The 5 Best Solar Panels: What you need to know

Share Button
Lumos solar panels installed above the patio at the Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens.
Sun Pacific Solar installation at the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens using Lumos panels as an architectural enhancement.

All solar panels are not made equally.

Whether you want to find a balance between price and efficiency or you want the best of the best, the information below will help you decide what the best solar panels are for your project.

We can purchase and install any type of solar panel but we’re particular about the products we adopt because quality is very important to us. We highly recommend SunPower panels (their quality, efficiency and durability are excellent, and they have the best warranty). SunPower panels are widely considered the best solar panels on the market.

Next, we would rank LG and Panasonic as the second best solar panel manufacturers on the market. Below is a comparison between various types of panels on the market, including some basic manufacturer warranty information. Click on the links in each section for more warranty information for each manufacturer. Though there are many other manufacturers, we believe these six make the best solar panels.

When considering which type of solar panel is right for you, there are several factors to consider. Quality, efficiency, degradation and what type of warranty the manufacturer provides (including whether labor is covered) are important.

However, there are other aspects to review that may be equally important. For example, as companies make higher efficiency panels, they change the size of the panels. So if you ever need to replace a panel in the future, it becomes very tricky to find one with a similar square footage and aesthetic. Also, how well-established and diversified a company is is important. Evergreen Solar is an example of a solar manufacturer that went out of business and left their customers with terminated warranties and no one to turn to. For us, these factors determine which are the best solar panels.

Efficiency how much power a solar panel produces. Depending on the technologies used, some panels are better at converting sunlight into electricity so the percentage varies by manufacturer.

Degradation a panel’s efficiency loss over time. The industry standard is to warranty this percentage up to the installation’s 25 year mark.

SunPower

SunPower makes the best solar panels on the market. They have the highest efficiency rating (20% – 24.1%), they have the lowest degradation rate in the industry (92% production at year 25), and yield up to 60% more power in their lifetime than conventional panels. SunPower is also the only manufacturer that keeps its solar panels the same size as they increase their efficiency (making panel replacements within an array much easier). Panels come in All Black models and standard white-rimmed solar cells. SunPower has over 30 years of industry leadership, making them the longest player in the field.

SunPower panels have a 25 year warranty that covers labor costs for anything except damage caused by Force Majeure. They are also the first panels to have Silver Cradle to Cradle Certification (a third party certification that assesses a product’s environmental impact in five different categories).

LG

LG solar panels are competitively priced, they come in both black and standard white-rimmed solar cells with an efficiency range of 15.9% to 20.3%, and have a high wattage per square foot ratio. LG and Panasonic both use quality materials and are therefore both in 2nd place for best solar panel manufacturer. One of the main drawbacks of LG panels is that they haven’t been on the market very long, so only time will tell if LG stays in the solar industry, though LG is a very diversified company. LG panels have a guaranteed production of 87% at year 25.

LG has a 15-25 year warranty that covers labor costs for repairs or replacements for manufacturer defects (depending on the solar panel models).

Panasonic

In 2011 Panasonic purchased Sanyo Solar, which was the best solar panel manufacturer on market until SunPower came along. Today, Panasonic panels are about equivalent to LG, with both companies tying for 2nd best in the market. They are high voltage and high quality panels. They have a 19.1% to 19.7% efficiency rating and are guaranteed at 90.76% production in year 25.

Panasonic has a 15 year warranty on materials and workmanship from the date of purchase by the customer, or a 25 year warranty if the system is registered on their website within 60 days. Their warranty excludes installations on mobile, marine or recreational vehicles of any kind, and exposure to ocean spray.

Lumos

Lumos panels are the most aesthetically pleasing and are perfect for shade structures or trellises. Lumos panels are encased in glass and have an integrated mounting system that can make them completely waterproof. Because they’re often used as architectural enhancements, they come in a variety of models with solar cells placed at different density intervals allowing for more or less light to pass through. This is why their efficiency ratings vary so much (from 7.1% to 23.3%). Panels are guaranteed at 80% output at year 25. Lumos was founded in 2006 and is putting all of their energy into solar panel production.

Lumos panels have a 5 year repair, replacement and refund warranty and does not cover labor.

Hyundai

Hyundai uses the same technology as LG but is several years behind. Their solar panels are much less expensive but they’re not as efficient and take up more square footage, so they’re a good choice for installations where space is not an issue. Hyundai solar panels have a 15.8% to 18.4% efficiency range and are guaranteed to be producing at 80.2% at year 25. Hyundai is a very diversified company and has been in the solar industry since 2005.

Hyundai has a 10 year warranty on materials and workmanship.

Based on efficiency, degradation and the longevity of the warranty, we’re rated these six manufacturers as the best solar panel producers. Should you have additional questions, feel free to reach out.

 

If you want to know more about our installations contact us today or check out our installation gallery.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *