There is a wide range of solar panels available for domestic use.  This review article looks at the best solar panels available from all over the world and features industry award winners, and high performing, top end panels which deliver a minimum of 15% efficiency for domestic use in the USA. Domestic solutions often offer installation as part of full home package and options to feed in excess energy generated back into the national electrical grid system, which means you may even make money from your solar system.

FAQ About the Best Solar Panels

 

1. WHAT ARE SOLAR PANELS?

A solar panel is an array of solar cell, stuck to a backing frame and topped with glass with connector points to enable you to attach solar panels together and deliver the power to an inverter and then directly into your home, or into batteries which will store your electricity. The two types of solar panels most widely available are the polycrystalline and the newer, more efficient mono crystalline solar panel.

They come in a standard 60 cell array, but can also be purchased in a larger 96 cell size for larger roofs. There are rigid, solar panels, called modules for large home systems but there are also flexible solar panels available which can be attached to more unconventional roofs or smaller use RV/wood cabin off-grid situations.

 

2. WHAT DOES A SOLAR PANEL DO?

Solar cells convert sunlight into electricity and each solar cell has a fixed rate of conversion. This is known as its rate of efficiency; however the larger the panel the more electricity it will produce, unless the solar cells are optimized for a higher rate of efficiency. Connectors run from the solar panel directly into your inverter which converts DC electricity into an Alternate Current, which is necessary to run most home appliances.

 

3. HOW DOES A SOLAR PANEL  WORK?

A solar panel converts sunshine into electricity and will even work on cloudy days. Some solar panels have inbuilt inverters which convert direct current int AC current. If your system is connected to the national grid, when you produce more electricity than you can use, the excess is fed back into the grid. Electrical energy can also be stored in batteries, for off-grid systems. The best solar panels normally carry a warranty of 25 years and an inverter will normally last from 5 to 10 years, depending on its quality.

 

4. WHERE CAN YOU BUY SOLAR PANELS?

A complete solar panel system often includes installation costs, with optional insurance cover. Individual modules or panels can be purchased online from alternative energy suppliers or Amazon online.

 

5. WHAT ARE THE COST BENEFITS OF INSTALLING SOLAR PANELS?

A complete solar system for your home will pay for itself in between 4 to 9 years, and after that you will have free electricity for at least 20 years. If you decide on purchasing a solar system, offering to pay in cash will give you a much better deal on all your costs, including installation. Tax incentives are currently available in the US but may not be for much longer.

How We Reviewed

The following products were reviewed based on the following parameters Features, Pros and Cons, and Warranty. The information ¬†in this review is resourced from manufacturers websites and independent reviewers’ websites.

SunPower

Materials

Key materials of this product include high efficiency solar cells in a durable construction. Sun Power has been voted the best solar panel and number 1  in a survey of the top eight leading world manufacturers for their durability.  The SunPower E-Series and X-series are  for domestic use, with the X-series producing the most power.

Pros

  • World leaders for the durability of their panels
  • Number 1 in the world for efficiency
  • Excellent warranty
  • Better in shade and low light their competitors
  • Predicted to be useful for at least 40 years
  • Flexible payment plans if purchased directly from manufacturers

Cons

  • Connection cables must be purchased separately if bought as modules

Power Rating Range

240W to 320W

Efficiency Range

16% to 22.2%

Durability

25-40 years: these are the best solar panels for durability in the world

Performance

High performance in most weather conditions, but will produce less electricity in the shade

Warranty

Limited warranty of 25 years, with a guarantee that solar panels will be operating at 92% of their peak rate after 25 years

LG Energy

Renogy Solar Panel, Single
  • TECHNOLOGY - Advanced encapsulation material with multi-layered sheet minimizations enhance cell performance and provide a longer service life. Corrosion-resistant aluminum frame allows extended outdoor use; the panels can last for decades, anti-reflective, high transparency, low iron-tempered glass. No hot-spot heating .
  • Usages - high in power but compact in size, this 100-watt Solar panel is a favorite for RVs, boats, campers and similar applications, providing clean energy and excellent efficiency per space.
  • Installation - pre-drilled holes on the back of the panel allow for fast mounting and securing. Pre-drilled holes included for grounding. Compatible with different Renogy mounting systems such as z-brackets, pole mounts and tilt mounts.

Materials

Their most efficient NeON panels are lightweight and black. They offer cyclone wind resistance and have a double walled frame for their panels. They have a Salt Mist corrosion rating of 6, which is the maximum, making them the best solar panels for homes in a coastal region. They are also water resistant (IP66), and flame retardant.  Their anti-reflective coatings ensures efficiency and they utilize their award winning photovoltaic cell construction.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Strong, with high wind load resistance, of 6000Pa
  • Salt water resistant
  • Support call centre open every day
  • 26% more power than conventional panels
  • Cells double sided

Cons

  • Not easily available in all locations

Power Rating Range

340W

Efficiency Range

16.8-21.1%

Durability

Extremely durable, especially against high winds and salt water mist

Performance

Good performance guarantees from manufacturers

Warranty

25-year warranty with 86% of peak total power in first year guaranteed after 25 years

REC

Materials

Key features include an innovative design which prevents frost damage and induces snow slippage. These solar panels come in standard 60 cell and 120 cell size and include half cut cells which produce a higher power output.  These are one of the best solar panels for high snowfall areas.

Pros

  • Frost resistance
  • High snow slippage
  • Comes in 2 sizes
  • Larger capacity per panel

Cons

  • Expensive

Power Rating Range

250-270W

Efficiency Range

14.5% to 17%

Durability

High industry ratings for strength and durability

Performance

Good performance in all weather conditions

Warranty

10-year product warranty and 25-year energy output warranty of 0.7% decrease per year

Q Cells

Materials

Key materials of this product include Q.Antum technology which enables solar panels to capture the maximum amount of sunlight to convert into electrical energy through its special coating. Six bus bar design and half cell technology. Hot Spot protection can improve fire resistance of its panels.

Pros

  • Innovative technology used for solar panel
  • Half cell technology

Cons

  • Shipping costs high, with a minimum of 4 panels per order

Power Rating Range

320-330 Watts

Efficiency Range

19%

Durability

4000 wind load, 5400 snow load

Performance

High performance over smaller panel size

Warranty

12-year product warranty with maximum 0.6% reduction in output every year thereafter

Canadian Solar

Materials

Canadian Solar over a wide range of different solar panels, with emphasis on high efficiency. These include the Standard, Allblack and  HiKu solar panels, which are the first solar modules to produce a 400W yield. Their range includes some of the the best solar panels for high snowfall areas. They sell standard 60 cell to 72 cell panels,

Pros

  • Tolerates snow load of 5,400Pa
  • Wind load of up to 2400Pa
  • Wide range of solar panels

Cons

  • May be difficult to source in the USA

Power Rating Range

From 200W to 320W

Efficiency Range

15.81% to 16.83% efficiency

Durability

Resists high winds and snow loads

Performance

One of the top three biggest manufacturers in the world

Warranty

10-year warranty for product and 25 linear warranty on power output.

CSUN

Warner Energy CSUN250-60M CEEG Solar Panel, 250W
  • 60 High-Efficiency Monocrystalline Solar Cells
  • Passing mechanical load test of 5400Pa according to IEC 61215
  • Tested to withstand hails with maximum diameter of 25mm with impact speed of 23m/s

Materials

Key materials of this product include a wide range of mono and polycrystalline panels and its QSAR II PID free mono crystalline series.  The top of the range WARATAH poly crystalline series have five instead of three bars and increased efficiency rates of 17.95%. Highly resistant for bad weather.

Pros

  • Protection for hot spots
  • Low iron glass enhances light permeability
  • High resistance to ammonia and salt spray
  • Hail resistant

Cons

  • Expensive

Power Rating Range

240W to 360W

Efficiency Range

15-16% efficiency

Durability

High load resistance

Performance

Performs well in all weather

Warranty

15-year performance warranty.


The Verdict

If you want peace of mind over your solar system, with maximum efficiency panels and high durability guaranteed by the manufacturers of the best solar panels, your choice has to be Panasonic. Their 25-year labor, parts and installation warranty is the best solar panel warranty in the solar industry, and wherever you are based, their global coverage ensures your family energy needs will be fully met.

Last update on 2021-06-19 at 11:35 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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