best solar panels 2018 graphic

What are the best solar panels available? Top brands and products compared

Reading Time: 4 minutes

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 solar equipment on the market at any given point. In this article, we’ll discuss how solar panel manufacturers stack up to one another, and who makes the best solar panels.

Find out what solar panels cost in your area in 2021

Best solar panels: key takeaways

  • LG, Panasonic, REC, and Sunpower are widely considered to be some of the top solar panel companies
  • Make sure to consider efficiency, price, and warranty when comparing panel options
  • Register on the EnergySage Marketplace to compare solar quotes with high-quality solar panels

Best solar panels for home installation

There are many solar panels available to purchase and install. Out of all the companies currently making solar panels, the top names most often associated with the best solar panels on the market are:

  • SunPower
  • LG
  • REC
  • Panasonic
  • Silfab
  • Canadian Solar
  • JinkoSolar
  • Trina Solar

Generally speaking, SunPower, LG, REC, and Panasonic make some of the best solar panels in 2020 due to the high efficiencies, competitive pricing, and stellar 25-year warranty offered by each brand. These companies combine durability and reliability with premium protection and fair prices, making them the brands with the best solar panels available.

In almost all cases, the best solar panels are made with premium monocrystalline solar cells. Monocrystalline cells are made with a single crystal of silicon instead of many silicon fragments melted together, as is the case with polycrystalline cells. This means that the cells are more efficient at converting sunlight to electricity, plus they have a sleek black tint to them. However, it’s important to keep in mind that premium solar panels with monocrystalline cells generally come with a higher upfront price tag.

Best solar panels ranked by efficiency

A solar panel’s efficiency is a measure of how well it converts sunlight into electricity. Based only on maximum module efficiency, here are the top five manufacturers that make the best solar panels:

Best solar panels by efficiency

RankManufacturerPanel efficiency

Best solar panels ranked by temperature coefficient

A solar panel’s temperature coefficient is a measure of how much or little a panel’s production is lowered in hot temperatures. Based only on the lowest temperature coefficient available in a panel, here are the top four best solar panel manufacturers:

Best solar panels by temperature coefficient

RankManufacturerTemperature coefficient
3Solartech Universal-0.26
4SunSpark Technology-0.28

Best solar panels ranked by materials warranty

A solar panel’s materials warranty (or equipment warranty) protects against equipment failure due to environmental factors or manufacturing defects. Based only on the longest materials warranties available from solar companies, here are the best solar panel manufacturers:

As shown above, all of the top solar panel manufacturers ranked by materials warranty offer the same length of warranty, setting this tier of companies apart. For reference, the industry standard for panel materials warranties is 10 years.

What are the best solar companies today? Which manufacturers make the best panels?

How can you determine which of the top companies’ panel models offer the right combination of price and quality for your needs? To solve this problem, EnergySage combed through the detailed technical specifications for every panel manufactured by the most popular companies on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace. In total, we assessed over a thousand panel models.

The top solar panel manufacturers

ManufacturerEfficiency rangeTemperature coefficient rangeMaterials warranty
Amerisolar14.75% to 17.01%-0.43 to -0.4312 years
Aptos Solar Technology18.85% to 20.65%-0.4 to -0.3625 years
Astronergy18.1% to 19.1%-0.38 to -0.3810 years
Axitec15.37% to 19.41%-0.44 to -0.3912 years
AXITEC, LLC18.96% to 20.45%-0.39 to -0.3915 years
BenQ Solar (AUO)15.5% to 18.3%-0.42 to -0.3910 years
Boviet Solar16.5% to 17.5%-0.4 to -0.412 years
Canadian Solar15.88% to 19.91%-0.41 to -0.3710 years
CentroSolar15.3% to 17.8%-0.44 to -0.4210 years
CertainTeed Solar17.2% to 19.9%-0.42 to -0.3710 years
China Sunergy14.98% to 16.53%-0.42 to -0.4110 years
ET Solar15.67% to 19.07%-0.44 to -0.4110 years
First Solar17% to 18.3%-0.32 to -0.3212 years
Grape Solar16.21% to 17.64%-0.5 to -0.410 years
Green Brilliance14.24% to 15.58%-0.45 to -0.455 years
Hansol14.97% to 18.05%-0.45 to -0.4110 years
Hanwha19.3% to 20.3%-0.35 to -0.3512 years
Heliene15.6% to 19.3%-0.43 to -0.3910 years
JA Solar15.8% to 20.4%-0.4 to -0.3512 years
JinkoSolar18.67% to 20.38%-0.39 to -0.3510 years
Kyocera14.75% to 16.11%-0.45 to -0.4510 years
LG18.4% to 22%-0.4 to -0.2925 years
LONGi18.2% to 20.9%-0.37 to -0.3510 years
Mission Solar Energy18.05% to 19.35%-0.38 to -0.3812 years
Neo Solar Power16% to 17%-0.42 to -0.4210 years
Panasonic19.1% to 21.2%-0.26 to -0.2625 years
Peimar19.05% to 19.05%-0.4 to -0.420 years
Phono Solar15.66% to 18.44%-0.45 to -0.412 years
QCELLS17.1% to 20.6%-0.39 to -0.3512 years
REC16.5% to 21.7%-0.37 to -0.2620 years
RECOM16.29% to 19.36%-0.4 to -0.3912 years
ReneSola14.9% to 16.9%-0.43 to -0.410 years
Renogy Solar15.3% to 18.5%-0.44 to -0.4410 years
RGS Energy15.6% to 17.1%-0.45 to -0.4511 years
Risen16.3% to 19.6%-0.39 to -0.3912 years
S-Energy15.61% to 19.8%-0.4 to -0.3610 years
Seraphim15.67% to 17.52%-0.43 to -0.4210 years
Silfab17.6% to 19.7%-0.38 to -0.3625 years
Solaria19.4% to 20.5%-0.39 to -0.3925 years
Solartech Universal19% to 19.9%-0.26 to -0.2615 years
SunPower16.5% to 22.8%-0.38 to -0.2925 years
SunSpark Technology18.84% to 18.84%-0.28 to -0.2812 years
Talesun16.9% to 20.6%-0.39 to -0.3610 years
Trina16.2% to 20.4%-0.41 to -0.3710 years
Upsolar16.5% to 19.4%-0.43 to -0.412 years
Vikram Solar16.52% to 17.55%-0.38 to -0.3810 years
Winaico18.54% to 19.4%-0.38 to -0.3825 years

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 A-Series Residential Solar Panels, which are 22.8% efficient at their maximum.

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, LG’s LG350Q1C-A5 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.

Keep in mind that while not taken into account in this rating, solar panels also come with a 25-year performance warranty as well. Manufacturers typically guarantee that their panels will produce electricity at 80-90% of their original output at the end of that warranty period.

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:

core solar content
zip code entry solar calculator
Find out what solar panels cost in your area in 2021

82 thoughts on “What are the best solar panels available? Top brands and products compared

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *