When choosing a solar panel brand, there are a number of factors to consider, from efficiency, to temperature coefficient, to warranties. But a growing number of people also care about where their solar panels are manufactured, especially as supply chain constraints lead to installation delays. So, who are the biggest solar companies in the world and in the U.S.? We reviewed global shipping data and solar panel specifications to determine who comes out on top.
- The top 3 global manufacturers are LONGi Solar, Tongwei Solar, and JA Solar.
- Most solar panels are manufactured in China, but some companies in Canada and the U.S. are gaining traction.
- Some well known solar panel companies with manufacturing facilities in the U.S. include: LG Solar, CertainTeed, Q CELLS, Silfab Solar, JinkoSolar, Solaria, and Tesla.
- While location of manufacture may be important to you, it’s also important to consider factors such as price, efficiency, brand, quality, and more.
- Use the EnergySage Marketplace to receive free, custom quotes from solar installers near you.
What’s in this article?
The top 10 solar manufacturers in the world
Based on solar panel shipment capacity in gigawatts (GW), here are the top 10 solar panel manufacturers in the world:
|Company||Location||Most popular model||Warranty|
|LONGi Solar||China||LONGi LR4-60HPH 355M||12 years|
|Tongwei Solar||China||PERC SOLAR CELL 166 9BB BIFACIAL||10 years|
|JA Solar||China||JA PERC JAM72S01-385/PR||12 years|
|Aiko Solar||China||12BB Bifacial Mono PERC Cell||10 years|
|Trina Solar||China||Trina Trina TallMax TallMax-TSM410||25 years|
|Jinko Solar||China||Jinko Eagle 72HM G2 JKM405M-72HL-V||10 years|
|Canadian Solar||Canada||Canadian Solar Inc. HikuBlack CS3N-395MS Mono Perc||25 years|
|Zhongli||China||BIPRO TD8G66M 12BB||12 years|
|Suntech||China||Suntech HIPower STP405S-A72||12 years|
|First Solar||USA||First FS-6440 FS-6440A||30 years|
There were some major changes over the past few years, including some new leaders in solar manufacturing who were once no names in the PV industry. JA Solar is grabbing market share with a passion while Q CELLS has slumped. The question for you as a solar shopper: should you care if your solar panels are made by one of the big 10 manufacturers in the world? Are American made solar panels truly the better product when the majority of manufacturers are located elsewhere? Here’s our breakdown of each of these top manufacturers
Headquartered in Xi’An China, LONGi Solar is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of high-efficiency monocrystalline solar cells and panels. LONGi was founded in 2000 and in 2020 shipped 14.7 gigawatts (GW). Based on PV-Tech’s Q4 2021 bankability report, LONGi is the only company to achieve its highest bankability rating. To learn more, check out LONGi Solar’s supplier profile.
Founded in 2009, Tongwei Solar is one of the largest crystalline silicon solar cell production companies in the world. Tongwei Solar has four locations in China and is a subsidiary of the large agricultural product company Tongwei Group. They manufacture both polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar cells and panels, shipping 12.1 GW in 2020.
JA Solar was founded in 2005 and their first manufacturing hub was built in Fengxian, China, where their main manufacturing hub now lives. They produce budget solar panels with half-cell technology that fall in the mid-range for efficiency – although they do outperform most of their mid-range competitors. In 2020, JA Solar shipped 10.8 GW. To learn more, take a look at JA Solar’s supplier profile.
Total shipment capacity: 10.5 GW
Aiko Solar specializes in the manufacturing of PERC solar cells. Based in China, Aiko makes three primary products: a 210 millimeter (mm), 182mm, and 166mm PERC cell, with the 210mm product being the newest, coming to market in 2020.
Total shipment capacity: 9.0 GW
Founded in 1997, Trina Solar is a Chinese solar production company with solar products suitable for residential, commercial, and utility-scale projects. Recent company developments include the launch of a 210mm silicon cell panel (their Vertex series) and a solar tracking product for large-scale installations.
Total shipment capacity: 8.7 GW
JinkoSolar produces a wide range of solar and storage products for use across solar projects of all sizes. Recently, JinkoSolar opened a manufacturing location in Jacksonville, FL to help meet U.S. demand for their products.
Total shipment capacity: 8.3 GW
Its name gives it away, but Canadian Solar is a solar manufacturer originally founded (and still headquartered) in Ontario, Canada. Aside from a wide range of solar modules, Canadian Solar also produces and sells inverters and energy storage solutions.
Total shipment capacity: 7.4 GW
Zhongli is a Chinese technology conglomerate that owns Talesun Solar (founded in 2010), a leading PV manufacturer worldwide. Zhongli/Talesun produces both bifacial and monofacial solar modules.
Total shipment capacity: 6.3 GW
SunTech (or SunTech Power) is a Chinese company with 21 years of experience in solar manufacturing. They produce mainly high-powered solar modules designed for large commercial, industrial, and utility-scale installation projects.
Total shipment capacity: 5.5 GW
The lone U.S. company on our list, First Solar is also unique in that they produce thin-film solar panels (as opposed to the crystalline panels most other major manufacturers focus on). First Solar uses cadmium telluride (CdTe) as their semiconductor in their modules.
How to compare the best solar energy companies in the world
Because solar panel manufacturer rankings are based on the total volume of solar panels that the companies ship, being in the top position does not necessarily mean they offer the highest quality panel. Some of the smaller manufacturers specialize in premium products, whereas most of the larger manufacturers have gotten to where they are by either making a panel for the high volume market or by focusing their efforts on large-scale projects. That being said, a company’s proven ability to produce and sell a large amount of product is testimony to its brand’s credibility, buildng trust among consumers and installers alike.
The important thing for you to keep in mind as a solar shopper is the ability to differentiate between them to find the panel that best suits your needs and budget. To this end, EnergySage has developed a solar panel quality ranking system of our own so that our customers can confidently choose a panel and manufacturer.
If you’re interested in learning more about how panels are ranked, visit our Solar Decision Guide. When it comes to metrics like solar panel efficiency, the simple cost per watt of a single solar panel is not a unit of measure that can stand on its own. It’s important to understand the conversion potential of your panels as a way to decide which brand to go with. SunPower, for example, is heralded for its impressive conversion efficiency which has regularly fluctuated over the past 10 years for holding the world record. That being said, SunPower panels are much more expensive than a cheaper brand such as AXITEC and thus the size of your solar system and panel output will help you decide what will generate the most solar savings and most immediate payback period.
Where are the best solar panels being made?
The simple answer to this commonly asked question is East Asia, and you will notice that the majority of the top ten manufacturers are Chinese as the bulk of global solar panels are manufactured there. East Asia has become the solar manufacturing hub of the world and the latest emerging trend is that companies outside of China are starting to have success, including Canadian Solar.
As we’ve noted before, however, a panel’s country of manufacture is not usually the most important consideration for someone going solar. Instead, most people will find a balance between cost and quality, with a panel’s country of manufacture being a secondary consideration – a possible deal-breaker. For some homeowners, the importance of energy independence is a major factor when considering what brand of panels they would prefer. Though we at EnergySage support American companies and sustainability of the U.S. nation, we do recommend getting advice from your installer and considering their suggestions. After all, they will have the most up to date experience with long term efficiency, maintenance and durability of various solar panel brands and will also know which models are most popular on the market.
What are the top companies making solar panels in the U.S.?
Though the large majority of solar manufacturers import their equipment from southeast Asia (even in the case of leading American solar companies like SunPower), there is a short list of American solar companies that actually make their solar panels here in the U.S. It’s important to note that not all of these companies have headquarters in the U.S., but they all have manufacturing facilities – or obtain their panels from companies that have manufacturing facilities – in the U.S.
Top American solar companies
|Company||Headquarters||U.S. location||Types of panels offered||Power warranty|
|CertainTeed||USA||San Jose, CA||Monocrystalline||10 years|
|Crossroads Solar||USA||South Bend, IN||Monocrystalline||10 years|
|First Solar||USA||Perrysburg/Lake Township, OH||Thin film||12 years|
|GAF Energy||USA||San Jose, CA||Shingle||25 years|
|Q CELLS||South Korea||Dalton, GA||Monocrystalline||25 years|
|Heliene||Canada||Mountain Iron, MN & Riviera Beach, FL||Monocrystalline & polycrystalline||15 years|
|JinkoSolar||China||Jacksonville, FL||Half-cell technology & monocrystalline||25 years|
|LG Solar||South Korea||Huntsville, AL||Monocrystalline||25 years|
|Merlin Solar||USA||San Jose, CA||Monocrystalline||15 years|
|Mission Solar||USA||San Antonio, TX||Monocrystalline||25 years|
|Next Energy Alliance||USA||Riverside, CA||Monocrystalline||10 years|
|Silfab Solar||Canada||Bellingham, WA & Burlington, WA||Monocrystalline||25 years|
|Solaria||USA||Fremont, CA||Monocrystalline||25 years|
|Tesla||USA||Buffalo, NY||Monocrystalline & shingle||25 years|
Part of these data were obtained from Solar Power World.
Who are the biggest solar installers in the U.S.?
Most companies that manufacture solar panels don’t install the panels themselves. In the U.S., the biggest solar installation companies are Sunrun and Tesla – and Tesla also manufactures their solar panels in the U.S. To connect with our network of local solar installers, sign up for free quotes on the EnergySage Marketplace.
Frequently asked questions about solar panel companies
The top 10 solar panel companies globally with the highest shipment capacity are, in order, LONGi Solar, Tongwei, JA Solar, Aiko Solar, Trina Solar, JinkoSolar, Canadian Solar, Zhongli, Suntech, and First Solar.
As noted earlier, China is the largest producer of solar panels worldwide. In 2017, the nation’s market share reached 51% and has since declined to just 27% in 2019—this indicates that new countries are producing and installing solar panels at a higher rate in a short period of time. As for the company with the largest production rate, JinkoSolar, headquartered in Shanghai, China, ranked first according to the most recent data.
When you select an installer, you want to know that it’s a reputable company, with a strong track record, that has all the licenses and certifications required in your state, and with the expertise to design a solar panel system that’s right for your needs.
Picking between solar installers can be a daunting task, but EnergySage is here to help. We vet the installers that quote on our Marketplace, present installer-specific differentiators in the quotes you see, and have created a badge tier system that helps you find the top solar installers in your area.
Visit the EnergySage Marketplace to explore solar quotes
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 upfront 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.