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 2017 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 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 proprietary EnergySage Ranking for all of the brands commonly quoted in the EnergySage Solar Marketplace.

The Top Solar Panels of 2017 by EnergySage Rating

Manufacturer

Efficiency Range (%)

Temperature Coefficient Range

Materials Warranty (Years)

EnergySage Ranking

Amerisolar 14.75% to 17.01% -0.43 12 Standard
Axitec 15.37% to 16.9% -0.44 to -0.4 12 Standard
BenQ Solar (AUO) 15.5% to 18.3% -0.42 to -0.3 10 Premium
Boviet Solar 15.4% to 17.5% -0.43 to -0.33 12 Standard
Canadian Solar 15.88% to 17.72% -0.41 10 Standard
CentroSolar 15.3% to 17.8% -0.44 to -0.42 10 Standard
China Sunergy 14.98% to 16.53% -0.42 to -0.408 10 Standard
ET Solar 15.37% to 17.52% -0.44 to -0.41 10 Standard
Grape Solar 16.21% to 17.64% -0.5 to -0.4 10 Standard
Green Brilliance 14.24% to 15.58% -0.45 5 Economy
Hanwha Q CELLS 15.9% to 18.3% -0.4 to -0.39 12 Standard
Hanwha SolarOne 14.7% to 16.2% -0.41 12 Standard
Heliene Inc. 15.6% to 19.3% -0.43 to -0.39 10 Standard
Hyundai 14.2% to 16.5% -0.45 to -0.43 5 Economy
Itek Energy 16.49% to 18.94% -0.47 10 Standard
JA Solar 15.5% to 18.35% -0.41 to -0.39 10 Standard
JinkoSolar 15.57% to 18.57% -0.4 to -0.39 10 Standard
Kyocera 14.75% to 16.11% -0.45 10 Standard
LG 16.8% to 21.1% -0.42 to -0.3 12 to 25 Premium
Mission Solar 15.98% to 18.36% -0.42 to -0.318 10 Standard
Mitsubishi Electric 16.3% to 16.9% -0.45 to -0.44 10 Standard
Panasonic 19% to 21.6% -0.3 to -0.29 25 Premium+
Peimar Group 15.4% to 18.4% -0.45 to -0.43 20 Premium
REC 14.5% to 17% -0.4 to -0.39 10 Standard
Recom Solar 16% to 19% -0.4 to -0.39 12 Standard
ReneSola 14.9% to 16.9% -0.43 to -0.4 10 Standard
Renogy Solar 15.3% to 18.5% -0.44 10 Standard
S-Energy 14.62% to 16.22% -0.43 to -0.301 10 Standard
Silfab 15.3% to 18.4% -0.42 to -0.38 12 Standard
Solaria 18.7% to 19.3% -0.4 25 Premium
SolarWorld 14.91% to 17.59% -0.43 to -0.4 20 Standard
Stion 12.4% to 14% -0.26 10 Economy
Suniva Inc 16.66% to 17.65% -0.42 10 Standard
SunPower 19.1% to 22.2% -0.38 to -0.3 25 Premium+
SunSpark Technology 15.2% to 16.1% -0.4 10 Standard
Talesun 16.1% to 18.2% -0.39 10 Standard
Trina Solar Energy 15.2% to 17.8% -0.41 to -0.39 10 Standard
Upsolar 16.2% to 19.1% -0.43 12 Standard

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 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. Many of the manufacturers 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. Let’s review our:

Three Tips for Solar Shoppers

  1. Homeowners who get multiple quotes save 10% or more

    As with any big ticket purchase, shopping for a solar panel installation takes a lot of research and consideration, including a thorough review of the companies in your area. A recent report by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recommended that consumers compare as many solar options as possible to avoid paying inflated prices offered by the large installers in the solar industry.

    To find the smaller contractors that typically offer lower prices, you’ll need to use an installer network like EnergySage. You can receive free quotes from vetted installers local to you when you register your property on our Solar Marketplace – homeowners who get 3 or more quotes can expect to save $5,000 to $10,000 on their solar panel installation.

  2. The biggest installers typically don’t offer the best price

    The bigger isn’t always better mantra is one of the main reasons we strongly encourage homeowners to consider all of their solar options, not just the brands large enough to pay for the most advertising. A recent report by the U.S. government found that large installers are $2,000 to $5,000 more expensive than small solar companies. If you have offers from some of the big installers in solar, make sure you compare those bids with quotes from local installers to ensure you don’t overpay for solar.

  3. Comparing all your equipment options is just as important

    National-scale installers don’t just offer higher prices – they also tend to have fewer solar equipment options, which can have a significant impact on your system’s electricity production. By collecting a diverse array of solar bids, you can compare costs and savings based on the different equipment packages available to you.

    There are multiple variables to consider when seeking out the best solar panels on the market. While certain panels will have higher efficiency ratings than others, investing in top-of-the-line solar equipment doesn’t always result in higher savings. The only way to find the “sweet spot” for your property is to evaluate quotes with varying equipment and financing offers.

For any homeowner in the early stage of shopping for solar that would just like a ballpark estimate for an installation, try our Solar Calculator that offers up front cost and long term savings estimates based on your location and roof type. For those looking to get quotes from local contractors today, check out our quote comparison platform.





Don



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.

    Reply
    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.

      Reply

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