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As solar energy has increased in popularity, so has the number of panel options available for homeowners. Numerous factors determine the best solar panels for your home, and there are dozens of brands to choose from, which can make the selection process feel overwhelming.
A top solar installation company can help you decide which panels are right for you, but it’s important to do your own research too. Our team has analyzed product specifications and warranties, read hundreds of customer reviews, and interacted with providers as if a consumer to recommend the best solar panels on the market.
Important Note: Sunpower only installs panels from Maxeon, its former subsidiary. Get a quote from one of the certified installers below if you’re interested in a different solar panel brand.
The Best Solar Panels for Homes
You can tell a lot about a solar installation company by the solar panels it uses. These are the best solar panel brands for residential properties:
- Efficiency Rate: Up to 30%
- Warranty Options: 40-year product and performance warranty
- Panel Options: Monocrystalline (black)
What We Like: Maxeon is the in-house, owned-and-operated solar panel manufacturer for SunPower, one of our top recommended solar providers. The company claims its monocrystalline solar panels have an efficiency rate of up to 30%, the highest efficiency rate on this list. This rate refers to how much sunlight the panels absorb and turn into energy for your home.
In addition to its black panels with no grid lines and solid metal backing, Maxeon is developing a unique peel-and-stick solar panel. These lightweight panels help with your home’s aesthetics as it helps avoid the use of a mounting system if the roof has an effective pitch and angle.
Maxeon Panel Warranties
Maxeon offers an impressive 40-year warranty on its panels. This warranty covers both the panels themselves and their performance.
Maxeon’s Top Solar Panels
Below are the four solar panel lines Maxeon offers:
- E Series: These are the company’s standard panels with mid-range specs.
- M Series: These panels feature built-in microinverters that convert energy from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) electricity. With these panels, you do not have to worry about a messy system with complicated wiring and inverters.
- X Series: These panels are great for smaller roof spaces. They are high-range efficiency panels with clean white or black backing.
- A Series: These are powerful monocrystalline panels, up to 420 watts, with clean white or black backing, so you not only get excellent power generation but a clean aesthetic.
- Efficiency Rate: Up to 21.5%
- Warranty Options: 25-year product, performance, and labor warranty
- Panel Options: Monocrystalline (black)
What We Like: One of the most recognizable names in electronics, LG offers a variety of high-quality, durable solar panels. LG panels fit almost any roof configuration, a flexibility that makes it a good option for homes with more complex roof structures. In addition, LG’s positive reputation and comprehensive customer support help make its solar panels a sound investment.
LG Panel Warranties
LG offers three warranties that cover all components of its solar panels. Its 25-year warranties cover any product malfunctions, performance issues, and workmanship.
LG’s Top Solar Panels
LG offers a clean, frameless, black panel for those concerned about their home’s style. The company’s two popular lines, NeON® R and NeON® 2, blend effortlessly into your roof and avoid drawing attention to bright, silver frame lines. Here are details on LG’s three main solar panels:
- 375W High-Efficiency LG NeON R: We suggest using this panel for smaller roofs. You receive a lot of power for such a small size, and it features a clean, black look without any distracting lines.
- 365W NeON 2 Black Solar Panel: This is LG’s enhanced panel. It features circular wires that scatter the sunlight throughout its solar cells. It also features a pleasing aesthetic through its smooth, black surface.
- 400W High-Efficiency LG NeON 2 BiFacial Solar Panel: These are bifacial panels that absorb sunlight both on top and underneath the panel. Look into these panels if you are concerned about getting the most daily energy production possible.
- Efficiency Rate: Up to 21.4%
- Warranty Options: 25-year product and 30-year power warranty
- Panel Options: Monocrystalline (black)
What We Like: One of the most popular solar panel manufacturers, Silfab produces some solar panels exclusively for North America. The manufacturer adapts its panels to the region’s various climates and weather. Even the U.S. military and Federal Aviation Administration use Silfab’s products.
Silfab Panel Warranties
One notable feature of Silfab is its longer-than-average 30-year power warranty. In addition to this robust warranty, the company often wins awards for longevity and overall customer satisfaction, such as Company of the Year for the 17th Annual American Business Awards.
Silfab’s Top Solar Panels
Below are the Silfab panels we recommend for Architectural Digest readers:
- SIL-360 NW: This is a larger, all-black 360-watt panel. It does feature some of those distracting lines, though.
- Silfab Elite: This is Silfab’s most efficient solar panel available. It comes in varying sizes of 370, 375, and 380 watts. It also uses a back contact feature which allows more energy absorption.
- Silfab Prime: This panel features Silfab’s highest power rating. In addition to 370 watts of power, this panel features a black-on-black design to complement darker colored rooftops.
- Efficiency Rate: Up to 21.4%
- Warranty Options: 12-year product warranty and 25-year performance warranty
- Panel Options: Monocrystalline (black) and thin-film (colors vary)
What We Like: Many of the best solar installers, including Tesla, use Hanwha’s products. Because the company works with Tesla, Hanwha makes solar shingles. These are solar panels designed to appear like roof shingles, blending them into your home’s aesthetic and roof. This design leads to some of the most aesthetically pleasing solar systems on the market. Hanwha also produces two popular solar panels series: Q-Cell and Q-Peak.
Hanwha Panel Warranties
Q-Cells includes a 12-year product warranty to cover any malfunction its panels experience from the manufacturing process. It also covers any performance issues that may occur in the long-term with a 25-year performance warranty.
Hanwha’s Top Solar Panels
Q-Cells‘ solar panels are PERC monocrystalline solar panels. PERC stands for “passivated emitter and rear contact.” This bit of industry jargon means the solar cells feature an extra layer of conductive material on the backside of the cell. This material captures a small amount of extra energy that would otherwise get reflected into the sky. Hanwha calls these panels Q.ANTUM DUO.
Read more about Hanwha Q-Cells‘ current line of residential solar panels:
- Q-Peak Duo BLK-G10+: These panels feature efficiency rates of up to 20.9%. They also feature a slick black-on-black design to avoid distracting colors or features from your solar system.
- Q-Peak Duo BLK-G10+/AC: These panels are the same as above, but they also have built-in Enphase IQ 7+ microinverters. This design leads to a faster installation process and a less messy and confusing solar system.
- Q-Peak Duo BLK ML-G10+: These panels keep the slick design of all Q-Cells’ panels, but they feature the company’s current highest efficiency rate of 21.4%.
- Efficiency Rate: Up to 21.7%
- Warranty Options: 25-year labor, product, and performance warranty
- Panel Options: Monocrystalline (black) and thin-film (colors vary)
What We Like: Another name you may recognize, Panasonic produces solar panels backed by a large, dependable brand. Panasonic’s size means it will likely be in business long-term, and therefore, it will be around to honor its lengthy 25-year warranty. In addition to this security, Panasonic’s influence and staying power mean that updating your solar system with any new solar technology produced by the company will be easier in the future.
Panasonic is also known for producing Tier 1 panels. Tier 1 refers to a solar panel manufacturer‘s fiscal soundness and size. Namely, the providers have to have provided products to six different projects, which have been financed non-recourse by six different banks in the past two years, according to the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Corporation (BNEF).
Panasonic is also one of the few providers on this list that offers thin-film solar panels. These panels are ideal for smaller projects like a solar-powered shed or poolhouse.
Panasonic Panel Warranties
Panasonic provides a robust 25-year warranty that covers practically any issue that may occur with your solar panels. Its warranty covers improper installation, performance issues, and technical malfunctions.
Panasonic’s Top Solar Panels
The company offers many solar panels, but we recommend the line below for our readers:
EverVolt Black Series Module: This high-efficiency monocrystalline solar panel line is the only one of Panasonic’s to feature a crisp, clean black design. The company offers this series in increasing increments of 350, 360, and 370 watts.
- Efficiency Rate: Up to 21.9%
- Warranty Options: 10-year labor warranty, and 25-year product and performance warranty
- Panel Options: Monocrystalline (black)
What We Like: REC is one of Europe’s largest solar panel producers. REC’s solar panels feature a high temperature-coefficient rate of -0.37 to -0.26. This spec makes REC’s panels ideal if you reside in a colder region that may experience a lot of snow and ice during winter.
REC also utilizes an innovative design known as half-cut cells. This design is opposed to the standard full-size square solar cells, and it allows a standard 60-cell panel to feature a total of 120 cells. The two “half-cut” halves are joined parallel at the center of the panel, but they operate independently. This design means if one-half of your panel is in the shade, it does decrease the power output of the other half of the panel. For example, a full-size 60-cell panel might suffer up to 40% power loss when shade covers a portion of the panel.
REC Panel Warranties
REC provides a 10-year labor warranty to ensure that any improper installation practices do not cause your system to malfunction. In addition to this warranty, the company also includes a 25-year product and performance warranty to cover any technical malfunctions or performance issues that are caused by the solar panels themselves.
REC’s Top Solar Panels
REC’s entry-level Twinpeak range of panels features excellent value for the money, and they grant you access to the company’s 25-year product and performance warranty. Overall, we recommend REC’s Alpha Series solar panels:
- REC Alpha: These panels feature barely visible wires and black-colored cells. However, you will notice some lines from the frame. REC offers this series of panels from 360 to 380 watts.
- REC Alpha Pure: These panels not only feature high efficiency, with the series reaching upwards of 410 watts, but they also feature a seamless black and lead-free construction to lessen your environmental impact.
- Efficiency Rate: Up to 20.4%
- Warranty Options: 25-year product and power warranty
- Panel Options: Monocrystalline (black) and polycrystalline (blue)
What We Like: Trina Solar is an excellent choice for those looking for more economical solar panels. Its most popular residential solar panel model is the Residential series. This cost-effective series features outputs ranging from 335 to 365 watts. Like REC, the Residential 365W module has increased efficiency by using new half-cut PERC cells, and it features an all-black look to help you avoid any distracting lines and frames on your roof.
Though polycrystalline solar panels are a less popular option, Trina Solar still offers them. Depending on your solar project, these panels may pose a more cost-efficient solution in the long run. For example, if you have a smaller solar project that requires less power output to properly operate your home, polycrystalline panels might work for you. This is because polycrystalline solar panels are less efficient than monocrystalline panels, with an average efficiency of around 20%, but tend to cost less than monocrystalline panels.
Trina Solar Panel Warranties
Trina Solar covers any malfunction with components of its solar panels, as well as any performance and power output issues through its combo 25-year product and power warranty.
Trina Solar’s Top Solar Panels
Below are Trina Solar’s residential solar panels:
- Vertex: These are Trina’s most powerful solar panels. They are capable of generating between 500 and 600 watts of power. However, they feature a less aesthetically pleasing design with bright silver frames running up and down the panels.
- Vertex S: This is a smaller version of the Vertex series. They feature outputs of 390 to 405 watts and are ideal for smaller roofs.
- Residential: These panels go up to a more economical, less powerful panel available for 365 watts. However, the Residential 365W is more aesthetically pleasing than the Vertex series, given its black-on-black design.
- TALLMAX: This series features the best of both worlds, as the TALLMAX 415W features higher efficiency rates and the same slick black design as the Residential 365W.
Picking out solar panels is no easy task, with many factors to consider when looking into which option is best for your home. We find that Maxeon from SunPower offers some of the best solar panels on the market today. Its products feature some of the highest efficiency rates we have seen, and it offers an impressive 40-year warranty in terms of both product and performance.
LG also provides high-quality and durable solar panels backed by one of the best brands in electronic manufacturing. However, if customer service is also a high priority for you in addition to high-quality solar panels, you may want to consider Silfab with its impressive accolades and affiliations.
Solar installation is also another avenue you may want to consider. Installing a solar power system is not a simple DIY task. We recommend you get quotes from three different solar installation companies in your area to compare offerings. Feel free to use our tool below to get started on your solar journey.
Compare Top Solar Panel Installation Companies
|Location Presence||Star Rating||BBB Rating||Link|
|Momentum Solar||11 States||A+||Get Free Quote|
|SunPower||50 States||A+||Get Free Quote|
|Blue Raven Solar||18 States||A+||Get Free Quote|
|Sunrun||21 States||A+||Get Free Quote|
|Palmetto Solar||20 States||A+||Get Free Quote|
|Tesla Solar||50 States||A+||Get Free Quote|
|ADT Solar||23 States||A+||Get Free Quote|
Types of Solar Panels
One of the most popular types of solar panels, monocrystalline solar panels currently feature the highest efficiency rate, an average of 24%. These panels also have an average lifespan of 25 to 40 years. Sometimes called mono panels, these are typically better suited for a pleasing aesthetic. They feature a dark-black color, making it easier for them to blend into a home’s color scheme and design. If you are interested in solar shingles or a solar roof, you will probably choose monocrystalline panels.
Polycrystalline solar panels use less pure silicon than mono panels, so they are less efficient with an average rate of 20%. Polycrystalline panels tend to have lower heat tolerance and an average 25-to-35-year lifespan. These panels tend to feature a blue color instead of black, and you may need a larger roof for their installation than you would mono panels.
Thin-film panels are a newer solar panel used less often for homes than mono– and polycrystalline. These panels get their name from the thin layers of semiconductor materials used. Materials range from silicon, cadmium telluride, and copper indium gallium selenide.
Thin-film solar panels are less efficient, at an average efficiency rate of 19%, and they last between 10 and 20 years. Thin-film panels are entirely black, flat, and flexible in shape and size and have the sleekest appearance among the three types of panels.
Benefits of Installing Solar Panels
Solar panels provide various benefits for not just your home and savings but also your community and Mother Earth. Learn about some of the most significant benefits of a solar system below.
- Save money on your energy bills: Solar panels work to lower your energy costs. In some instances, a solar system may eliminate your electricity bills.
- Earn tax credits: Solar panels also grant you access to various tax credits and rebates. Rebates change according to your state, so we recommend you use the State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency Database to see what specific rebates and state tax credits are in your zip code. Other than this, you may also take advantage of the 30% federal solar tax credit, the solar investment tax credit (ITC). If you have an on-grid system that experiences excess energy, you may earn money through solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs). These certificates note how much energy your system gives back to the power grid and your community.
- Increase your home’s value: A solar energy system is not just an investment for your energy bills, but it is also a significant investment for your property value. According to Tyler Adams, director of marketing at Astrawatt Solar, “The increased resale value will depend on your area’s real estate market, size of your system, and other factors, but it’s found a home’s resale value will increase by $15,000 on average.”
- Save the environment: It is well-known that solar energy is at the forefront of the renewable energy effort. You help your community move away from a finite energy resource and improve public health by installing a solar system. Coal and natural gas plants produce air and water pollution harmful to human health, and solar energy is clean.
How Much Does a Solar Installation Cost?
The overall cost of solar panels varies from home to home. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) estimates the average cost for a standard 6-kilowatt (kW, or 6,000 watts) residential rooftop solar system is around $18,000. This amount is before any applied federal tax credits or local incentives. Read over some more factors that influence the overall cost of a solar system below.
- Solar panel type: The type of solar panel you order will influence your total price. For example, the average cost for monocrystalline solar panels is $1 to $1.50 per watt, so a standard 6 kW system costs $6,000 to $9,000. On the other hand, the average cost for polycrystalline solar panels is $0.90 to $1 per watt, making it $5,400 to $6,000 total.
- Labor: Installation labor costs between 100% and 200% of the cost of the solar panel system itself. For example, if you purchase a 6 kW monocrystalline solar panel system for $12,000, a solar installation company will likely charge around $24,000 to $36,000 for the system and the installation. The smaller a project your installation is, the lower the cost and vice versa.
- Additional equipment: Often, residential solar systems require a solar battery to store energy. They also require an inverter, which converts your photovoltaic (PV) solar panels’ variable direct current (DC) output into alternating current (AC). Most solar companies will include an inverter into a solar system’s design. However, if you request additional components or a specific brand of solar battery and inverter, such as a Tesla Powerwall solar battery, they come at a premium.
- Payment option: The type of payment option affects the total cost of your system in the long term. Purchasing the system up-front is the most cost-effective option. You can also opt for a solar loan and other solar financing options. However, interest from these plans might add more cost over time. Less cost-effective options include a solar lease or entering a power purchase agreement (PPA). These options do not let you own the system yourself. Instead, you pay to rent the equipment from a solar provider.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most efficient residential solar panel?
Maxeon from SunPower provides the most efficient residential solar panel with rates of up to 30%.
How many solar panels are needed to run a house?
On average, a house with monthly electricity consumption of 1000 kWh requires around 26 to 30 solar panels, as long as each panel is 320 watts.
How long do solar panels last?
Solar panels tend to last between 25 and 30 years.
How often do solar panels need maintenance?
Another factor in owning solar panels that might slip your mind, solar panels require cleaning and maintenance about twice per year. However, you may only need one cleaning per year if your home experiences a lot of rain and less debris.
Do solar panels need to be tilted?
Solar panels do need to be tilted or placed on a pitch because your panels will produce maximum energy when the sun is directly perpendicular to them. The ideal roof pitch for solar panels in the northern hemisphere is between 30 degrees and 45 degrees facing south. Tyler Tucker, chief development officer at Astrawatt Solar, says that if the majority of your solar panels are facing north, you’re “going to have to spend 50% to 60% more to get the same amount of output from [your] system.” Unless your available roof space faces south, east, or west it, “financially… doesn’t make a lot of sense” to get solar panels.
How We Chose the Top Solar Providers
We researched and analyzed dozens of solar panels and solar installation companies. We then formulated a rating system based on each solar installer or manufacturer’s services and products on several significant factors. Factors include the types of solar panels they offer and their quality, customer support network, warranty lengths and limitations, and additional benefits for homeowners, such as mobile apps for monitoring and customer service.
Speaking directly to a representative at each company, we determined how each solar company personalizes its solar panel installation for each home. We also analyzed each company’s warranty options to ensure their product and performance guarantees match or exceed industry standards.
We evaluated each provider based on their rating and history with the Better Business Bureau to determine reputation. In addition, we analyzed the 100 most recent Google Reviews for each provider across various locations and branches.
Read more: Our Methodology