How efficient are solar panels? Top brands compared in 2024

Solar panels available today can have efficiencies above 22%.

Written by:
Updated May 3, 2024
10 min read
Solar panels on a house

Solar technology has made leaps and bounds toward higher efficiency. Just five years ago, the average solar panel efficiency in quotes through EnergySage was 19%. In 2024, the average efficiency is about 21%, which translates to 10% more electricity produced per panel. 

Within those averages, you'll find solar panels with a range of efficiency ratings. It might not surprise you that you'll usually pay more for solar panels with greater efficiency. SunPower, one of the better-known solar panel brands, offers the most efficient and most expensive solar panels for homes at 22.8% efficiency. Other brands like REC, Panasonic, Maxeon, Jinko Solar, and Q CELLS aren't too far off with above 22% efficiency. 

We'll help you decide if the highest-efficiency solar panels are worth it for you, and offer some advice on how you can keep your panels producing electricity as efficiently as possible.

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Key takeaways about solar panel efficiency

  • The most efficient solar panels available for homes today are 22.8% efficient.

  • Solar panel efficiency is the percentage of incoming sunlight that a single solar panel can convert into electricity.

  • SunPower, REC, Panasonic, Maxeon, Jinko Solar, and Q CELLS offer the most efficient solar panels available on EnergySage right now.

A solar panel's efficiency measures its ability to convert sunlight into usable electricity. If the sun shines on a solar panel with a 20% efficiency rating, 20% of the sun's energy will convert to solar energy in ideal conditions. Given the same amount of sunlight shining simultaneously on two equal-sized solar panels with different efficiency ratings, the more efficient panel will produce more power than the less efficient panel.

Solar panels are made of up multiple silicon solar cells, which, combined, determine a panel's overall efficiency rating. The structure and type of silicon crystal (generally monocrystalline or polycrystalline), electrical configuration, and surrounding components of the solar cells all influence that number. 

Today, about 95% of solar panels quoted on EnergySage are between 19.7% and 21.6% efficient. Typically, higher-efficiency panels are more expensive, but they can be worth it depending on your energy needs and the configuration of your roof.

SunPower offers the most efficient solar panels for homes today at 22.8% efficiency. They come with the highest price tag but can be worth it if your roof has limited space or a lot of shading. Otherwise, you may be better off choosing one of the other highly efficient, but more affordable solar panels on our list. 

The most efficient solar panel brands, compared

Average Cost*
1. SunPowerM series SPR-M440-H-AC 440 W22.8%$24,413.54
2. REC GroupAlpha Pure-R 430 W22.3%$19,728.15
3. PanasonicEverVolt HK Black Series 410 W22.2%$22,145.92
4. Maxeon Solar TechnologiesMaxeon 3 BLK-R 420 W22.2%$21,813.97
5. Jinko SolarTiger Neo N-type 54HL4R-B 440 W22.02%$17,875.14
6. Silfab SolarSIL - 420 BG 420 W22%$20,261.20

*Prices reflect the average quoted price range of a 10 kW solar panel installation, including installation costs, after accounting for the 30% federal tax credit incentive.

1. SunPower

SunPower solar panels on a house


2. REC Group

REC solar panels on a roof

GRID Solar and Electric via REC Group 

3. Panasonic

Panasonic solar panels on an orange roof


4. Maxeon Solar Technologies

Maxeon solar panels on a house

Maxeon Solar Technologies

5. Jinko Solar

Jinko Solar panels on a roof

Jinko Solar

6. Silfab Solar

Silfab solar panels on a house

It's important to choose efficient solar panels, but you don't always need to choose the most efficient model. Here are some scenarios when selecting the most efficient panels makes sense:

1. You want to maximize your solar production

You may want your system to produce as much electricity as possible. Or, you might want to buy the least amount of electricity from your utility but have limited roof space. In either of these cases, you should choose the highest-efficiency solar panel.

2. Higher-efficiency solar panels will save you money

Highly efficient solar panels tend to cost more than their less efficient counterparts. But, the higher your panel's efficiency, the more electricity you'll produce, and the more you'll save on your electric bills. 

You need to calculate if the increased savings you achieve by generating more electricity over the lifespan of your solar energy system with high-efficiency panels justifies the higher upfront cost.

Let's consider two solar panel systems located in Massachusetts. Both have 20 solar panels of the same physical size. One system has SunPower's M-Series 440 W panels with 22.8% efficiency, while the other includes panels with 21% efficiency.

Solar savings with high-efficiency panels

(Click to sort ascending)
System 1 (Sun Power)
System 2
Panel efficiency22.8%21%
Number of panels2020
System size8.8 kW8.1 kW
Annual electricity production9,680 kWh8,910 kWh
System cost after the federal tax credit$21,500$16,216*
25-year electric bill savings**$96,300$88,600
25-year net savings$74,800$72,384

*Based on an EnergySage Marketplace average efficiency and average cost per watt of $2.86/W.
**Based on EIA electricity data from November 2023.

In the example above, after considering your upfront costs and your 25-year electric bill savings, you'd save $2,416 more overall with the SunPower system over 25 years.

We've gone over the basics of monocrystalline versus polycrystalline panels and the impact each material design has on efficiency, but there's more than just the structure of your panel that determines how well they can turn sunlight into electricity.

Remember, solar panel efficiency isn't the only significant factor to consider in your solar panel decision. On the EnergySage Marketplace, you can compare solar panels based on multiple factors, including, efficiency, power output, warranty, and price to go solar with confidence. Sign up for free today to connect with your own Energy Advisor, who can help you find the best solar panels for your home.

Find out what solar panels cost in your area in 2024
Please enter a five-digit zip code.
  • 100% free to use, 100% online
  • Access the lowest prices from installers near you
  • Unbiased Energy Advisors ready to help
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