Best Solar Panels in 2021 | Top Brands Compared | SaveOnEnergy®

Best Solar Panels 2021

Searching for the best solar panels for your home in 2021 doesn’t have to be a difficult task. We can help you compare the different solar panel brands that are on the market. Get all the details here, whether you are looking to sort through the competition by cost, efficiency, warranty, or best overall solar panels for your home.

If you want to know more about the best solar panel comparison, keep reading for all the information you need in one place. That way, you have more time to focus on the exciting parts of getting a solar energy system for your home, such as the money-saving electricity benefits of using planet-friendly green energy.

Overall best solar panels

If you are trying to compare the top solar panels, it’s important to first decide what factors make up a good solar panel. The lists below show solar panel comparisons by cost, warranty, and efficiency, and materials. 

Take a look at this chart to see the best solar panels in 2021:

Manufacturers Cost per module Warranty Efficiency Materials Overall score (out of 12)
REC Alpha Pure Series $280—355 25-year performance warranty; 20-year product warranty 20.8—21.9% Heterojunction /Monocrystalline 12
Panasonic EverVolt $352—444 25-year performance and product warranty 20—21.7% Heterojunction /Monocrystalline 11
LG NeON® 2 Series $279—417 25-year limited performance; 25-year product warranty 19.6—21% Monocrystalline 10
Hanwha Q CELLS Peak Duo $200—313 25-year performance warranty; 12-year product warranty 19.5—20.6% Monocrystalline 9
SunPower® A-Series $915—1,113 25-year linear performance warranty; 12-year inclusive product warranty 20.9—22.8% Monocrystalline 8

Methodology for rankings:

We evaluated multiple manufacturers and product lines within those brands to narrow down the top five solar panels. Within these top five solar panels, we then assessed the panels by cost, warranty, efficiency, and materials, and assigned a grade of one to three points for each category. Two points were the benchmark for the industry standard, one point was performing lower than the industry standard, and we gave the top score of three points for exceeding expectations. We then totaled each category for an overall score, with the highest possible score being twelve points.

3 points 2 points 1 point
Cost $0-300 $301-450 $451 and up
Warranty 25-year performance warranty; product warranty of 15 yrs or more 25-year performance warranty; product warranty of less than 15 years 25-year performance warranty (the industry standard)
Efficiency (based on highest available) 21.1% and up 20%—21% Under 20%
Materials Heterojunction /Monocrystalline Monocrystalline Polycrystalline or Amorphous

Of course, there may be other details you want to consider when selecting the best solar panels for your home. For example, when choosing the best solar panels for your needs, you might also want to investigate:

  • Is this brand available in your area?
  • Do you like the look of the solar panels? Some panels will have visible grid lines (also called gap lines), while other panels do not. 
  • Is your installer offering promotions with any particular brands?
  • Is any manufacturer running a special or promotion? It can be worthwhile to comparison shop at big box hardware stores and online to find the best prices. 
  • Are you planning to own, lease, or use a power purchase agreement (PPA) to cover the cost of your solar system? Owning (or financing) is the only option that allows you to take advantage of the federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC).
  • Are there any special features that appeal to you? See the table below to learn more about unique offerings:

Best solar panel special features

Manufacturer Special Features
Panasonic EverVolt Legacy brand | Very low annual degradation rate
LG NeON® 2 Series Cello Technology™ | Double-sided cell structure
SunPower® A-Series Up to 400 watts | Proprietary Equinox system
Hanwha Q CELLS Peak Duo Certified for high snow (5400 Pa) and wind loads (2400 Pa) | Six-year recognition as a Top Performer*
REC Alpha Pure Series Lead-free | Gapless cells

*by the 2021 PV Module Reliability Scorecard, published by PV Evolution Labs (PVEL). PVEL is an independent testing laboratory for solar  reliability and performance.

Best solar panels by cost

Not counting the SunPower® A-Series, which was an outlier in cost, the average cost among our best solar panels was $330/panel. Solar panels come in a  range of prices, typically determined by wattage. Higher wattage means greater efficiency and output, thus the higher associated cost. This greater output also means you can power your home with less panels overall.

Top 3 solar panels by cost 

  1. Hanwha Q CELLS Peak Duo: Average price $256.50
  2. REC Alpha Pure Series: Average price $317.50
  3. LG NeON® 2 Series: Average price $348.00

Keep in mind that the average overall solar panel system cost is between $15,000 and $25,000. There are several different ways to pay for your solar energy setup, such as owning, leasing, or using a power purchase agreement (PPA). 

Owning your solar panels, which also includes the option to finance the cost, is typically seen as the best investment option. Owning your panels allows you to cash in on the federal solar tax credit, also known as the Investment Tax Credit (ITC).

Best solar panels by efficiency

You might be wondering: “what makes a solar panel efficient?” Solar panel efficiency is based on two primary factors: energy output and size. The most efficient solar panels will have the highest energy yield at the smallest square footage. 

Top 3 solar panels by efficiency

  1. REC Alpha Pure Series: Average efficiency 21.4%
  2. SunPower® A-Series Average efficiency 21.2%
  3. Panasonic EverVolt: Average efficiency 20.9%

As you can see, there is little difference in efficiency among the best solar panels. With an efficient solar panel, you can produce more power and store excess green energy by using a solar battery. An efficient solar panel can save you even more on your electricity costs than if you were to use a company that offers green electricity rates.

Best solar panels by warranty

Warranties are an important part of your solar panel purchase because most panels will last 25 years or longer. Therefore, you want to make sure your investment is protected and that you have a cost-effective way to fix any issues with your home solar panels. Your solar panels should have a warranty on the parts and also on the functionality. Here are the panels we found with the best solar panel warranties.

Top 3 solar panels by warranty 

  1. Panasonic EverVolt: 25-year performance and product warranty. The AllGuard warranty covers “performance output and labor to replace and repair all major components” in your solar panel system, including microinverters and racking. This warranty is more inclusive; however, it requires that panels and hardware must be purchased and installed as a bundle by a “Panasonic Authorized, Premium or Elite installer.” It’s important to note that Panasonic has decided to stop producing solar panels at the end of fiscal year 2022. However,  Panasonic “will stand behind their existing warranties to cover the 25-year product and performance warranties.” and OEM solar panels will take over the EverVolt brand name.
  2. LG NeON® 2 Series: 25-year limited performance; 25-year product warranty. LG guarantees that “the actual power output of the module will be no less than 95% of the labeled power output” for the first five years. Make sure to check out the complete list of coverage and exclusions if you are interested in LG solar panels.
  3. REC Alpha Pure Series warranty: 25-year performance warranty; 20-year product warranty. REC’s performance warranty states that in years two through 25, ”the actual power output will decline annually by no more than 0.25%”, which guarantees “an actual output of at least 92%” in the final year of the warranty.

Best solar panels FAQ

Which solar panel brand is best?

We found REC Alpha Pure Series solar panels to be the best based on their superior heterojunction construction that allows them to perform better in high heat. This factor, combined with their price point, efficiency, and warranty, made REC solar panels the best value. 

Which solar panels are made in the U.S.?

LG NeON® 2 Series has a facility in Huntsville, AL, Panasonic solar panels have a factory in Buffalo, NY, and Hanwha has a factory located in Irvine, CA. All of these manufacturers also have factories elsewhere in the world, such as Malaysia and South Korea. REC and SunPower have U.S. offices but no stateside manufacturing. 

What is the largest solar panel company?

LONGi and JinkoSolar are two of the largest solar manufacturers worldwide. In the U.S., the largest solar panel manufacturer is First Solar.

Who makes the most reliable solar panels?

In the solar industry, 25-year warranties are standard, which means that solar panels manufacturers must strive to make a reliable product with a long lifespan. However, the reliability of the amount of energy generated by the panels depends on how much sunlight and shade your panels have. 

Do you buy solar panels from the solar manufacturer or the installer?

Save On Energy partners with installers that give you the choice of using the solar panels that you want. All major brands of panels, batteries, and other equipment should be available through your installer. However, you can also order direct from the manufacturer.  

How do I get cheap solar panels in my area?

Use our state guides on solar panels to find rebates and incentives available near you. 

 

[Jason Finn] / Shutterstock

Updated: 07/07/2021