce more electricity, which can save you money on your energy bills. Second, solar panel efficiency can help you reduce your carbon footprint by offsetting more emissions from traditional power sources.

Finding the most efficient solar cells is an important factor to consider when you’re shopping for solar panels. With so many solar panels on the market, it can be overwhelming to try to compare them all. But if you keep a few key things in mind, you’ll be able to find the best solar panel for your needs.

As solar technologies get better, efficiencies of solar panels will increase and create even more usable energy. Power generation is such an important part to our future and companies like Canadian Solar, Trina Solar, and Wholesale Solar are working to make pv systems a reality for solar consumers and homeowners.