Going solar is an easy and popular way to lower your electricity bills and your carbon footprint. If you’re starting the solar shopping process, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is which solar panels you want to install. With many high-quality options available, comparing solar panels can be a daunting challenge.
To streamline your comparison process, we researched thousands of solar panel models quoted by installers in the EnergySage Marketplace. Based on our analysis, we’ll explain how solar panel brands stack up against each other, and which companies offer the highest quality panels for your home.
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 offer the best solar panels overall.
- The best solar panels for your neighbor may not be the best solar panels for you: Consider your roof space, climate, shading, and price point when choosing a solar panel.
- Make sure to assess power output, efficiency, temperature coefficient, 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?
- What are the top 5 solar panel brands?
- How did we develop our solar panel rating system?
- How to choose the best solar panels for your home
- What to know about solar panel durability
Top 5 solar panel brands for home installation
Choosing a solar panel and unsure where to start? Today, there are thousands of solar panels available! Based on our comparison of dozens of solar panel brands, here are the top names associated with the best solar panels:
- SunPower: Best for limited roof space and warranty
- REC: Best for warm climates
- Panasonic: Most recognized brand
- Q CELLS: Most chosen by installers
- Canadian Solar: Lowest cost
Of these 5 brands, SunPower, REC, and Panasonic consistently rank the highest for efficiency, performance, and reliability. These companies combine durability with premium protection, making them the brands with the best solar panels available.
Choosing the highest quality solar panels will likely mean a higher upfront cost, but it’s a great investment in the long run. With higher output and efficiency and longer lifespans, the best solar panels will often maximize your solar savings.
Image credit: SunPower
SunPower solar panels (specifically the M-Series and X-Series, which are manufactured by Maxeon) have one of the highest efficiency ratings available on the market today, making them a great choice for those with limited roof space or significant shading. They also offer an industry-leading 40-year warranty, giving SunPower solar panel owners unmatched peace of mind. Due to their efficiency and reliability, if you choose SunPower panels, plan on paying a $5-10K premium for your solar panel system.
Read SunPower reviews from real customers.
Image credit: REC
REC is a European-based solar company that produces a range of solar products. Their newest series, the Alpha Pure-R, has an impressive temperature coefficient compared to other panels, making them the best choice if you live in a consistently hot area. REC panels are highly efficient and, with black cells, frames, and back sheets, they blend in nicely with most roofs.
Read REC reviews from real customers.
Image credit: Panasonic
Panasonic is a household name, known for producing many electronics found in U.S. homes, including solar panels. In 2021, Panasonic began outsourcing its solar panel manufacturing to third parties but continued to uphold its quality workmanship, high efficiency, and 25-year warranty.
Read Panasonic reviews from real customers.
Image credit: Q CELLS
According to our Solar & Storage Marketplace Report based on our Marketplace data from the second half of 2022, installers include Q CELLS panels in more quotes than any other solar panel brand due to their relatively affordable price point and availability. Because so many installers choose to stock Q CELLS panels, you may be able to get your system installed faster if you choose this brand.
Read Q CELLS reviews from real customers.
Image credit: Canadian Solar
Canadian Solar offers some of the lowest-priced solar panels on EnergySage without sacrificing quality. Though not yet widely available, Canadian Solar’s new HiHero 445H-AG panel matches SunPower’s industry-leading efficiency. While they offer an impressive 30-year performance warranty for their solar panels, Canadian Solar’s product warranty is only 15 years, which is below the industry standard and lower than most solar panels’ 25-30-year lifetime.
Read Canadian Solar reviews from real customers.
Honorable mention: LA Solar Group
Image credit: LA Solar Group
As a vertically-integrated solar panel manufacturer and installer, LA Solar Group controls the price of almost all aspects of their solar system production, making them a highly reliable and cost-effective option. LA Solar Group offers some of the lowest-priced and highest-output panels on EnergySage. We only gave them an honorable mention because they’re geographically limited: They currently operate as an installer in Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Nevada, and Texas, although a small number of other installers may install their solar panels in other states.
Read LA Solar Group reviews from real customers.
How we developed our best solar panel ranking
When you’re searching for the best solar panels for your home, you should consider a panel’s performance, quality, durability, warranty, and technical specifications, including its cell technology, power output, efficiency, and temperature coefficient. To develop our ranking of the best solar panels for your home, we evaluated these metrics for the thousands of solar panel models offered by the top manufacturers in the EnergySage Marketplace.
Here’s a full list of the top solar panel models for residential installations offered by some of the most quoted and installed brands on the EnergySage Marketplace:
Top solar panel brands and models
|Brand||Model||Efficiency||Temperature coefficient||Power output||Product warranty||Performance warranty||Guaranteed capacity at year 25||Price range*|
|Aptos||W DNA-120-BF10-450W||20.85%||-0.35%/°C||450W||25 years||30 years||85.10%||$16,450.00 - $24,010.00|
|AXITEC||AXIblackpremium XXL HC||21.51%||-0.35%/°C||420W||15 years||25 years||85%||$20,860.00 - $25,900.00|
|Canadian Solar||HiHero 445H-AG||22.80%||-0.26%/°C||410W||15 years||30 years||90.60%||$16,100.00 - $20,300.00|
|CertainTeed||Solstice panel 440W||20.40%||-0.35%/°C||440W||25 years||25 years||85%||$17,780.00 - $22,960.00|
|Jinko Solar||Eagle 66TR G4||20.96%||-0.35%/°C||400W||25 years||25 years||84.80%||$17,080.00 - $24,360.00|
|LA Solar Group||LS450BL||20.60%||-0.37%/°C||450W||25 years||25 years||81.40%||$15,890.00 - $19,110.00|
|Mission Solar||MSE435SX9Z||19.80%||-0.347%/°C||435W||25 years||25 years||84.08%||$17,150.00 - $22,470.00|
|Panasonic||EverVolt HK Black Series 410 W||22.20%||-0.26%/°C||410W||25 years||25 years||92%||$18,270.00 - $24,150.00|
|Q CELLS||BLK MLG10+ 410W||20.90%||-0.34%/°C||410W||25 years||25 years||86%||$17,920.00 - $23,240.00|
|REC||Alpha Pure-R 430 W||22.30%||-0.24%/°C||430W||25 years||25 years||92%||$17,500.00 - $24,220.00|
|Silfab||SIL-410 BG||21.40%||-0.377%/°C||410W||25 years||30 years||85.10%||$17,710.00 - $23,170.00|
|Solaria||PowerXT 430R-PL||20.40%||-0.39%/°C||430W||30 years||30 years||86%||$16,800.00 - $23,520.00|
|SunPower||M Series 440 W||22.80%||-0.29%/°C||440W||40 years||40 years||92%||$24,360.00 - $28,700.00|
|Trina Solar||Vertex S+||21.80%||-0.3%/°C||435W||25 years||25 years||89.40%||$16,730.00 - $19,530.00|
* Prices reflect the average quoted price range of a 10 kW solar panel installation, including installation costs, after accounting for the 30% federal tax credit incentive. Prices may differ for the specific model listed.
How to choose the best solar panels for your home
There are many factors to weigh when you’re 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’s a list of the variables we use to compare the best solar panels:
- Type of panel
- Power output
- Temperature coefficient
- Lifespan & warranty
The best type of solar panel: monocrystalline
In almost all cases, the best solar panels for your home include premium monocrystalline solar cell technology. Manufacturers make monocrystalline solar cells with a single crystal of silicon instead of many silicon fragments melted together, as is the case with polycrystalline cells.
Single crystal cells convert sunlight to electricity more efficiently than those made with silicon fragments, making monocrystalline solar panels more efficient than polycrystalline solar panels. Monocrystalline panels are typically black in color and come with a higher price tag, whereas polycrystalline cells are blue in color and more affordable.
Best solar panels for limited space
If you have limited roof space, you’ll want a panel that has high power output and high efficiency. A solar panel’s power output refers to the amount of electricity it generates under standard test conditions; its efficiency measures how well it converts sunlight into electricity. Here are the solar panel brands with the highest power output and efficiency:
Best solar panels by efficiency and power output
SunPower, Canadian Solar, REC, and Panasonic all offer panels with efficiencies that exceed 22%, making them the most efficient residential solar panel brands. These panels also all exceed 400W in power output. You may come across other panels with even higher power outputs (some are 500W+!), but many of these are for commercial purposes and would not be worth it for your home solar system.
Best solar panels for warm climates
If you live in an area that’s consistently hot, you’ll want a solar panel with a low temperature coefficient. A solar panel’s temperature coefficient measures how much or little its production drops in hot temperatures. Here are the brands offering panels with the lowest temperature coefficients:
Best solar panels by temperature coefficient
Solar panels are like most other electronic equipment: They operate most efficiently in cool temperatures (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, if your panel’s temperature coefficient is 0.35%/°C, for every one-degree temperature increase above 25°C (77°F), its electricity production will decrease by 0.35%. If its temperature rises to 35°C (95°F), its electricity production will reduce by 3.5%.
Best solar panels by warranty
A solar energy system is a big investment, so you’ll want peace of mind with your purchase. Choosing a solar panel with a strong warranty is one of the best ways to feel confident that your system will pay off in the long run. Here are the brands with the strongest panel warranties:
Best solar panels by warranty
|Rank||Manufacturer||Product warranty||Performance warranty||Guaranteed capacity at year 25|
|1||SunPower||40 years||40 years||92%|
|2||REC||25 years||25 years||92%|
|3||Panasonic||25 years||25 years||92%|
|4||Trina Solar||25 years||25 years||89.4%|
Your solar panel’s product warranty (sometimes referred to as the materials or equipment warranty) is a guarantee from the manufacturer that they will replace your panel if it fails as a result of manufacturing defects or environmental issues within a certain timeframe. Today, most solar panels come with a 25-year product warranty.
Its performance warranty guarantees that its panels will produce a certain percentage of their original output by a specified warranty term. The best solar panels offer performance warranties above 90% by year 25.
You may also see labor included as part of your solar panel’s warranty. The conditions of a labor warranty vary significantly from brand to brand and will likely depend on you choosing an installer that’s authorized by your solar panel company. It’s also possible that your installer will offer their own workmanship warranty that will cover labor components should one of your panels fail. Because SunPower is both an installer and a solar panel brand, they cover everything, making their labor warranty one of the best in the industry.
Best solar panels based on your region and climate
After considering the output, efficiency, temperature coefficient, and warranty on any particular solar panel, you should think about your home’s individual circumstances. It’s no secret that solar panels are more prevalent in the Sun Belt compared to other parts of the country, but they’re still a great investment if you live in the Northeast or Midwest.
Your region and climate influence several factors that affect solar panel efficiency, including 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, your solar power system’s clean energy production will be low. Even light shading can have a negative impact: Subtle shading that covers a few cells or a single panel can reduce solar energy production by 50% or more, which 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 that frequently experiences rain, snow, or other cloudy conditions but still want to install the best solar panels for your home, opt for high-output and high-efficiency panels like SunPower or Canadian Solar (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. REC boasts an impressive -0.24 temperature coefficient and a 25-year warranty.
When thinking about your region and climate, you should also 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 wash or professional soft washing should do the trick (but we don’t recommend climbing on your roof to wash your solar panels).
What to know about solar panel durability
A solar panel’s durability measures its ability to perform at maximum capacity amidst conditions that diminish optimal performance. Solar panels spend their entire functional lives outdoors, subject to everything nature throws at them, so you’ll want to invest in durable solar panels that you can trust to not break or malfunction in the elements. Manufacturers put solar panels 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
Your solar panel’s durability directly impacts its efficiency: The most durable solar panels have the lowest degradation rates, enabling them to maintain their efficiency ratings. Learn more about how long solar panels last.
How many solar panels do you need for your home’s size?
There isn’t a steadfast rule on how many solar panels your home will require to perform at peak efficiency, but we estimate that a typical home needs between 17 and 21 solar panels. To pick the right number of panels for your home, you’ll need to consider the amount of energy you consume and the size of your roof. If you have limited roof space, you will need a higher efficiency and higher output solar panel system to generate more energy per square meter and maximize your electric bill savings.
For example, if you Install SunPower’s M Series 440W panels with 22.8% efficiency, your solar energy production will be higher than if you choose the same number of Q CELLS’ BLK MLG10+ 410W panels with 20.9% efficiency.
Frequently asked questions 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:
The cost of solar panels has dropped significantly over the past 10 years. Today, a solar panel installation costs about $20,650 with the federal tax credit, before taking into account local rebates or tax credits.
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 panels are SunPower M Series 440W panels and Canadian Solar’s HiHero 445H-AG panels at 22.8% However, researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) developed solar cells that are 39.5% efficient, which we could see available on the market in the future.
In addition to solar panels, you’ll need inverters, which convert the electricity your panels generate into electricity that your household appliances can use. You may also consider a solar battery if you want your system to operate when the grid is down.
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 solar panels are best for unique installations like an off-grid RV or a DIY solar shed.
How to find the best price on your solar panels
The best solar panels for your neighbor may not be the best solar panels for you! 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 could provide you ample output at a competitive price. The easiest way to find the best solar panels at a great price? Get free quotes from vetted installation companies on the EnergySage Marketplace. You’ll be able to compare multiple quotes side-by-side based on factors like equipment quality, installer reputation, and cost so you can go solar with confidence.