Efficiency of solar panels refers to their capacity to convert sunlight into electricity, which given the current technology is around 22%. It is this efficiency that is often a key factor when deciding which system is best for your property.
However, whilst the efficiency rate of different brand panels can vary, it’s not the only factor that you should consider. The reputation of the manufacturer and their experience in the industry also play a part in the reliability, longevity and superiority of these panels.
Having said that, efficiency IS vitally important, for the reasons detailed below.
Less is more
The more efficient your solar panels are at converting sunlight to electricity, the less panels are needed to achieve the same energy production. This can mean that your system is cheaper to purchase and install than less efficient options, but this does depend on the brand you select. It’s important to note that the higher quality brands tend to be more efficient than cheaper options.
Either way, needing less solar panels means you don’t need to use as much space on your roof, which is good news for people with smaller roofs. So, if you have a small roof or it doesn’t allow your solar panels to be orientated in the best direction, opting for fewer but more efficient panels makes sense.
Return on investment
Whilst government incentives help with the cost of purchasing and installing solar panel systems, there are still out of pocket expenses that you will incur. Increased efficiency of your panels will mean the system will generate more electricity over its lifespan and repay your out of pocket costs sooner.
Higher efficiency also means a better return on investment in environmental terms.
This is because a more efficient panel pays back the “embodied energy” quicker. By this, it means the amount of energy used to extract the raw materials and manufacture the solar panel. This is normally achieved within 2 years, but with more efficient panels, it is even quicker!
Other considerations include the type of inverter you purchase (inverters convert the DC current from the solar panels to AC current used by your home and the power grid) and solar battery storage. Let’s look at inverters first and then solar battery storage.
What type of invert should you purchase?
The efficiency of solar inverters is usually between 96% to 98% with better brands being more efficient than cheaper brands. So, the brand is one consideration. Another is whether you want a string inverter or a micro inverter. Most residential solar packages come with a string inverter, because they are cheaper than micro inverters.
The problem, however, is that if one of the panels isn’t producing much electricity (due to an accumulation of leaves or shade for example), every panel drops its output to match. With micro inverters, however, only the individual panel is affected and the rest keep converting at their maximum rate. The choice often comes down to cost, particularly for homeowners on a limited budget.
What about battery storage?
When it comes to battery storage systems, brand, size, capacity and cost are also considerations. You will usually pay between $700 to $1000 for each kWh of storage capacity. Therefore, a 6kWh battery will cost around $6000 or slightly less. Brand obviously refers to the quality and often the efficiency of the inverter with better brands costing slightly more than less efficient options.
So, when you think about the efficiency of your solar panel system, you need to consider the solar panels, inverter and the battery storage system (if applicable) in your calculations.
Contact us now to find out more about our solar panels.