What Are the Best Solar Panels for My Home?

What Are the Best Solar Panels for My Home?

Looking for a way to lower your energy bills each month and help the planet? Solar panels are a great way to make your home run more efficiently, reduce your utility costs, and become more environmentally friendly. Currently, over 3% of energy in the United States comes from solar power. While that might not sound like much, it’s enough to power 18 million homes!

Many homeowners still shy away from installing solar panels because of the cost. But over the years, the price of solar panels has dropped by nearly 70%, making them more affordable than ever. If you’re thinking about going solar, here are the ten best solar panels for residential use in 2021.

What Makes a Good Solar Panel?

Not all solar panels are created equal, and you want to take the time to find the right panels that will work for your unique needs. Generally, there are five criteria that help determine the best solar panels for homes:

Efficiency

A solar panel’s efficiency rating refers to how much captured sunlight it can convert into useable energy. Good solar panels will be able to maintain around 20% efficiency. Remember, the more efficient the solar panel, the higher your energy savings will be!

Durability

Even with prices steadily decreasing, buying solar panels for your home is a major investment. You don’t want your expensive panels breaking right after you install them! Make sure your solar panels can withstand anything nature can throw their way—especially if you live in an area that experiences harsh weather regularly.

These are a few of the weather conditions that could damage your solar panels:

  • Hail
  • Harsh winds
  • Thunderstorms
  • Heavy snow

Warranty

Although modern solar panels are quite tough, a good warranty can give you peace of mind that if (or when, perhaps) something goes wrong, you’re covered. Many warranties protect more than just physical damage, but they can also cover wiring issues or system malfunctions, depending on your provider. A good solar panel warranty will be anywhere from 10 to 25 years.

Temperature Coefficient

Solar panels don’t like extreme heat. For every degree above 77° Fahrenheit (25 C°), your solar panels will lose a bit of their efficiency. The temperature coefficient helps you determine how much efficiency you lose in hot temperatures.

A decent solar panel temperature coefficient is about -0.5/C°. That means when summer hits and the temperature rises to 95 F° (35 C°), your solar panels will lose 5% of their efficiency. If you live in a hot area, low temperature coefficient will be a good feature to look for.

Cost

Price is going to be a major factor when it comes to picking out the best solar panel for your home. But when you’re building your solar panel budget, just keep in mind that things like durability and efficiency will help you save money in the long run.

The overall value of a solar panel isn’t just its sticker price. Even if its slightly more expensive up front, a good, durable, efficient solar panel will likely save you more money in the long run versus a cheap budget option. There’s a reason we put cost last!

Top 10 Solar Panels for Homes in 2021

According to most online resources, LG, SunPower, and Panasonic are the top three choices for the best solar panels for residential applications. Solar panels for your home come in all shapes and sizes. While there are certainly a few options that stand out, just about every manufacturer has an area in which it excels.

Here are the top ten residential solar panels for 2021:

1. LG

  • Top overall pick

LG has been making quality tech products for decades. It’s a massive conglomerate with plenty of resources and high manufacturing standards, which makes it a Tier-1 solar panel brand. Its solar panels are also the number-one pick.

LG solar panels are known for their durability and high-quality build materials, and they have one of the highest efficiency ratings at 22.1%. Even the low-end LG models sport an 18.4% efficiency, which is still on the higher side when it comes to residential solar panels.

Even though LG maintains high manufacturing standards, it’s still nice to know that they have your back if something goes wrong. That’s why LG solar panels come with an impressive 25-year warranty, the longest in the industry. Once you install your panels, you won’t have to worry about problems for two and a half decades!

The only area in which LG isn’t quite as strong as the competition is with the temperature coefficient. LG solar panels have a temperature coefficient between -0.40 and -0.29, depending on the model you choose. While -0.29 is still considered low, there are other panels out there with lower temperature coefficients.

You can pick up LG solar panels anywhere from $2.37 to $3.13 per watt, which typically comes to around $16,500 for the average home installation. Of course, federal solar tax credits will help with some of the cost. The NeON 2 and NeON R Series are two of the most popular LG models.

Overall, LG offers durable, high-quality, and efficient solar panels at an affordable price, and they’re all backed by an industry-leading 25-year warranty. At the end of the day, these are a great option for any home solar application.

Pros

  • Up to 22% efficiency
  • 25-year warranty
  • Tier-1 manufacturer

Cons

  • Temperature coefficient is higher than other manufacturers (though still not unreasonable)

2. SunPower

  • Most efficient

If you’re looking for a solar powerhouse, SunPower is the brand to beat. They’re unmatched when it comes to efficiency. Their solar panels work at an incredible 22.8% efficiency level. That means 22.8% of all the light that hits the panel gets converted into clean, usable energy for your home! Even SunPower’s low-end models run at an impressive 19.6% efficiency. They’re currently the most energy-efficient panels on the market.

Just like LG, SunPower stands behind their panels with an industry-best 25-year warranty. In addition to their impressive warranty, SunPower panels have a 94% performance warranty after 25 years. That means that even after two decades of converting solar energy, they only lose 6% of their efficiency. That’s over 10% higher than most other solar panel manufacturers!

SunPower’s temperature coefficients are similar to LG. Depending on the model you choose, SunPower’s panels have temperature coefficients anywhere from -0.35 to -0.29. While that’s still considered low, it’s higher than some other manufacturers.

Because SunPower solar panels are top-of-the-line, they come with a top-of-the-line price tag. Most homeowners pay between $3.14 and $3.56 per watt, which ends up around $21,100 for a complete home installation on average. But remember, with tax credits, incentives, and rebates, you likely won’t pay that much up front.

Despite the higher price tag, SunPower solar panels are a high-quality powerhouse that will give you the most efficiency and longevity for your money. If you have a limited amount of space and need to generate as much energy as possible, these are the panels for you.

Pros

  • Super-high efficiency up to 22.8%
  • 25-year warranty
  • Longevity

Cons

  • More expensive
  • Temperature coefficient is higher than other manufacturers (though still not unreasonable)

3. Panasonic

  • Best temperature coefficient

Like LG, Panasonic is another large conglomerate with tons of resources and high manufacturing standards, making it another Tier-1 brand. These solar panels also have the lowest temperature coefficient of any manufacturer.

According to industry reports, Panasonic solar panels have a temperature coefficient as low as -0.258. That means in 95 F° heat, the panels lose only 2.6% efficiency. If you live in an extremely hot climate, Panasonic solar panels could be the best option.

In addition to the impressive temperature coefficient, Panasonic solar panels still come in strong with the efficiency. Depending on the model you choose, Panasonic panels range between 19.1% and 21.2% efficiency. While that might not be as high as the LG or the SunPower, it’s still much higher than the industry average of 16%.

Like the other major brands, Panasonic offers an impressive 25-year warranty against any solar panel defects. And since they’re such a large company, you don’t have to worry about them not being able to honor their warranties—even 25 years down the road.

You might think all these incredible features would come with a hefty price tag, but Panasonic solar panels are surprisingly affordable. They fall comfortably into the mid-tier price range between $2.40 and $3.02 per watt. A complete home installation costs around $16,260, not including tax credits and incentives.

If you live in a warm climate (or even if you don’t!), Panasonic solar panels provide high efficiency solar power, an industry-leading warranty, and the lowest temperature coefficient of any brand on the market. They’re a solid choice for any homeowner looking to go solar.

Pros

  • Lowest temperature coefficient
  • Up to 21.2% efficiency
  • 25-year warranty
  • Tier-1 manufacturer

Cons

  • Slightly more expensive

4. Silfab

  • Best warranty

Silfab is a Canadian solar panel manufacturer that was founded in 2010. Although they may be the “new kid on the block,” they’re one of the only manufacturers that produce all of their products in North America. They provide a quality product with an unbeatable warranty and top-notch customer service.

Depending on the model you choose, Silfab solar panels are rated between 17.6% and 21.4%. The top-tier models can challenge even massive conglomerates like Panasonic when it comes to efficiency!

When the weather gets hot, Silfab panels lose slightly more efficiency compared to some of the other bands on the list with temperature coefficients around -0.39. But unless you live in an extremely hot climate, you likely won’t notice a difference in efficiency.

Where Silfab really stands out is its warranty. While 25-years is considered industry-leading, Silfab breaks through the competition with an unmatched 30-year warranty. As if that wasn’t enough, they even increased their performance guarantee in 2020 to ensure your panels last even longer!

Silfab also regularly ranks at the top of the customer review list with a rating of 4.84/5 on Solar Reviews. They really take care of their customers, and it shows!

If you want to install Silfab solar panels on your home, it’ll typically cost between $2.48 and $3.14 per watt. A full installation goes for around $16,860 on average, making them a strong value in the solar market. Of course, all these prices are even before any tax credits or incentives!

If you’re looking for a solid, all-around solar panel that won’t break the bank, Silfab is a good choice. With their incredible warranty and unbeatable customer service, you won’t have to worry about your investment for decades to come.

Pros

  • High efficiency up to 21.4%
  • Unmatched 30-year warranty
  • High customer ratings
  • North American made

Cons

  • Higher temperature coefficient than other manufacturers

5. REC

REC is Europe’s largest manufacturer of solar panels, and because it’s all they do, they’ve gotten pretty good at it! These solar panels are some of the most efficient on the market, while maintaining a low temperature coefficient.

Although Panasonic can boast the lowest temperature coefficient, REC isn’t far behind. These solar panels have temperature coefficients between -0.37 and -0.26, just 0.02 behind Panasonic! Despite their coming in second place for the temperature coefficient competition, these panels are still ahead of almost every other manufacturer.

What they “lack” in temperature coefficient, they make up for it with efficiency. Depending on the model, solar panels range between 16.5% and 21.9% efficiency. High-end models are some of the most energy efficient panels on the market.

Like the other major solar manufacturers, REC offers an industry-best 25-year warranty on all their solar panels. The only stipulation is that the panels must be installed by an REC Certified Solar Professional installer. If you’re thinking of purchasing these panels, make sure there’s a certified installer in the area first.

Installing REC solar panels on your home will run anywhere from $2.36 and $3.16 per watt, with an average total of $16,560 (before any tax credits or incentives).

REC solar panels are a great option for homeowners living in warm climates because of their low temperature coefficient and high energy efficiency. Even if you don’t live in a warm climate, it’s hard to go wrong with REC.

Pros

  • Up to 21.9% efficiency
  • Low temperature coefficient
  • 25-year warranty

Cons

  • Warranty relies on using an REC Certified Solar Professional installer

6. Trina Solar

  • Best value

Trina Solar is one of the largest solar panel producers worldwide and has been making quality panels since 1997. In recent news, Trina Solar launched its first 600-watt panel—one of the strongest on the market. Their two most popular products are the SPLITMAX and TALLMAX product lines.

Trina Solar panels for homes are rated anywhere between 16.2% and 20.4% efficiency. While it might not be the most efficient panel on the list, Trina Solar’s high-end models still rank above average.

The temperature coefficient on Trina Solar panels lands between -0.41 and -0.36, depending on the model. Again, it’s not the lowest on the market, but it’s perfect for just about any area. You might notice some loss of efficiency if you live in an extremely hot region.

What makes Trina Solar stand out among other manufacturers is their pricing. Depending on the model, panels cost between $2.48 and $3.16 per watt, with a full installation around $16,920 on average. Although that range falls in line with many of the other manufacturers, Trina Solar has been known to offer some of the least expensive solar quotes to customers all over the world.

Despite the lower cost, you still want to make sure your investment is covered from damage or defects. That’s why Trina Solar offers 10- and 25- year warranties with some of their products. Since the warranty is model-dependent, it’s important to check the warranty status on any panel before purchase.

Although Trina Solar panels might not top the charts for efficiency or performance, their price point makes them one of the best values on the market. If you’re looking for an economical choice that still performs like a high-end system, Trina Solar might be for you.

Pros

  • Good efficiency at 20.4%
  • Offers some of the lowest solar quotes

Cons

  • Temperature coefficient is higher than other manufacturers
  • Warranties are model-dependent

7. Canadian Solar

Canadian Solar is one of the largest solar panel manufacturers in the world. They’ve been making panels since 2001 for both residential and commercial applications. Although Canadian Solar panels don’t excel in any one area, they’re a great all-around option to suit almost any need.

When it comes to efficiency, Canadian Solar panels have a rating anywhere between 15.88% and 20.60%, depending on the model. While this isn’t the highest energy efficiency on the list, it’s still above average and will be able to suit just about any need.

For temperature coefficient, Canadian Solar panels come in anywhere between -0.41 and -0.35, depending on the model. Although it’s not the lowest on the list, these temperature coefficients are still below average. Unless you live in an extremely hot area, you likely won’t notice any dip in efficiency during the summer.

Canadian Solar offers 10- and 12-year warranties against any defects on their products, depending on the model you choose. It might not be the longest warranty on the list, but 12-years is still a long time for any tech-related product.

You can install Canadian Solar panels on your home for between $2.73 and $3.19 per watt. For a complete installation, you’d be looking at around $17,760 on average, not including any tax credits or incentives.

Canadian solar might not have the greatest efficiency or performance compared to some of the other brands, but they make a solid product for a decent price. They continue to be one of the most popular solar panel manufacturers in the world.

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Good efficiency at 20.6%

Cons

  • 10- and 12-year warranties not as strong as some other brands
  • Temperature coefficient is higher than other manufacturers

8. Q CELLS

  • Most aesthetic

Q CELLS is major solar panel producer that’s headquartered in Germany but does business all over the world. They offer several different product lines to fit just about any need or budget. They’ve become a customer favorite for their high-performance panels with sleek, all-black designs that look good on any home.

They might look sleek, but they’re also powerful. Depending on the model, Q CELLS solar panels have an efficiency rating between 17.1% and 20.6%. While that might not be the highest efficiency on the market, anything above 18% is considered high efficiency. These panels will get you the energy you need.

While they might look nice and generate efficient power, the only area in which Q CELLS falls behind some of the other manufacturers is with temperature coefficient. Most panels range from -0.39 to -0.35. Although that might be a bit higher than some of the other brands on the list, it shouldn’t be a problem unless you live in an extremely hot climate. Even at 95 F°, you’ll lose only 3.5% efficiency.

Q CELLS solar panels used to come with a 12-year warranty, but on their newer models, they’ve increased their coverage to a 25-year warranty on all newer models. You won’t have to worry about defects for at least two-and-a-half decades after installation.

To install these stylish solar panels on your home, it typically costs between $2.32 and $3.08 per watt. A full installation costs an average of somewhere around 16,200, making them one of the best values on the market!

With decent efficiency and a strong 25-year warranty, Q CELL solar panels are some of the best values on the market today. The sleek black look is just the cherry on top.

Pros

  • Good efficiency around 20.6%
  • Sleek, black panels have a great aesthetic
  • 25-year warranty on new models

Cons

  • One of the higher temperature coefficients
  • Older models have 12-year warranty

9. Mission Solar

  • Best small manufacturer

Just because Mission Solar is one of the newest and smallest solar manufacturers on the market doesn’t mean you should write them off! All their products are designed, engineered, and built in the U.S. at their headquarters in San Antonio, Texas. They produce high-quality solar panels that can compete with some of the major manufacturers at an affordable price.

Depending on the model you choose, Mission Solar solar panels have an efficiency rating between 17.9% and 19.35%. That might be a bit lower than some of the other manufacturers on the list, but it’s still considered “high efficiency.” These panels will be able to get you all the power you’ll need.

When the heat rolls in, Mission Solar panels have a temperature coefficient between -0.38 and -0.35. Again, these stats aren’t as low as some of the other manufacturers, but unless you live in an extremely hot climate, you shouldn’t see any major efficiency drops in the summer. Even at 95 F°, you’ll see only a 3.5% dip in efficiency.

While you might think a small, young company wouldn’t be able to compete with massive conglomerates when it comes to warranties, Mission Solar has a surprising 25-year power and product warranty. They look after their customers just like the “big guys.”

Despite their relatively small production capabilities (comparatively, at least), Mission Solar keeps their products affordable. You can typically install Mission Solar panels for around $2.33 to $2.91 per watt. For a completely home installation, it’ll cost around $15,720 on average—which is more affordable than many of the bigger manufacturers.

Mission Solar is proof that you shouldn’t judge a tech company based on its size. Despite being young and relatively small, they produce some of the best solar panels on the market at an affordable price.

Pros

  • Good efficiency up to 19.35%
  • 25-year warranty
  • Made in the U.S.
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • Temperature coefficient is higher than other manufacturers

10. JinkoSolar

JinkoSolar is another major solar panel manufacturer that builds and installs panels all over the world. They mostly build their panels in China and Malaysia, but they recently opened a facility in Jacksonville, Florida. The “Eagle” series of solar panels is entirely made in America and one of the most popular among solar customers.

These solar panels can keep up with other leading brands when it comes to efficiency. JinkoSolar panels are rated between 18.67% and 21.33%, depending on the model. No matter which tier you choose, all JinkoSolar panels are considered “high efficiency.”

When it comes to temperature coefficient, JinkoSolar is on-par with other mid-range panels. Their solar panels have a temperature coefficient between -0.39 and -0.35. While that might be higher than some of the “premium” brands, these solar panels will only lose around 3.5% efficiency on a 95 F°.

Most JinkoSolar systems cost between $2.38 and $3.20 per watt. On average, an entire home installation will cost somewhere around $16,740, depending on the model you choose. Of course, that’s not counting any tax credits or incentives, which will help bring the price down considerably. Some JinkSolar installations cost the homeowner as little as $10,000.

Although they’re quite affordable, you still want to make sure your investment is covered. JinkoSolar panels come with a maximum 12-year warranty that protects against any defects. It might not be the longest warranty in the industry, but it’s still higher than the industry average 10-year warranty.

With their high efficiency and affordable price point, JinkoSolar solar panels are a great option for homeowners that want quality equipment that won’t break the budget.

Pros

  • Efficiency up to 21.33%
  • Affordable price point

Cons

  • Temperature coefficient is higher than other manufacturers

Bonus: WindyNation

  • Best for backup power

Standard whole-home solar panels require a major upfront investment and professional installation. If you’re not entirely convinced solar is for you, or you just want a simple backup plan, then WindyNation might be the choice for you.

WindyNation produces small solar panels that are meant to be affordable and easy to install, even for people who aren’t necessarily handy. You can buy anything from single panels to full ready-to-use kits that will give you that little boost of clean energy you need.

These solar panels are best used as a backup power source or to power smaller things like an RV, boat, or cabin. They’re not strong enough to power an entire home.

Panels start at just $82.99, and you can order full kits complete with battery and inverter for under $600. For the price, WindyNation is a great way to add some renewable energy to your home and learn how solar works without making a major investment.

WindyNation solar panels come with a 25-year warranty that can keep up with even the biggest solar manufacturers. If you’re curious about getting into solar, need a small system to power your boat or RV, or just want to pick up some new DIY skills, WindyNation is a great option.

Pros

  • Easy to DIY install
  • Highly affordable
  • Great for powering RVs, boats, etc. or used as backup power
  • 25-year warranty

Cons

  • Too small to use as a primary energy source

Install the Perfect Solar Panels for Your Home

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to choosing the right solar panels for your home. If you don’t have much space, you’ll want a more efficient panel that can generate more power in a smaller area. If you live in an extremely hot climate, temperature coefficient will be more important. Think about your situation to determine the best solar panels to fit your needs.

No matter which panels you choose, it’s important to get professional installation. Solar panels are very particular. They need to be installed in the right place and facing the right direction. Plus, with all the technological intricacies, there’s a lot that could go wrong. Hiring a professional will help ensure that your solar system is working as efficiently as possible.

If you need help finding the perfect contractor, or just want some ideas on how to make your home improvement projects go smoother, Renovators Blog is here to help! We have all the information you need about home remodeling projects, including advice, inspiration, and designer tips. Need some help on a project? Just tell us a little about it, and we’ll connect you with top-quality contractors in your area. 

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