The Most Efficient Solar Panels of August 2023 – CNET

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If you’ve ever swapped an LED lightbulb in for an incandescent one to consume a bit less electricity, you’re familiar with the concept of energy efficiency. Efficiency also plays a role in electricity production. Solar panels for homes all come with an efficiency rating. But what does that mean?

Put simply, it’s how much of the sun’s energy a panel’s solar cells turn into usable electricity. 

“If something is 20% efficient, that means that 20% of the energy in that sunlight reaching the solar panel gets turned into moving electrons,” Daniel Ciolkosz, professor of agricultural and biological engineering at Pennsylvania State University, told CNET.

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A more efficient solar panel will create more electricity in its solar cells than a less efficient one, even if they’re exposed to the same amount of sunlight.

The most efficient residential solar panels on the residential market today are sold by SunPower and Canadian Solar. Both have a maximum efficiency rate of 22.8%. But competitors are closing the gap.

Solar power energy and battery storage

Solar panels are made differently, and some are more efficient than others.

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Choosing the best solar panels for your home is a game of balancing solar panel cost, function (like efficiency) and perhaps even aesthetics. Your choice is also limited by what your chosen solar installer actually offers.

This list ranks the most efficient solar panels. Not only will we tell you which panels get top marks for turning the most sunlight into energy, we’ll explain just what solar panel efficiency is, why it’s important and if it actually matters.

Most efficient solar panels

Solar panels on a wooden house.

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SunPower has long been the leader in solar panel efficiency, and its suite of panels has overall higher efficiency ratings than any other solar panel manufacturer. 

A solar panel installer places a solar panel on top of a house as the sun sets.

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Canadian Solar’s 445-watt model of its HiHero panel is the first solar panel to match SunPower’s efficiency mark. With a temperature coefficient of -0.26%, it’ll keep producing at a high level even when the temperature goes up.

A home with rooftop solar panels and a back up battery.

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At -0.24%, REC’s Alpha Pure panel has the best temperature coefficient for panel power. It will lose less production at higher temperatures than other panels.

Installing solar panels on a roof

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The Tiger Neo panel has a 22.27% efficiency rating and a temperature coefficient of -0.29%.

Two people installing a solar panel on a terra cotta style roof.

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Panasonic’s Evervolt panel, both the standard and the all-black versions, have an efficiency rating of 22.2%. They have a low temperature coefficient, too, at -0.26%.