What Are The Best Solar Panels on the Market? The Complete Ranking

best solar panels 2016 graphic

Finding the best solar panels for your home can feel like a daunting challenge. There are more than a hundred different brands of solar panels and other equipment on the market at any given point.

What are the Best Solar Panels Available Today?

Generally speaking, SunPower, LG and Panasonic are the best solar panels on the market in 2016 due to the efficiency, price and stellar 25 year warranty offered by each brand. SunPower is widely considered the best solar manufacturer with module efficiencies upwards of 22%.

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How can you determine which of these top companies’ panel models offer the right combination of price and quality for your needs? To solve this problem, EnergySage developed a proprietary rating system for solar panels that helps you make sense out of the many options available on the market today. To do this, we combed through the detailed technical specifications for every panel manufactured by the 25 most popular companies on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace. In total, we assessed nearly a thousand panel models.

With this information, we then evaluated over 25 variables for each panel’s performance, quality, durability, and warranties to give each a tailored ranking, ranging from Economy on the low end to Premium + on the high end. The table below contains the very best solar panels we found out of our list of nearly one thousand, sorted by our proprietary EnergySage Rating.

The Best Solar Panels of 2016 by EnergySage Rating

Manufacturer & Model EnergySage Rating Efficiency (%) Temperature Coefficient (%/°C) Materials Warranty (Years)
SunPower SPR-X20-327-COM Premium + 20.3 -0.3 25
SunPower SPR-X21-335-BLK Premium + 21.1 -0.3 25
SunPower SPR-X21-345 Premium + 21.5 -0.3 25
SunPower SPR-X21-345-COM Premium + 21.5 -0.3 25
SunPower SPR-X21-327-COM Premium + 20.3 -0.3 25
SunPower SPR-X21-345-COM Premium + 21.5 -0.3 25
SunPower SPR-X22-360 Premium + 22.2 -0.3 25
SunPower SPR-X22-360-C-AC Premium + 22.2 -0.3 25
SunPower SPR-X22-360-COM Premium + 22.2 -0.3 25
SunPower SPR-E19-235 Premium 19.3 -0.38 25
SunPower SPR-E19-310-COM Premium 19.3 -0.38 25
SunPower SPR-E19-320 Premium 19.8 -0.38 25
SunPower SPR-E19-410-COM Premium 19.1 -0.38 25
SunPower SPR-E20-245 Premium 20 -0.38 25
SunPower SPR-E20-245 Premium 19.1 -0.38 25
SunPower SPR-E20-327 Premium 20.4 -0.38 25
SunPower SPR-E20-327-COM Premium 20.4 -0.38 25
SunPower SPR-E20-435-COM Premium 20.3 -0.38 25
Panasonic VBHN240SA11 Premium 19 -0.3 15
Panasonic VBHN325SA16 Premium 19.4 -0.29 15
Panasonic VBHN330SA16 Premium 19.7 -0.29 15
CentroSolar CM60 290 Standard + 17.8 -0.427 10
LG LG300N1K-G4 Standard + 18.3 -0.38 12
LG LG305N1C-G4 Standard + 18.6 -0.38 12
LG LG310N1C-G4 Standard + 18.9 -0.38 12
LG LG315N1C-G4 Standard + 19.2 -0.38 12
LG LG320N1C-G4 Standard + 19.5 -0.38 12
LG LG360N2W-B3 Standard + 18.4 -0.41 12
LG LG365N2W-B3 Standard + 18.6 -0.41 12
Renogy Solar RNG-270P Standard + 18.5 -0.44 10
Renogy Solar RNG-300P Standard + 17.8 -0.44 10
Silfab SLA-290M Standard + 17.8 -0.38 12
Silfab SLA-X-295 Clear Standard + 18.1 -0.42 12
Silfab SLA-X-295 White Standard + 18.1 -0.42 12
Silfab SLA-X-300 White Standard + 18.4 -0.42 12
Silfab SLG-X-350 White Standard + 18 -0.42 12
Silfab SSA-290M Standard + 17.8 -0.38 12
SunEdison F255 Standard + 15.5 -0.45 25
SunEdison F260 Standard + 15.8 -0.45 25
SunEdison F265 Standard + 16.1 -0.45 25
SunEdison F270 Standard + 16.4 -0.45 25
SunEdison F275 Standard + 16.8 -0.45 25
SunEdison F280 Standard + 16.8 -0.45 25
Trina Solar Energy TSM-345DD14A(II) Standard + 17.8 -0.39 10

How EnergySage Developed Its “Best Solar Panels” Ranking

When searching for the best solar panels for your home, you should take into consideration a panel’s performance, quality, durability, and warranties. There are three major technical specifications that can help you as you make your decision: panel efficiency, temperature coefficient, and the materials warranty. To develop our ranking of the best solar panels, EnergySage evaluated these metrics for all of the solar panels offered by the top 25 manufacturers in the EnergySage Solar Marketplace.

Solar panel efficiency

Solar panel efficiency refers to how well your solar panel can convert sunlight into usable electricity. A higher efficiency rating is better, because it means that your solar panel is able to convert more of the sunlight it captures into electricity. The best solar panels available on the market today are SunPower’s X-Series Residential Solar Panels, which are 22% efficient and received a Premium + rating from EnergySage.

Temperature coefficient

The temperature coefficient tells you how well your solar panels will perform in less-than-ideal conditions. Solar panels are like any other kind of electronic equipment: they operate most efficiently when they are kept cool (ideally around 25° C or 77° F). The temperature coefficient gives you a sense of how your panel’s performance will degrade during hot summer days. For every degree above 25° C (or 77° F), your solar panel’s electricity production will decrease by the temperature coefficient. A lower temperature coefficient is better.

For example, Panasonic’s VBHN240SA11 model has a temperature coefficient of -0.3 %/°C. This means that if your solar panel’s temperature increases by one degree Celsius (from 25° C to 26° C), its electricity production will fall by 0.3%. If the temperature increases ten degrees Celsius to 35° C (or 95° F), the panel will produce three percent less electricity. While 95° F might seem high to you, remember that the surface of your roof can get much hotter than the air around it when the sun is beating down on it.

Materials warranty

Whether you’re buying a new TV, a car, or solar panels for your roof, you should expect the manufacturer to stand behind their product with a strong warranty. A solar panel’s materials warranty (sometimes referred to as the product or equipment warranty) protects you against equipment failures due to manufacturing defects or environmental issues.

Most companies offer at least a 10-year materials warranty, but the best solar panel manufacturers will guarantee against equipment failures for 15 or even 25 years. Almost all of the panels in our ranking offer a materials warranty of more than 10 years.

How to Find the Best Price on Your Solar Panels

If you want the best solar panels on the market, you’re going to pay a higher price. The panels listed above received our highest ranking, but the “best” solar panels aren’t always the right ones for your home. If your roof is small and you don’t have a lot of space for your system, investing in the most efficient, highest-performing panels can get you the performance you need. However, if you have enough space for a larger system, installing slightly less efficient panels can give you the performance you need at a more competitive price.

The #1 way to determine whether Premium + or other high-performing panels are worth the investment for you is to review multiple solar system quotes before making a decision. When you compare all of your options on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace, you can find the right combination of price and quality that maximizes your 20-year savings. For some, that might mean installing a solar PV system full of 22% efficiency panels. For others, installing 17% efficiency panels with a reasonable temperature coefficient and strong materials warranty can actually save them more over the long term. EnergySage’s qualified solar installers and easy-to-use comparison tables can help you find the option that’s best for your home. To get started, we recommend trying our free Solar Calculator to get an instant estimate of the economics of solar for your home.


3 thoughts on “What Are The Best Solar Panels on the Market? The Complete Ranking

  1. Roy

    I being to research solar & have been given quotes of $39k for 46 Axitec 320W PV panels producing 14.72kW & another quote at $12K for18 Hyundai 290W PERL producing 5.22kW. As a novice, I am absolutely confuse as to the difference is size of the systems. The smaller system installer claims 46 panel are overkill & do not take full advantage of the roofs orientation to the sun. I have been doing research & have even looked at the local colleges & universities for a class(es) in solar energy. To date I have not been able to get a clear/good answer/explanation as to what system would be best.

    1. Frank@AWS-Solar

      @Roy I understand your pain and sometimes with the solar jargon it is very hard for a novice to make a comparison between two solutions.
      Let see what you have so far:
      Solution A: 46 panels of 320W each so the system size is 14720 Watts or 14.72 KW ( 1 KW=1,000W). Based on your location, orientation, tilt and azimuth the output of the system over a full year will vary a lot. An easy tool to use is to have some information about the production is http://pvwatts.nrel.gov/
      To calculate the price/Watt in this case we will use 39K/14.72KW= 2.65$/Watt
      Solution B: 18 panels of 290W = 5.22KW again the production for a full year varies with your location, orientation…. and the price/watt is 12K/ 5.22KW= 2.29 $/watt.
      Which one is better for you? I will say is based on your consumption, electricity price, your budget.


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