The 10 Best Solar Panels for 2021: A Detailed Breakdown

best solar panels

Shopping for solar panels for your home or small business?

The search can be long, not to mention overwhelming. With hundreds of options on the market (and more new brands coming on the scene), where should you start?

Well, we can simplify the search for you a bit.

First, solar panels are a long-term investment—there’s no question about it. There’s the installation process, which in most cases requires you to hire a company to do it. Then there’s the cost (they’re not cheap—but they’ll pay for themselves over the long run).

You want your solar panels to last a long time. So, when looking at the “best” solar panels, we already know that two things will be very important:

  • Quality
  • Durability

And once you know how to look for those two things, then it becomes much easier to narrow the list down to only the “best” solar panels. We’ll give you a quick primer on how to do that as well.

There are only a few brands right now that really check off all the boxes when it comes to quality and durability, and we’ll break down these best solar panel brands for you in this post. Here’s what we’ll dive into—skip ahead to the panels if you’d like:


How to choose the “best” solar panels: 6 key factors to consider

How much do they cost?

If you’re like most folks, being eco-conscious is important and all, but budget is the top of the list in terms of considerations. If you’re looking for the best solar panels, just keep in mind that the cost will be higher than lower-quality solar panels.

That being said, these solar panels will likely last longer—and perform at a higher efficiency even near the end of the warranty’s time period (usually 25 or 30 years), so the cost will be well worth it.

When you’re looking at cost, don’t just look at the dollar amount either.

Look at it in terms of cost per watt.

🌞 Pro-tip: To calculate cost per watt, take the total watt output of your solar panels, then divide it by how much they’ll cost. This is a more accurate way of thinking about cost, because some solar panels will give you 400 watts and others will give you 300 watts—how much electricity are you really getting for that price?

This goes for other types of solar panels as well, like portable ones that you can take around when you travel.

How efficient are they?

Sure, efficiency is “good” to have in your solar panels—but why is that?

Efficiency is one of the most important factors to consider when looking at solar panels, and here’s the reason why: if your solar panels are efficient, then you’d need fewer solar panels to generate the same amount of electricity compared to if you were using less efficient solar panels.

And if you don’t have the luxury of having a huge rooftop or ground space to put your solar panels on, then efficiency will be extra important.

Most solar panels will range in efficiency from around 13 or 14 percent to 22 or 23 percent (which is considered very high), which means that 13 to 23 percent of the sunlight that the solar panels absorb actually gets turned into electricity.

🌞 Pro-tip: As technology improves, solar panels are being listed at higher and higher wattages. Does that mean higher is better? Sometimes—a higher wattage typically signifies that a solar panel is more efficient, but it’s usually also more expensive and bigger.

Temperature coefficient: What is it and what does it mean?

A solar panel’s temperature coefficient tells you how much of an impact that extremes in temperature will have on your solar panels’ performance.

You’ll see this number given as “% per °C.”

The thing to know about this number is that the lower the number is, the more efficient your solar panel. (0.39% / °C is considered on the high end, while 0.26% / °C is considered low.)

What this tells you is how much efficiency is lost for each degree that’s above or below the ideal testing conditions for solar panels.

That’s why a lower number is good, because that means your solar panels will lose only 0.26% in efficiency (as opposed to 0.35 or 0.39%) for every degree outside of the temperature in the “ideal” testing scenario.

🌞 Pro-tip: The temperature coefficient is a useful number to know, but it’s not generally a make-or-break number unless you live somewhere with really extreme temperatures. (Most panels have an “operating temperature” between -40°C and 85°C, so it’s not often likely that the temperature will fall outside of this range in most areas of the world.)

The main thing to remember here: extremes in temperature, either hot or cold, can lower your solar panels’ output. Just something to keep in mind.

Things to keep in mind when thinking about solar panel efficiency

The efficiency of your solar panels isn’t just a direct result of how they were designed by the manufacturer or how “good” of a brand you chose. There are other factors too, like:

  • The type of cells used in the solar panel (Monocrystalline cells are generally more efficient than polycrystalline cells, for instance)
  • Irradiance (Basically, how much power you’re getting from sunlight, measured in watts per square meter)
  • The temperature (Remember what we said about extremes in temperature negatively impacting solar panel performance?)
  • The environment (Are your panels angled and oriented the right way? Are you in an area that gets a lot of clear, sunny days? Is there a tree or any tall buildings that are blocking your solar panels from absorbing the maximum amount of sunlight?)
🌞 Pro-tip: Putting your solar panels under shaded or even partially shaded areas used to lead to a pretty significant drop in efficiency and output. Even one cell being in the shade could affect the performance of the entire solar panel.

However! Newer solar panels actually have a neat design feature that gets around this obstacle. We’ll get more into this later in the list of the best solar panels.

How much power can they produce?

The number of watts associated with a solar panel tells you how much power it can produce.

The more watts a solar panel has, the more electricity it can generate for you.

One important thing to note when you’re looking for the best solar panel for you is that the advertised wattage is often not the actual wattage that solar panel produces!

For example, if you’re looking at a solar panel that says “330W Awesomesauce Solar Panel by X Brand,” this 330 number is only representative of the maximum output, under ideal circumstances.

This wattage was most likely found in a lab or some kind of strict testing condition that would almost never be found in real life, with real life conditions like wind and snow and partial sunlight.

To find the “real” wattage for a solar panel, you’d have to look deeper under the spec sheet or details until you see two abbreviations: STC and NOCT.

STC

STC stands for “Standard Test Conditions.” What kind of conditions are these? Glad you asked:

  • Irradiance of 1000 watts per square meter
  • Cell temperature of 25°C / 77°F
  • Air mass of 1.5

Now, these conditions are simulating a very specific scenario:

  • Maximum sunshine, which is great for generating electricity
  • No cloud cover—also great for generating electricity because nothing’s obstructing the solar panel’s ability to absorb sunlight
  • Low air temperatures, which is good because it reduces the likelihood of your solar panels overheating beyond the operating temperature
  • Ideal solar panel orientation that catches the sun at the perfect angle

If all of these conditions sound too good to be true, that’s because they are. This would almost never happen in the real world. (And even if it did, it would most likely be a stroke of luck and temporary—not a reliable long-term environment.)

🌞 Pro-tip: As you can tell based on what’s considered an ideal testing condition for solar panels, the “best” or optimal temperature for your panels to be operating at peak performance levels is about 25°C / 77°F.

NOCT (sometimes listed as NMOT)

NOCT stands for “Nominal Operating Cell Temperature,” which does reflect more realistic real-world environments.

  • Irradiance of 800W per square meter (you’ll notice this number is lower than the STC number, which means there’s less sunlight here)
  • Ambient temperature of 20°C / 68°F
  • Wind speed of 1 m/s

Compared to the STC conditions, these ones are much closer to what you’d experience in real life—and a more accurate representation of your solar panels’ performance.

When you look at the comparison of the best solar panels further below, make sure to look at the wattage numbers for both STC and NOCT. (For some solar panels, the difference will be major!)

What’s the warranty like?

When you’re thinking about long-term investments like solar panels, one of the most important things to consider is the warranty.

This isn’t some cheap one-off thing that you’re buying with the expectation that it won’t last very long. For the money you’re putting up, you’ll want your solar panels to last 25 years—at the minimum. (Just our opinion.)

When you shop around for solar panels, you’ll notice that most will come with warranties that range anywhere from 10 to 25 or even 30 years. Because this article is about the best solar panels, you’ll notice that the selections in our list below all have generous warranties of 20 years at the very minimum.

That being said, just because a solar panel has a 20 or even 25-year warranty doesn’t mean that you can expect it to stop working or even deteriorate significantly at the end of that time span.

Solar panels are renowned for being very hardy and durable, and typically will continue working at a very high efficiency well past the 20-year mark.

If you do the little things regularly to keep them in good shape (like removing debris and dust to make sure it absorbs the maximum amount of sunlight), your solar panels should last a very, very long time.

“Equipment warranty” or “solar panel warranty” vs “performance warranty”

Usually, you’ll find that solar panel manufacturers mention two types of warranties: the equipment warranty (or solar panel warranty) and the performance warranty.

The first one is probably the type of warranty you’re most familiar with—if the solar panel breaks or malfunctions at any time within that timespan because of workmanship issues (not because you broke it by accident), they’ll replace it for you.

For these warranties to remain valid though, you have to make sure that your installers are authorized by the manufacturer or are working with the manufacturer. (For example, Panasonic has authorized installation companies that they work with and you have to get your panels installed by these companies if you want to be able to make any claims against the warranty in the future. It makes sense—they probably wouldn’t want shoddy workmanship in the installation process, which could affect the lifespan and performance of their solar panels.)

The second type of warranty, the “performance” warranty, is the more interesting type. This is essentially a guarantee that your solar panels will continue performing at a reasonably high clip throughout that 20 or 25-year span.

Most decent solar panels will guarantee at least 80 to 85% performance, but again, because we’re only looking at the best solar panels in the list below, you’ll see performance guarantees that are at that standard (or well above it). 🙂

🌞 Pro-tip: With the current technology, all solar panels—no matter which brand or type you go with—will perform less and less effectively over time. That’s unavoidable, and it’s just the way that the silicon in solar panels’ cells are.

How established is the company?

Because solar panels are still relatively new in the grand scheme of things, it’s probably a good idea to go with a more well-known and established company.

Even if you do get a whopping 30-year warranty, if it’s with a super new company that no one knows, who’s to say that the company will still be around to fulfill the warranty after 30 years if something goes wrong?

If you look at what’s generally considered the best solar panels out there, you’ll notice a pretty significant difference—both in terms of quality and also in the innovative “cool-factor” features—that really set brands like REC and LG apart. (We’ll dig into these in detail later, hang tight.)

Do the solar panels look good?

Okay, we put this one last because aesthetics just aren’t important for some people, which is totally fair. If the solar panels work well and that’s all you care about, feel free to skip this section.

In terms of aesthetics, you have an ever-growing variety of options to choose from—some don’t even look like solar panels, and people on the street would be hard-pressed to tell if your roof has a solar array on it. If you want function and beauty in the same package, you’ll be glad to know that some of the best solar panels today both perform at a high level and look slick too.

From anodized silver to all-black frames, to large cell faces with camouflaged borders, there are some nifty solar panels in our breakdown that are designed to look good while working more efficiently. But more on that later.


A quick comparison of the best residential solar panel brands

We’ll look at solar panels from each brand in detail in just a bit, but for now, here’s a quick comparison of the top solar panel brands. (Specifically, in terms of power, efficiency, and warranties.)

You’ll notice that we’ve listed ranges instead of exact numbers. That’s because these numbers will vary a bit depending on which model of solar panel you’re looking at. Also, keep in mind that these are residential solar panels, not commercial solar panels (which will typically pack more of a punch in terms of power / wattage).

In alphabetical order (accurate as of December 2020):

Performance guaranteeAdvertised power rating (W)Equipment warranty (years)Efficiency
AXITEC85% at 25-yr mark270 to 4101517 to 19%
SunPower92%(!) at 25-yr mark320 to 4352519 to 22.7%
Mitsubishi Electric80% at 25-yr mark270 to 2801016.3 to 16.9%
Panasonic90.76% at 25-yr mark320 to 3402519.1 to 21.6%
Q Cells83% at 25-yr mark315 to 3901219.9% to 20.8%
REC80.7 to 92% at 25-yr mark285 to 38020 to 2517.7 to 21.7%
Solaria86% at 25-yr mark350 to 4402519.4 to 20.3%
LG90.8 to 95.4% at 25-yr mark315 to 4102519 to 22%

How we ranked the “best” solar panels

Everyone obviously has different requirements and priorities when they’re looking for solar panels, which is why the “best” solar panels for one person may not be the best for another person.

For our purposes here, we’ve tried to balance the efficiency, warranty, power output—and aesthetics of the panels. (We care about how they look! 😇)

Even so, we still think it’s worth understanding the details of how each of these solar panels work, so we’ll highlight things like temperature coefficients and sometimes even the panels’ backing material if it’s noteworthy.

Okay. Let’s get into it.


What are the best solar panels for homes? A breakdown of the top 10

1. Panasonic N330E Black Series AC Module

Best overall and most efficient home solar panels

panasonic solar panels

First, let’s look at a well-known electronics brand that’s renowned for way more than just their solar products.

Panasonic is one of the most famous electronics brands in the world—and they’ve got the solid warranty to prove it. Their TripleGuard warranty, like LG’s, is impressive, guaranteeing 90.76% of initial power output at the 25-year mark (and it covers everything, including parts and labor too).

What’s unique about this N330E Series solar panel is that Panasonic has microinverters built right in.

🌞 Pro-tip: What’s a microinverter? Inverters essentially turn direct current (or DC, which is how sunlight gets absorbed by your solar panels) into alternating current (AC), which is what your household appliances use.

Inverters are usually attached to your solar power system as a whole, while microinverters (as the name suggests) are smaller and are attached to each solar panel in your array. Why do this? Well, the benefit is that with a regular inverter, if one panel gets cast in shadow or has debris on it, it negatively affects the output of the entire system.

On the other hand, with microinverters, because each panel has its own, that negative impact would be minimized because each panel can keep producing electricity independently of the others.

Here’s a quick image that shows how that works:

infographic depicting how a microinverter works

So, back to Panasonic. This is the benefit of having its solar panels with built-in Enphase IQ 7X microinverters—typically, buying microinverters separately will cost a pretty penny, so having these already integrated into your solar panels is a plus.

Something that’s noteworthy about the frame on these Pansonic solar panels is that even though they don’t provide information on what material the frames are made of exactly, they do say that they’re 40mm thick.

And not only are they designed for durability and strength, there’s also a unique water drainage system built into it that prevents rainwater from accumulating and reduces water stains on the surface of the solar panel. This is good because it helps keep the surface clear and able to take in as much sunlight as possible. Solar panels are already pretty low-maintenance, and this reduces the amount of work on your part even more!

But a big reason why Panasonic tops this list is because of its incredible efficiency. As you decide which solar panels are best for your home, make sure to look at the advertised wattage and the actual NOCT / NMOT / PTC estimate. For some solar panel brands, this difference is significant. (Yes, even some of the best solar panels on this list below.)

This particular model from Panasonic has, in comparison, a very small difference (330 watts vs 306.8 watts). And even though the testing conditions for PTC aren’t exactly the same as those for NOCT, Panasonic’s temperature coefficient is much better than all the competitors. Because of this—and because a five-degree difference in the testing condition’s temperature is the only thing that differentiates PTC from NOCT numbers—we’re giving the win to Panasonic.

However! There’s one caveat… The operating temperature for Panasonic only goes down to -18°C. All of the other options go down to -40. So, if you live up north or somewhere cold, you’ll have to skip this one and move on to #2 on our list.

The stats

  • Power – STC: 330W
  • Power – PTC: 306.8W
🌞 Pro-tip: Hold on—Isn’t the “realistic” output wattage denoted by NOCT / NMOT? What’s PTC? PTC is similar to NOCT, except it’s kind of halfway between “ideal” STC numbers and “real life” NOCT numbers. PTC assumes a solar irradiance of 1000W/m2 (like STC), an ambient temperature of 20 degrees Celsius (like NOCT), and a wind speed of 1 m/s (like NOCT).
  • Weight: 19.5kg / 42.99 pounds
  • Efficiency: 19.7%
  • Dimensions: 1590 x 1053 x 40 mm / 62.6 x 41.5 x 1.6 in
  • Operating Temperature: -18 to +85 °C
  • Frame: n/a
  • Temperature coefficient: -0.258%/°C
  • Performance guarantee: 90.76% at 25-year mark
  • PID-resistant? Yes

2. SunPower ® A-Series A425

sun power a series solar panels

SunPower is marketing these A-Series solar panels as “the world’s first 400-watt solar panels”, so naturally, we chose these ones to compare against the other best solar panels.

(Of course, as time moves quickly in the best-solar-panel world, they’re no longer the only 400-watt residential solar panels available. Just like businesses in any other industry, solar companies tend to catch up fast—especially the big ones.)

Compared to SunPower’s previous generation of solar panels, these ones contain solar cells that are a remarkable 65% larger, which means they’re able to absorb way more sunlight (and convert it into more electricity).

Now, let’s move onto the really interesting stuff.

SunPower’s claim to fame for these solar panels is that they’re the only “fully integrated solution that’s designed, engineered, and warranted by one manufacturer” (emphasis ours).

From their website, it looks like their Equinox® system includes their solar panels, which contain built-in microinverters—like the Panasonic N330Es. You have the option of adding SunPower’s SunVault™ Storage system, which essentially acts as a battery to store your unused electricity. It doesn’t come included in the Equinox system, but you can add it on to your package.

That being said, it’s worth noting that other brands, like LG, also make their solar batteries that can be used with their solar panels. It’s nothing new, and this trend should only become more popular as companies realize that Apple was onto something—create a whole ecosystem of products under your umbrella, like MacBooks and iPhones and AirPods and so on… and you could get a customer who’s completely devoted to your brand.

However, the advantage here if you do decide to use SunPower for your entire solar power system is that SunPower’s warranty will cover that whole system—not just the solar panels. That’s a little more convenient, since you won’t have to keep track of warranties from different manufacturers if you use one brand for your battery and another for your solar panels.

Plus, one of the most impressive things about SunPower is its warranty. It’s no slouch, covering you for 25 years and including everything from performance to labor to parts—and at a 92% performance guarantee after 25 years, it’s tops on this list of best solar panels, good enough to land it at #2.

The stats

  • Power – STC: 425W
  • Power – NMOT (or NOCT): 315W
  • Weight: 21.1kg / 46.5 pounds
  • Efficiency: 22.8%
  • Dimensions: 1016 x 1835 x 40mm / 40 x 72.2 x 1.57 in
  • Operating Temperature: –40 to +85 °C
  • Frame: Black anodized aluminum
  • Temperature coefficient: -0.29%/°C
  • Performance guarantee: 92% at 25-year mark
  • PID-resistant? Yes

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links through which we may receive a small commission at no cost to you, if you choose to purchase anything after visiting a link on this page. That being said, these tools were curated from extensive research and consideration of reviews of the best options we’ve found.


3. REC Alpha Series

Most uniquely designed home solar panels

When it comes to brand power, REC isn’t quite as globally known as LG and Panasonic, but nonetheless, its solar panels pack some pretty impressive technology. It lands at #3, beating out LG by a hair.

Housed in REC’s iconic twin panel design (which they pioneered), the Alpha series solar panels are split into two twin sections in order to reduce internal resistance and give you more power and reliability:

REC solar panel comparison

Again, many of the best solar panels currently on the market are taking into consideration not only the aesthetics of having an all-black look, but also the benefits of having larger cell faces.

With REC, this look is a conscious design decision, with barely visible wiring and an overall design that pretty much eliminates any soldering, which is traditionally used to bond solar cells together, but is invasive and risks damaging your solar cells.

Like LG and Panasonic, REC’s solar panels carry some of the best warranty terms out there, with a 25-year product warranty that covers any defects in workmanship, a 25-year performance warranty, and even a 25-year labor warranty that can help cover you if your solar panels ever need to be serviced.

Even so, the design of the solar panels will hopefully ensure that you won’t have to take advantage of the warranty, since REC has added support bars to protect the solar cells and glass from straining and bending under the weight of the panel.

Here’s a visual comparison—as you can see, most solar panels have only the four sides as part of the frame: REC solar panel durability

REC’s HJT (Heterojunction cell technology) cells are also bifacial cells, which means that they can absorb sunlight on both sides of the cell. Plus, REC uses a certain type of cell connection technology that doesn’t involve soldering—this is an advantage because badly soldered joints or bonds can add stress to solar cells and make them more susceptible to breakage.

🌞 Pro-tip: What are “half cells” / “half-cut cells” / “split cells?” Solar panels with these types of cells will have two times the number of cells as traditional solar panels of the same size. That means that a traditional solar panel that contains 60 or 72 cells would now contain a whopping 120 or 144 cells.

The half-cut cell configuration is a bit more efficient because you’re passing the same amount of current, but it’s split between the two halves of the cells. This gives the current more paths to travel through, which reduces “congestion” (think in terms of a traffic jam) and lowers the temperature coefficient and means that you lose less in terms of performance at higher temperatures.

The stats

  • Power – STC: 380W
  • Power – NMOT (or NOCT): 289W
  • Weight: 19.5kg / 42.99 pounds
  • Efficiency: 21.7%
  • Dimensions: 1721 x 1016 x 30 mm / x in
  • Operating Temperature: –40 to +85 °C
  • Frame: Black anodized aluminum
  • Temperature coefficient: -0.26%/°C
  • Performance guarantee: 92% at 25-year mark
  • PID-resistant? Yes

4. LG NeON® 2 Black – LG345N1K-L5

Best balance of aesthetics and functionality

LG NeON Black solar panels

LG advertises this model as their “best selling solar panel,” so we thought it would be a good representative choice for this list.

LG’s NeON series use their award-winning Cello Technology, which means the modules on these solar panels use a highly efficient “bifacial” solar cell, which produces electricity more efficiently than your typical monofacial photovoltaic (PV) modules.

How? Because there are two faces (“bifacial”) on the solar cell through which sunlight can be absorbed: the side that directly faces the sun, and the back of the cell. That means you’re generating more electricity out of the same size solar cell:

One of the most impressive aspects of LG’s solar panels is the very generous 25-year performance warranty. Even among the other top solar panel brands, LG’s warranty stands out at a very good 90.08% of initial performance—guaranteed at the 25-year mark.

(And that’s just the baseline—for all we know, the solar panels might even be operating at a higher level than that after 25 years.)

Aesthetically, the LG NeON® 2 solar panels come in a beautiful all-black model, which will blend in perfectly with most homes’ roofs. If you don’t want people to be able to tell that you have clunky solar panels on your roof, this one will do the trick.

(And if you like LG but need a little more power, they do have other residential solar panels that are around the 400-watt mark.)

The stats

  • Power – STC: 345W
  • Power – NMOT (or NOCT): 259W
  • Weight: 18.0kg / 39.7 pounds
  • Efficiency: 20.0%
  • Dimensions: 1700mm x 1016mm x 40mm / 66.9 x 40 x 1.6 inches
  • Operating Temperature: -40 to +90 °C
  • Frame: Anodized aluminum
  • Temperature coefficient: -0.35%/°C
  • Performance guarantee: 90.08% at 25-year mark
  • PID-resistant? Yes
🌞 Pro-tip: What is PID resistance? PID, or Potential Induced Degradation, refers to a negative effect on a solar panel’s performance. It can be due to heat, humidity, or something that happened during the installation process. Without getting too much into the science behind it, just know that having built-in PID resistance is generally a good thing.

5. Q Cells Q. PEAK DUO-G5

Most environmentally diverse testing

Q Cells solar panel

Q Cells may not be as well known as the other “best” solar panel brands, but it makes the list by virtue of its technology and generous warranty, which matches up almost as well with LG’s, Panasonic’s, and REC’s.

Even though it has the usual 25-year performance guarantee that you’d expect from the best solar panels on the market, the product warranty only goes up to 12 years. That’s just a shade less than half the length of the product or equipment warranties of those brands, which is a pretty significant difference.

That being said, Q Cells boasts German engineering, and claims to have tested its solar panels in all sorts of extreme conditions like “tropical humidity, desert heat, and Arctic cold.”

Like REC’s Alpha Series, the Q.PEAK DUO solar panels make use of half cells, which gives it a little extra efficiency.

Q Cells has planned well for its solar panels’ efficiency, by treating the back of its solar cells with a special nano coating that acts like a mirror. As they describe it, “rays of sunlight that would otherwise go to waste are reflected back through the cell to generate more electricity.” Basically, it’s the concept behind bifacial cells.

The frame is also thoughtfully designed with drainage holes to protect against the elements and help reduce the amount of maintenance you have to do.

If you need more power, the Q.PEAK DUO also comes in G6, G7, and G8 models (up to 360 of advertised wattage—STC, of course).

The stats

  • Power – STC: 335W
  • Power – NMOT (or NOCT): 250.7W
  • Weight: 18.7kg / 41.23 pounds
  • Efficiency: 19.9%
  • Dimensions: 1685mm x 1000mm x 32mm / 66.3 x 39.4 x 1.3 in
  • Operating Temperature: –40 to +85 °C
  • Frame: Black anodized aluminum
  • Temperature coefficient: -0.36%/°C
  • Performance guarantee: 85% at 25-year mark
  • PID-resistant? Yes

6. SolariaPowerXT® Pure Black™ 400W

Home solar panels with excellent performance in shade

solaria solar panels

Solaria’s PowerXT 400W uses patented cell design and “innovative assembly techniques” that Solaria claims will significantly “boost power generation” and “provide superior shading performance.”

It sounds impressive, but all of the best solar panels make very similar claims, so let’s dig into what Solaria claims makes it different from other solar panels.

The first thing you’ll notice when you look at Solaria’s PowerXT line of solar panels is that they also have the all-black look (they call it Pure Black™ technology) with barely any visible circuitry. We definitely do care about aesthetics here on TFM, but we’d have to call this one a draw because it’s quite similar to the other solar panels on this list.

From a functionality perspective, Solaria’s taken great pains in their marketing to describe the decision behind interconnecting their sub-strings in parallel, which is designed to dramatically reduce the loss in energy production because of shadow:

solaria strings on solar panel

Similar to how half cells or split cells allow for additional pathways for current to flow through, which lowers resistance and boosts their production, Solaria’s solar panels are built using the same philosophy.

In addition to that, Solaria has also looked for ways to eliminate the need for soldering.

(If you remember from the REC feature above, soldering used to be the go-to way to connect solar cells on a panel together. However, it has its drawbacks and introduces more unreliability and possible failure points in the solar panels.)

Basically, Solaria has designed and patented a cutting and interconnection process that reduces the “inactive” space between cells (which also contributes to the nice borderless all-black aesthetic of the solar panels).

The stats

  • Power – STC: 400W
  • Power – NMOT (or NOCT): 295W
  • Weight: 21kg / 46 pounds
  • Efficiency: 20.2%
  • Dimensions: 1644mm x 1204mm x 40mm / 64.72 x 47.4 x 1.57 in
  • Operating Temperature: –40 to +85 °C
  • Frame: Black anodized aluminum
  • Temperature coefficient: -0.39%/°C
  • Performance guarantee: 86% at 25-year mark
  • PID-resistant? Yes

7. JinkoSolar Eagle 78TR G4

jinkosolar solar panels

With an advertised power output of 455 to 475 watts depending on the model you’re looking at, the JinkoSolar Eagle boasts one of the highest nominal wattages of all the best solar panels out there.

Of course, we’ll have to dig into their spec sheet and take a look at the actual NOCT output…

Like many of the other solar panels (we’re noticing a trend here), the Eagle G4 solar panel’s modules are designed to have as little white space as possible between the cells, which probably played a big role in getting their output under ideal conditions to an incredible 475 watts.

Plus, their cells are bifacial, which means even the backs of the cells can contribute to the output.

What is different and kind of cool, though, is that JinkoSolar’s solar panels use the same DuPont protective film as the Space Station, Mars Lander, and jetliners. So, if they can protect a spaceship in space, then your solar panels are probably well protected.

And like the REC solar panels, these ones have a twin array design that makes them more resistant to any hiccups in performance even if they’re in shade because of trees or tall buildings.

The stats

  • Power – STC: 475W
  • Power – NMOT (or NOCT): 353W
  • Weight: 26.1kg / 57.54 pounds
  • Efficiency: 21.16%
  • Dimensions: 2182 x 1029 x 40mm / 85.91 x 40.51 x 1.57 in
  • Operating Temperature: –40 to +85 °C
  • Frame: Anodized aluminum alloy
  • Temperature coefficient: -0.35%/°C
  • Performance guarantee: 84.8% at 25-year mark
  • PID-resistant? n/a

8. Silfab SIL-380 NT – 72 Cell – Silver

sulfa solar panels

Silfab isn’t as well-known globally and there isn’t too much information online about unique features around their solar panels, but based on their outstanding warranty, they’ve made the list.

Almost all of the best solar panels have, at most, a 25-year warranty. Silfab, however, has an amazing 30-year performance warranty that guarantees at least 82.6% of initial performance at the 30-year mark.

The other key point of emphasis in their marketing material is that their operations and solar panel production are fully based in North America. (Which is fine and all, but it doesn’t ultimately have that big of an impact on the quality of solar panels, in our opinion. Just thought it was worth mentioning as some people may care.)

The stats

  • Power – STC: 390W
  • Power – NMOT (or NOCT): 284.3W
  • Weight: 21.5kg / 47.4 pounds
  • Efficiency: 19.7%
  • Dimensions: 1992 mm x 994 mm x 38 mm / 78.4 in x 39.1 in x 1.5 in
  • Operating Temperature: –40 to +85 °C
  • Frame: Silver anodized aluminum
  • Temperature coefficient: -0.38%/°C
  • Performance guarantee: 85.1% at 25-year mark / 82.6% at 30-year mark
  • PID-resistant? Yes

9. AXITEC AXIpremium XL HC 455P

axitec solar panels

Another German solar panel brand, AXITEC has a pretty wide range of solar panels with different wattage outputs.

At first glance, there’s nothing too distinguishing about the look—with the exception of one of their lower-wattage models that has the all-black aesthetic, AXITEC’s solar panels are more in the style of traditional solar panels.

However, it’s important to note that AXITEC didn’t put their NOCT (the actual real-life output estimate) number in any of their spec sheets, which made us raise our eyebrows. All of the other best solar panels on this list did include that number, whether it was flattering for them or not, so this was not a good “differentiating factor” for them.

Otherwise, their temperature coefficient is comparable to most of the other solar panels on the list, as is their performance guarantee.

The stats

  • Power – STC: 455W
  • Power – NMOT (or NOCT): n/a
  • Weight: 23.8kg / 52.47 pounds
  • Efficiency: 20.93%
  • Dimensions: 2094 mm x 1038 mm x 35 mm / 82.44 x 40.87 x 1.38 inches
  • Operating Temperature: –40 to +85 °C
  • Frame: Silver aluminum
  • Temperature coefficient: -0.35%/°C
  • Performance guarantee: 90% at 15-year mark / 85% at 25-year mark
  • PID-resistant? n/a

10. Trina Residential MBB – 335W – DD06M.05(ii)

trina solar panels

Founded in 1997, Trina Solar is one of the younger solar companies, but has been making gains quickly thanks to its tireless R&D.

They only have the one residential module option, and it looks like their focus is more on solar products for utilities and commercial businesses.

They have a decent performance guarantee, but their “product workmanship” warranty is a bit short at only 12 years.

The stats

  • Power – STC: 335W
  • Power – NMOT (or NOCT): 254W
  • Weight: 18.0kg / 39.7 pounds
  • Efficiency: 19.9%
  • Dimensions: 1690 × 996 × 35 mm / 66.54 × 39.21 × 1.38 inches
  • Operating Temperature: –40 to +85 °C
  • Frame: Anodized aluminum alloy
  • Temperature coefficient: -0.36%/°C
  • Performance guarantee: 83.1% at 25-year mark
  • PID-resistant? Yes


Other factors to consider when looking for solar panels

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.

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.


FAQs about choosing the best solar panels

What is the highest watt solar panel?

The highest watt solar panel on this list is the JinkoSolar at 475 watts (STC) and 353 watts (NOCT). One thing to keep in mind, though, is that if you get a high wattage solar panel, you’ll likely need a big enough generator to store all of that energy.

What are the most efficient solar panels?

Out of all the best solar panels on this list, SunPower’s solar panel is the most efficient at 22.8%.

Keep in mind that the difference between some of these is miniscule—we’re talking tenths of a percentage point.

Are bigger solar panels more efficient?

Not always.

Large solar panels aren’t necessarily more efficient, but larger cells do tend to be. Why? Because the larger the actual cell, the more surface area it has to absorb the sun’s rays.

So, if you’re short on space (not everyone has a huge roof, after all), try to choose solar panels with large cells.

This way, you can produce more watts of power with the same size solar panel.

So, if you don’t have a large rooftop or enough space on the ground to have a huge solar array, then make sure to choose super efficient solar panels to maximize your space.

What are the best solar panels for you?

By now, you should have a pretty good handle on the best brands on the market for solar panels. Ready to start building your solar array? Happy shopping!

The 10 Best Solar Panels for 2021: A Detailed Breakdown
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