Solar Efficiency

Solar Efficiency Facts and Opinions- What panels should you buy?

Canadian solar panels

Mono cells (Left), Poly Cells (Right) offer different solar efficiency

Solar efficiency questions often leads to confusion about system quality. Solar panels are available from 8% to 22% efficiency, which doesn’t sound super impressive until you understand what it really means. Here is a quick breakdown:

  • The sun delivers 1000Watts of energy per square meter to our surface. So if a solar panel is able to convert that energy in to 150watts of electricity the panel is 15% efficient.
  • The power output is a bell curve with it slowly increasing as the sun is at peak position and decreasing as the sun sets.
  • The power is continuous as sunlight hits the solar panels. The process of these motionless panels outputting reliable energy is remarkable when seen in action.
  • Different types of solar materials yield different energy outputs. Mono and Poly Crystalline modules are the most commonly installed panels.
    • Mono Crystalline: Available from 14% to 22% efficiency with most modules being around 16% efficiency. Mono panels are black and typically more efficient than poly crystalline.
    • Poly Crystalline: Known for their dark blue appearance, poly cells are slightly less efficient than mono cells. However, the less efficiency is often justified for low cost. Most Poly panels are 15% efficient
    • Thin Film: Thin Film modules are less expensive and LESS efficient than crystalline panels but do benefit of having slightly higher yields in shaded conditions. Thin Film modules have begun to reach the 12% efficient threshold.
  • The overall efficiency includes the space between solar cells and the panel frame. Over the years sediment will build on the frames. This is why quality manufacturers, like Panasonic, will sacrifice overall efficiency and add adequate spacing to avoid the sediment from shading a solar cell.

Should solar efficiency be a factor in my decision?

Reliability of the panel should be the number 1 consideration when purchasing solar power! High efficiency solar panels are very costly and should be utilized in dense areas. If your home or business has adequate space for solar, your money will be better spent on additional high quality solar panels opposed to fewer high efficiency panels.

Head over to our solar panels section and decide which product you are interested in!


“…we should be using nature’s inexhaustible sources of energy – sun, wind, and tide… I’d put my money on sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that. I wish I had more years left!” – Thomas Edison (circa 1931)