The solar panel market drives tough competition. Leaving bells and whistles aside, we use hard evidence to compare this season’s 10 best solar panels for home.
Whether you hire a company to install your solar system or put trust in your toolbox — you deserve the very best solar panels the market has to offer.
But finding the very best isn’t easy at all.
Manufacturers’ websites are often vague or full of self-praise. And if you can’t read the spec sheets, you risk getting stuck in efficiency ratings, heat coefficients, and open circuit voltages … permanently.
Trust me I’ve been there.
But it was worth it!
I found out that the best solar panel for home is the LG NeON® R.
You can take my word for it or choose the one you think is the best.
But I don’t want to see you get stuck.
So I’ve written this streamlined guide to help you make your own choice.
Overall Rating: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
The flagship of the LG NeON® series, this solar panel has a massive power rating, which makes it ideal for small roofs and limited spaces.
Unlike many other monocrystalline solar panels, the NeON® R lacks any electrodes on the front. This not only increases the sunlight absorption but also gives this panel an all-black look that means business on any roof.
And when they get to the roof once, these panels are there to stay — especially since LG guarantees the performance of at least 92.5% after 25 years of use!
If you live in California, you’re probably used to high temperatures. So, if you're looking for the best solar panels in California, this could be it!
The NeON® R comes with a temperature coefficient of just -0.29, which is among the lowest in the industry.
Add the efficiency of 21.1% and it’s easy to put this solar panel at the very top of our list.
Why Do I Like It?
The NeON® R can challenge any competitor in any category. Other solar panels may pack a bit more power, or have a better temperature coefficient, but this one is at the top of the food chain!
In this category, the Equinox shares the place with the Canadian Solar HiHero.
SunPower offers a warranty that is on par with other top solar players — 25 years for the product and 25 years for the less than 8% decline in power output.
Apart from performance, SunPower is also a leader in technical innovation. Their Equinox solar panels use a proprietary InvisiMount® frame that is designed to remain completely out of sight.
This is important for homeowners who are concerned about maintaining the architectural composition of their homes.
If you don't like the idea of having an unsightly external inverter on your wall, SunPower has another surprise:
Each panel has a built-in microinverter that is hidden behind the panel back sheet. Such a configuration not only optimizes power conversion but also minimizes disruption — if one panel falls out, the remaining ones keep on running.
Why Do I Like It?
The mySunPower™ app allows you to connect your panels into a smart solar ecosystem that lets you monitor your solar energy production, use and savings.
Why Do I Like It?
The Panasonic triple 25-year warranty is hard to outbid, as most other manufacturers offer 10 or 15-year warranties for parts and labor.
What’s more, this solar panel comes with a black back sheet, which makes it one of the most visually appealing solar panels for home applications. At a distance, the module has a distinctive all-black look, thanks to thin cell connectors.
But the NeON® 2 wouldn't become LG’s bestselling panel if it was just for looks.
This sleek solar panel has a respectable efficiency — 20.7% of the available sunlight is converted into electric energy.
What is more, the NeON® 2 has a temperature coefficient of just -0.35 which gives it a solid performance even on boiling hot days. This means the output barely drops 1% for every 3 degrees of the temperature rise.
And when it comes to warranty, LG puts their money where their mouth is: 25 years for materials and manufacturing and 25 years for performance — after which the power should remain above 90.6%!
Why Do I Like It?
It’s hard not to fall in love with NeON® 2 at the first sight. It’s sleek, powerful, and comes with a respectable logo. Something like a Corvette.
When you realize that each HiHero panel yields about 430W of energy, it becomes clear that this option is perfect for smaller homes or roofs with limited space.
The panel technology includes no-LID properties, so your panels can start harvesting sunlight with no losses from the very morning.
Unfortunately, where this outstanding solar panel lags behind is the performance degradation rate.
The manufacturer guarantees that after 25 years of use, the power output will drop to no less than 84.8%, which is much lower than Panasonic, REC, and SunPower.
Why Do I Like It?
The HiHero offers premium performance at a competitive price. If you can live with a highly visible connector grid and 84.8% of the original output after 25 years, this is the one for you.
Why Do I Like It?
The N-type cell technology that Alpha Series panels use effectively eliminates light-induced degradation (LID) which means the panels fire up to full power from early in the day.
With this technology the panels can maximize energy collection and conversion efficiency, while the half-cell design improves durability.
Why Do I Like It?
While neither being the best performer nor the least expensive high-end solar panel for home use, the SIL-370 is somewhat of a middle child. For a reasonable price, you get reasonable performance and sleek all-black aesthetic appeal.
On the outside, Trina Solar panels provide a seamless visual experience as thinner inter-cell connections almost disappear at a distance, leaving behind the desirable all-black look.
If you own a car, you already know how corrosive bird droppings can be. This is why these panels feature a durable hardened glass cover that is resistant to salt, acid, and ammonia, extending the life of your solar system.
Trina Solar offers a standard 25-year product warranty and a 25-year power warranty. At that point, you can expect the power to drop to 84.9%.
Why Do I Like It?
The Trina Residential Module is another low-cost, high-end solar panel that packs a ton of value for its price.
So, the temperature coefficient of -0.28 is the only perk to write home about, besides the competitive price.
Sadly, these solar panels for homes come with only 15 years of warranty.
Obviously, this is a major downside as most of the competitors are offering 25 years of warranty.
Why Do I Like It?
Not everyone is looking for a solar system to last for a lifetime. Inexpensive, high-efficiency solar panels might be just the thing you need to offset your utility costs — and increase the resale value of your property.
Why Do I Like It?
The JAM60S20 panels are very affordable when compared to other high-end options. With a bit of financing and government incentives, you can have your solar system online for much less than you bargained for.
LG NeON® R
75.2 × 41 × 1.6 in
61.3 × 41.2 × 1.6 in
LG NeON® 2
68.5 × 41 × 1.6 in
Canadian Solar HiHero
68.0 ˣ 44.6 ˣ 1.4 in
REC Alpha Series
67.8 × 40 × 1.2 in
SILFAB Prime SIL-370 HC
69.4 × 40.8 ×1.37 in
Trina Solar Residential 365W Module
72.9 × 39.2 × 1.4 in
AXITEC Solar AXIPREMIUM XXL
67.8 × 44.6 × 1.2 in
JA Solar JAM60S20
69.6 × 41.4 × 1.4 in
Now let’s take a look at what makes these 10 solar panels for home the very best products you can buy today.
A solar panel efficiency is a rate by which the panel converts sunlight into electricity. You should always go for the highest efficiency rating because it means your panels will capture more sunlight for the same period of time.
This is especially important if you live in the Northeast or another part of the world that isn’t too known for its sunny weather.
Looking at the comparison table, we see that SunPower Equinox, Canadian Solar HiHero, and REC Alpha Series are killers in this category.
While panel efficiency shouldn't be your only parameter, make sure that the panel you choose yields at least 20%.
Did you know that too much sun can actually slow down your solar operation?
But how’s that possible? It’s solar panels we’re talking about. The more the sunlight the better, right?
Well, actually, it’s not sunlight the problem, but the heat. Solar panels are electronic equipment after all and work most efficiently when kept cool.
The temperature coefficient tells you how much your solar panels’ performance will drop during hot summer days.
For every degree above 25° C (or 77° F), your solar panels’ electricity output will decrease by the temperature coefficient.
In other words, a lower temperature coefficient is always better.
For example, Panasonic EverVolt Series solar panel has a temperature coefficient of -0.26%. So, if your solar panel temperature increases by one degree Celsium, its electricity production will fall by 0.26%.
If the temperature increases to 35° C (or 95° F), Panasonic will produce 2.6% less electricity.
I can’t stress enough how important the low temperature coefficient is, especially if we know that the surface of a roof can get much hotter than the air around when the sun is directly above.
Wattage is another word for power or the potential electrical output of a panel under ideal circumstances. The higher the wattage the more electricity your panel can produce during a day.
While higher wattage is always better, there are a few things you must know.
Higher wattage panels are better for smaller roofs, as you can get the same output with fewer panels.
However, higher wattage always means a higher price tag, so if you have plenty of space, you needn’t necessarily go for the most powerful option. A home solar system is already a hefty investment.
When shopping for a home solar system, make sure to compare the panel’s efficiency and wattage in one take. High-efficiency, high-wattage is an ideal combo, but again, if you have enough roof space, you can go lower on wattage.
Solar panels come with a warranty that protects buyers against equipment failure caused by environmental factors and manufacturing defects.
The industry standard for panel material warranty is 10 years, while LG Solar, Panasonic, SunPower, and other established brands regularly offer 25-year warranties against manufacturing defects for their top-shelf panels.
However, you need to know that there is another warranty related to solar panels — the annual degradation rate.
It shows you how much the panel performance will drop at the end of the 25 year period.
The leading brands like LG, SunPower, and Panasonic guarantee that their solar panels will remain above 90% performance after 25 years.
When choosing a solar panel brand you also need to make sure that the company you go with will still be around to honor your warranty after 10 or 15 years.
In this sense, larger corporations like LG, Panasonic, and SunPower are safer bets than solar startups that are still building their name.
Larger companies are less likely to go down, but these days many smaller players are aggressively edging their way into the market, offering competitive prices and impressive performance.
With more and more people choosing to go solar, homeowners are increasingly interested in aesthetically-pleasing panels that won’t ruin their home’s curb appeal.
Тhis is especially the case in neighborhoods with some HOA (Homeowners Association) requirements for solar arrays and for homes that need panels that face the road.
In this sense, many homeowners choose black solar panels as the most elegant solution, but not all black panels are made the same.
Most silicon cells are dark blue or black — those are the squares you see on the face of all solar panels. The space between these cells is where you can see the back sheet. If you choose panels with a black back sheet, you get a much sleeker, all-black look.
The panel frame color is also important. If you want to pursue the all-black theme, you can as well choose a black panel frame.
What’s more, Trina Solar manufactures frameless solar panels that have no back sheet either. These solar panels are supported entirely by their glass coverings.
In my opinion, these are the best-looking solution for the street-side of your roof, as well as carports, awnings, and other locations where aesthetics is a priority.
The solar panel market is tough, so solar companies are looking for every opportunity to take an edge over competitors.
LG NeON® series panels, for example, use an anti-reflective coating that reduces optical losses from sunlight that is reflected back from the glass cover.
SunPower is a company that is heavy in unique technologies. Each of the Equinox solar panels comes with a built-in microinverter, which not only optimizes the electric output but also brings you greater stability for the entire system.
Panasonic EverVolt solar panels use half-cut cells with heterojunction technology that improves solar conversion.
REC Alpha Series are pioneers of gapless cell connection technology that doesn't require invasive soldering, which reduces the risk of microcracks developing over time.
If you live in an area that gets a lot of sunny days throughout the year, you can expect more yield from your solar panels.
However, when talking about sun exposure, we need to consider the number of peak sun hours.
A peak sun hour is an hour during a day when the sunlight intensity reaches an average of 1000 watts/meter².
The number of peak sun hours can not only affect the performance of solar panels on your roof but also let you go with a smaller (and less expensive) solar system.
For example, Maryland has between 3 — 4 peak sun hours, while Utah has between 6 — 7.
In ideal conditions, solar panels in Utah will produce two times more electricity than the same ones installed in Maryland.
To get a quick idea of how your location ranks in solar exposure, check out these solar irradiation maps developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
Here’s the deal — Your location can have 365 sunny days in a year, but that means little if your roof is in the shade for the better part of the day.
The thing is that surrounding canopies, buildings, and even other roofs can seriously limit your solar panels’ performance.
Sure, the most advanced solar panels can produce electricity even in the shade, but the output is not nearly as close.
For optimal solar gains, make sure that your roof is exposed to direct sunlight for the most part of the day.
Plenty of sunlight and minimum shading is always good, but if you want to max out your panels’ performance, your roof needs to face the right direction.
So what is the right direction?
If you live in the northern hemisphere, your roof needs to face S, SW, or W. On the other hand, if you live below the equator, your solar panels will get the most of the sun if the roof faces N, NE, or E.
An ideal roof for a solar panel needs to be flat, not too steep, and free from architectural features like chimneys, gables, and skylights.
An average home needs at least 15 solar panels, and having a flat and spacious roof takes a lot of hassle out of the equation.
One of the best things about solar panels is that once they’re up and running, almost no maintenance is needed on your part.
However, you need to wipe them down from time to time to remove dirt and debris. Dust, pollen, and leaves may stick to your panels and reduce their ability to absorb sunlight.
You should wipe down your panels more often after intense storms, and especially in spring and fall, when there are all kinds of stuff flying around.
To keep your panels sparkling clean, use lukewarm water, mild soap, and a non-abrasive sponge. Finish the cleaning with a soft squeegee — the same way you’d clean your car’s windshield.
If your part of the country gets some snow in the winter, make sure to remove it as soon as it stops. Snow cover not only blocks the sunlight from reaching the solar cells but also puts additional stress on the panel surface.
To answer this, I need to know your:
You can easily estimate your home’s energy usage by comparing several bills from different seasons.
It’s important to take bills from different seasons because your HVAC system might be using more energy in certain months.
It would be best if you can just add up your monthly bills from the past year and divide them by 12. That’s your average energy usage.
So if your home uses 11,500 kWh per year, your average energy usage is 958 kWh/month.
Next, we need to find out —
The U.S. covers a large area and different climate zones, so there are large variations of peak sun hours between states.
The states with the highest average peak sun hours are Arizona, California, Nevada, and New Mexico — between 5 and 8.
Alaska, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio, on the other hand, have the least peak sun hours — between 2 and 3.5.
Let’s say you live in Oklahoma and get on average 5 peak sun hours a day. Multiply that by 30 and you get 150 monthly peak sun hours.
So, in Oklahoma, you can hope for 150 kWh of electricity with 1 kWh of solar panels
Now we need to find out what size solar system you need.
Your monthly electricity usage (kWh) ÷ Monthly peak hours in your area (h) = The solar system size (kW)
We’ve already estimated that your monthly electricity usage is 958 kWh and the number of monthly peak sun hours is 150 in your location:
958 kWh ÷ 150 h = 6.39 kW ~ 7kW
We know now that you need a 7kW solar system.
Finally, let’s say you choose the most powerful panel on the list, the Canadian Solar HiHero 430W.
And the number of panels you need is:
(Solar system size × 1000) ÷ Power rating of the solar panels
= (7 kW × 1000) ÷ 430 W
= 7000 W ÷ 430 W
= 16.27 ~ 16
And there it is — you need 16 solar panels for your home!
Solar panels for home use are becoming increasingly popular, as more and more homeowners are looking to offset or eliminate their electricity bills.
Even today, a home solar panel system is a big investment, so let’s put things this way —
When do solar panels make sense?
If you live in a part of the country that gets a lot of sunny days throughout the year, your home is a prime candidate for solar panels.
As we’ve seen in the previous section, the number of peak sun hours can even allow you to choose a smaller solar system, which also means fewer solar panels.
For maximum solar gains, you also need to make sure your roof is not in the shade most of the day.
An average home solar system consists of at least 15 solar panels, and an average size of a single panel is 68 × 40 inches.
That’s a lot of space!
In an ideal scenario, you’ll have a wide, flat roof that is free of vents, chimneys, and skylights.
If your roof has two levels, that also shouldn’t be a problem.
On the other hand, if your roof is too small, you may have to go with the most efficient solar panels, which are often the most expensive option.
Your solar panels will perform at their peak only if your roof faces the sunny side. But which one is the sunny side?
It’s fairly simple.
In the northern hemisphere, it’s the south and southwest. Below the equator, it’s north and northeast.
The more you pay for the utility power, the more your solar savings can be. If you live in a part of the country that has high electricity rates, you should definitely consider going solar.
For comparison, Louisiana has one of the lowest electricity rates, at only $0.09 per kWh. Homeowners in Connecticut, on the other hand, pay $0.22 for the same kWh.
Home solar system definitely makes more sense if you can apply for state or local incentives, rebates, and tax exemptions.
In 2022, homeowners can still apply for the federal solar tax credit that allows you to deduct 26% of the cost of your solar system from your federal taxes.
Apart from this federal incentive, you should also ask around for local incentives. This Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) is a great resource for finding local energy rebates.
And now listen to this — You can leverage the available incentives to make up for low peak sun hours in your area.
This is the reason why the Northeast has so many solar panels for home use — those states offer robust solar incentives to make up for the rainy days.
With competition so fierce, it was hard to select a single winner. However, after giving it much thought, I can say that the best solar panel for home use is the LG NeON® R.
This solar panel is a well-rounded choice that rocks a lot of power — and holds on to it even beyond the 25-year warranty period.
The LG has a slightly lower efficiency rating than my second choice— Sunpower Equinox, but it packs a lot more power.
This makes the NeON® R a great option for smaller roofs, where you need to pack all the power you can into a limited area.
Finally, this solar panel has no visible grid on the front, which makes it an attractive all-black option, suitable even for the most demanding HOA neighborhoods.