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 available?
Generally speaking, SunPower, LG, and Panasonic manufacture 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%.
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:
- SunPower (22.2%)
- LG (21.1%)
- Panasonic (20.3%)
- Solartech Universal (20.2%)
- Solaria (19.4%)
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:
- Panasonic (-0.26)
- Stion (-0.26)
- Silevo (-0.27)
- Hanwha Q CELLS (-0.28)
- SunPower (-0.29)
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:
- LG (25 years)
- Panasonic (25 years)
- Silfab (25 years)
- Solaria (25 years)
- SunPower (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 panel companies today?
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, Elco Group combed through the detailed technical specifications for every panel manufactured by the most popular companies in the Marketplace. In total, we assessed over a thousand panel models.
Looking for the best solar panels available in 2019? See prices in your area and get free solar quotes for top quality equipment from us!
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.
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, Panasonic’s VBHN240SA11 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.