Most Efficient Solar Panels – The amount of sunlight (irradiation) that falls on a solar panel’s surface and is turned into power is referred to as solar panel efficiency.
Because of recent advances in photovoltaic technology, the average panel conversion efficiency has increased from 15% to well over 20%. Because of this significant increase in efficiency, the power rating of a standard size panel increased from 250W to 370W.
Most Efficient Solar Panels
Solar panel efficiency is determined by two key elements
- photovoltaic (PV) cell efficiency, which is based on cell design and silicon type, and overall panel efficiency, which is dependent on cell arrangement, configuration, and
- panel size.
The cell structure and base silicon material employed, which is commonly either P-type or N-type, determine cell efficiency. The fill factor (FF), which is the highest conversion efficiency of a PV cell at the optimum operating voltage and current, is used to calculate cell efficiency.
The effectiveness of a panel is heavily influenced by the cell architecture. Silicon type, multiple busbars (MBB), and passivation type are all important aspects (PERC).
Due to the high purity N-type silicon cell base and negligible losses from busbar/finger shading, the high-cost IBC cells are now the most efficient (20-22%).
However, recent mono PERC cells with MBB and the latest heterojunction (HJT) cells have achieved efficiency levels well above 20%.
Total Panel Efficiency is calculated using standard test conditions (STC) of 25°C cell temperature, 1000W/m2 solar irradiation, and 1.5 Air Mass.
The maximum power rating (W) at STC is divided by the entire panel area in meters to get the efficiency (%) of a panel.
Many factors influence overall panel efficiency, including temperature, irradiance level, cell type, and cell interconnection.
Surprisingly, the color of the protective backsheet can have an impact on performance. A black backsheet may appear to be more aesthetically beautiful, but it absorbs more heat, leading in a greater cell temperature, which increases resistance, lowering total conversion efficiency significantly.
The most efficient panels are those made using advanced IBC cells, followed by heterojunction (HJT) cells, half-cut and multi-busbar monocrystalline PERC cells, shingled cells, and 60-cell (4-5 busbar) mono cells.
The least efficient and least expensive panels are 60 cell polycrystalline or multicrystalline panels.
Top 10 Most Efficient Solar Panels
SunPower and LG’s high purity N-type IBC cells are used in the most efficient solar panels available in 2021. The Alpha series, developed by REC, uses high-performance HJT N-type cells to enhance efficiency to levels comparable to IBC cells.
Most other manufacturers have switched from regular mono cells to more efficient half-cut mono PERC cells, as seen in the table below.
In addition, new generation modules from Longi Solar, Solaria, Trina, Jinko, Canadian, and Hyundai with multi-busbar (MBB) half-cut cells have raised panel efficiency far above 20%.
|1||SunPower||Maxeon 3||400 W||22.6 %|
|2||LG||Neon R||380 W||22.0 %|
|3||REC||Alpha||380 W||21.7 %|
|4||FuturaSun||FU M Zebra||360 W||21.3 %|
|5||Panasonic||EverVolt||370 W||21.2 %|
|6||Trina Solar||Vertex S||405 W||21.1 %|
|7||Jinko Solar||Tiger Pro 6Rl3||390 W||20.7 %|
|8||Q cells||Q.Peak DUO G9||360 W||20.6 %|
|9||Winaico||WST-375MG||375 W||20.6 %|
|10||Longi Solar||Hi-Mo 4||375 W||20.6 %|
Standard 60 to 66 cell (120-HC) panel sizes and 96/104 cell residential panels.
Why Efficiency Matters
Although the term “efficiency” is frequently used, a little more efficient panel does not always imply a higher quality panel. When choosing a solar panel, many people consider efficiency to be the most essential factor, but what counts most is manufacturing quality, which is linked to real-world performance, reliability, manufacturer service, and warranty terms.
In terms of the environment, improved efficiency means that a solar panel will pay back its embodied energy (the energy used to extract the raw materials and produce the solar panel) in a shorter amount of time. According to a rigorous lifespan analysis, most silicon-based solar panels pay for themselves in less than two years.
Payback period has decreased to less than 1.5 years in many regions as panel efficiency has improved over 20%. Increased efficiency also means that a solar system will generate more electricity during the normal 20+ year life of a solar panel and will pay for itself sooner, lowering the return on investment (ROI).
The efficiency of a solar panel is a good indicator of its performance, especially since many high-efficiency panels employ higher-grade N-type silicon cells with a better temperature coefficient and less deterioration over time.
Some manufacturers, such as LG and SunPower, even provide 25-year guarantees that guarantee 90 percent or higher power output retention.
Area Vs Efficiency
The quantity of roof area required is greatly influenced by efficiency. Higher-efficiency panels produce more energy per square meter and hence take up less space overall.
This is ideal for rooftops with limited space, and it also allows for the installation of bigger capacity systems on any roof.
For example, 12 high efficiency 360W solar panels with a 21.2 percent conversion efficiency, such as those from LG or SunPower, will give up to 1100W (1.1kW) more total solar capacity than the same number and size 270W panels with a lower 16.5 percent efficiency.
12 x 270W panels at 16.5% efficiency = 3,200 W
12 x 360W panels at 21.2% efficiency = 4,300 W
Real World Efficiency
Solar panel efficiency in real-world applications is influenced by a variety of external factors. These many elements might impact panel efficiency and total system performance depending on the local climatic conditions. The following are the primary elements that influence solar panel efficiency:
- (W/m2) irradiance
- Positioning of the panels
- the location (latitude)
- Season of the year
- Dirt and dust
Irradiance, shading, orientation, and temperature are the elements that have the most impact on panel efficiency in real-world applications.