where are solar panels made

Where are solar panels made and should you care?

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 our 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.

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.
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
Lightway< 1%China
MAGE Solar< 1%Germany
Perlight Solar (Zebra Energy)< 1%U.S.
Phono Solar1%China
REC Solar8%U.S.
Sharp Solar4%Japan
Trina Solar17%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

32 thoughts on “Where are solar panels made and should you care?

  1. John Greatorex

    Thank you for this website.
    When you have a moment please correct the country of manufacture of Winaico panels. The Winaico website says they are made in Taiwan, not PRC (China). To some this is a significant difference.
    All the best, John

  2. Germana Stangherlin

    How well do solar panels perform in cold weather we have in Manitoba, Canada.
    We can have minus forty degree temperatures some days at a time, but still be sunny, with no snow.

  3. Thomas Tisserant

    A consideration not listed here on merit of country of origin is the emissions of CO2, and many solar panels enthusiast care about reducing their carbon footprint.
    Obviously, panels manufactured closer to where they are installed result in less CO2 emissions because of shorter transportation.
    Additionally, the manufacturing of panels themselves is very carbon intensive, even more so if they are built in countries that use more fossil fuels for their electricity.
    So if you buy solar panels to reduce your carbon footprint, you should buy panels built close to you from factories in countries that use less carbon-heavy electricity.
    Yet we don’t get that information very easily and solar panel buyers too quickly assume that they go green. EnergySage would provide a great service by making this kind of information more directly available when comparing panels.

  4. Jim eck

    You do realize that assembly and manufacturing are two different horses?? You would be surprised at the REAL number of solar panels MADE in the good ol’ USofA!

  5. Dan

    If your main concern is Made in China, then you have a long and step life learning curve ahead of you.
    What Zeke said is 100% true, i worked for a solar cell company in Mountain View with manufacturing plant in China, we sold cells to most of the major solar panels brands (globally).

    Warranties are products, and they sell well, keep that in mind.
    Hyundai succeeded with long warranties, but im still buying a Toyota.
    I dont care how many years of warranty Panasonic gives me, if they see more profit in TVs, solar department is toast, just like Sony, Sharp, Toshiba,.. did. Good luck claiming warranties with any of those. For big guys it is a money play.
    Panels today are all good, the cheapest panel will last as long as the most expensive, either made in China or Kentucky.

  6. Zeke

    I showed someone on Reddit this page, and he said: “Those panels are only made in those countries as they are assembled there. Virtually all of the key components are made in China or SE Asia.”

    Is that true?

  7. Steve Bowen

    If possible, I’d strongly recommend you buy solar panels made in America if you live in America. The reasons are not just patriotic, rather that you are not funding a government in China even more predatory than our current one, and more importantly, I believe from experience that the long-term quality is higher, and *most importantly* your warranty will be honored. I have *never* heard in the last ten years in three different countries anyone, including dealers I know get warranty back from a Chinese vendor. Good luck even finding them 7 years down the line when you notice a problem.

  8. Findleton Electric

    Sunpower is a 96 cell Solar module compared to the industry standard 60 cell or commercial 72 cell module. More cells equals more power more efficiency. It’s not a fair rating at all. Apples to Oranges

  9. Zebedee

    Why is the quality manufacturer ranking of sun power is premium plus and the rest is only standard. Please explain in full details

    How can I contact with the manufacturer to do partnerships with them I saw sun power are manufacturing in US MEXICO AND PHILIPPINES and they are the only one that has premium plus quality. I will explain in full details why I’m interested for partnership after getting some response from your company.

    Thank You So Much


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