There are many different factors that can change the overall effectiveness of your residential or commercial solar panels, including their age, their angle and their geographic positioning. Sometimes, simply by making a few small tweaks, you can end up dramatically improving the overall effectiveness of your solar panels and the amount of  clean energy they can produce. Before you shell out big bucks to upgrade your current sun panels, try adjusting them to squeeze the most possible juice from your set-up. Speak of solar panel efficiency, did you know that most brands on the market right now only succeed in converting 11-15% of sunlight that hits them into usable electricity? Despite this surprisingly low conversion rate, it's not difficult to outfit your property with sufficient panels to have all your electricity generated passively by the sun. 

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When Will Solar Panels Become More Efficient? 

Although it may seem frivolous to knock clean energy at all, there are advanced prototypes of solar panels that can convert as much as 40% of all inbound sunlight into usable electricity, although the problem lies in transferring this technology from an advanced lab module to a working commercial version that will ultimately be affordable for consumers and small businesses. In the meantime, we'll have to learn to make the most out of the clean energy resources we do have. 

Which Solar Panel Brands Are Most Efficient?

Right now, there are two sun panel producers that manufacture unusually efficient panels for use at home or work. SunPower makes a solar panel that boasts 19% efficiency and represents the highest performing option on the commercial market right now. Some of these highly advanced sun panels employ special reflective coatings that retain more of the sunlight thrown upon them than standard PV panels. 

However, keep in mind that getting ultra efficient solar panels for your home just means that you can obtain the same amount of clean energy with less space. 

SunPower panels are also notable for their super-sleek design. They are completely flat and have a rich obsidian appearance you won't find with standard panels and their boxy ridged photovoltaic compartments. However, don't get too hung up on trying to get your hands on the "best" solar panel. Most of the time, the "best" solar panel is simply going to be the one that best suits you and your family's clean energy generating needs. 

Why Shouldn't You Install Your Own Solar Panels?

Many new PV panel owners of the DIY persuasion like the idea of carting home their newly purchased panels only to begin slapping them up on their roofs themselves. Although their enthusiasm for generating clean and renewable energy is admirable, there are a couple of reasons why you shouldn't fall into this trap.

Improper or hasty installation of PV panels can ultimately cost you more money and make your solar panels less efficient. Paying the extra money to have a professional solar system installer come out to your property is recommended if you're dealing with sun panels for the first time. 

Professional installers are able to decide the exact location, angles, and positioning your panels should be placed in to maximize their efficiency. Meanwhile, there are other considerations beyond just how much sunlight your new panels can turn into usable juice. You have to keep in mind that photovoltaic panels cannot get too hot - this could actually damage them and will decrease their proper functioning over time. 

Therefore, it's important when installing your new solar panels that thorough consideration be given to where the panels will be best able to soak up cooling breezes that will protect them from damage. 

Quick Tips for Improving Your Solar Panels' Performance

Although it might seem obvious, shady spots are a definite no-no when it comes to installing your photovoltaics for the first time. Even if the area seems bright and well lit when you start humping your sun panels up to the roof, you may be making the mistake of hiding your solar equipment beneath tree or building cover which can rob them of their maximum potential. 

Make sure you choose an area that gets sunlight for the maximum number of hours per day. Choosing a brightly lit spot also goes hand in hand with the pitch and orientation of your panels. Sometimes changing the angle of your panels by just a few degrees can yield huge increases in clean energy production over the course of a day. 

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Most of the time, you'll want your panels facing South in order to soak up the most sun possible throughout the course of the daylight hours. 

What Else Do First Time Solar Panel Operators Need?

If you're setting up a clean sun-based energy system for the first time, don't forget there are several other essentials besides the panels themselves that must be accounted for. The most important component besides the photovoltaics is the inverter. 

A solar panel inverter will convert the direct current generated by your solar panels into alternating current that your home appliances can use without getting fried. 

Now, there are two main schools of thought when it comes to solar panel inverters. The first employs one large central inverter that the entire collection of solar panels feeds into. The benefit of this is that it's easier and faster to set-up.

However, the drawback is that when one section of your solar panel is hit by shade and consequently not performing at its best, it will drag down the performance of the entire system. For this reason, the second school of thought has begun using micro-inverters to counteract this issue. 

By attaching micro-inverters to the undersides of individual sections of your PV panels, you can essentially guarantee that each solar cell is operating at its peak and delivering clean energy at all times into your home, regardless of whether or not cells around it are performing poorly. 

Investing some extra time, planning and money into your new solar panel installation can greatly increase the return on investment it delivers over time. Always insist on having a professional solar installer come to your home to give your system an accurate and complete shade analysis before starting work. These preparations will give you many years of optimum solar panel efficiency.