When going solar, many investors are keen to go for very high efficiency solar panels. They are fascinated by the term High Efficiency and think they are getting fantastic value for money when they go for panels with very high efficiency.

Not really. In fact, it could be quite the opposite.

Solar panel efficiencies, as of 2017, typically come in the range 15%-23%. A majority of high quality solar panels from top tier global brands actually have efficiencies in the range 15-17%.

Solar panels with very high efficiency (>22%) cost a lot – their price could be higher by 50% than the good quality panels. If you do the full math, you will find that the cost of power from a very high efficiency solar panel is significantly higher than that from the “good” solar panels.

If this is the case, why are companies making solar panels with efficiencies greater than 20%, and why should anyone use them?

To answer the above question, it is important to understand the key advantage of panels with high efficiencies.

 

Simply stated, a solar panel with a higher efficiency generates more electricity for the same panel area than a panel with a lower efficiency.

Thus, high efficiency becomes a critical factor only when it is very important for you to generate high amounts of electricity from a limited rooftop area.

For most other cases, and for ground mounted solar power plants where cheap land is available in plenty, it is good enough if you choose panels that have a 15-16% panel efficiency.

Stuff to Remember

Very high efficiency solar panels (efficiency > 20%) are not needed, and do not have sufficient business case, except in select circumstances. Panels from reputed firms with 15-16% efficiency are good enough.