best rated solar panels for home use

Today, we will be discussing the Best Rated Solar Panels For Home Use and best solar panels to buy for home. We asked a group of solar industry veterans to weigh the pros and cons of different solar panel brands and choose which they would install on their own homes.

What’s interesting is that all of these experts said that the most crucial factors when judging solar panels are:

  • The manufacturer’s financial position and its marginal cost of manufacture; 
  • Brand reputation; and
  • Value for money

They explained that since solar panels last so long, consumers should buy from a company that’s likely to be around to honor any warranty claims over the minimum 25 year life of the panel.

After comparing the different solar panel brands available, they came with their list of the top 5 solar brands for 2020.

best solar panels to buy for home

#Company NameWhat the experts like about it
1Panasonic+ Very high-quality panels
+ High efficiency and tied-for-best temperature coefficient
+ Strength of company and reputation for manufacturing excellence
2LG+ Very high-quality panels
+ Strong corporate reputation & warranty support
3Canadian Solar+ High-quality panels
+ Lower price means it offers amazing value
+ Strong financial position makes warranty support likely
4Trina Solar+ Solid all-around performance
+ Low cost for a Tier 1 panel
5SunPower+ Best panel specs (highest efficiency and great temperature coefficient
+ Would be #1 but overly expensive and current corporate instability

The rankings are a mix between two different types of solar manufacturers.

The first type comprises makers of premium solar panels: Panasonic, LG and SunPower. The first two of these are also the top choices of our experts, as they are massive conglomerates known for high manufacturing standards. 

The other type of company that made this list are Chinese manufacturers panels that offer great value for the money: Candian Solar and Trina Solar. [Due to its strong links to China, Canadian Solar is actually considered a Chinese company despite being headquartered in and named after Canada].

What are the best residential solar panels in 2020?

It’s worth pointing out that SunPower, despite having the best-performing solar panels in the market, didn’t earn the #1 spot. According to the experts, SunPower’s ranking was lowered due to its troubled financial position, coupled with its high price point. We’ll be keeping an eye out to see how things change as SunPower spins off its manufacturing business into a new entity called Maxeon Solar. Unlock live pricing on the best solar panel brandsEnter your power bill$50$150$650Start

The 10 best rated solar panels for home use

We’re sure you are curious about what solar panel models are most popular among homeowners. To find out, Solar-Estimate.org compiled data from recent residential solar installations in California, the largest solar market in the US by a large margin.

These are the top 10 solar panel manufacturers based on their use in California home solar installations, along with the top-selling model for each brand.

Table 3. The best-selling solar panel models in California (Jan 1, 2019 – Oct 30, 2019)
#Panel ManufacturerMost Popular ModelPowerEfficiency
1SunPowerSPR-X22-360360 W22.2%
2PanasonicVBHN330SA17330 W19.7%
3Hanwha Q Cells  Q.PEAK DUO BLK-G5 315315 W18.7%
4REC GroupREC290TP2 BLK290 W17.4%
5LGLG335N1C-A5335 W19.6%
6SolarWorldSLA300M300 W18.4%
7LONGi SolarLR6-60PB-300M300 W18.3%
8Mission SolarMSE310SQ8T310 W18.7%
9SolariaPowerXT-360R-PD360 W19.9%
10HyundaiHiS-S300RG300 W18.3%

SunPower snags the #1 spot for the top-selling solar panel model. While our experts loved the best-in-class specs of the SunPower X-series, they were concerned about their higher cost and the company’s viability. However, it seems that Californian consumers are happy to pay a hefty premium to get the very best solar panels available.

sunpower solar panels on a terracotta roofSunPower solar panels are the top-sellers in California, the most popular state for solar power. Image source: SunPower

Panasonic, which was the top brand last year, has now slid to the #2 spot. Like SunPower, they also produce excellent solar panels; in fact, Panasonic was rated #1 by our experts. However, Panasonic sales seem to have taken a hit due to the decline of their partner Tesla/SolarCity.

Looked at as a whole, the most popular solar panel brands are again, a mix of premium and value solar panel brands

Six of the brands  — including the top two — are premium solar panel brands: SunPower, Panasonic, LG, SolarWorld, Mission Solar and Solaria.

The remaining four on the list, while also good brands, are better known for providing excellent value: Hanhwa Q Cells, REC Group, LONGi Solar, and Hyundai.See how much you can save by installing solar panelsEnter your power bill$50$150$650Start

The best solar panels according to consumer reviews

For this ranking, we decided to draw on the experience of homeowners who already have solar panel systems installed on their roofs. We turned to our sister site SolarReviews, the leading solar consumer review site. Their website has thousands of reviews from homeowners who have rated the solar panel brands they’re using, as well as the solar companies that installed them. 

This ranking provides great insight into which solar panels are meeting and exceeding customer expectations, including how they’re performing in real-world conditions.

Table 4. Consumers choice: The solar panels with the best reviews from consumers
#Panel ManufacturerReview Score
1Itek Energy*4.96 (24 reviews)
2SolarWorld Americas Inc.4.92 (188 reviews)
3Mission Solar4.90 (58 reviews)
4Silfab Solar4.87 (111 reviews)
5LG4.86 (273 reviews)
6Hyundai4.81 (32 reviews)
7Trina Solar4.81 (52 reviews)
8Panasonic4.80 (61 reviews)
9Canadian Solar4.80 (70 reviews)
10Hanwha Q Cells4.80 (133 reviews)

*Itek Energy was acquired by Silfab Solar in October 2018

Some notes about this ranking:

  • Solar panel manufacturers regularly update their models and technology. We’ve only used reviews from the last 2 years to ensure that our rankings reflect consumer views of more recent models.
  • It only includes companies with at least 20 reviews so that we’re only considering solar panels that have proven to be consistent.

Itek Energy, one of the top five crystalline solar module producers in the US manufacutures its solar panels at its 48,000-square foot plant. Image source: Seattle Business Mag

What’s interesting about this list is that the top 3 brands all produce their solar panels within the US — Itek Energy, SolarWorld Americas Inc., and Mission Solar. In other words, American-made solar panels are getting the best reviews.

Is this a reflection of the high standards of American manufacturing, the satisfaction of buying American-made products, or the improvement in value after competitors were hit with tariffs? The answer is probably a combination of the three.

The specific models of solar panels that are most efficient for homes

To compile this rating, we’ve reviewed commercially-available solar panel models from major panel manufacturers.

But before we jump into the numbers, a heads up: the importance of solar panel efficiency is often overhyped by manufacturers looking to charge a premium price for the most efficient modules.

Solar panel efficiency doesn’t measure total output — just the space required to produce a unit of wattage. In other words, a high efficiency panel rated 300 watts will produce — all else equal — the same amount of power as a 300 watt panel with lower efficiency. The only difference is that the more efficient panel will use slightly less space.

Of course, there are some situations where efficiency matters; for example, if you have a very small roof. If that’s you, getting the panels with the highest efficiency will allow you to maximize solar output in the limited space available to you.

Now, with solar panel efficiency ratings put into appropriate context, here are the most efficient brands of solar panels by manufacturer:

Table 5. The 5 most efficient models of solar panels by manufacturer

#ManufacturerMost efficient modelPowerEfficiency
1SunPowerSPR-X22-370-D-AC370 W22.70%
2LGNeON R Ace LG375A1C-V5375 W21.70%
3REC GroupREC Alpha Series 380AA380 W21.70%
4CSUN – China SunergyMono CSUN410-72MH410 W21.17%
5SolariaPowerXT 370R-PD370 W20.50%

Chris Meehan over at SolarReviews has written a detailed post that explains solar panel efficiency and lists the 15 most efficient models currently available. 

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