Solar Panels in Chicago 101: How Efficient Are Modern Solar Panels?

Rising electricity costs and a growing focus on clean energy solutions have many Illinois residents looking for alternative options. Many homeowners hesitate to purchase high-power solar panels in Chicago, spending their time searching for solar panels reviews and elaborate answers to the ever-present question, “How efficient are solar panels?”

This article will examine the true productivity of solar panels in Chicago, financial advantages, environmental impact, changes in solar panel efficiency over time, and key considerations when switching to solar energy.

Benefits Of Renewable Energy

Installing solar panels in Chicago provides numerous advantages for your budget and the environment. You’ll get clean energy from abundant sources, lowering your gas emissions. In addition, solar energy will give you more control over your energy usage, providing energy independence and power during massive outages.

Getting solar panels in Chicago can help you increase your home value by 3-7% while slashing electricity bills. You can also sell the excessively generated electricity to the grid and earn SREC (net metering credits) — you can use these credits to cover your bills on short and cloudy winter days.

It’s no secret that solar panels require minimal maintenance. Considering how efficient solar panels in Chicago are, you can save time and money. Depending on the solar panel model, the panels can last up to 25 years and only need occasional cleaning once in 3-4 months. If you want to extend the life of PV cells in solar panels, you can book an annual expert check. It’s not necessary, but doesn’t it add some convenience and reassurance?

How Energy Efficient Are Solar Panels in Chicago, IL?

In 2024, the efficiency range for residential solar panels usually ranged from 15% to 22%. A few panels had almost 23% efficiency, but there are more exceptions than a rule.

Multiple factors directly affect a system’s productivity. If you’re into research, you’ve probably come across numerous related forum questions, like “How efficient are solar panels today?” or “How efficient are solar panels in winter?”.  Here’s the thing: it’s pretty hard to precalculate an exact panel’s productivity without knowing details about the installation process.

Panel materials, their placement, and potential shading directly relate to the system’s productivity. The chemicals behind the process are the most crucial aspect of pre-calculating the solar cell efficiency over time:

  • Crystalline silicon: There are polycrystalline and monocrystalline panels. The first option has just a 15-17% efficiency, so many people call it outdated. Monocrystalline panels have a 17-24% efficiency, which makes them. Both of them have long lifespans of 25+ years.
  • Thin-film: These panels are cheaper, but their peak efficiency is just 14-15%. On cloudy days, you’ll get only 10-12%. Meanwhile, you can place them on curved surfaces or rooftops with limited space.

thin solar panel

Proper placing is another crucial factor that directly impacts how efficient solar panels in Chicago are in your case. It’s preferable to place them on the south side of the house so they can catch more light. Ensure that the tilt angle matches the latitude to achieve even more efficiency. Illinois latitude is 41°, so tilt solar panels in Chicago at 35-45°.

Avoid shading from trees, buildings, or chimneys, as it can significantly reduce power output even from the most powerful solar panels. Cutting trees can achieve maximum sun exposure and receive the best possible system efficiency. Ensure that this job is done by professionals who can precalculate how efficient current solar panels are in a current situation and how lower shade will affect them.

Looking for solar panels in Chicago? Don’t waste another minute — get your free solar quote right away!

Is Illinois Good for Solar Energy?

Yes, Illinois is a great state for solar energy. Many people know Chicago as a Windy City, so they assume you can get enough energy only from wind turbines. Meanwhile, they don’t realize how energy-efficient solar panels are in sunny weather in a cold winter.

In real life, Chicago solar panels can provide valuable electricity enough to power your house or business without taking up too much space. While not the sunniest state, Illinois receives a decent amount of sunlight throughout the year, making solar panels in Chicago a valid option.

You’ll get the most sunlight from April to October. You can sell excess electricity to the grid, receiving credits you can use during the cold season. So, while asking questions about how efficient solar panels are, it’s safe to say that they are a highly productive energy source.

Illinois offers attractive solar energy-saving incentives like the Illinois Shines program and Solar for All, which can significantly reduce upfront costs. These programs for solar panels in Chicago provide benefits like Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) that offset your system’s cost.

You can also apply for a federal tax credit and receive a 30% credit on the total system cost, including equipment, labor, permitting, and even sales tax. You don’t get cash directly, but this incentive reduces the income tax you owe.

How To Figure Out If Solar Panels in Chicago Are Worth It

To evaluate how efficient solar panels in Chicago are in your case and whether they benefit you, figure out your average electricity usage. Solar panels in Chicago are most beneficial for households with high electricity consumption.

Look at your past year’s electricity bills to gauge your average monthly usage (kWh). Generally, homes using at least 500-800 kWh per month see an excellent return from solar cell energy investment in Illinois.

The second factor to consider is the cost of solar panels. The final price varies depending on system size, brand, and installer. Research multiple solar panel comparison charts and get quotes from reputable solar installers in Illinois.

Factor in the 30% federal tax credit to get a more accurate picture of the net cost. Other incentives for solar panels in Chicago that can help you are the Illinois Shines program and Solar for All, which can significantly reduce upfront costs. Explore these programs and calculate the potential benefits, such as SRECs.

You can also sell the excessive energy in the summer to the grid, receiving net metering credits. The amount of earned credit depends on how efficient solar panels are on your roof and your average consumption. You can sell only the excesses generated during the day. Later, you can use those credits to lower your electricity bills in the winter. The highest-power solar panels will produce more energy, so you’ll get more credits for winter usage.

Cost of Going Solar in Illinois

a solar panels on a roof

The cost of a solar panel model in Illinois varies depending on several factors. As of 2024, the average price for the most reliable solar panels is around $3.10-3.40 per watt (including installation).

The federal tax credit is currently 30% of the total system cost. It significantly reduces the upfront expenses of solar panels in Chicago. So, if your system costs $20,000, you’ll receive $6,000 in tax credits. You will still need to pay $20K to the solar installer, but you’ll pay far less taxes at the end of the fiscal year.

Different solar panel models and installers have varying pricing structures. It’s wise to get quotes from multiple qualified installers to compare prices and find the best value.

What Are The Most Efficient Solar PV Energy Panels?

If you have limited roof space, high-efficiency panels can help you generate more energy with fewer panels. As of April 2024, there are two solar panels rated as the most efficient solar panels for residential use:

  • Maxeon (sold through SunPower): Their SunPower Maxeon Residential AC 440 W model boasts a maximum efficiency rating of 22.8%.
  • Canadian Solar: Their Canadian Solar HiHero panel also reaches a top efficiency of 22.8%.

Multiple independent solar panel reviews confirm that these panels are among the most powerful on the market. But you should beware that they are expensive options. You can find many panels that exceed 22% peak efficiency for a more affordable price. The main thing to look at in descriptions is whether there are PV cells in solar panels.

You can find great panels from the REC Group, Panasonic Jinko Solar, and Silfab Solar. These are just some of the most well-known manufacturers for commercial and residential markets.

Wrapping Up:  Should You Purchase Solar Panels in Chicago?

This question is the next in line after the traditional “How efficient are solar panels compared to other energy sources?” or “How efficient are solar panels in the budget-friendly segment?”. We understand why you want answers to all those questions before purchasing the system. So, we gladly help you find the best solar panels in Chicago for your case.

While high-efficiency systems offer significant advantages, they aren’t always the best choice for everyone. High-power solar panels maximize limited space by generating the maximum possible power.

However, depending on your electricity rates and incentives, the cost savings from higher efficiency might not outweigh the initial investment. So, you should figure out how efficient solar panels are in your case beforehand.

We recommend collaborating with installers who can provide a solar panel comparison chart. It will ease the comparison so you can pick the most profitable option. High-efficiency panels suit you if your household consumes a lot of electricity.

Maximizing your solar power generation with the highest solar panel wattage can reduce your reliance on the grid and lead to substantial savings. It also suits you if you have a small roof since you can generate enough power without needing extra space for more panels.

Ultimately, the best choice for solar panels in Chicago depends on your priorities. Consider your budget, electricity usage, roof size, and long-term goals.

Ready to explore if solar panels in Chicago are right for you? Don’t waste another minute — get your free solar quote right away!

Frequently Asked Questions

How efficient are solar panels on cloudy days?

Solar systems still generate electricity on cloudy days, but their efficiency drops compared to bright sunshine. On cloudy days, you expect solar panels to produce approximately half of their standard power output.

How efficient are solar panels during rain?

Rain actually doesn’t have a significant negative impact on solar panel efficiency, as it doesn’t block all sunlight. Raindrops can act like tiny lenses, sometimes even concentrating the sunlight and temporarily increasing efficiency. Rain also cleans dust, dirt, pollen, and bird droppings from the panel’s surface. However, due to clouds in the sky, you’ll still see lower productivity, usually near 15-30%.

How efficient are the best solar panels?

The best commercial panels currently have an efficiency of 22.8%. If you are looking for highly efficient residential solar panels in Chicago, beware that the most potent options on the market are currently only 22.3%

How efficient are modern solar panels after 5-10 years of work?

You can expect a gradual decrease in efficiency of around 0.5% to 1% per year. So, after 10 years of hard work, their solar efficiency over time will fall just for 5-10%. If your new panel has 22% performance, after 10 years, it will demonstrate 20.5% efficiency.

How efficient are solar panels in winter in the Midwest?

Solar panels can be surprisingly efficient in winter months for the Midwest, even though there are fewer sunlight hours. Modern solar panels perform better in mid and cool temperatures. Hot summer days can cause panels to overheat, reducing their efficiency. Colder winter temperatures allow the panels to operate closer to their ideal range.

How efficient are solar panels in converting to electricity?

As of 2024, most panels provide efficiency from around 15% to 22.8%. It means a 20% efficient panel can convert 20% of the sunlight hitting it into usable electricity. Solar efficiency over time may degrade, typically by 0.5% to 1% per year.