When it comes to commercial solar panels, efficiency is a benchmark used to determine the effectiveness of an individual panel. Efficiency is measured by how much sunlight a panel can convert into useable electricity and is determined primarily by two key factors:
The maximum output of the commercial solar panel (watts) and the total panel area (metres squared)
However, efficiency can be further affected by a range of variables including location, climate/temperature, panel orientation, and more.
But what is efficiency and how do you choose the right panels for your commercial solar system?
Understanding solar efficiency
So, solar panels with higher efficiency can generate more energy than lower efficiency panels. But it’s important to understand what high efficiency looks like in terms of solar power.
The majority of solar panels are around 20% efficient, meaning that approximately 20% of the sunlight that hits the panel is converted to usable electricity. While this may not seem like much, it’s quite high in the world of solar and is continually increasing as panel technology improves.
Why do you need efficient solar panels?
The more efficiently a panel can convert sunlight into electricity, the more useable power you can benefit from over the lifetime of the commercial solar system. Higher efficiency also boosts electricity generation in less-than-ideal conditions, such as on cloudy days. In the meantime, higher efficiency panels can help to achieve a higher overall output of the solar system when the property doesn’t have a big roof area.
On the financial side of things, higher efficiency panels can potentially offer a faster payback period and ROI. More energy harnessed from the sun results in less being taken from the grid and larger solar savings being accrued.
Efficiency and space
The capacity of your commercial solar system is determined by the total wattage of all the individual solar panels. Since efficiency is influenced by wattage, more efficient solar panels will generally feature higher wattage.
This means that fewer high-efficiency solar panels will be needed to generate a certain amount of electricity. In turn, those fewer panels will require less installation space.
Efficiency and price
If high-efficiency solar panels can generate more electricity, require less total roof space, and can provide a faster return on investment, why doesn’t everyone use them?
As with many things in the solar industry, it comes down to price. High-efficiency commercial solar panels offer many advantages but have a higher associated cost. This can affect the affordability and financial viability of your solar system.
This is why it’s important to seek out multiple quotes, assessments, or solar feasibility studies from reputable CEC-approved installers.
Solar feasibility studies
A commercial solar feasibility study is a comprehensive assessment performed to determine whether a particular property, building or business will benefit from solar. A study can consider financial viability, optimal solar panel placement, temperature variations, shading, and other recommendations.
Studies also touch on the types and brands of solar panels that may be suitable for your business, including their efficiency.
Ultimately, selecting the most efficient commercial solar panel is your decision but one that should be done with full consideration and knowledge of what efficiency entails. Researching individual solar brands, and their products, and consulting with experienced installation professionals can be the difference between a good solar system and an incredible one.