Comparing top solar panel brands: SunPower vs LG, SolarWorld, Panasonic and Canadian Solar

top solar panel brands

When it comes to solar panel manufacturers, there is no shortage of options for homeowners in 2017. Solar panel technology is improving every year, and many solar panel companies offer products that boast both high conversion efficiency numbers as well as impressive long-term warranties. SunPower is the leader with regard to efficiency across the board while LG solar panels are known for top tier design and aesthetic, but companies like SolarWorld and Canadian Solar offer much more appealing prices for their solar panels. How do the top PV manufacturers stack up? We’ll help you compare and contrast your options among the industry leaders – SunPower, Panasonic, Canadian Solar, SolarWorld, LG.


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SunPower vs LG, SolarWorld and other Solar Panel Manufacturers

Solar Panel Brand  Average Efficiency (%) Average cost ($/watt) Product Warranty (years)
SunPower 20.6 3.79 25
LG 18.3 3.39 12
SolarWorld 16.7 3.20 20
Canadian Solar 15.7 3.05 10
Panasonic 19.6 3.26 25

1. SunPower: the leader of the pack

Widely considered to be the world’s best solar panel manufacturer, SunPower is responsible for some of the highest performing panel technology on the market in 2017. Compared to some of the more cost-competitive brands like SolarWorld and Canadian Solar, SunPower offers the most expensive solar panels you can buy.

What makes the price worth it: panel efficiency that tops all competitors by a significant margin. SunPower offers a world record high for panel efficiency upwards of 22% with an average efficiency rating of 20.6%. Fellow premium panel maker Panasonic is not far behind SunPower, offering average panel efficiency of 19.7%. However, SunPower’s impressive 25-year warranty, and the lowest equipment degradation rate on the market, sets the company apart. As a brand in PV manufacturing, SunPower has a lot of selling points. Overall, it’s safe to call this company the top panel firm in 2017.

 

top solar panel brands graphic

2. SolarWorld: massive market share, competitive prices

SolarWorld is technically a German company and has its headquarters located in Bonn, Germany. It’s also the biggest solar panel maker in the U.S. market and currently operates the largest cell manufacturing facilities in the nation. The company doesn’t offer the record-breaking efficiency that companies like Panasonic and SunPower can provide, but SolarWorld is at the forefront of PV innovation nonetheless. The manufacturer behemoth boasted a high of 21.5% for panel efficiency last year and prides itself on offering some of the most durable solar equipment in the world. When it comes to the bigger panel brands with quality warranties, SolarWorld also offers some of the best prices you can find. If they take their efficiency innovations to scale, SolarWorld will be able to compete with SunPower solar panels on multiple fronts.

3. LG: a premium/luxury solar product with lower prices than SunPower solar panels

Though LG is already a well known household name for electronics, the company is one of the newest panel makers out there. There are few companies who can compete with SunPower or Panasonic on an efficiency basis, but LG solar panels are still considered some of the best high-efficiency P products at 18.3% average efficiency. LG’s product specifications are even more attractive when paired with the company’s average cost per watt ($3.58), which is a full $0.50/watt cheaper than SunPower solar panels.

LG also offers sleek black panel design comparable to SunPower – a customer favorite in the U.S. solar market in terms of aesthetic. While there’s no comparison for SunPower’s 25-year warranty offering, LG does offer an above-average 12-year warranty. Overall, LG matches the national average for cost per watt while being considered a premium panel brand: a pretty impressive feat in the cutthroat PV industry.

Another competitor to SunPower in terms of efficiency is Canadian Solar, the manufacturing giant out of Canada that ranks 4th in terms of global market share for solar manufacturing. Canadian Solar is the largest provider on this list – it alone is responsible for over 150 MW of Germany’s installed solar to date.

4. Panasonic: lower price than SunPower with comparable efficiency

The Japanese electronics giant has become one of the most popular panel brands in the U.S., hitting the “sweet spot” between efficiency and affordability for many homeowners. Panasonic is only a small margin behind SunPower in terms of efficiency while maintaining a significant edge in terms of cost per watt and mirroring the 25-year product warranty that had helped SunPower stand out for many years.

Panasonic is known for its dynamic HIT™ technology that gives its products high solar panel efficiency and low temperature coefficient, both of which result in higher electricity production. While most solar panels use a single layer of monocrystalline or polycrystalline silicon, HIT™ panels use a combination of monocrystalline and ultra-thin amorphous silicon layers to maximize efficiency and limit heat energy loss. The surface of Panasonic’s panels also has a pyramid structure that can reduce reflection and direct more sunlight into the solar cells, maximizing electricity output.

5. Canadian solar: cheapest on price, lowest on efficiency

Headquartered in Guelph, Canada, Canadian Solar offers economy solar panels manufactured in China. In our top solar brands comparison, Canadian Solar came in on top in terms of affordability with an impressive $3.05 average cost per watt. In terms of quality and efficiency, Canadian Solar is more of an mid-tier brand and thus it received EnergySage’s Standard panel rating. For a larger system that doesn’t require maximum efficiency output, going with a brand like Canadian Solar will be a great choice that will certainly cost less upfront.

Making a decision, finding the best solar panel system

Though it may sound cliche, there’s really no bad choice among the leaders in solar manufacturing –the choice you make for your home is dependent on your priorities. Though SunPower may seem to be the undisputed complete package, their product may not prove reasonable in terms of affordability for the average homeowner.

Whether you value price, efficiency, warranty or aesthetic, there will be a clear best option for you when choosing your solar equipment. Ultimately, the point is to make sure you fully understand and can effectively compare your options. Try this guidance that we offer to any homeowner considering solar:

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.

 

top solar panel brands graphic

 

3 thoughts on “Comparing top solar panel brands: SunPower vs LG, SolarWorld, Panasonic and Canadian Solar

  1. czujniki meteorologiczne cena

    Howdy! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone!
    Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts!

    Keep up the great work!

    Reply
  2. Fong

    We are ready for a solar systems. I got two quotes and one gave us the detail of the equipment that we will be having (though I don’t know much about it in terms of quality and difference). The other quote I got from LA Solar and their contract is quite simple, didn’t list down what kind of equipment we need or will have. While the 1st quote from SD saying that we need a GMA and LA Solar saying that we don’t need one. Can you suggest what’s the best equipment we should ask for? Thank you for your time.

    Reply
    1. Luke Richardson Post author

      Hey there! We understand that there are a lot of equipment options to choose from and we want to help you make the best choice for your unique project. You can either take a look at our equipment related Learn Content or, if you’d like, our team of Solar Advisors are always standing by to help walk you through the entire process. You can call them at 888.802.98806 or email them at solarteam@energysage.com.

      Hope this helps!

      Reply

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