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How the Cost of Solar Panels and The Efficiency of a Solar Panel Has Significantly Improved

Jessica PirroJuly 31, 20191670

The technology of solar panels isn’t as new as some people think that it is. It has been around for quite some time now, Bell Labs invented the very first photovoltaic cells over 60 years ago, and scientists have known for centuries that the sun can be used to produce solar energy. But, it has only been in the past 10 years that solar panels with photovoltaic cells have taken off as the leader in sources of renewable energy. There are two reasons for the rapid increase in the technology of solar panels, the decrease in the cost of solar panels as well as the increase in the efficiency of a solar panel.

You can see how the decrease in the cost of solar panels will affect your home by going to hahasmart and using the price checker tool.

The Efficiency of a Solar Panel Changing Over Time

The very first photovoltaic cells that were invented in the 1800s, had less than one percent efficiency of a solar panel, which is not nearly enough to make them a useful energy source. It wasn’t until 1954 that Bell Labs had invented the very first silicon solar panels that were useful and had around six percent efficiency of a solar panel.

Since then, the solar panels with photovoltaic cell technology have evolved exponentially. Solar companies have now been able to create solar panels with 30 percent efficiency of a solar panel, most solar panels that solar installers quote homeowners have around 19-20 percent efficiency of a solar panel. The solar panels with higher efficiency of a solar panel can produce around 25 percent more solar electricity than the lower-tier economy solar panels that have made up the majority of solar power in the market in the past years.  

The new technology exists to increase the efficiency of a solar panel even more. The researchers have managed to achieve 46 percent efficiency of a solar panel in certain laboratory tests using advanced photovoltaic structures. But, the solar panels that have a high efficiency of a solar panel are typically made up of more expensive materials that aren’t used for rooftop solar panels, and a result, the cost of solar panels with these materials is not very cost-effective.

Tracking the Efficiency of a Solar Panel

The race to maximize the efficiency of a solar panel has been more like a marathon, but it looks like the pace is speeding up. Here’s how the past few years of the efficiency of a solar panel has begun.

1960 - Hoffman Electric achieves 14% efficiency of a solar panel in photovoltaic cells.

1992 - the University of South Florida creates a 15.89% efficiency of a solar panel with a thin-film cell.

2012 - Solar Frontier increases the efficiency of a solar panel to 17.8%.

June 2015 - First solar breaks the efficiency of a solar panel barrier with 18.2% efficiency.

October 2015 - Solar City increases the efficiency of a solar panel to 22.04%. Panasonic tops it with solar panels that have 22.5% efficiency of a solar panel.

November 2015 - NREL validates Sun Power’s achievement of 22.8% efficiency of a solar panel.

January 2016 - The NREL and Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM) achieved 29.8% efficiency of a solar panel.

July 2017 - A group of U.S. scientists develops a prototype for photovoltaic cells that are capable of 44.5% efficiency of a solar panel.

Costs of Solar Panels Over Time

In 2009, the cost of solar panels was much higher than it is now. 10 years ago the cost of a solar panel installation was $8.50 per watt. Today the solar power industry looks a lot different. In addition to an increase in the efficiency of a solar panel, there has also been a dramatic decrease in the cost of solar panels. Because solar companies have significantly improved their manufacturing process of solar panels, solar installers are now able to deploy solar panels with photovoltaic cells across the United States more than ever before. The result of the increase in solar panel installations is the cost of solar panels has fallen by nearly 65 percent, to $2.98/watt.

There is evidence that the cost of solar panels is still decreasing. From the first half of 2019 to the second half of 2019, the cost of solar is still decreasing.

The decrease in the cost of solar panels over the past ten years is a major reason why more and more homeowners are getting a solar panel installation on their property. For standard 6k home solar-powered systems, the average cost of solar panels has fallen from $51,000 TO JUST $17,880. Then by subtracting the 30% percent federal tax credit for solar energy, the cost of solar decreases to just $12,516 for home solar-powered systems that can cover the majority, if not all of your electricity needs with solar electricity.

The changes in the cost of solar panels over time can be explained by Swanson’s Law, which states that the cost of solar panels decreases by around 20% for every doubling in global solar power capacity. The law gets its name from Richard Swanson, who is the founder of the high-efficiency solar company SunPower and indicates a phenomenon is seen across a ton of different technologies: new industries face a huge learning curve, as they improve their prices.

Tips For Solar Shoppers

Get More Than One Quote

If you’re going car shopping you aren’t going to settle for the first quote you get, shopping for a solar panel installation should be the same. When shopping for solar-powered systems homeowners should do a lot of research, which should include a thorough review of the solar companies in your area. A more recent report by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recommended that consumers compare as many different solar panel installation options as possible to avoid any inflated prices that are offered by the large solar installers in the solar power industry.

The Bigger the Solar Installer Doesn’t Mean the Better the Cost of Solar Panels

Bigger doesn’t always mean better. This is the reason that homeowners should consider all of their solar energy options, and not just choose the solar companies that have the best advertising. A report that was recently done by the U.S. government found that the large solar installers are $2,000 to $5,000 more expensive than small solar companies. If you have offers from the big solar installers, make sure that you compare those bids with the small and local solar installers to ensure that you are getting the best cost of solar panels.  

Comparing All Solar-Powered Systems Options

A national-scale solar installer often doesn’t just have higher-priced solar panels, but they also tend to have fewer solar-powered systems equipment that is offered, which could have a significant impact on the solar electricity that is produced from the solar-powered systems. By getting various bids on solar panel installation, ensures that you can compare the costs of solar panels and the savings based on the different equipment packages that are available to you.

There’s a variety of variables to consider when trying to find the best solar panels that are on the market. While certain solar panels will a higher efficiency of solar panel ratings than others. Sometimes investing in the so-called top-of-the-line solar power equipment isn’t going to always result in higher savings.

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