top solar panel companies and manufacturers

What are the top solar panel companies & manufacturers?

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Who are the top solar companies in the world and in the USA? Industry analysts from SPV, SEIA and other organizations offer their top rankings, based on updated shipping forecasts from each of the companies included. *Note: if you are looking for information about the Trump Administration’s tariff on U.S. solar panel imports, read our complete analysis here.


The top 3 solar manufacturers

Currently the top 3 solar manufacturers in the world are JinkoSolar, JA Solar, and Trina Solar (respectively) determined by market share among panel manufacturing companies. The biggest solar installation companies in the U.S. are Sunrun and Tesla.

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 Hanwha 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 the best solar manufacturers around the globe.

How to compare the best solar energy companies in the world

Because 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, engendering 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 Canadian Solar and thus the size of your 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 United States and are headquartered in the country.

Here is the breakdown of U.S. solar companies:

  • Auxin Solar
  • Certainteed Solar
  • First Solar
  • Global Solar
  • GreenBrilliance
  • Lumos Solar
  • Prism Solar
  • Seraphim Solar
  • Solar Electric America
  • Solaria
  • SolarTech Universal
  • SolSuntech
  • SunPower
  • SunSpark
  • Tesla/Panasonic

Notably, Tesla and Panasonic each began manufacturing U.S. solar panels in late 2017. The two companies are now producing Tesla’s new solar roof product and low profile solar panels at its large manufacturing plant in Buffalo, known as the Gigafactory.

The top 10 list of solar panel manufacturers (global)

A big part of calculating solar panel quality is understanding the metrics and factors that determine it such as module efficiency and performance. Check out this solar panel analysis to better understand significant characteristics that will impact your solar panel performance. Also notable is the fact that not every company that made this list has a significant share of the US residential solar power market.

Included in the table below are the solar panel manufacturers with the largest global market share in 2020, based on sales in 2019. This is the most recent data available.

 Top solar panel manufacturers

2018 RankCompanyHeadquarters
1LONGi SolarChina
2JinkoSolarChina
3JA SolarChina
4Trina SolarChina
5Canadian SolarCanada
6Hanwha Q-CELLSSouth Korea
7Risen EnergyChina
8AstroenergyChina
9First SolarUSA
10SuntechChina

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 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.

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60 thoughts on “What are the top solar panel companies & manufacturers?

  1. Fred

    In an ideal world, reducing ENTROPY would guide ALL energy decisions. We should focus on improving efficiency within energy consuming systems, locally and globally, before we pursue any increase in energy resource production.
    If one adds up the combined energy consumed due to mineral extraction (Cu, AL, Fe, Si, transportation to factory, smelting, fabricating, transport to site, etc.) and the CO2 intensive coal fired plants used to manufacture silicon wafers (combined with the environmental impacts of HCl wastes, mineral tailings from manufacturing wafers), you will question whether we attain a positive net energy with PV panels.
    Environmental degradation from PV production systems (entropy) will eventually impose a future “entropy restoration cost” on the society (requiring consumption of even more energy and resources). Picture a mouse chasing its tail…
    If we reduce energy losses due to inefficient, insulation, transfer systems and energy storage systems, match renewable resource sites to appropriate energy density sites (photovoltaics to high solar density areas for example) we will reduce overall entropy as well as maximize our economic return on investments. Does it make sense to deploy photovoltaic arrays in New England as opposed to Arizona?
    “You can pay me now or pay me later” for production and use inefficiencies, but as China, Korea and other “producers” have found the entropy created in the environment will extract a future cost that will, again, consume energy and resources to repair.

    Reply
  2. Terry Orzechowski

    Does any manufacturer of the Solar Panel use solar power exclusively to make Solar Panels? If not how can I be certain that it does not take more fossil fuel energy to make the panels than I will get out of the panels?

    Reply
    1. AOK

      “Does any manufacturer of the Solar Panel use solar power exclusively to make Solar Panels?” No.

      “If not how can I be certain that it does not take more fossil fuel energy to make the panels than I will get out of the panels?” This is a complex response. In an attempt to simplify, you will be generating electricity for a minimum of several decades with energy generated from the sun, from equipment that was manufactured once. It is not a fair comparison to think about in terms of the energy to manufacture the modules, but rather the fossil fuels that are no longer generating the equivalent amount of electricity over the ensuing decades. Over the lifetime of the system, there is a significant reduction in fossil fuels use.

      Reply
      1. AHM

        The answer to this question is rather simple. You look at the energy payback time. There are several studies published on the subject and all of them are more or less in agreement. To the best of my recollection, the energy payback time for c-Si is about 3 years while that for CdTe is close to 1.5 years or less. These panels will efficiently produce electricity for at least 25 years. Do solar panels produce the energy over its lifetime that it requires to be manufactured is more like a 1980s question.

      2. BrianA

        A lot of manufacturing equipment is 480 three phase. I would assume that its dependent on if there is enough room on the roof to have enough panels to handle that need.
        I would assume that most of the solar on the roof of the plant supports the lights and all other 120 volt items in the building.

    2. John McCullough

      What if a Solar Panel manufacturer figured out how to use diesel fuel produced by plastic pyrolysis. Seems like it could be a win-win.

      Reply
      1. Michael Whitney

        Best case long term would be to manufacture in a location that would allow for a hydroelectric plant in the vicinity and use a small solar array for backup. Excess solar could be sent to the grid and loads for the factory and potentially local area could be covered by the hydro.

    3. Hayden Mullen

      It generally takes 6 months to 1 year for panels to offset the carbon created from manufacturing. Former Blue Raven Solar installer.

      Reply

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