Your Property Wizard

How Efficient Are Solar Panels?

If you’ve ever looked into buying solar panels, you’ll have realised that to get the best return on your investment, you need to buy the panels outright. Though this initial outlay is expensive, it does give you the best chance of not only making your money back but making a small profit too.

In addition, you’ll also have the comfort of knowing you’re using renewable and environmentally friendly energy from your own generator. However, solar panels come in a wide array of varieties, and though some products are ultra efficient, they’re far more expensive than others. This means you need to make the right choice to ensure you get a good return.


Solar Panel Efficiency

If money was no option, the most efficient panels would be the obvious choice. These maximise the sun’s rays and harness all that energy, turning it into electricity. However, panels with almost 50per cent efficiency are extremely expensive and with the low FiT rates, make no sense for domestic use. Instead, you should focus on a panel that provides a good balance between efficiency and cost.

In general, most solar panels for use on homes are between 10 and 20per cent efficient. When you’re determining which type to buy, you shouldn’t only consider the most efficient solar panel. Instead, you need to choose a panel that will generate the most amount of electricity compared with its cost. There are also other efficiency factors to consider which could help decide the most suitable panel.

  • Roof Direction and Angle
    The best locations to boost solar pv efficiency are roofs with an angle between 10° and 60° which face South, East or West.
  • Shade
    The more shade your roof experiences throughout the day, the less efficient your solar panels will be.
  • Season
    Unsurprisingly, seasonal change will cause solar panel efficiency to rise and fall. Summer will see the most power generated, whilst the opposite will be true in winter.
  • System Size
    The larger your system is and the more roof it can cover, the more power you’ll be able to generate.
  • Temperature
    High temperatures can negatively affect solar panel efficiency. Luckily, the UK has optimised conditions for this, though panels still have to be installed a few inches above the roof to allow for air circulation.

The various efficiency factors will affect the best choice of panel for your needs. For example, if you have a roof that’s covered in a lot of shade, choosing a small and more efficient panel that can be installed in the one sunny spot will provide a better return than a large system, of which half is almost always in the shade.

Top Brands for High Efficiency

As a general rule, you should only buy your solar panels from leading brands. This ensures you get the best quality panel possible. For the most efficient, the top four include SunPower’s X21-345 and 327-320 models, Ja Solar’s JAC M6Pa-4 and the Sanyo HIT Double 195 with 21.5%, 20.4%, 20.9% and 20.5% efficiency respectively.  These panels are all made of monocrystalline which, whilst providing increased efficiency, increases production costs.

Top Brands for Return on Investment

Though opting for the most efficient panel might seem like a good idea, you need to factor in FiT rates and costs too. A highly efficient panel and costly panel might not actually pay for itself during its 20 year lifespan under the FiT scheme, for example. Instead, if could be better to opt for a panel with lower efficiency that costs less. The SunPower 245-235 provides 201.per cent efficiency and is a popular model, whilst the SunEdison Silvantis R-Series and Yingli Solar YL225C-24b offer 17.7% and 17.1% efficiency respectively. Because these are cheaper, they offer better return on investment rates.

Earning an Income

Solar panel savings work two-fold; firstly, the power generated can help reduce your electricity bill. Secondly, the government pays a tariff for not only the energy generated but excess power that can be sold back to the National Grid.

Unfortunately, at the start of 2016, the government slashed their FiT rate by 64per cent, meaning that even the best panels can now only earn about £2,080 profit over 20 years. In addition, the FiT rate will see further reductions over the coming years, meaning it’s essential to buy your solar panels as quickly as possible if you want to make any profit at all.

Overall, your local solar panel companies will be able to provide a breakdown on solar panel costs as well as the current FiT rates. You can use these figures to strike a balance between expense and efficiency to get the best deal. In addition, if you utilise Quotatis to find local fitters, you can negotiate this cost too, helping you to shave a little off the installation costs and boost overall profits.