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Top 10 most efficient solar panels

Updated: 27 October 2020

There are numerous solar panel brands in the Australian market today, finding a solar panel with a good efficiency rating might prove to be a tussle.

Below, we’ve put together a table of the top ten most efficient solar panel brands in the market. Since manufacturers produce several solar panel models, the output and efficiency of each panel brand will vary.  This table shows the maximum output and efficiency of each brand.

efficient solar panel installation

Solar panel efficiency by brand

Here is a table of the top 10 most efficient solar panels by brand with listed output and efficiency of their flagship panel.

BrandOutputEfficiency
SunPower400W22.8%
LG380W21.7%
Panasonic340W20.3%
Q cells 360W20.4%
Silfab380W19.40%
REC Solar 380w21.70%
Trina Solar375W20.5%
Solaria370w20.5%
Jinko Solar390w20.4%
Canadian Solar345w20.2%

What is the average efficiency of solar panels?

From the table above, the average efficiency of solar panels ranges from 15% to 22%. Nonetheless, very few solar panels brands lie above 20% efficiency. Only the top brands in the market were able to hit the 22% efficiency mark and, in some cases, 23%.

This difference in efficiency isn’t solely determined by the brand, but also the material of the panels; it’s placing and orientation, and temperature.

average efficiency of solar panel

Is it better to have fewer, more efficient panels?

It depends on your roof space. Homes with a large roof space can invest in several low-efficiency solar panels, which are cheaper but will still meet the home’s power demands.

High-efficiency solar panels are usually quite expensive compared to regular solar panels and, thus, may fit into your budget. Nonetheless, if you don’t have a lot of roof space, getting high-efficiency solar panels will be more beneficial long-term.

The efficiency of solar panels is affected by numerous factors, and so, having a more efficient solar panel may not always mean that it’s better.

Besides the panels’ efficiency ratings, look into other factors such as their location, roof angle and orientation, and shading.

Is it better to have fewer more efficient panels

Are solar panels getting more efficient?

Yes! The solar panel industry is enjoying huge advancements and innovations with more energy experts working on improving this energy source.

Barely a decade ago, the efficiency of solar panels was estimated at 12%. Today, some of the leading solar panel brands have achieved efficiencies of up to 23% – almost 50% improvement! And even though most solar panel brands are still at 15%-17% efficiency, these figures are only expected to go higher.

Additionally, scientists are now working on new panel solar materials such as the use of perovskites, a semiconducting material, to create a new generation of thin-film solar cells.

All this research going on is drastically changing the efficiency of solar panels. Soon, the efficiency of solar might hit the 30%-40% mark.

Advantages of more efficient solar panels

The biggest advantage of efficient solar panels is that they can generate a lot of electricity, even during short daylight hours. For example, assume you have two solar panels, one with a 14% efficiency and the other 21% efficiency.

If the two panels are placed under the same sunlight conditions, the 21% efficient solar panel will produce at least 50% more power than the 14% panel.

This means that you’re more likely to have enough power for your home and surplus for the feed-in tariff with more efficient solar panels. Additionally, these panels can generate enough power for homes with little roof space and poor sunlight penetration.

Disadvantages of more efficient solar panels

While having more efficient solar panels can increase your electricity conversion, it’s not always the best solution.

For one, more efficient solar panels are very expensive compared to the regular panels. It’s much cheaper for homeowners with adequate roof space to use more regular panels than a few high-efficient ones.

Additionally, just because the solar panel has a high-efficiency rating doesn’t mean it’ll generate more for you. Other external factors in your environment may reduce the panels’ efficiency and delay the return on your investment.

How can I increase the output of my current solar panels?

How can I increase the output of my current solar panels

There are many things that could affect the output of your solar panels. And so, you have to keep thinking of ways to improve and maintain their output every day. Some of the easiest ways to do this include:

  • Use a solar tracker – Solar trackers rotate the solar panels throughout the sky following the sun to ensure that your panels always receive direct sunlight.
  • Change your solar panel orientation – For maximum solar output in Australia, you need to have your solar panels tilted to face North. Panels facing East or West lose nearly 10-20% efficiency due to the reduced sunlight exposure. Panels facing North East or North West are also good.
  • Use solar concentrators – You can also increase your solar panels’ solar output using light concentrators like mirrors or a Fresnel lens. Concentrating light directly onto the panels can increase the output by almost 50%. However, you have to be cautious not to overheat the solar panels.
  • Try solar cell glazing – Solar panel output can also increase if the solar cells are protected from elements such as snow, hail, and rain. Experts recommend using a low-iron or polycarbonate glass to reduce the surface reflections and improve transmissivity.

Are solar panels efficient enough, or should I wait?

Solar panel efficiency is improving by the day. Every few months, one solar panel brand will introduce a new solar panel to the market that’s more efficient than its predecessor.

The truth is, solar panels are not efficient enough. At averagely, 15-18% efficiency, there’s still a lot of room for improving the panel efficiency. But this doesn’t mean you should expect a drastic rise in solar panel efficiency in the future.

Therefore, if you are thinking of going solar, you don’t have to wait. If you choose solar panels with relatively good efficiency now, it’s output won’t disappoint you – even when more efficient panels hit the market.

Are efficient solar panels worth the extra cost?

Yes and No. If you have plenty of roof space facing north, then getting more efficient solar panels won’t matter. In any case, it’ll cost you a lot more than what you’d get for the same output with regular panels.

However, if you have small roof space, getting more efficient solar panels will help you generate enough energy for your home with fewer solar panels.

The efficiency of solar panel calculation

To calculate your solar panel system’s efficiency, you’ll have to first multiply the incident radiation flux (amount of sunlight in your area) by the surface area of your panel (in square meters).

Next, divide it by the maximum wattage of your panel and multiply the result by 100. Your answer is the efficiency rating.

Monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar panel efficiency

Another key factor that affects the efficiency of solar panels is the type of panel you’re using. The two major solar panel types in the market are the monocrystalline panels and the polycrystalline panels.

In general, monocrystalline solar panels are more efficient compared to the polycrystalline solar panels. This is because the monocrystalline panels use single-crystal silicon, which creates more room for electrons to flow in the panels. Polycrystalline panels use multiple crystal silicon, which restrict electron movement.

Monocrystalline vs polycrystalline solar panel efficiency

FAQs

Yes. Going solar not only cuts down your bills, it also helps reduce your carbon footprint in the environment. Solar panels also have a payback period of 3-5 years, after which you can enjoy its benefits for up to 30 years.

LG solar and SunPower have so far been ranked as the best solar panel brands in Australia. Their solar panels were among the first in the country to hit over 21% efficiency.

Ben McInerney head shotAuthor: Ben McInerney is a renewable energy enthusiast with the goal of helping more Australians understand solar systems to make the best choice before they purchase. Having an accredited solar installer in the family helps give Ben access to the correct information, which allows him to break it down and make it easily understandable to the average homeowner.