Articles tagged "panel efficiency"

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Illustration of two thermometers
Solar panel temperature coefficient explained
If you’ve ever looked at the product sheet for a solar panel, you may have been confronted by tables of cryptic numbers and electrical terminology. Unless you’re an electrician or electrical engineer, you’ll probably find these a little bewildering. Fortunately, the average consumer can ignore most of them. Unless you’re an installer or hobbyist, many of the numbers are electrical specs that won’t matter to you. One exception, however, is power temperature coefficient.
Solar array on the ISS
How efficient are solar panels?
The photovoltaic effect was first discovered in 1839 by Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel when he was 19 years old. Becquerel’s early experiments involved silver and platinum and generated only tiny amounts of electricity. It wasn’t until decades later that the first true solar cell was built using selenium by Charles Fritt in 1883. Those first cells still weren’t very efficient, only converting about 1% of the incoming light into electricity, but were a significant advancement.
Photo of chainsaw.
What are half-cut solar panels?
Solar panel manufacturers are always competing against each other to squeeze the most power out of the same size solar panels. If you installed solar panels on your home 10 years ago, you probably had panels with efficiency in the mid-to-high teens (by percentage of light converted to electricity). Today, you can commonly find solar panels that convert more than 20% of the incoming light into electricity, with the current best residential panels hitting nearly 23% efficiency.
Photo of a home solar array.
What are the best solar panels for your home?
Are you a meticulous number cruncher who breaks out the spreadsheet whenever you’re planning a big product purchase? I certainly am. The last time I bought a car, and made a spreadsheet with the specifications of all the car models I was considering. I rank-ordered them in each of the categories that were important to me, and made my decision based on which one performed the best. Figuring out which solar panel is best for you is a little like that, although with this article I hope to make is less complicated for you.
Example of polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar panels.
Which type of solar panel is best: monocrystalline or polycrystalline?
When it comes to buying solar panels for your home, there isn’t a lot that obviously differentiates one solar panel from other. If you buy a car, there’s dozens, if not hundreds of different features, styles, and add-on options that you can take into account. But with a solar panel, there’s really only a handful of characteristics that make one product different from another. One of these is the type of material the individual solar cells are made of.
Photo of a solar panel
Highest efficiency solar panels in 2021
When you’re shopping for solar panels, one of the things that manufacturers usually tout is efficiency. A high efficiency panel turns more sunlight into electricity than a lower efficiency panel, which means a solar homeowner can get more out of their limited rooftop space. So if efficiency is a good thing, that must mean that you should shop for the highest efficiency panels you can get, right? No, not always. If you’re in a situation where it’s important to maximize your power generation - like if you have a small roof - then efficiency could be very important to you.