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What are the best solar panels on the market? Complete panel ranking table

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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.

What are the best solar panels?

Generally speaking, SunPower, LG, and Panasonic make the best solar panels on the market in 2019 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. SunPower is widely considered the best solar panel manufacturer with module efficiencies upwards of 22%

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 and 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
1SunPower22.2%
2LG21.1%
3Panasonic20.3%
4Solartech Universal20.2%
5Solaria19.4%

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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 five best solar panel manufacturers:

Best solar panels by temperature coefficient

RankManufacturerTemperature coefficient
1Panasonic-0.26
2Silevo-0.27
3Hanwha Q CELLS-0.28
4SunPower-0.29
5LG-0.30

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 top five best solar panel manufacturers:

As shown above, all six 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 panel companies today? Which manufacturers make the best solar 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 of 2019

ManufacturerEfficiency Range (%)Temperature Coefficient RangeMaterials Warranty Max(Years)
Amerisolar14.75% to 17.01%-0.43 to -0.4312 years
Axitec15.37% to 17.9%-0.44 to -0.412 years
BenQ Solar (AUO)15.5% to 18.3%-0.42 to -0.310 years
Boviet Solar15.4% to 17.5%-0.43 to -0.3312 years
Canadian Solar15.88% to 18.33%-0.41 to -0.3910 years
CentroSolar15.3% to 17.8%-0.44 to -0.4210 years
CertainTeed Solar15.4% to 19.4%-0.45 to -0.3710 years
China Sunergy14.98% to 16.53%-0.42 to -0.4110 years
ET Solar15.37% to 17.52%-0.44 to -0.4110 years
Flex17.43% to 18.04%-0.39 to -0.3910 years
GCL16% to 17%-0.41 to -0.4110 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
Hanwha Q CELLS14.7% to 19.6%-0.43 to -0.2812 years
Hanwha SolarOne14.7% to 16.2%-0.41 to -0.4112 years
Heliene15.6% to 19.3%-0.43 to -0.3910 years
Hyundai14.2% to 18.4%-0.45 to -0.4112 years
Itek Energy16.49% to 18.94%-0.47 to -0.3910 years
JA Solar15.5% to 18.35%-0.41 to 0.4110 years
JinkoSolar15.57% to 18.57%-0.4 to -0.3910 years
Kyocera14.75% to 16.11%-0.45 to -0.4510 years
LG16.8% to 21.1%-0.42 to -0.325 years
LONGi Solar17.4% to 18.7%-0.38 to -0.3810 years
Mission Solar15.98% to 18.36%-0.42 to -0.3210 years
Mitsubishi Electric16.3% to 16.9%-0.45 to -0.4410 years
Neo Solar Power16% to 17%-0.42 to 0.4210 years
Panasonic18.5% to 20.3%-0.26 to -0.2625 years
Peimar Group15.4% to 18.4%-0.45 to -0.4320 years
Phono Solar15.36% to 18.55%-0.45 to -0.410 years
REC Solar14.5% to 19.8%-0.4 to -0.3520 years
Recom Solar16% to 19%-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
S-Energy14.62% to 18.7%-0.43 to -0.310 years
Seraphim15.67% to 17.52%-0.43 to -0.4210 years
Silevo16.9% to 18.5%-0.27 to -0.2710 years
Silfab15.3% to 20%-0.42 to -0.3825 years
Solaria18.7% to 19.9%-0.4 to -0.3925 years
Solartech Universal17.8% to 20.2%-0.41 to -0.3412 years
SolarWorld14.91% to 17.59%-0.43 to -0.420 years
SunEdison15.5% to 16.8%-0.45 to -0.4525 years
Suniva Inc16.66% to 17.65%-0.42 to -0.4210 years
SunPower16% to 22.2%-0.38 to -0.2925 years
Talesun16.1% to 18.2%-0.39 to -0.3910 years
Trina Solar Energy15% to 18.6%-0.41 to -0.3910 years
Upsolar16.2% to 19.4%-0.43 to -0.412 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.

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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 X-Series Residential Solar Panels, which are 22% efficient and received a Premium + rating from EnergySage.

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:

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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NOTE: the data in this piece was last updated January 2019 and is updated every 6 months.

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