As a general rule, the higher your electric bill the more going solar will be worth it. Solar panel efficiency has increased significantly over the last 50 years. As technology continues to improve so does solar efficiency. This means homeowners in Massachusetts and Rhode Island will continue to maximize the amount of solar they generate in the future.
Note: Less efficient solar panels might save money, but may require more roof space to generate the same amount of electricity.
How Efficient are Solar Panels?
The efficiency rating of a solar panel refers to the percentage of solar radiation that reaches the panel surface and is converted into electricity.
- Most solar panels today have efficiency ratings between 15% and 20% which means they convert 15% to 20% of the available sunlight into energy.
- New technologies have pushed production to 21% and 22%. This may not seem like a big jump in production but even a small increase in efficiency can have a major impact in the long term.
What are the Most Efficient Solar Panels?
The efficiency of a solar panel is tested under ideal conditions. In the real world, however, the actual amount of electricity produced by a solar panel is highly dependent on external factors as well as the quality of the actual installation.
Efficiency has been rising since 1976, when the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) began tracking related data.
In 2022, researchers at the NREL created a solar cell with a record 39.5% efficiency, the highest yet.
Factors that Affect Solar Panel Efficiency
- The type of solar cell used (monocrystalline, polycrystalline and amorphous to name a few). Each has at a different price point and efficiency level.
- The angle of the solar array should be as perpendicular to the sun’s rays as possible.
- The direction and intensity of the sun. All other things being equal, panels on south-facing roofs generate more.
- Solar panels generally work best at lower temperatures.
- The reflective qualities of snow can help production as long as the panels are not blocked.
- Solar panels slowly lose efficiency over time, so the older the panels the less efficient.
- Panels installed decades ago are inherently less efficient because of advances in technology.
- Snow, rain, heat, pollen, shade, smoke and smog can all have a negative impact on production.
- The quality, sizing, and the proper installation of additional components such as inverters and charge controllers that comprise the system.
Are Solar Panels Good for the Environment?
From an environmental point of view, solar panels are the way forward. Solar Energy has no negative effect on the environment and will play a key role in combating climate change and creating a more sustainable world.
Do Solar Panels Save Money?
The amount of money you can expect to save may depend on whether you choose to buy or lease your panels. Generally, if you purchase outright, you will save more and it will increase the value of your home. The average home can expect to save between $10,000 and $30,000 over the lifetime of the system.
How Long Do Solar Panels Last?
Solar panels generally last between 20 and 30 years. That doesn’t mean they will stop working at that point. They will still produce electricity but with less efficiency.
Do Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days?
Solar panels will continue to generate electricity even in cloudy weather. However cloudy days will result in less energy production.
Do Solar Panels Work at Night?
While solar panels can function on cloudy days, they do not work at night. Solar cells need to be activated by sunlight in order to generate an electrical current.
Do Solar Panels Need Cleaning?
Cleaning is typically not required. However, dirty solar panels aren’t as efficient and energy production may be reduced by as much as 7% according to U.S. Government research. Grime, such as blowing sand and dust, bird droppings and debris falling from nearby trees means that occasional cleaning may be necessary. Also worth noting, solar panels lying flat will definitely require cleaning
Can I Install Solar Panels Myself?
If you are able to spend a day or two on your roof driving lag bolts and assembling prefabricated parts then the answer is yes. The actual electrical work should be done by a professional, licensed electrician.
Do Solar Panels Increase Home Value?
The simple answer…. Yes!
Available Solar Panel Tax Credits Incentives and Rebates
Is the topic of our next column
Interested In Solar Panels For Your Home?
If you’d like more information on how you can minimize energy consumption and maximize savings while making your home more comfortable all year round, then contact Energy Geeks. Our mission is to provide the most comprehensive and efficient solutions to reduce energy use in your home.