5 Factors That Determine Solar Panel Efficiency
For property owners making the switch to solar power, solar panel efficiency is likely to be a top priority in the purchase and installation process.
In this regard, while factors such as shade, roof pitch, and orientation are pertinent considerations, did you know that even the materials used to make solar panels can affect efficiency ratings?
By looking into the factors that dictate the efficiency of solar panels, our blog this week helps property owners make the most of their investment with a few smart decisions. Keep reading to find out how you can enjoy unparalleled energy savings through improvements in solar panel efficiency!
The material used to manufacture the panels
As mentioned above, the materials used to manufacture solar systems play a significant role in determining solar panel efficiency.
In this regard, there are 3 makes property owners can choose from. These include:
Monocrystalline solar panels
Solar panels made of monocrystalline, comprise silicon of the highest purity. These are, therefore, the most efficient choice for property owners.
Boasting an average efficiency of around 25.6%, these systems have the ability to convert around a quarter of sunlight received into usable power. Surprisingly, these options are also the most space-friendly – requiring less area than other alternatives on the market.
Polycrystalline solar panels
Despite being less efficient when compared to monocrystalline models, polycrystalline makes can achieve an efficiency output of around 20%.
Further, given that the technology in this area is constantly developing, the efficiency ratings of these models are likely to increase in the future. Owing to their relatively affordable price tag, these systems are a popular choice for those who can’t afford the cost of the former model.
Thin-film solar panels
Thin-film solar panels are, by far, the most inefficient option.
Not only is average efficiency output stagnated around 11% – these systems also require considerable space given that more panels are required to enjoy an adequate level of output.
They are, however, the most affordable type of solar panels, rendering them a feasible option, despite their poor performance.
While it may seem like a no-brainer, installing panels in areas free of shade improves solar panel efficiency.
Depending on how a particular system is set up, homeowners need to make sure that shade hitting any one of the panels does not affect the efficiency of the others. In situations where this is unavoidable, micro-inverters are a useful tool. These guarantee that the shade hitting a particular panel does not inhibit the operation of the others.
Solar inverters/PV inverters are a type of electrical converter that transforms the variable direct current produced by a solar panel into alternating current, which can be fed into the grid. These devices are a key feature of solar panels, especially in those catering to the cooling needs of a given property.
It is, therefore, evident that this component plays a crucial role in determining solar panel efficiency.
Here, standard inverters boast a considerable level of efficiency, boosting the performance of the panels themselves.
The lifespan of solar panels
Another factor that plays a more subtle role in determining solar panel efficiency, is lifespan.
While solar panels generally have a lifespan of a little more than 20 years, efficiency tends to decrease with time. In numbers, this amounts to a 0.5% decrease each year.
The pitch or tilt of the roof on which the panels are installed is also a determining factor of solar panel efficiency. This is measured in terms of the number of hours of sunlight the roof or panels receive per day.
If roof pitch is not ideal, racks can be used to optimise the efficiency of the solar system. In this regard, changing the angle of the roof during summer and winter, when the sun starts moving in different angles, is a hack that maintains a high level of efficiency year-round.
For those keen on maximising solar panel efficiency, making informed choices at both the point of purchase and installation can lead to greater savings and increased output.
By following the tips set out above, optimising efficiency with a few decisions that can make a world of a difference!
How else can solar panel efficiency be improved?