How To Find the Best Solar Panels for Your Home in 2023
Trying to determine the best solar panels for your home is like trying to determine the best car – there’s no one correct answer. Everybody has different budgets, goals, and capacity.
So the real question is, which solar panel is best for you?
We analyzed over 750 types of solar panel models from 40 different manufacturers available in the solar.com marketplace to determine the best solar panels to buy to meet common wants and needs.
Of course, determining your solar needs is a lot easier with the guidance of an experienced Energy Advisor. Connect with one here.
Best Solar Panels For Home In 2023
The ideal solar panel is going to vary from homeowner to homeowner based on their budget, energy goals, roof, and more.
We’ve chosen a handful of the best panels that meet some of the most common needs for homeowners.
Let’s get started with the most popular panels to give us a sense of what other homeowners are gravitating towards.
Most Popular Solar Panels of 2022
While we can’t name a single best solar panel for your home, an analysis of 2022 sales shows a clear favorite among solar.com customers.
From January to December 2022, manufacturers REC and Hanwha Q CELLS had the most popular panels for residential solar.
That’s because REC and Q CELLS have a wide range of premium panels that offer a blend of solid performance and affordability.
In fact, there are nearly 50 REC models and 80 Q CELLS models available through the solar.com network, ranging in wattage from 265W to 450W (although 400W is now considered the norm, and anything under 365W is considered rare).
To top it off, REC and Q CELLS back their panels with a 25 year product warranty.
When it comes to solar panels, there’s no shame in following the crowd. REC and Q CELLS are popular for a reason and there is safety in knowing these well-established panel makers aren’t going anywhere and will be around to honor their 25-year warranty.
Best solar panels made or designed in America
For some homeowners, finding American made solar panels is a priority. While there are several fantastic solar makers headquartered in the US, finding panels that are truly made in America can be tricky.
That’s because there are American companies that manufacture overseas, and overseas companies that manufacture in America. And then there are companies that manufacture some panels in the US and others abroad.
Best solar panels manufactured in the US
|Brand – HQ Location||Panel||Manufacture location||Why we like it|
|Silfab – Canada||SIL Mono series||Bellingham, Washington||Durable, >20% efficient|
|Q Cells – Korea||Q. Peak Duo Series||Dalton, Georgia||Durable, >20% efficient|
|Mission Solar – US||MSE PERC series||San Antonio, Texas||Qualifies for Buy American Act|
|Solaria – US||Power XT series||Fremont, California||>20% efficient, superior shade performance|
Best solar panels made overseas by US-based companies
|Brand – HQ Location||Panel||Why we like it|
|Sunpower – San Jose, CA||A-series||Up to 22.8% efficiency, 25-year warranty, built-in AC inverter|
|Sunpower – San Jose, CA||X-Series||Up to 22,7% efficient, extremely low degradation rate, 25-year warranty|
|SEG – Pleasanton, CA||SEG-410-BMD-HV||21.25% efficiency, 25-year warranty|
|Aptos Solar – Santa Clara, CA||DNA-120-MF26-370W||20.29% efficiency, durable, 30-year warranty|
Whether your heart is set on supporting American manufacturing, American-based companies, or both, there are options when it comes to solar panels.
Best solar panels for degradation
Solar panels slowly lose efficiency over time through a process called degradation. This is a substantial concern to some homeowners curious about going solar.
However, the industry has been pleasantly surprised by the longevity of the solar panels manufactured decades ago, and the technology has only gotten better.
Today, it’s not uncommon for premium solar panels to come with a warranty that guarantees more than 85% performance after 25 years. Each warranty is a little different, so it’s important to read the language closely when researching panels.
If your top concern is degradation, here are three panel to focus on:
|Panel||Degradation rate||Performance warranty|
|SunPower X-Series||0.2% to 0.25% per year||92% of minimum peak power after 25 years|
|Panasonic EverVolt® Photovoltaic series (EVPV)||No more than 0.25% per year||92% of maximum power after 25 years|
|REC Alpha series||No more than 0.25% per year||92% of nameplate power output after 25 years|
Best solar panels for efficiency
Another important solar panel feature is efficiency rating, or how much sunlight a panel converts into electricity.
The most efficient solar cell of any kind has an efficiency of 39.5%, but is designed for space applications, not an ordinary roof.
Residential solar panels typically range between 15% and 20%, with the industry leading panels pushing 23%.
If solar panel efficiency is your top concern, here are the best panels to look out for:
|SunPower||A-series||Up to 22.8%|
|SunPower||X-series||Up to 22.7%|
|Panasonic||EverVolt® Photovoltaic series||Up to 22.2%|
|SunPower||M-series||Up to 22%|
|REC||Alpha series||Up to 21.9%|
|Silfab||Elite series||Up to 21.4%|
|SEG||SIV AC Module Series||Up to 21.25%|
|Silfab||X series||Up to 21.1%|
|Solar World||Sunmodule series||Up to 21.1%|
Best solar panel warranties
Solar panels are a substantial investment that take time to pay themselves off. One of the things that makes going solar a safe bet is manufacturer’s warranties that guarantee performance well beyond the break-even mark.
Today, a 25-year warranty is standard. However, a few panel makers are offering 30-year warranties.
Aptos Solar offers a five-year extension to their standard 25-year warranty to guarantee 82.4% output after 30 years on their DNA Split Cell Series panels.
According to Aptos, that’s 4.9% more output after 25 years and 5.7% greater output after 30 years compared to the industry average.
Hyundai Energy Solutions – a subsidiary of the car maker – also offers a 30-year performance warranty on their RG series panels. This warranty guarantees 80.2% performance after 30 years.
Finally, Canadian Solar has 30-year output warranties for different types of panels.
- Polycrystalline Products: 83% output by the end of year 30
- Standard Monocrystalline Products: 81.5% output by the end of year 30
- Monocrystalline PERC Products: 83% output by the end of year 30
How to Choose The Best Solar Panels for Your Home
Every home solar system is custom designed with software by an engineer.
An expensive, high efficiency panel may perform just as well as a standard or economy panel under certain circumstances — but bigger is not always better. The optimal solar panels for your home are highly dependent on the two factors below.
1. The amount of annual household electricity use
The more electricity you consume, the more solar power you’ll need to generate. You should ideally produce enough power to offset 100% of the electricity you consume.
It’s useful to have a full year’s worth of electricity payments for reference on your bill, so your system designer can factor in household usage patterns that fluctuate month to month.
2. The characteristics of your roof
Most residential systems are placed atop your home on the roof. Your roof’s tilt, type, age, and amount of shading can all affect the number of solar panels you need.
Generally speaking, it’s better to have more panels placed on the southern side of your roof, as that’s where the sun shines the most in the northern hemisphere.
This sounds a lot harder than it really is.
Based on these factors, a solar engineer will put together several configurations using different panels. Once you have options, the choice is all yours!
What Makes A Good Solar Panel for Home?
When evaluating the solar panels themselves, be sure to review the efficiency, power rating, warranty, and bankability of different manufacturers.
Here are the main components that make a solar panel good for home applications.
Solar Panel Warranties
The length of a solar panel warranty is a message from the panel manufacturer that they think they’ve produced the best type of solar panel. The longer the warranty, the higher quality the panel.
Warranties range from 10 years to 25 years for premium panels.
Although this is the warranted duration, solar panels often last much longer because of the inherent durability of the product. Because there’s no moving parts in panels, they can keep generating power until the solar cells completely run out of conducting material.
If your solar panel is discovered to be faulty within the warranty period, the manufacturer will replace that panel or repair it for you. It should be noted that if the panel fails due to an installer’s workmanship error, this will instead be covered with the installation company’s workmanship warranty.
Beyond workmanship fault, there are some other exceptions to these warranties that most manufacturers follow. Panels that are damaged from environmental pollution, salt water, flying objects, severe storms, and other “acts of god” are typically excluded from warranties. In essence, only the normal wear and tear of panels are covered.
Solar Energy Performance Guarantee
In addition to covering any defects with the Solar Panel Warranty, manufacturers also provide a Performance Guarantee for their products.
At this time, most manufacturers guarantee a certain level of production over 25 years, but some are now guaranteeing over 80% production for 30 years.
If you want a quality residential solar panels, be sure that your evaluating the level of production that the manufacturer is guaranteeing.
Typical Performance Guarantees are in the 80-85% range after 25 years. The very best solar panels are guaranteed to perform at least 90% of rated power output.
Please note that the same exclusions from the Solar Panel Warranty also apply to the Solar Energy Performance Guarantee. So if your panels have been caked in dirt and are under-producing, the panel maker has cause to exclude your system from their guarantee. In fact, most manufacturers release their panel warranties and performance guarantees in the same document.
Solar Panel Efficiency
It’s important that every residential solar system has a monitoring system. This is the system that will allow you to view and measure real-time and historical energy production data of your system.
Some monitoring systems display this energy production data via a physical display unit, while others employ an online interface, or both.
As “smart” or connected homes become more prevalent, solar installers can provide whole-house energy consumption monitoring as well. In order to ensure your solar system is producing energy normally, it’s important to make sure your solar panels are paired with an energy production monitoring system.
Solar Panel Wattage
It is easy to confuse efficiency with wattage. Wattage is a unit of measure denoting the potential electrical output of a panel under ideal circumstances.
The higher the wattage of a panel, the more electricity it can potentially produce for your home. Higher wattage panels are ideal for smaller spaces that need higher production. However, they often come at a higher price. So it’s not always best to invest in higher wattage panels if it’s not necessary for your home.
Additionally, sometimes higher wattage panels are physically bigger. This may mean less panels can fit in a certain space, thereby negating the advantage of having higher wattage. Solar panel brands and products will vary in size and wattage, so be sure your PV designer is taking this into account when he or she works on your array.
If you’re looking to compare solar panels, be sure to consider the panel’s efficiency and wattage in the same breath. A high-efficiency, high-wattage panel may seem ideal, but if you have enough roof space it may not be necessary.
Solar Panel Aesthetics
As more people are going solar, the need for well-designed, aesthetically pleasing panels is becoming a higher consumer demand.
This is particularly the case in neighborhoods with some HOA requirements for solar arrays, or for a home that would need panels facing the road. Many homeowners with these considerations in mind prefer black panels when comparing solar panels, but there are various types of black panels to be aware of.
Most silicone cells are either dark blue or black. These cells are the squares that make up the face of the solar panels. The space between these cells is where you can see the backsheet. Having a black backsheet makes for a much sleeker, all black look.
Finally, considering frame color is important. Most solar panel frames are anodized aluminum and come in silver or black. Choosing a black frame can enhance the look of your system greatly. You may be interested in getting “all black” panels, where the frame, backsheet, and cells are all the same black color.
When choosing a solar panel brand, be careful to make sure that the company you choose will still be around to honor your warranty. Typically, larger corporations like REC and Q CELLS are safe bets and highly bankable.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, the best solar panel for home varies from homeowner to homeowner. What matters is that a certified installer examines your specific needs and designs a system to meet them.
Unfortunately, there are fly-by-night solar companies that offer one-size-fits-all solutions for every home. Solar.com was created to bring transparency into the solar market and connect homeowners with trusted installers.
If you’re ready to go solar, get started with multiple quotes from solar.com’s network of vetted installers.