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%.
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|
|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.
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.
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. Let’s review our:
Three Tips for Solar Shoppers
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.
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.
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.