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.
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:
- Q CELLS
- Canadian Solar
- 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
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
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:
- LG (25 years)
- Panasonic (25 years)
- Silfab (25 years)
- Solaria (25 years)
- SunPower (25 years)
- Q CELLS (25 years)
- REC (25 years)
- Mission Solar (25 years)
- Axitec (25 years)
- Certainteed Solar (25 years)
- REC (25 years)
- Winaico (25 years)
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 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
|Manufacturer||Efficiency range||Temperature coefficient range||Materials warranty|
|Amerisolar||14.75% to 17.01%||-0.43 to -0.43||12 years|
|Astronergy||18.1% to 19.1%||-0.38 to -0.38||10 years|
|Axitec||15.37% to 19.41%||-0.44 to -0.39||12 years|
|AXITEC, LLC||18.96% to 20.45%||-0.39 to -0.39||15 years|
|BenQ Solar (AUO)||15.5% to 18.3%||-0.42 to -0.39||10 years|
|Boviet Solar||16.5% to 17.5%||-0.4 to -0.4||12 years|
|Canadian Solar||15.88% to 19.91%||-0.41 to -0.37||10 years|
|CentroSolar||15.3% to 17.8%||-0.44 to -0.42||10 years|
|CertainTeed Solar||17.2% to 19.9%||-0.42 to -0.37||10 years|
|China Sunergy||14.98% to 16.53%||-0.42 to -0.41||10 years|
|ET Solar||15.67% to 19.07%||-0.44 to -0.41||10 years|
|First Solar||17% to 18.3%||-0.32 to -0.32||12 years|
|Grape Solar||16.21% to 17.64%||-0.5 to -0.4||10 years|
|Green Brilliance||14.24% to 15.58%||-0.45 to -0.45||5 years|
|Hansol||14.97% to 18.05%||-0.45 to -0.41||10 years|
|Hanwha||19.3% to 20.3%||-0.35 to -0.35||12 years|
|Heliene||15.6% to 19.3%||-0.43 to -0.39||10 years|
|JA Solar||15.8% to 20.4%||-0.4 to -0.35||12 years|
|JinkoSolar||18.67% to 20.38%||-0.39 to -0.35||10 years|
|Kyocera||14.75% to 16.11%||-0.45 to -0.45||10 years|
|LG||18.4% to 22%||-0.4 to -0.29||25 years|
|LONGi||18.2% to 20.9%||-0.37 to -0.35||10 years|
|Mission Solar Energy||18.05% to 19.35%||-0.38 to -0.38||12 years|
|Neo Solar Power||16% to 17%||-0.42 to -0.42||10 years|
|Panasonic||19.1% to 21.2%||-0.26 to -0.26||25 years|
|Peimar||19.05% to 19.05%||-0.4 to -0.4||20 years|
|Phono Solar||15.66% to 18.44%||-0.45 to -0.4||12 years|
|QCELLS||17.1% to 20.6%||-0.39 to -0.35||12 years|
|REC||16.5% to 21.7%||-0.37 to -0.26||20 years|
|RECOM||16.29% to 19.36%||-0.4 to -0.39||12 years|
|ReneSola||14.9% to 16.9%||-0.43 to -0.4||10 years|
|Renogy Solar||15.3% to 18.5%||-0.44 to -0.44||10 years|
|RGS Energy||15.6% to 17.1%||-0.45 to -0.45||11 years|
|Risen||16.3% to 19.6%||-0.39 to -0.39||12 years|
|S-Energy||15.61% to 19.8%||-0.4 to -0.36||10 years|
|Seraphim||15.67% to 17.52%||-0.43 to -0.42||10 years|
|Silfab||17.6% to 19.7%||-0.38 to -0.36||25 years|
|Solaria||19.4% to 20.5%||-0.39 to -0.39||25 years|
|Solartech Universal||19% to 19.9%||-0.26 to -0.26||15 years|
|SunPower||16.5% to 22.8%||-0.38 to -0.29||25 years|
|SunSpark Technology||18.84% to 18.84%||-0.28 to -0.28||12 years|
|Talesun||16.9% to 20.6%||-0.39 to -0.36||10 years|
|Trina||16.2% to 20.4%||-0.41 to -0.37||10 years|
|Upsolar||16.5% to 19.4%||-0.43 to -0.4||12 years|
|Vikram Solar||16.52% to 17.55%||-38 to -38||10 years|
|Winaico||18.54% to 19.4%||-0.38 to -0.38||25 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.
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.
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: