How Efficient Are Solar Panels?

Have you been considering going solar? Not quite ready to take the plunge?

If you've been thinking about making the switch, you're not alone. Demand for solar power is at an all-time high.

It's a big shift though, and it's understandable to have some doubts. Solar power isn't new, but there's a lot of information out there. Just how efficient are solar panels?

Read on to learn just how efficient solar panels are, and why they might be the best choice for clean energy moving forward.

How Efficient Are Solar Panels Overall?

Solar energy is the most abundant energy source on earth. This makes it a great source for us to harness and use to power our homes, offices, and pretty much any other electrical needs. Solar photovoltaic panels (PV) are getting more affordable every day.

Putting solar panels (PV) on only .6% of the land area in the United States could theoretically power the entire country. They can also be placed on rooftops or other high-up surfaces to avoid covering necessary land.

The potential is limitless with solar energy.

So long as we have the sun, we have access to solar energy. With a well-designed network of solar panels, it doesn't go away at night, or when it rains or storms. Solar energy is a completely renewable and green resource.

What Should I Know About Solar Panel Efficiency?

While solar energy is incredibly efficient, solar panels themselves have a few different variables involved.

The efficiency of a solar panel is measured in its ability to turn sunlight into usable electricity. The more efficient it is, the more electricity we're able to harness from the panel.

Most solar panels are between 15% efficient and 20% efficient. When the energy they're taking in and converting is energy from the sun, that's pretty good! There are some outliers on either side, so your solar panel might be a little bit lower, or a little bit higher.

Several different factors go into this efficiency.


Believe it or not, solar panels do best when the temperature is a little cooler. That being said, this isn't a huge factor, especially in the United States.

Installers of solar panels also already know this, and they know how to position your new solar panels in the perfect way so that airflow can help keep them cool enough to operate at maximum efficiency.


Over time, like many other energy sources, solar panels lose efficiency. While the sun stays strong (so we hope), the panel itself will be subject to standard wear and tear. It shouldn't decrease dramatically, though, and is unlikely to go below 80% for the lifetime of your solar panels. This makes it still very efficient.

Material of the Solar Panel

There are a few different options for solar panel materials: monocrystalline silicon, polycrystalline silicon, and multi-junction solar cells.

Of these, only monocrystalline and polycrystalline silicons are really used for the home. Monocrystalline is going to be the most efficient of the two. They're made of the highest purity silicon.


Solar panels should be oriented towards the sun for the best efficiency.

There are tools to keep the panels facing the sun at all times, but they're costly, and for the average person they're pretty unnecessary.

It's a minor factor during most hours of the day, but it does factor in.


Solar panels are most efficient when they are clean, just like most things.

They don't need to be cleaned often but ensuring that they're free of visible dust and debris will keep them operating at maximum efficiency.

Similarly, if you're in an area that receives a lot of heavy snow, it would benefit you to ensure that the snow is cleared from the solar panels.

Often, when it snows, the panels clear themselves of snow. They're just warm enough that snow melts away relatively quickly.

What About Cost Efficiency?

So this is a big deal for the average American struggling with energy costs as-is. The idea of going green is great, but part of efficiency is in how much it costs.

While there is a large upfront cost of solar panels and solar energy, the savings can be pretty immense over time. It varies depending on where you live, but luckily, you're able to calculate that right now from home (and the cost will only go down over time, so the savings will only go up).

Simply type "Solar Calculator" into Google, and the tool is built right into the search engine.

Based on your location, it will tell you how much money you can intent to save over the next twenty years of owning your solar panels instead of traditional electric costs.

That number is likely in the thousands.

So not only is solar power incredibly friendly for the planet and your home, it's also incredibly friendly for your wallet.

So is Solar Power For You?

What do you think? How efficient are solar panels?

It's great for the earth, it will reduce your carbon footprint, and over time you have the potential to save thousands of dollars.

It's a completely renewable resource. Many people think it's the way of the future, and you can be ahead of the curve.

The sun probably isn't going away (and if it is, we have bigger problems than where we're getting our electricity). Solar energy is an efficient and green energy resource that everyone should be taking advantage of.

If you're ready to make the swap, or even if you're still just thinking about it, schedule a consultation with us. We can help walk you through the process and help you decide if solar energy is right for you.

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