With renewable energy from the sun becoming easier to tap into, 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 such as battery storage 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 highest quality panels for your home solar panel installation.
This is an unbiased review: We’re experts with years of experience in the solar industry and base this article on expert opinions and factual, credible findings available when this article was written and published. Additionally, EnergySage is not paid to review brands or products, nor do we earn money from affiliate advertising in this article. Learn more about our mission and how we make money as a company.
Best solar panels: key takeaways
- 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
What’s in this article?
- Best solar panels for home installation
- Best solar panel ranking factors
- Best solar panels by efficiency
- Best solar panels by temperature coefficient
- Best solar panels by materials warranty
- Best solar panels for your region and climate
- How many solar panels do you need for your home’s size?
- What are the best solar companies today?
- Solar panel durability
- EnergySage’s best solar panel ranking system
2023 best solar panels for home installation
There are many photovoltaic solar panels available to purchase and install. Out of all the companies currently making solar energy systems, the top names most often associated with the best solar panels on the market are:
- SunPower: best efficiency and warranty rating
- REC: best innovation for half-cut cell technology
- Q CELLS
- AXITEC: best pricing
- Canadian Solar
- Trina Solar
Generally speaking, SunPower, REC, and Panasonic make some of the best solar panels 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. If you’re interested in learning more about a specific panel brand – like Panasonic or Silfab – be sure to read our complete expert review for more information. It is important to keep in mind that while solar panels cost a significant amount upfront, going for higher quality and efficient products is a strong investment in the long run. There are also an increasing number of companies in the solar panel space including Tesla, which has yet to release competitively efficient products.
Overall best solar panels by feature
|Manufacturer||Panel Efficiency||Temperature Coefficient||Price *||Warranty Period|
|SunPower||22.8%||-0.29||$18,720 to $22,440||25 years|
|REC||21.9%||-0.26||$13,920 to $18,600||25 years|
|Panasonic||21.7%||-0.26||$14,640 to $18,600||25 years|
|Q CELLS||21.4%||-0.34||$13,920 to $18,960||25 years|
|AXITEC||20.45%||-0.26||$13,020 to $16,980||25 years|
|Silfab||21.4%||-0.36||$14,700 to $18,540 ||25 years|
|Solaria||20.5%||-0.39||$14,760 to $18,240||25 years|
|Mission Solar||19.35%||-0.35||$13,500 to $16,140||25 years|
|LA Solar Group||20.6%||-0.37||$14,100 to $14,700 ||25 years|
|Canadian Solar||20.6%||-0.35||$16,200 to $19,200||15 years|
|Jinko Solar||21.33%||-0.35||$13,500 to $17,820||25 years|
|Trina Solar||20.4%||-0.36||$13,860 to $20,340||25 years|
*Prices show the range between a 6-10kW system multiplied by the average $/W per brand before federal or state discount programs, tax incentives, or rebates.
Keep reading to explore our top four choices for consumer solar power options:
SunPower (also now known as Maxeon) solar panels have one of the best efficiency ratings available on the market today, making them a popular choice for both residential and commercial installations. In addition to that, they are also more affordable than customers may initially expect. While the temperature coefficient of SunPower panels could be lower, they are an ideal choice for installs that have limited space and need to maximize it.
Read customer reviews and compare SunPower products using the EnergySage buyer’s guide.
REC is a European-based solar company that produces a range of solar products. Their newest series, Alpha Black, has an impressive temperature coefficient rate compared to other panels. The half-cut cell technology and twin panel layout that REC uses boost efficiency for their panels, making them some of the best large solar panels for homes.
Aside from their efficiency, REC produces some of the best inexpensive solar panels, and their Alpha Black series is popular with homeowners who have an eye for aesthetics. With black cells, frames, and backsheets, these panels blend well with darker roofs and are less conspicuous. REC solar panels also come paired with Enphase microinverters.
Read customer reviews and compare REC products using the EnergySage buyer’s guide.
Panasonic is known for producing many of the electronics found in U.S. homes. What many solar consumers may not realize is that Panasonic has been an active leader in solar technology since the 1970s as Sanyo. Last year, Panasonic announced that they would be outsourcing their solar panel manufacturing in order to focus more on other energy solutions. Commercial and residential customers can still purchase Panasonic solar panels with the same confidence level in quality workmanship and efficiency, and with the same strong 25-year warranty that exceeds expectations. Panasonic also is known for their line of solar battery storage including the EverVolt.
Read customer reviews and compare Panasonic products using the EnergySage buyer’s guide.
In almost all cases, the best solar panels for your home 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. However, it’s important to keep in mind that premium solar panels with monocrystalline cells generally come with a higher upfront price point.
Best solar panels: ranking factors and things to consider
There are many factors to take into account when you are choosing solar panels. The market is filled with panels with varying efficiency ratings, warranties, costs, and other performance specs, making it hard to know exactly which ones are the best for you. Here is a list of the variables we use to compare the best solar panels:
- Temperature coefficient
Best solar panels ranked by efficiency
A solar panel’s efficiency measures 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
The highest efficiency solar panels available are SunPower’s A-Series Residential Solar Panels, which are 22.8% efficient at their maximum. 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.
Best solar panels ranked by temperature coefficient
A solar panel’s temperature coefficient measures how much or little a panel’s production is lowered in hot temperatures. Based only on the lowest temperature coefficient available in a panel (lower is more efficient), here are the top five best solar panel manufacturers:
Best solar panels by temperature coefficient
Solar panels are like any other electronic equipment: they operate most efficiently when 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.
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. The longest material warranty you can find on the market is 25 years, offered by the following solar panel manufacturers:
Best solar panels by material warranty
|Solaria ||25 years|
|Q CELLS||25 years|
|Mission Solar ||25 years|
|LA Solar Group||25 years|
As shown above, all of the top solar panel manufacturers ranked by materials warranty offer the same length of the warranty, setting this tier of companies apart. For reference, the industry standard for panel materials warranties is 10 years.
To better understand overall solar panel warranties and see the ranking system we developed, check out this article comparing the best solar panel warranties.
The first three manufacturers are also featured on our efficiency and temperature coefficient lists, while Silfab and Q CELLS are frequently regarded as some of the top brands available today. All thirteen solar panel manufacturers listed above offer a 25-year warranty setting this tier of companies apart. For reference, the industry standard for panel materials warranties is 10 years. 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.
Best solar panels based on your region and climate
After considering the efficiency, temperature coefficient, and warranty on any particular solar panel, it’s important to take the next step and think about your home’s individual circumstances. It’s no secret that solar panels are more often found in the Sun Belt compared to other parts of the country, but that’s not to say that homeowners in the Northeast or Midwest should totally rule them out.
First, several factors affect solar panel efficiency—factors that can be impacted by your region and climate. These include irradiance, shading, panel orientation, temperature, location and latitude, time of year, and dust and dirt. For example, if you live in an area that doesn’t get a lot of sunlight and your home is prone to shade and overcast clouds, you’re not going to be able to produce as much clean energy for your home. When a panel is covered by shade, the power output is very low—even light shading can have a negative impact. In fact, subtle shading that covers a few cells or a single panel can reduce solar energy production by 50% or more. This is why the orientation of your home in relation to the shade and wet weather patterns is so important.
For shady & wet climates
If you live in an area affected by rain, snow, or other cloudy conditions but still want to install the best solar panels for your home, try opting for high-efficiency panels like SunPower (22.8%).
For warm & dry climates
Living in the Sun Belt or another hot and sunny region? You’re in a prime spot for premium solar panel efficiency. In this case, you may also consider temperature coefficient as a leading factor in your decision making—for example, Panasonic and REC both boast an impressive -0.26 temperature coefficient and a 25-year warranty which is great considering solar panels are a long-term investment.
On a final note related to region and climate, it can sometimes be useful to consider solar panel maintenance and cleaning as part of your yearly routine. Solar panels in areas that suffer from severe storms, wind, or even pollen buildup in the spring can quickly accumulate dust and debris, reducing efficiency. A quick washing or professional soft washing should do the trick (note: we don’t recommend climbing on your roof to wash your solar panels).
Solar panel durability
A solar panel’s durability measures its ability to perform at maximum capacity amidst conditions that are expected to diminish that optimum performance. Solar panels spend their entire functional lives outdoors, subject to everything nature has to throw at them. It is so important to invest in durable solar panels that you can trust to not break or malfunction in the elements. Solar panels are put through several standardized tests to determine their durability in the elements:
- Damp Heat test: measures resistance to humidity
- Thermal Cycling: measures resistance to temperature fluctuations
- Mechanical Stress Sequence (including static and dynamic loading): measures resistance to weight or pressure
A solar panel’s durability directly impacts its efficiency. Since the most durable solar panels will have the lowest degradation rate, they will be best at maintaining their efficiency rating. Refer to our list of “best solar panels by efficiency” above for more insight on which companies manufacture the most durable solar panels. Check out our article on how long solar panels last to learn more.
How EnergySage developed its “best solar panels” ranking
When searching for the best solar panels for your home, you should consider 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 for your home, EnergySage evaluated these metrics for all of the solar panels offered by the top manufacturers in the EnergySage Marketplace.
Keep in mind that while not considered in this rating, solar panels also come with a 25-year performance warranty. Manufacturers typically guarantee that their panels will produce electricity at 80-90 percent of their original output at the end of that warranty period.
How many solar panels do you need for your home’s size?
In order to pick the right number of panels for your home, you’ll need to start by considering the size of your roof. If you have limited roof space, you will need a higher efficiency solar panel system to generate more energy per square meter—this will require less overall area and hopefully fit on your roof. To put this into perspective, if you have 12 x high efficiency 360 W solar panels, like the ones from SunPower, with an over 22 percent conversion efficiency, you’ll benefit from up to 1100 W more total solar capacity than the same number and size 270 W panels that have a lower efficiency rating. These big solar panels are fine for larger areas, but they aren’t as efficient and do not result in more energy.
All in all, there isn’t a steadfast rule on how many solar panels your home will require to perform at peak efficiency, but the smaller your home is, the fewer panels you will be able to install—just make sure they’re conversion efficiency is premium to make sure you are saving as much as possible on your electric bill.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the best solar panels
Knowing which solar panels are the best depends on your unique solar needs. Here are a few common questions and answers about the best solar panels to keep in mind:
Most high-quality solar panels should last about 25 to 30 years before their production drops significantly. As long as you keep them clean and maintained, you can certainly keep using solar panels past their warrantied lifespan. They just might not produce as much electricity as you need anymore.
Currently, the most efficient residential solar panel available to install is the SunPower A-Series, coming in at a whopping 22.8 percent. However, researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have developed solar cells that are 39.5 percent efficient.
Generally speaking, SunPower, REC, and Panasonic make the best solar panels. Their high efficiencies, competitive pricing, and 25-year warranties set them apart, but there are plenty more solar panel brands worth installing.
Solar panels require little to no professional servicing unless something is immediately wrong with your PV system. If you live in an area or climate where your panels are subject to becoming dirty to the point where rain won’t do the trick, occasional cleaning is recommended to keep your system running optimally. Check out our article on solar panel cleaning to learn more.
There are three main types of solar panels: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film. As general guidance, monocrystalline solar panels are the most efficient and have the highest wattages, polycrystalline solar panels are less efficient but also less expensive, and thin-film panels are best for unique installations like an RV or a solar shed.
How to find the best price on your solar panels
If you want the best solar panels for your home, you will pay a higher price. The above panels 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. The best place to get started? Register for free on the EnergySage Marketplace today to start comparing your solar options.