Shopping for home solar panels and feeling like you’re lost in a sea of information? If you’re like most homeowners, the hundreds of solar panel options on the market today make your head spin in confusion.
To simplify the process of choosing the best solar panel for your home rooftop or backyard, we’ve done a lot of the legwork for you.
The following list of the nine best solar panels for home use will help you decide on the best residential solar panel so you can take advantage of the federal solar investment tax credit incentive program before it’s slated to end.
If purchased before the end of 2022, 26% of your residential solar system cost can be applied to your federal income tax as a tax credit. In 2023, it drops to 22%. After that, it’s up to Congress to extend it or not.
Also read: What is the best angle for my solar panels?
How we created this list of the 9 best solar panels for home
In this article, you’ll find a list of the nine best solar panels for your home in 2021. The ratings are based on:
- Analyses of solar panel spec sheets
- Communications with manufacturers
- Examinations of customer reviews
- Considerations of the financial status and industry standing of solar companies
For each photovoltaic (PV) module in the list, we took the following in consideration:
- Degradation rate
- Temperature coefficient
- Company longevity/finances
- Price point/Watt
- Homeowner reviews
- Customer service
In the description for each PV panel, you’ll find important technical ratings for each one. If there’s something unique or noteworthy to mention, it will be there, too.
Following the list are brief explanations of the technical terms you’ll read about the nine best home solar panels plus a few tips on how to decide on the best solar panel for your home.
9 best solar panels for home
After carefully analyzing all available information on the top-performing solar panels and cross-comparing them, here are the top picks.
Note: For consumers familiar with other solar panel lists, you may note the absence of SunPower. Due to shaky financials, their ending USA production, and poor customer reviews, they don’t make our list this time around.
Even though SunPower PV modules receive high marks for certain aspects, we look at the whole picture to make sure you’ll never be disappointed with our list of best solar panels for home.
Best overall solar panel: LG
With its practically unmatched reputation as a leader among all the best solar manufacturers, LG coming in at #1 should surprise no one. LG deserves high accolades for consistently churning out superior PV panels at a (relatively) reasonable cost for such quality. Their exceptional warranties prove just how good their solar panels are.
The fact that LG operates a large PV module manufacturing facility in the USA may be a deciding factor for some homeowners.
LG’s Neon R series is built from monocrystalline N-type solar cells. It boasts a guarantee of at least 92.5% performance at the 25-yr mark. This is truly remarkable given that many panels will operate at 80% or less power output after 25 years. This feature should interest anyone who values long-term panel efficiency as their primary criterion for choosing solar panels.
Also read: How long do solar panels last?
This high-efficiency, 405W panel should appeal to homeowners who have limited roof space. You won’t need lots of them to achieve a desired power output like you would if your chosen panel had a considerably lower efficiency.
LG solar panel key specs
- Efficiency: 22.3%
- Annual degradation rate: -0.25%
- Temperature coefficient: -0.29%
- Warranty: 25 yr. performance/product/labor
Best overall solar panel runner up: Panasonic
Another solar powerhouse of a company, Panasonic comes in as a close second to LG. Their announcement about ending panel production stateside in 2022 and breaking off from a potentially profitable partnership with Tesla prevented them from earning the top spot.
Nevertheless, Panasonic produces PV modules of unsurpassed quality and deserve this placement. As an added bonus, Panasonic is consistently popular with customers, earning a high spot in a list of solar companies with good reviews. This confirms our choice of Panasonic as runner up.
The N340 HIT series is a Panasonic panel that edges LG’s panels performance warranty: 90.76% after 25 years of power output. Again, a remarkable solar achievement. So, too, is its record-shattering temperature coefficient.
Panasonic solar panel key specs
- Efficiency: 20.3%
- Annual degradation rate: -0.26%
- Temperature coefficient: -0.258%
- Warranty: 25 yr. performance/product/labor
Best value solar panel: Hanwha
Would you be impressed by a solar panel also used in Tesla rooftop solar? Then look no further than Hanwha Q cells.
This is definitely one of the cheapest panels of outstanding quality you can purchase today. And it hails from the largest solar manufacturing plant in the USA (Georgia). Q cells are produced by a Fortune Global 500 company that’s been around since the 1950s.
Peak Duo Blk-G6+ solar panels by Hanwha uses monocrystalline half cell technology. Although its panel specs aren’t as stellar as others, Hanwha enjoys excellent customer reviews. For value from a good company, look to Q cells.
Hanwha solar panel key specs
- Efficiency: 19.5%
- Annual degradation rate: -0.54%
- Temperature coefficient: -0.36%
- Warranty: 25 yr. Performance (at 85%)/25 yr. product
Best value solar panel runner up #1: Silfab
We give the runner up spot for best value to two companies that manufacture their solar panels in the USA: Silfab and Mission.
Silfab earns a few more points in this category because it enjoys the greatest number of outstanding solar reviews of all companies.
The SIL-330 BL BC Series features monocrystalline half cell technology.
Silfab solar panel key specs
- Efficiency: 19.4%
- Annual degradation rate: -0.65%
- Temperature coefficient: -0.377%
- Warranty: 30 yr. Performance (at 80+%)/25 yr. product
Best value solar panel runner up #2: Mission Solar
Mission Solar offers very inexpensive solar panels manufactured in Texas, USA that boast better-than-average specs to boot.
For example, you can buy their 375W panel for less than the bottom of the solar module price range ($0.70/watt).
If you have plenty of space and live in a cold climate, investing in lots of these Mission panels can yield comparable power outputs to smaller arrays consisting of other brands’ panels. This is true even if the pricier competitor panels possess higher efficiencies that can be easily maintained even when it’s sweltering outside.
Solar Mission solar panel key specs
- Efficiency: 18.89%
- Annual degradation rate: -0.7%
- Temperature coefficient: -0.375%
- Warranty: 25 yr. performance (at 80%)/12 yr. product
Best solar panel for hot climates: REC Group
As our climate crisis dials up the heat across the world, solar panels that withstand a high temperature-driven efficiency loss become more and more in demand. Fortunately, there are a couple of solar panel companies that deliver on this point.
REC Group Alpha Series 380 uses half cells with heterojunction (HJT) cell technology. As an advanced technology, HJT is based on a crystalline silicon layer between two thin-film (amorphous) silicon layers.
The REC panel has a temperature coefficient as good as our #2 pick, Panasonic. Nor does its very high efficiency degrade rapidly.
All this amounts to making REC’s Alpha panels ideal for areas with long, hot summers.
REC Group solar panel key specs
- Efficiency: 21.7%
- Annual degradation rate: -0.25%
- Temperature coefficient: -0.26%
- Warranty: 25 yr. performance/product/labor
Best solar panel for hot climates runner up: SolarTech Universal
SolarTech Universal is a small American company with a powerful solar panel suitable for hot weather, like in Florida where the company is headquartered.
The Epiq 325W bifacial panel featuring heterojunction N-type cells is the only two-sided module on our list. We included it because of its excellent temperature coefficient, which beats out our #2 (Panasonic).
Bifacials are expensive now compared to its mono-sided cousins. Their cost is expected to go down in the next few years, making them a viable option for homeowners living in hot climates.
SolarTech Universal solar panel key specs
- Efficiency: 20.93%
- Annual degradation rate: not given; estimated -0.65%
- Temperature coefficient: -0.25%
- Warranty: 30 yr. performance (at 80%)/15 yr. product
Best solar panel for partial shade and cloudy weather: Jinko Solar
Jinko Solar is a company that definitely warrants a place on any list of the best solar panels for home. They are among the best solar panel manufacturers as rated consistently over the years by the highly respected, independent Photovoltaic Evolution Labs (PVEL).
We place them in this category as having modules that perform well under less-than-ideal conditions like cloudy or rainy regions that may get few sun hours per day or very little. If all or part of your solar array receives partial shading at any time during the day, this option will perform well. Their tiling ribbon (TR) and half cell (HC) technologies are the key reasons that Jinko panels do well in all low-light conditions.
Jinko solar panel key specs
The Jinko panel that made the list, a 470W N-type monocrystalline, has these specs:
- Efficiency: 20.93%
- Annual degradation rate: -0.4%
- Temperature coefficient: -0.34%
- Warranty: 30 yr. performance/15 yr. product
Being so confident in their panels under these conditions, Jinko even shows results for the poorer as well as standard testing conditions on the spec sheet. (Competitors usually do not.)
Although Jinko isn’t the only solar company that uses HC technology, they have received the highest safety and environmental grades from reputable organizations. By contrast, many other solar companies whose panels made this list are not so favorably evaluated.
Best solar panel for stormy conditions: Winaico
Top honors for a solar module that is as durable as it is reliable go to the WST-MGL Gemini (380W) by Winaico. As one of the best solar panel manufacturers, Winaico puts its PV panels through simulated lab experiments under the most adverse weather conditions possible. Think gale winds and huge hail stones. Or temperature extremes and high humidity.
As a result, Winaico panels exceed industry standards many times over for their ability to withstand the severest of storms. Their product guarantee reflects this fact.
So, homeowners living in hurricane- or tornado-prone areas may wish to choose Winaico panels to meet their needs.
Winaico solar panel key specs
- Efficiency: 20.48%
- Annual degradation rate: -0.53%
- Temperature coefficient: -0.35%
- Warranty: 25 yr. performance/25 yr. product
Technical aspects of picking the best solar panels for home
There are several important technical points to understand when looking for the best solar panel to suit your home needs. Here we describe the most commonly used parameters for judging PV panels against each other.
1. Efficiency of a solar panel
The efficiency of a solar panel expresses how well the solar cells convert sunlight to usable electrical energy. The best monocrystalline panels peak at about 23% today.
Note that those values are measured at standard test conditions (STC) which are often not those in real life. This means the actual efficiency will be lower than what’s stated on a spec sheet. How much depends on how different your conditions are to STC.
2. Temperature coefficient of a solar panel
A solar panel’s efficiency drops when it’s exposed to higher temperatures. The temperature coefficient quantifies how bad this drop is. For example, -0.4% indicates that for each degree of temperature rise over the standard 25℃ (77℉), efficiency drops by 0.4%. So, if it’s ten degrees over the standard, there will be a 4% decrease in the electricity production of that panel.
Note that the STC temperature is of the ambient air. The actual temperature of the panels on a blistering day can be significantly higher. Imagine all the energy output loss as a result.
3. Solar panel degradation
There are many ways a solar panel’s performance will drop off. All of these ways are known as degradation. Potential-induced and light-induced degradations are two of the most common types. Generally, solar panels lose at least 0.5% efficiency annually.
Tips on deciding between the best solar panels for you
If you’re like most people, it’s easy to get lost in the technical details of solar panels. To prevent you from throwing your arms up in total exasperation, here are a few tips that may make the selection process more seamless if not — dare we venture — downright enjoyable.
1. Compare only solar panels with identical power ratings.
Once you figure out the size of the array that will meet your home energy demands, compare PV modules of the same wattage, such as 300W. Doing so is the only way to detect significant differences in other measures between your top candidates.
2. Use price/watt as the deal breaker between the best solar panels for you.
When selecting panels for your abode, it’s likely you’ll agonize over two or three apparently identical PV modules. Same efficiencies, almost identical temperature coefficients, and all the other goodies. So, what’s left to make the final cut?
Money, of course.
Just like you need to compare unit prices at the grocery store for a fair comparison, look at the price per watt. For this, divide the panel’s price by its power rating. (Example: $275/300W = $0.92/watt.)
3. Don’t overlook warranty information and be sure to read the fine print when choosing the best solar module for home.
The word “limited” is common with warranties of all types, and those for solar panels are no different. If you can’t locate exactly what the limits are, ask questions and demand answers before signing a contract. Reputable companies that have been around a long time will likely have longer and better warranties. This is a good sign that the company will still be in business to honor your warranty in 20-30 years as your array nears the end of its useful life.
Key takeaways about the best home solar panels
If you’re considering residential solar power in 2021, you’ve never had so many solar panel options. The problem, however, is knowing what to look for and how to compare them.
As a homeowner, your situation is unique. This means the best panel for you may not be the best for your neighbor. However, there are several criteria to consider when evaluating panels to purchase and looking for the best solar module.
Some PV panels are superior to others when only one characteristic, such as efficiency or performance warranty, is taken into consideration. But when judged overall, a particular panel may come up lacking in an important way for you.
In this article’s list of the nine best solar panels for home use, you will likely discover the panel that is best suited to meet your needs — or very close to it. At the very least, this list will help you eliminate certain panels as inappropriate for you.
Then, once you finally decide on the best solar panel for your home, you can rest assured knowing that it will supply you and your family with renewable energy for decades.