Cost vs. Efficiency: What Is More Important for Your Solar Panels?

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Cost vs. Efficiency: What Is More Important for Your Solar Panels?

Solar panels have been around for a long time. Scientists have been researching lithium-silicon photovoltaic cells for years now. From the 1800s onwards, many scientists conducted different experiments, but to no avail. It wasn’t until 1954 that Gerald Pearson of bell labs invented the first practical silicon solar cell.

It marked the beginning of a new era as solar photovoltaic came forth as a new renewable energy source. The solar photovoltaic technology used in solar panels consisted of a semiconductor to convert sunlight into direct electric current. With the passage of time, solar panels started becoming more and more efficient, and in the past decade, they have become very popular amongst common men. This technology promises to become even better as time goes on. Thus, the demand for solar panels has increased.

Although anyone who decides to go solar has a hard time deciding whether to go for efficiency or cost. To answer this question, you need to know what solar efficiency is! What are the benefits of highly efficient solar panels? Are they worth spending all that extra money? 

Seeking advice from a contractor would do you no good because the contractor will tell you about his own product. If he is selling high-efficiency solar panels, he will try to convince you that the technology he’s selling is the best. The same goes for a contractor selling cheaper solar panels. Mentioned below are a few things that would help you gain clarity on this topic.

1What is Solar Efficiency?

Photons from the sunlight excite the silicon cells that produce electricity. It is how photovoltaic cells convert sun rays into electrical energy. The efficiency of a solar panel means its ability to convert sunlight into electricity. It means that if two solar panels of the same size are working under the same conditions, but have different efficiencies, the solar panel with more efficiency will produce more electrical energy.

When the first solar panel was made in 1954, it was merely 6% efficient, but as time went on, the efficiency of solar panels increased. Nowadays, homeowners get solar panels with an efficiency of 19 to 20%. These solar panels can produce 25 to 30% more electricity as compared to cheaper panels. 

Moreover, highly efficient solar panels take up less space. So, if you want your solar panels to produce a maximum amount of electricity and take up less space, you should go for high-efficiency solar panels.

2How Efficient are Solar Panels?

Most solar panels have an efficiency ranging from 15-20%. Thin-film solar panels have an efficiency of 10% and are quite cheap; whereas, polycrystalline panels have an efficiency of 14-15%. Monocrystalline panels; however, typically have the highest efficiency and power capacity. Most monocrystalline panels have an efficiency of over 20%; thus, they are the most effective solar panels.

In some laboratories, scientists have achieved an efficiency of over 40%, but such solar panels are not made available for public use as they aren’t cost-effective. This shows that solar panels have a bright future and the potential to become the primary source of electricity in many places.

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3Cost of Solar Panels over Time

In the past few years, solar panels have improved by leaps and bounds. The reason behind the increased demand for solar panels is the cost. In the past decade, solar panels have become very cost-effective. A 6KW standard solar system if installed in a house can meet most, if not all the electricity requirements. Such solar plants cost around 51,000 dollars in 2009, but these days, you can get it for around 18,000 dollars. It shows that solar panels are becoming cost-effective, which has attracted more and more people to invest in solar energy.

By now you must have realized that highly efficient solar panels will cost you a lot more money as compared to their cheaper counterparts, but you might ask yourself, is spending all the extra money really worth it? That depends on what you are looking for in a solar system! 

If you want enough electricity to meet your daily needs, then a standard 6KW solar plant would suffice. A highly efficient solar panel will help you produce more electricity than you can use, and if you connect to the grid, the surplus energy can be fed into the power grid, which can be financially beneficial.

4Impact of Location on Cost and Efficiency

An important factor that can hamper the working of your solar panel is your environment. If you are living in a place where you don’t get a lot of sunlight, no matter how efficient your solar plant is, it would not be able to function properly. 

If you live in a city like Chicago that gets its fair share of sunny and cloudy days, you need to do thorough research before investing in a solar panel system. If you’re looking for a solar plant in Chicago, you can type ‘solar panels Chicago’ on google, and you will get a lot of articles to help you figure out whether solar panels are good for your area or not. Highly suitable places for solar energy are Nevada, New Mexico, and Arizona.

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5Cost vs. Efficiency

Although solar plants have become cheaper and cost-effective in the past few years, if you want highly efficient solar panels, you still have to pay a lot of money. You need to make sure that high-efficiency solar panels are financially viable for you. 

You need to figure out how much money you would save after installation, check your electric bills from the past few months. It can give you an idea about how much you’re spending on average on electricity and how much you would save after installing a high-efficiency solar panel. 

With high-efficiency solar panels, you get a lot of surplus electricity that you can sell to the grid on normal retail prices. Although you can connect to the grid with a standard 6KW solar plant, you wouldn’t be able to produce enough energy to get any profit, but you will be able to get free electricity from the grid at night time when your panels aren’t producing electricity.

Considering the above-mentioned facts, you can now decide whether you should go for cost-effective or high-efficiency solar panels. Good Luck!

About the Author:

Louis Paulson is a graduate of California University and is currently working on his dream project of creating organic energy mixes. In his leisure time, he likes to write about climate change, energy, and cleantech. To read more of his blogs, you can visit http://headlinesolar.com/.

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