If you are curious about solar panels but do not know anything about the new technology, then this article is perfect for you. Though solar panels are available, there is not much information out on them. So, to help you decide, we compiled the best solar panels on the market, as well as some helpful tips for searching and installing.
Though solar-powered energy is not a new concept, it has only recently become a more economically viable alternative than traditional electricity. This viability is thanks to the public’s increasing awareness of environmental issues. Since the need for clean energy is higher than ever, some states provide tax benefits for switching over. With the tax benefits comes an increasing number of users. Houses all over the country have started using solar panels.
If you install solar panels on the roof of your house today, then you will automatically start saving a lot of money on your monthly energy bills. The fact that there are many new service providers out there is both a gift and a curse. Competition is good for prices and development, but how do you know what solar companies are reliable? In this list, we take a closer look at the top tech on the market right now so you can find the best solar panels.
How We Choose the Ratings in This List
It is not an arbitrary decision which company has the best solar panels — for each company rated we apply a rigorous series of questions to see how the specifics of the product up under scrutiny. For each solar panel, we look at four specific areas: solar efficiency, price, material, and public perception. Within each region, we ask a series of questions relating to the topic. We then take the answers to that question and form a ranking order. We measure each ranking by a five-point star system.
● Solar efficiency — How effectively do the solar panels convert sunlight into electricity? Is it worth the savings and cost of installation?
● Price — Is the solar panel brand affordable? How soon will you make up your investment money with energy savings? Are the panels for residential houses or businesses?
● Material — What kind of solar panel does the company specialize in selling? Is it made of thin filmamorphous panels? Mono crystalline? Polycrystalline?
● Public perception — What do customers think? Are they satisfied or frustrated with the product?
Top Ten Best Solar Panels on the Market Right NowHere is our list of the best solar panels available ranked from best to worst. We organized this list by the company rather than the product, so users will not have to choose between residential and business solar panels.
SunPower is at the top of our list because it has the best solar efficiency than any other panel on this list.Though it costs more money than other products, most of the time this is worth it considering the future saving potential. The Maxon solar cells on these panels provide them with a 22.2% energy efficiency rating. SunPower is also built to last. The boards retain roughly ninety-two percent of their energy output after twenty-five years of service.Unfortunately, SunPower panels are not widely available outside of Australia. Luckily the new E-series is becoming very popular in the United States and Canada. Hopefully, in the coming years, they will continue to expand outwards.
Next on the list is the exceptional Panasonic N-series of solar panels. Though these models are not quite as efficient as the SunPower models, they are more widely available and provide almost the same quality.Thanks to the effectiveness of the monocrystalline solar panels, the N-series offers around a 21.6% solar efficiency rating. The effective temperature coefficient of -0.29% — plus the twenty-five-year warranty —also ensure a long life with limited degradation in more stringent conditions.
3) LG Energy
It is no wonder that the electronics giant LG jumped quickly on the prospect of solar-powered energy devices. With a 21.2% energy efficiency rating, the LG Energy solar panels provide comparable quality to the Panasonic and SunPower brand, but at a much more affordable price. Like Panasonic, LG Energy uses monocrystalline panels and provide energy storing technology. Most of the time, the utility savings with LG panels will pay back the initial investment within six years of installation.
4) Hanwha Q Cells
Hanwha Q Cells provide the excellent business development of South Korea with the ingenuity of German engineer design. The resulting Q Cells offer an above average solar efficiency rating of 19.6% along with an eighty-three percent quality retention for a long-lasting product. The quantum technology developed by the company also allows for a passivated emitter rear cell — a new piece of tech that captures sunlight that previously went unused. Though they are not as widely available, development is expected to continue in 2018.
- Q Cell technology offers anti-PID/anti-LID, hot spot protection, and traceable quality
- Low electricity generation costs - higher yield per surface area, and lower BOS costs due to higher power classes and an...
- Optimal yields in all weather- excellent low light and temperature behavior
While Solaria is a relative newcomer to the solar panel industry, they invested much of their initial opening and development on research which gives them an edge on much of the emerging competition. The result is a low-concentration-photovoltaics technology that allows for a 19.4% solar efficiency percentage.The polycrystalline technology combined with a tested semiconductor manufacturing process allows for a much higher degree of customization than larger brands typically allow. Solaria is better suited for households that cannot work with traditional monocrystalline panels.
- High 19.4% efficiency
- 25 year warranty
- Improved shade tolerance and low cost
6) Canadian Solar
Canadian Solar, ironically based out of China, is one of the more popular companies out there at the moment. Ironic or not, they offer a consistent value with some of the top mid-level manufacturers in the solar panel market. Though they produce a solar efficiency average of seventeen percent, these monocrystalline products are cheaper thanks to international producers.With that said, there is not that much that sets Canadian Solar apart from the competition. One potential downside of Canadian Solar is the fact that they only produce solar panels. While this issue might not seem like a big deal, it could become one of the company is not around fifteen to twenty years in the future.
- Extensive Application: They can be used in solar power stations, rural electrification, small home power systems, power...
- High Efficiency Conversion: Komaes solar panel with highly efficiency Solar Cell Technology provides better performance...
- Long Service Time: Withstand snow load(up to 5400pa) and high wind(2400pa). High-resistant aluminum, provide long...
7) Trina Solar
Trina Solar is a Chinese company that has started offering its products to a broader market. Like most Chinese companies, Trina Solar does not try to compete with the giants like LG Energy and Panasonic but instead offers more affordable options, mass-produced and efficient. Instead of focusing solely on monocrystalline panels, Trina Solar also provides polycrystalline opportunities for different customer’s circumstances. Though a solar efficiency average of 17.4% is a little on the low side, the company does offer a ten-year warranty.
- Type : Poly
- Watts STC : 300 Watts
- Watts PTC : 271.50 Watts
8) Jinko Solar
Jinko Solar is one of the early adopters of polycrystalline technology. One benefit of Jinko Solar panels is their durability. Jinko panels can withstand intense winds and snow conditions, which makes them ideal for hard environmental conditions. Unfortunately, these models come with a drastically reduced solar efficiency rating — around fifteen percent. If you can handle this discrepancy, then Jinko is a beautiful, affordable option.
- Type : Poly
- Watts : 260 Watts
- Efficiency : 16.49%
ReneSola ranks lower on this list because it is an extremely new company compared to some of the other players on this list. The solar energy providers have only been around since 2005. As such, their polycrystalline product is still a bit underdeveloped, with only a 14.9% energy efficiency ration. In a pinch, these products still work as advertised. They work correctly and cost less than quite a few monocrystalline models. However, you should keep in mind that they are just far from the best solar panels available on the market today.
- The Replus-250A is for 240VAC grid-intertie solar systems. The ReneSola is a smart grid-tie microinverter developed by...
- The Micro Replus 250A inverter is particularly nice for low-cost projects with low light or shading issues. Micro Replus...
- The smart design of ReneSola’s Micro Replus 250A inverters improve solar PV harvesting and reliability. The Micro...
10) REC Solar
Even the worst solar panel on this list is not that bad. The only reason the Norwegian company is last on this list is that some of their models produce only 14.2% solar efficiency which is considered pretty low.
Still, it depends on exactly what type of solar panel you buy from the company. Many of boards are more affordable than other brands. And thanks to a deal with Costco, they are much more widely available than other products, especially in states like California.
- 290W peak energy production
- 10 year product warranty
- 25 year linear power output warranty
Buyer’s Guide: What to Look for When Shopping for a Solar Panel
With solar panels comes some new terms and concepts you should understand before buying one. Factors like your home, locations and price range can be important considerations.
What Type of Solar Panel is Best For You?
As we mentioned earlier in the article, there are three types of solar panels available on the market today: amorphous film panels, monocrystalline, and polycrystalline. It is hard to tell which one is a superior product because they all have their specific pros and cons. Monocrystalline is the oldest of the three types, and as such, it is the most developed. This development means that it has the highest energy efficiency, but it is also the most expensive of the three.
However, they degrade the slowest of the three. The other two options: amorphous film panels and polycrystalline panels are much cheaper by contrast, but they do not provide the same the same energy output. Polycrystalline is better for residential and give around 17% solar efficiency for homes. That is about three to five percents less than monocrystalline panels, but it is still pretty good. When it comes to winter time the polycrystalline panels provide a better temperature coefficient.
Film amorphous panels are only good for businesses with a lot of roof space. They are flexible and useful, but they require a wide area of the sun to work. This fact makes them an inconvenient place for residential homes. They also degrade the quickest of the three, so you will probably need to perform
maintenance or replacements over the years.
Is our Home or Business a Good Place for Solar Panels?
The location of your home or business is a very important you should consider before purchasing solar panels. If there are trees that block your panels access to sunlight, then you will have trouble saving money. Try to find an area with little tree coverage and good access to sunlight. Wide open spaces are
usually the best locations. Similarly, you will need to take into account your home’s size and precisely how much area needs to be covered to cover the cost of your panels.
What Installers Are Available in Your Location?
Depending on where you live, you may only have specific brand options available by contractors. This fact is especially true if you live in more remote or rural sections of the United States. Many local retailers may not carry the brands that would be your first choice. Have some backup options and try to be flexible if your options are limited.
Understanding the Temperature Coefficient
Solar efficiency is relatively easy to understand since it is merely a measure of how right the panel is at converting sunlight into energy. However, it is also essential to understand the temperature coefficient of solar panels. The temperature coefficient informs you how the solar panel will perform under less than ideal conditions. For examples: on extremely sunny days in the summer or winter, groups can become overheated which decreases their productivity. An exceptional temperature coefficient score for a solar panel would be around -0.22, but typically the percentage is higher. We hope this article has been helpful during your solar panel shopping process. Remember: just because
a company offers the most efficient product does not mean they are the best fit for your home. Factors like the home size and contractor costs can quickly outweigh any of the benefits of solar panels. The best
solar panels require research and multiple quotes if you want optimal energy savings.