High efficiency solar panels maximize your generation and the carbon savings from your system
High efficiency solar panels maximize your generation and the carbon savings from your system
One of the most common questions we are asked is “what is the most efficient solar panel?” Here’s our guide to the best of the best.
More efficient photovoltaic systems produce more electricity from every square meter of roof space, so they are an attractive means of using space in the most efficient manner possible. Greater electricity production means more carbon savings, which is great for the planet. You’ll also have more electricity to do what you want with – whether that is using directly in the home, storing the energy in a battery, or putting in to an electric vehicle.
High efficiency panels are a bit more expensive than conventional modules, as you might expect from a high-end product. However, there a number of good reasons why you might want to opt for the very best possible products, which we outline below.
Maximise the generation from your rooftop
Higher carbon savings
Greater bill savings
More free zero-carbon miles for your EV
Ideal for small roofs
There are several key reasons to use high efficiency modules:
Choosing high efficiency panels over standard ones increases your generation from your available roof space. For a typical home, this might increase your installed capacity from 3.5kW to 4 kW, in the same area.
It might not sound a lot, but that could be an extra 500kWh of electricity generated over the course of the year. Put all that into an electric vehicle, and that’s 1500 miles of carbon-free travel. Every year for 25 year lifetime of the system.
We’re experts at designing systems that allow you to capture this benefit – either through a smart EV charger such as the Zappi, or by integrating with a battery.
Here’s how to power your car with the extra generation from high-efficiency solar panels
Here’s our rundown of the top 10 highest efficiency solar panels that we currently offer. Thanks to recent advancements in photovoltaic technology, the efficiency of residential solar panels has now increased to nearly 23%. Sunpower still dominate the top spots with their unique back contactor technology, but other manufacturers are also offering modules with efficiencies in excess of 20%.
SunPower Maxeon 3 430 W Panel – Efficiency: 22.7%, dimensions: 1046 x 1812mm
The SunPower Maxeon 3 430 W panel boasts the highest panel efficiency on the market at 22.7%. SunPower are the market leaders with regards to panel efficiency per square metre, build quality and an unrivalled 40-year warranty.
SunPower Maxeon 6 AC 435 W Panel – Efficiency: 22.5%, dimensions: 1032 x 1872mm
The efficiency of the SunPower Maxeon 6 AC 435 W panels clocks in at 22.5%. Maxeon 6 panels are fitted with integrated Enphase micro-inverters which allow each individual panel to operate independently to maximise generation. This is particularly useful where the site is small, or partially shaded.
SunPower Maxeon 3 420 W All-Black Panel – Efficiency: 22.2%, dimensions: 1046 x 1812mm
This is the highest efficiency all-black panel that we offer at 22.2%. This panel is the perfect choice for those seeking sleek all-black aesthetics with uncompromised market-leading efficiency.
SunPower Maxeon 6 AC 425 W All-Black Panel – Efficiency: 22.2%, dimensions: 1046 x 1812mm
This module is the same as number 2 on the list (SunPower Maxeon 6 AC, 435 W Panel) but with a black back sheet. It’s another ideal panel choice for those looking for an all-black look, with an efficiency of 22.2%.
Canadian Solar 430 W Panel – Efficiency: 22%, dimensions: 1134 x 1722mm
This Canadian Solar 430 W panel offers an efficiency of 22% at a competitive price point. Canadian Solar use a combination of mono-crystalline silicon and thin film silicon to boost efficiency, as each captures a different range of coloured light. The module also uses half-cells instead of full ones, which reduces resistance and allows more power to be generated. This panel is ideal for projects where both the amount of generation and return on investment are important.
Jinko Tiger Neo 425W panel – Efficiency: 21.3%, dimensions: 1134 x 1762mm
Like the Canadian Solar Panel above, this panel is ideal for projects looking for a fast rate of return and high efficiencies. Jinko use TOPCon N-Type Cells – which means the positive and negative layers of the solar cell are upside down compared to conventional modules – which boosts efficiency. In addition this 425W module is all-black and so looks great too.
Meyer Burger 390 W Panel – Efficiency: 21.2%, dimensions: 1041 x 1767mm
This is Meyer Burger’s highest efficiency panel available in the UK. Meyer Burger panels are designed in Switzerland and are manufactured in Germany using 100% renewable energy. The panel dimensions are smaller than standard panels which explains the lower peak output.
Meyer Burger 385 W All-Black Panel – Efficiency: 20.9%, dimensions: 1041 x 1767mm
This is Meyer Burger’s highest efficiency all-black panel available in the UK. Similarly, the panel dimensions are smaller than standard all-black panels which explains the lower peak output.
JA Solar 405 W Panel – Efficiency: 20.7%, dimensions: 1134 x 1722mm
This JA Panel is still a beast in terms of efficiency. It offers a great trade off between price and efficiency, so it’s a great bet for large arrays. When space isn’t a premium it doesn’t always make sense to go for the absolute highest efficiency panel. This is an ideal choice for customers wanting to maximise their rate of return in investment, whilst keeping the benefits of a high-output system.
JA 460w – Efficiency: 20.7%, dimensions 1052 x 2117mm
The JA 460W panel uses bifacial panel technology allowing electricity to be generated from light striking both front and back of the cells. Bifacial panels have a clear glass back sheet that allows light to travel through the panel between the solar cells. This can increase energy production, particularly from ground mounted solar arrays where more light reaches the back of the panel.
(Correct as of July 23)
At Joju, we’re technology agnostic, so we’re happy to specify any solar panel you wish. However, we are big fans of SunPower – their dominance of the above table is a clear demonstration of their quality. We’ve been official Sunpower partners ever since they became available in the UK in 2011.
SunPower have made an all-back-contact cell, which mean that both the +ve and –ve electrical connections are on the rear of the cell. That means no collector wires on the front surface, which increases the area available for collecting the sun’s energy. We also think it makes them look super neat, with a more uniform look to their front surface.
Another reason we like SunPower is due to their industry leading warranties. SunPower panels have a 40-year performance and product warranty. No other manufacturer comes close to offering the same security. You can see why SunPower are comfortable offering this – they are particularly robust and have a low failure rate. In fact, we have never had any performance issues with our SunPower modules.
As well as having the highest rated efficiencies, SunPower panels do very well in the real world. We have over 10 years of generation data from our SunPower installations so we can assess how they perform. Our Head of Engineering James Page has published the results of his study and found that as well as doing what they say on the tin – SunPower panels perform particularly well at low light levels. This means they perform well across the year, even in winter when the solar resource is lower.
Lastly, and it might seem like a minor point to some, but SunPower panels look really good. They have attractive black frames and the lack of wires on the front of their cells to give the panels a uniform and sleek appearance.
Commercial properties tend to be less space limited than domestic properties, so there isn’t always the same need for high efficiency modules in this setting.
However, we are seeing customers choosing high efficiency modules for their commercial buildings, for the following reasons:
Oxford Brookes University have chosen Sunpower modules for use across buildings on their campuses
Having outlined the different categories of PV panels, the question is how to choose the product to use. This is easy – our experts select the best product in each category, so you don’t have to. We do this by assessing across multiple criteria.
Brand value – In order to choose a trusted product, we choose from well-respected brands. Most people purchasing solar panels wouldn’t recognise the names of the manufacturers, as they are not usually household names. Fortunately, the research organisation company Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyse the market each year, and produce a list of high quality (so called Tier 1) modules. They assess bankability – which brands of panels are used in (large scale solar) projects that banks are investing in. If banks are willing to put their money at risk on a product, it’s a good measure of quality, as they will have done their due diligence. Joju only use Tier 1 products.
Module testing – Industry trade magazine Photon International run a large test site monitoring the performance of different brands of solar panels. We check the outdoor performance of our chosen modules so we know they perform well in real life.
Warranties – the length of warranty is also an important indicator of quality. Most modules come with a 25-year product warranty (guarantee that the module won’t break), although some manufacturers such as Sunpower offer a 40 year product warranty. On top of this, the modules come with a performance warranty, guaranteeing a certain percentage of output after 25 years. Typically manufacturers guarantee that the module will be producing 80% of its nameplate efficiency after 25 years, although some manufacturers will offer higher values. We also check that these warranties are insurance backed by European insurers.
Installer feedback – We rely on feedback from our installation teams about the product they are installing. Historically, we have stopped installing some brands, as our installers felt they were too flimsy.
Ethics and sustainability – these are important considerations for us as a green business in choosing the products we offer. We ensure all our modules are guaranteed conflict metals free. We’ve also written about wider ethical and sustainability issues in more detail for Ethical Consumer magazine.
Efficiency – Efficiency is more important in choosing the category of solar panel (cheap solar panels vs. high efficiency panels), as within each class there is little variation between similar modules. Cheap solar panels will give you the lowest system price, whereas high efficiency panels will maximise generation and income over the system lifetime.
My solar panels make me happy every day. Every time I look up at them it gives me that warm feeling, you know - that's completely clean energy your producing on your own roof.
We’ve made great progress installing solar panels on our estates. We also sell the surplus energy we’re generating back to the grid and this money goes back into the city’s housing services.
“The installation of solar panels at Gorringe has not only had a beneficial educational effect on the students, but will also save us several thousand pounds.”