By Sarah Lozanova, Solar Power Copywriter
Technological advances continue to transform the solar energy industry. Today’s solar panels are significantly more efficient, producing more power in the same amount of space. Meanwhile, prices have fallen, reducing the cost of solar electricity.
But are some solar panels a better choice for homeowners? Which models and manufacturers are the most reliable and durable? Do some models create less pollution in the manufacturing process? Do panel manufacturers use recycled components or provide solar panel recycling options at the end of life? Let’s explore these critical issues in the pursuit of the best solar panels on the market.
We compared the efficiency, warranty, environmental performance, and more for the following solar panel models in the comparison chart below. Because LG Electronics recently announced it would exit solar panel manufacturing, its products are not included.
Solar Energy Is a Dynamic Industry
Despite the pandemic, the solar energy industry has been quite resilient. However, factory closures, tariffs, raw material shortages, and shipping bottlenecks sometimes create supply chain shortages and delays.
Because solar panel technology continues to advance and evolve, the market is very dynamic. Manufacturers release new products as older models become obsolete. The cost of advanced solar batteries has been dropping as demand has surged. The most efficient solar panels on the market today will probably not seem so advanced in a decade as the technology matures.
Solar Panel Considerations
Solar panel efficiency relates to how much available sunlight is converted into solar electricity. And the more efficient a solar panel is, the more electricity it generates in a given space.
Thanks to technological advances, solar panels have become significantly more efficient in recent years. Solar panel efficiency becomes more critical when there are space constraints due to the size of your roof or property.
Unfortunately, more efficient solar modules typically cost more. For installations with limited space, panel efficiency is an essential consideration. If space isn’t an issue, efficiency is less crucial.
Long-Term Power Generation
Like most other technological devices, solar panels degrade over time. They become less efficient in turning sunlight into electricity. The degree to which they degrade is significant because solar panels can last 30 years or more. Ideally, your solar system will still be generating plenty of energy a few decades from now, even if someone else owns the house.
Solar panel manufacturers offer a power production guarantee to ensure a particular output level over a given time. For example, many solar panel manufacturers guarantee 90% production for 10 years and 80% for 25 years.
Some manufacturers differentiate themselves by offering more robust warranties. For example, SunPower leads the industry by providing a 25-year performance guarantee of 92% or higher, depending on the model. The higher the value of the 25-year production warranty, the more power the panels will likely generate 25 years down the road.