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top solar panel brands

Comparing top solar panel brands: SunPower vs LG, Panasonic and Canadian Solar

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When it comes to solar panel manufacturers, there is no shortage of options for homeowners in 2019. Solar panel technology is improving every year, and many solar panel companies offer products that boast both high conversion efficiency numbers as well as impressive long-term warranties. SunPower is the leader with regard to efficiency across the board while LG solar panels are known for top tier design and aesthetic, but companies like Canadian Solar offer much more appealing prices for their solar panels. How do the top PV manufacturers stack up? We’ll help you compare and contrast your options among the industry leaders – SunPower, Panasonic, Canadian Solar, and LG.

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US solar panel manufacturers EnergySage

U.S. solar panel manufacturers: a list of American-made solar panels

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On January 22, 2018, the Trump Administration announced a 30 percent tariff on solar panels and cells imported into the United States. This announcement raised a lot of questions for solar customers on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace. One of the most popular questions: where can I find solar panels that are made in America? 

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where are solar panels made

Where are solar panels made and should you care?

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One of the things you may have questions about as you shop around for a solar system is where the solar panels are manufactured. This article will help you determine whether a panel’s country of manufacture should be a key consideration for you.

*Note: If you are looking for information on the 30% tariff levied on solar panels by the Trump Administration, read our complete analysis here.

Does it matter where solar panel companies are based and where they make the panels?

When it comes to quality, the mention of any country’s name will evoke an association; each nation has its own brand image, which may or may not be justified. You as a smart solar shopper, however, will want to look at the facts in order to make a more well-informed decision. Our recommendation is to judge each panel by its own merits.

What if the country of manufacture is important to me?

This doesn’t mean that country of origin is never important, of course: everyone has their own preferences. For example, many Americans would prefer solar panels made in the USA to ones that are imported, whether for patriotic reasons or because they trust the ‘American-made’ brand for quality.

American-made vs imported panel costs

American-made solar panels generally cost from $0.50 to $0.80 per watt (W) – about $0.10 to $0.30 more per watt than imported panels. The highest quality, ‘premium’ American panels may even come in around $1.00/W.

For a typical 6kW system, an additional $0.30/W translates into about $1,800, a reasonable amount to pay if the ‘Made in America’ stamp is important to you. Also keep in mind that some states may offer rebates for locally-made panels that can offset some or all of the additional cost.

Check out EnergySage’s list of U.S. solar panel manufacturers for more information about companies that make solar panels in America.

Manufacturing location vs headquarters location

If ‘country brand’ is important to you, be aware that the location of a company’s headquarters is not always the same as its factories. (For example, SunPower is a premium American brand that has manufacturing plants in both the US and the Philippines.) All else being equal, knowing that a company’s head office is relatively close or in a familiar country could help you make a decision.

Where do the top solar companies manufacture panels?

Below, EnergySage has compiled a list of the leading solar panel companies active in the US market based on the most recently available data in 2018. The table is broken down by each company’s market share, headquarters location, manufacturing facility locations and overall quality ranking.

The key takeaways from the table below are that: 1) no single country dominates the market (although the US and China do appear most frequently), and 2) there is little to no correlation between country of manufacture and the company’s quality ranking.

best solar energy companies worldwide

Exhibit: List of solar panel makers in the US by residential market share and country of manufacture*

Solar Panel ManufacturersApprox. U.S. Market Share*Company Headquarters
1SolTech< 1%U.S.
Aleo2%Germany
Axitec< 1%U.S.
Canadian Solar6%Canada
Centrosolar< 1%Germany
Conergy< 1%Germany
Eoplly< 1%U.S.
ET Solar2%China
Hanwha Q CELLS1%South Korea
Hyundai< 1%Korea
Itek< 1%U.S.
KYOCERA Solar2%Japan
LG6%Korea
Lightway< 1%China
MAGE Solar< 1%Germany
Perlight Solar (Zebra Energy)< 1%U.S.
Phono Solar1%China
REC Solar8%U.S.
ReneSola4%China
Sharp Solar4%Japan
SolarWorld4%Germany
SunEdison/MEMC0.50%U.S.
Suniva2%U.S
SunPower17%U.S
Suntech2%China
Trina Solar17%China
Winaico<1%China
Yingli Solar17%China

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 up front 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.

* 2015 Data, Residential Solar Installations, Source: GTM / SEIA

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Find out what solar costs in your area in 2020

Solar news: Solar industry growing at 17x rate of U.S. economy, SolarWorld joins Suniva tariff case

Reading Time: 2 minutessolar industry momentum

It was an active week in the solar industry with news of unprecedented solar job growth and the launch of a few sleek new products. A new IRENA report that revealed solar jobs are growing 17 times faster than the U.S. economy, SolarWorld’s newfound support of Suniva’s trade petition and Mercedes Benz’ new home storage product are the big headlines from this week’s Solar News Report.

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