REC is one of the leading solar panel brands, offering high efficiency and durability. REC stands for Renewable Energy Corporation, and the company was founded in 1996 in Oslo, Norway. REC is now headquartered in Singapore, and they have provided over 40 million solar panels around the world.
Solar panels from REC offer an efficiency rate of up to 21.9%, which is one of the highest ratings in the industry. Only two manufacturers have developed solar panels with a higher efficiency, and the difference is small: LG reaches up to 22.3%, while SunPower reaches up to 22.8%. REC is also a very affordable brand when you consider its performance:
However, the average installed cost of REC solar panels is $2.76 per watt, according to data gathered by EnergySage.
In other words, REC solar panels offer top efficiency, while having installed costs below the industry average! 😉 They are also characterized by their excellent performance at high ambient (surrounding) air temperatures, making them ideal for places in hot climates.
SunPower is a US-based manufacturer who currently holds the record for the most efficient solar panels in the industry (22.8% as of 2022).
The brand is very popular in the US, and you have probably seen it already if you’re considering solar panels for your home. SunPower is considered the most premium solar panel brand, where you pay above-average prices but also get superior performance and durability.
When using SunPower panels, you can expect to pay around $3.35 per watt, according to system pricing data gathered by EnergySage. However, you will get the most efficient solar panels in the industry for that extra investment: SunPower reaches 22.8% efficiency, followed by LG (22.3%) and REC (21.9%).
Solar has been one of the fastest-moving industries over the last decade, which is why it can be difficult to know where to start when shopping for the best solar panels for your home, and how to make important decisions while weighing your options.
To help homeowners in the United States and beyond, we’ve developed this guide, which explores everything you need to know about today’s best high efficiency solar panels designed for residential use.
Now that you’ve decided to take the first step to lower your home’s carbon footprint and utility expenses, it is time to find the right solar panels, equipment, and installer to carry out the job.
First, let’s begin with sufficient information to bring even the newest solar panel novices up to speed.
It doesn’t take an expert to recognize that “high-efficiency” solar panels imply a high-quality product, but the term has somewhat lost its true meaning as every reputable manufacturer claims that their solar panels are “high-efficiency.”
The efficiency rating of a solar panel is expressed as a percentage and indicates the efficiency with which a given panel can generate usable electricity from direct sunlight.
Majority of solar panels available on the market today are rated for 15% to 20% solar energy conversion efficiency. However, there are also ultra-premium residential PV panels from companies like SunPower, LG, and Panasonic that achieve energy conversion efficiency ratings of 20% to 23%.
In the context of this guide, we refer to high-performance solar modules with efficiency ratings between 19% and 23% as high-efficiency panels.
Did you know? All solar panels lose efficiency and degrade over time. When looking at a specific solar panel, we are not only concerned with the initial efficiency rate but also with how well that initial efficiency will be retained over time. – This is known as the solar panel efficiency degradation rate. The slower a specific panel’s performance degrades over time the more premium and valuable it is.
Most premium, high-efficiency and high-power home solar panels on the market today will retain at least 85% of their initial conversion efficiency at the 25-year mark, while the best of breed panels will retain over 90% of the initial efficiency at the 25-year mark.
When a given solar panel harnesses the sunlight and produces electricity, its actual efficiency performance will vary based on the ambient temperature aka the air temperature of the panel’s immediate surroundings, shade, cloudiness, weather conditions, and sun angle/conditions.
While low-efficiency solar panels may work for yard lights or calculators, midrange to high-power efficiency modules are entirely necessary when considering most home installations with limited rooftop space.
So, while many solar salesmen are eager to tout their “high-efficiency” panels, it is important to recognize that every reputable residential solar company should exclusively install high-quality solar panels with efficiency rating that are appropriate for your home’s needs — for a worthwhile renewable energy investment.
What are High-Efficiency Solar Panels?
Today, monocrystalline PERC and N-type IBC solar cells have been developed for efficiencies of 18% to 20% and above. This has set the new standard for high-efficiency residential solar panels of the future, as commercially available panels are beginning to exceed 20% to 22% peak operating efficiencies.
More so, extensive research is being conducted into photovoltaic (PV) solar energy, with new technologies debuting constantly at high-efficiency ratings. For instance, InsoLight has recently unveiled hyper-efficient solar panel designs with working efficiencies of over 30%.
Solar Industry Jargon: “Poly” or “mono” for short, mono cells are generally more efficient than poly cells but they are also usually significantly more expensive.
Relatively speaking, solar panels can be considered highly efficient if they are sold with a manufacturer’s efficiency rating above 17%. What this means is that the solar cells within the panel can convert 17% of the energy from sunlight that hits the panel’s surface area.
While 17 percent Sunlight-to-Electricity conversion efficiency rate may not sound like a lot, it is important to understand that all energy conversions experience some energy loss, and that the amount of sunlight that earth receives is truly abundant! 😊
For our guide’s purposes, we define high-efficiency solar panels as those with efficiency ratings of 19% or higher and efficiency degradation rates of 85% or higher at the 25-year mark.
Note that we’ve also included Jinko Solar on our list of the most efficient solar panels in spite of Jinko solar panels having only about 81% of their initial efficiency remaining after 25 years in service.
However, our view is that Jinko’s relatively high initial efficiency rate and their superior value pricing, make Jinko solar panels a compelling option for budget conscious homeowners.
Our view and that of the industry is that premium quality panels will degrade at a slower rate than basic or midrange panels.
Here are the top 11 most efficient solar panels and brands to consider for home solar power system installations: