Yes, installing residential solar panels can be expensive. However, that high upfront cost allows you to lock in your energy costs for the foreseeable future, as you find yourself unaffected by any price volatility caused by oil, inflation, and whatever other economic issues affect energy prices. Suffice to say, the money you invest in solar panels today can save you significantly more in the years ahead.
The best solar panels typically last two decades or more. Sure, there will be some maintenance and repairs involved throughout that period, but it still makes for a really smart investment. According to studies, in fact, most households can save an average of over $1,300 annually on energy bills by going solar. That’s not even factoring any unforeseen hikes in energy prices, which, let’s be honest, you’ll probably see several times over that two-decade span. Not to mention, solar panel systems are more affordable than ever, having decreased by 50 percent in total costs over the last decade. With the introducing of tax credits for solar in many jurisdictions, the total costs can be even lower.
Of course, even the best solar panels won’t install themselves. If you’re not quite confident in installing your own setup, don’t worry – most people do hire third-party companies to install their home panels. Some companies will recommend their preferred solar panel brands. Others will let you choose your own and even help you order them. Whichever the case, there are plenty of solar panel manufacturers today, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.
This list compiles some of the best solar panels available today to help you decide which ones you’d like to power your home in the next two decades.
Maxeon’s solar panels have a high mark of 22.8 percent for efficiency (this is true for the A Series and X Series models), making it one of the most efficient options in the category. Power production can go as high as 440W per panel, while their battery systems can store enough energy to keep most homes running for three days, making this a truly impressive system. They tend to be more expensive than other options, although their efficiency and reliable operation makes them great value even at those prices, especially for homes that require high-output solar equipment. They also offer warranties that guarantee 92 percent of their rated output after the 25-year mark, so these things are built to last for the long haul. In case you’re not a fan of the general aesthetic of solar panels, Maxeon offers their panels in an all-black design, which some people find to be a bit easier on the eyes, as well as more compact sizes in their X-Series models.
REC’s panels can generate up to 430 watts of power at efficiency levels of up to 22.3 percent, so these are easily some of the best solar panels you can get today. They offer three different lines at different price points, of course, with the base panels offering a 385W output and the two most expensive models using HJT technology, so you do have some choices to find the exact configurations that will suit your home needs better. Many tests put the outfit’s solar panels as being the most durable in the market, so these things will handle heavy loads of snow during winter, with excellent performance even in extreme weather conditions. They also offer 25 year warranties, although the 25th-year output warranty will vary on the panel model, ranging from 86 percent on the low end to 92 percent at the high end.
While Panasonic is best known for their consumer electronics products, they also make some of the best solar panels around with their Evervolt series. These panels have a 22.2 percent efficiency rating on the high end and a maximum output of 410W, with their warranty promising an impressive 92 percent output on their panels after 25 years of use, so these rank up there among the best in the category, all while being more competitively-priced than other panels in the same performance tier. Don’t get us wrong, these panels are still pricey, but they do tend to cost less than those from REC and Maxeon. Their panels have also been cited as ideal for hotter climates, since they handle high temperatures very well compared to the competition, while also being extremely durable, leading to lesser maintenance requirements through the years. They also offer panels in all-black exteriors, which some homeowners prefer, as they look less industrial compared to traditional solar panels.
While Q Cells doesn’t make the best solar panels, they do make ones that are just a rung below the top-of-the-line models, with a maximum efficiency of 20.9 percent and 410W peak output. What makes them really notable, though, is their pricing, as they strike arguably the best balance between performance and affordability. Suffice to say, if you want the best solar panels at the most affordable prices, checking out Q Cells’ offerings should lead you down a good path, which is probably the main reason why they’re the most widely installed solar panel among residential arrays in the US. Why are they cheaper? Well, their panels don’t hold power output as well as others in the list, as they retain only 93.5 percent output after 10 years and 86 percent after 25 years. If you can live with those long-term numbers, though, these are rated to handle very heavy snow loads, making them perfect for homeowners in cold climates.
This outfit’s high-end HiHero model boasts 22.8 maximum efficiency rating, which is tied for the highest efficiency in the category with Maxeon’s A Series. It also boasts a temperature coefficient of -0.26 percent, which should put it on par with the best at handling hotter climates. If you want maximum power, they also have panels that offer as much as 555W outputs, which is nuts. However, the outfit’s panels tend to degrade faster over time, retaining only 89 percent of output at best (their worst-performing panels retain only 85 percent) after 25 years. Yes, those are still very good compared to all the other solar panels out there, but not quite in the same realm as the best ones in the list. Do note, they only offer warranties as short as 12 years for some panels (and as long as 25 for some other), so make sure to verify those when shopping for one.
Silfab’s best panels offer an efficiency of 21.5 percent, with a 30-year performance guarantee, which is one of the longest warranties you’ll find in the category. Their panels also perform very well at high temperatures, although they do have lower power outputs than the best solar panels in the list. Do note, they only offer guarantees of 85.1 percent output after 25 years, which is lower than the numbers on the best solar panels here, but it is still pretty good after two decades and a half. The outfit, by the way, makes plenty of all-black panels that have really good aesthetics, with a design that are been specifically tailored for the American residential market, making them a good fit for installing in US homes.