Are Solar Panels Becoming More Efficient? (Insiders' Guide)

February 24, 2023
By John Cole

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One common question asked by property owners today is, are solar panels becoming more efficient? This is a fair question, as a solar investment can run into the thousands of dollars. In turn, property owners want to know that they’ll be getting a sufficient return on that investment!

The good news is that solar panels are typically more efficient and even cheaper than ever before. However, you might still wonder if they’re powerful enough for your property and energy needs. With that in mind, consider some important details about today’s solar panels. Then, make an appointment with a solar panel installer near you as needed!

solar panels on a sunny day

Are Solar Panels Getting Smaller and More Efficient?

Solar panels are getting more efficient, as said. Most manufacturers measure their efficiency in terms of how much sunlight a panel converts to usable energy. In past years, most solar panels ran at about a 12% to 15% efficiency. In other words, the panel might convert 12% to 15% of the sunlight that hits its surface into usable power.

Solar Panel Efficiency

Today’s panels usually average between 15% and 22% efficiency, while some higher-quality, most efficient solar panels offer a 25% efficiency rating! Also, some researchers have reportedly created panels that work at just under 50% efficiency. However, production costs for these panels remain high, so they’re not manufactured as readily as less efficient panels.

Additionally, solar manufacturers are creating smaller and thinner panels, and even solar film. Many such panels use polycrystalline cells, or thin wafers that capture sunlight. Larger panels typically use log-shaped monocrystalline cells to operate. These monocrystalline solar cells require a thicker panel or housing, but typically capture more sunlight overall.

Are Solar Panels Getting Cheaper?

In addition to the added efficiency and smaller size, solar panels are getting cheaper! Most manufacturers and distributors price panels per watt, or the power it produces. One thousand watts are called a kilowatt, or kW.

To better understand this measurement, consider how many watts various electrical items around your home use. A 60-watt lightbulb consumes 60 watts of power every hour. A refrigerator might use 100-400 watts of power every hour. A washing machine often uses 850 watts per hour.

Around 2009, solar panels might average around $8.50 per watt of power they produced. Today’s panels typically average less than $3 per watt! That’s a price drop of 60% in just over a decade. Additionally, solar is becoming more popular every year. Consequently, you can probably expect those prices to drop as more solar power installers compete for your business!

Why Is Solar Efficiency So Low?

Property owners might wonder why solar panels are so ineffective at capturing and converting sunlight. One reason is that panels need clear sunlight exposure to work effectively. Two, exposure to air, harsh weather, and other elements can decrease the efficiency of solar panel parts over time.

However, this doesn’t answer the question of why even the best panels only work with a 25% efficiency rating! The answer lies in the complicated process of converting sunlight into usable electricity with solar panels. This process works as the solar panel absorbs photons or particles in the sun’s rays.

First, note that some of these light photons bounce off a solar panel face. Second, as the panels absorb the remaining photons, some dissipate as heat. This is due to an internal combustion process within each photon. Consequently, the panels cannot convert those photons into usable electricity.

As a result, solar panels absorb and then convert only so many light photons that reach their surface. However, as manufacturers learn more about this process, they are better able to address these challenges! For example, some have improved a panel’s overall insulation. In turn, fewer photons dissipate as heat, increasing the panel’s effectiveness.

solar panel efficiency

Are Solar Panels Worth It in 2023?

There has never been a better time to invest in solar than now! One reason to consider solar power is that it means clean, pollution-free energy. Two, solar panels often increase property values by 4% or more! Of course, solar power also means lower energy bills year-round.

However, property owners might also consider today’s solar financial incentives. The 2022 Inflation Reduction Act included a 30% tax credit for solar installation costs. In other words, you can probably claim 30% of your solar costs on that year’s tax return. This credit runs through 2033, when it goes down to 26%, and then 22% for 2034.

Also, note that many utility companies have raised their rates in the past few years, some by 10% or more! Investing in solar can then mean avoiding those skyrocketing costs. Additionally, you can invest in larger or more powerful electronics without worrying about increased energy bills.

The Disadvantages of Going Solar

While solar is an excellent investment for most property owners, it’s not necessarily for everyone! One consideration is your installation budget. Two, note the overall power consumption on your property. If you don’t use much power on your property, solar panels might not be the right choice for you!

Also, might you put your property on the real estate market sometime soon? If so, will you leave those panels behind? Consider carefully if it’s then worth their investment cost. If the panels mean a higher selling price, they’re a great choice. If not, you might only be buying solar panels for someone else!

Additionally, roof contractors might need to remove panels to make repairs. In turn, solar installation on an older or damaged roof isn’t necessarily a good choice. Schedule repairs first or put off your solar investment until you can afford the new roof your property needs.

Green Energy Geeks is happy to answer the question, are solar panels becoming more efficient? We certainly hope you’ve found this article helpful! Also, if you’re ready for clean, green energy on your property, call our solar panel installation contractors today. We’ll schedule a FREE in-person consultation and installation estimate. We guarantee quality installations and always put customer service at the top of our priority list! There’s no better time to start enjoying solar power on your property, so contact us today!

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