A contractor checking commercial solar panel efficiency.

In an era marked by increasing environmental awareness and sustainable business practices, commercial solar panels have emerged as a powerful solution for businesses looking to adopt renewable energy sources. Among the host of different factors that influence commercial solar panel performance, efficiency stands as a critical parameter that demands attention.

Let’s take a dive into commercial solar panels efficiency to gain a better understanding of key considerations for the market today (which can help you make informed decisions for your business when it comes to sun power).

What Exactly is Commercial Solar Panel Efficiency?

Solar energy is rapidly gaining popularity when it comes to real-world solutions for energy efficiency. In 2022, solar PV accounted for 46% of global investments in renewable energy. As technology develops, so do the benefits of introducing solar modules for better energy efficiency.

Efficiency, in the context of commercial solar panels, refers to how effectively these panels convert sunlight into usable electricity. The higher the efficiency of a solar panel, the more electricity it can produce for a given amount of sunlight.

Advancements in solar energy are regularly studied in Nevada at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) with the goal of creating the most efficient solar panels in this sect of clean energy.

Why Does Efficiency Matter?

Efficiency is a pivotal factor for commercial solar panels for several reasons.

    • Optimized Power Output:

      Higher efficiency panels yield more electricity from the same amount of sunlight. This means that your business can generate more power, potentially leading to reduced electricity bills or even surplus energy that can be fed back into the grid for financial incentives.

    • Space Utilization:

      Efficient panels require less space to generate the same amount of electricity as less efficient ones. For commercial spaces where real estate is at a premium, this can be a significant advantage, allowing you to maximize energy production in a limited area.

    • Long-Term Savings:

      Investing in efficient panels translates to better returns over the long run. While higher efficiency panels might have a slightly higher upfront cost, their increased power generation capabilities often make them more financially viable in the long term.

Factors Influencing Commercial Solar Panel Efficiency

There are a handful of key factors that influence the efficiency of commercial solar panels.

Solar Cell Technology

Most commercial solar panel systems offer high efficiency, making them a reliable and effective solution for various energy needs. Monocrystalline solar panel cells and polycrystalline solar panel cells are widely used and offer good efficiency, while more advanced options like thin-film solar panels and bifacial cells aim to push the envelope, striving toward offering the highest efficiency.

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

Monocrystalline panels have high silicon purity, meaning they are the best solar panels at converting sunlight to energy. This also means monos are usually the most expensive types of solar panels. Monocrystalline silicons have the highest solar cell efficiency, converting 20% (and in some cases, more) of solar power into usable energy.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Several silicon crystals are in a single photovoltaic cell (also known as a PV cell). These are a bit more common as residential solar panels because they are more affordable. However, they usually need more roof space. Poly solar panels produce less energy, resulting in lower efficiency when compared to the above-mentioned option, averaging up to 15%.

Thin-Film Solar Panels

These types of thin photovoltaic technology aren’t highly impacted by high temperatures. Unfortunately, they aren’t as durable as other solar panel options, and have an efficiency between 7%-18%.

It’s important to keep in mind that solar panel efficiency can decrease as temperatures rise. Panels with lower temperature coefficients perform better in hot climates, making them suitable for commercial applications in sun-drenched regions.

Quality of Materials and Panel Design

The quality of materials used to manufacture panels can significantly impact their efficiency and longevity. Investing in panels from reputable manufacturers ensures better performance and durability.

There are several components of a solar energy system that play a role in its efficiency, including layout, arrangement, and construction. Innovations like backside passivation and anti-reflective coatings contribute to increased energy capture.

Orientation, Angle, Shading and Obstructions

The direction your panels face and the angle at which they are installed (relative to the sun’s path) can affect efficiency, and proper orientation maximizes energy capture throughout the day.

Shade from nearby buildings, trees, or other obstructions can greatly impact the performance of solar panels. Careful site analysis and design can minimize shading effects.

Important Points for Measuring Efficiency

Efficiency ratings for commercial solar panels are typically expressed as a percentage. Modern panels generally range from 15% to 22% efficiency, with some high-end models even surpassing 22%. When evaluating efficiency, consider the panel’s performance under Standard Test Conditions (STC), which replicate ideal conditions like a clear sunny day.

Making Informed Choices for Your Business

When considering commercial solar panels for your business, it’s important to strike a balance between efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Here’s a roadmap to guide your decision-making process:

Energy Needs Assessment

Understand your business’s energy consumption patterns. This will help you determine how much electricity your solar panels need to generate.

Budget Considerations

As with any other investment, you should factor solar panel installation into your budget. While higher efficiency panels might have a higher upfront cost, they could offer better returns over time.

Local Climate

Consider the local climate and solar conditions. If you’re in a region with ample sunlight, more efficient solar cells might be most beneficial.

Available Space

Assess the available roof space for panel installation. If space is limited, investing in higher efficiency panels could allow you to generate more power within the available area. (High-efficiency solar panels take up less space.)

Manufacturer Reputation

Opt for panels from a reputable solar panel manufacturer with a track record of producing reliable and efficient products. Then have them installed by a vetted solar company.

Professional Guidance

Consult with solar energy professionals who can provide tailored advice based on your business’s unique solar power needs and circumstances.

How Long Do Solar Panels Work?

Commercial solar panels are a big investment (even with tax credits and incentives to offset costs), but it’s also important to know that your commercial solar panels’ efficiency and longevity will positively impact your business.

Most manufacturers back up their product with warranties that span up to 25 years. Solar panels last for decades, and even after they’ve reached their maximum lifespan, they’ll continue to work (but the conversion efficiency will decline as they age).

Turn to TEMA and Unlock the Power of Solar Efficiency

As commercial businesses increasingly recognize the value of renewable energy sources, commercial solar panels efficiency becomes a paramount consideration. Investing in high-efficiency commercial solar panels not only boosts your business’s sustainability profile but also promises long-term financial benefits.

Solar energy is a big commitment, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating. TEMA Roofing Services is here to answer your commercial solar panel questions, and we’re ready to guide you to a renewable and brighter future.