• Who Makes the Most Efficient Solar Panels?

    Solar panel efficiency is a big deal.  Homeowners shopping around for solar become aware of this very quick, as with the slew of options for panels out there, the choice often comes down to price vs. efficiency.  Mostly, homeowners will want to make the most of their roof space to maximize production, which, at the end of the day, means that they will want to choose the highest efficiency panel.
    First, let's address what solar panel efficiency actually means.   When someone is referring to the efficiency of a solar panel, they are referring to the percentage of sunlight that the panel captures that is turned into usable energy. So, when presented with the same amount of sunlight, a higher efficiency panel will produce more power than a lower efficiency panel. When we mention efficiency percentages that hover around 20%, we are stating that around 20% of the sunlight absorbed by the panel is turned into usable power.  
  • A higher efficiency panel is therefore more useful for several reasons:
    1.  They require less roof space to create more power.
    2. They will continue to create more power despite panel degradation.
    3. They will not become outdated as easily as more efficient panels hit the market.
    While many panels are relatively close in maximum efficiency, the spread between the most and least efficient panels on the market is significant (up to 10%).  Also, while some companies can create one higher than average efficiency panel, the real test of a panel company's quality is the average efficiency of all their panels, from the least efficient to the most efficient.  What you'll want to look for is a panel company that not only has the highest efficiency panel, but the highest average efficiency across their whole spectrum of panels.  
    So, the question remains as to what the highest efficiency panels are on the market in 2017.  We also want to take into account average efficiency so we know who has the best panels across the board.  
    According to a study done by Energy Sage, here are the highest efficiency solar panels on the market in 2017, from most efficient to least efficient:
  • Solar Panel ManufacturerMinimum Efficiency (%)Maximum Efficiency (%)Average Efficiency (%)
    Heliene Inc.15.619.317.31
    Itek Energy16.4918.9417.71
    Mission Solar15.9818.3617.18
    Hanwha Q Cells15.918.316.97
    Trina Solar Energy15.217.816.3
    Canadian Solar15.8817.7216.58
    Suniva Inc.16.6617.6517.14
    Grape Solar16.2117.6416.75
    ET Solar15.3717.5216.51
    REC Solar14.517.15.62
    Mitsubishi Electric16.316.916.6
    China Sunergy14.9816.5315.78
    Hanwha SolarOne14.7116.215.45
    SunSpark Technology15.216.115.65
    Green Brilliance14.2415.5815.03
  • So as you can see, SunPower not only creates the most efficient panel, with their 370AC coming in at 22.7%, but they also boast the highest average efficiency at 20.58%.  
    A few of their top models and efficiencies include:
    So as you can see, the majority of SunPower's panels are topping the 20.4% mark, which is higher than the highest efficiency panels of around 90% of the companies listed.  SunPower has taken a stance of quality in the solar panel marketplace, and as a result produces the most efficient, durable and aesthetically pleasing panels out there.
    So when you're shopping around for panels, just remember that efficiency is king.  There are some products out there that aren't worth getting unless you get the best.  Solar panels happen to be one of them.  
  • About the Author

    Michael Powers


    Michael is one of the founding partners of Stellar Solar. In 2001, he helped launch The Home Depot’s national solar energy program which is now offering home solar through hundreds of stores in nearly a dozen states. He is a writer and marketing professional with over 30 years’ experience in the fields of energy, market intelligence and leadership training. He currently serves as treasurer and board member of Global Energy Network Institute (GENI), a San Diego-based non-governmental organization that advocates linking renewable energy resources around the world using electricity transmission.