Are all solar panels the same?
Solar panels may all look the same to the untrained eye, but in truth each solar panel offers a trade-off between efficiency, cost and durability. There are three main types of solar panels on the market today:
- Monocrystalline: These panels are the most efficient at converting sunlight into electricity – converting about 18%. They also are the most expensive of the three types of solar panels. Monocrystalline panels have a lifespan of 25 or more years.
- Polycrystalline: These panels are the most commonly used panel today. They are slightly less efficient at converting sunlight to electricity than Monocrystalline panels – converting about 15% – but they are also less expensive. Polycrystalline panels have a comparable lifespan to Monocrystalline panels.
- Amorphous: Though they are the least expensive, these panels are the least efficient at converting sunlight to electricity and they have a shorter lifespan than Crystalline solar panels. Most of our partners do not install amorphous panels.
Please click here if you would like to learn more about how solar panels work.
Which panels are recommended?
A handful of large solar panel manufacturers produce the majority of solar panels installed on U.S. homes. Some solar installers only use one brand of solar panel for their installations, whereas others us different brand depending on the solar installer. In general, panels from the larger manufacturers are reliable and may even come with a warranty. Below are some of the larger manufacturers that our partners prefer.
- Sharp: The world’s largest solar panel manufacturer for commercial and residential solar applications. Although owned by a Japanese company, some of Sharp’s solar panels are manufactured here in the US.
- SunPower: US-based SunPower has been on the fore-front of solar panel cell research for almost 40 years. SunPower has a global presence, with offices in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia.
- Kyocera: One of the world’s largest solar panels manufacturers, Kyocera’s US subsidiary is based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Kyocera recently announced plans to begin manufacturing solar panels in the United States.
- Canadian Solar: One of the world’s largest solar panel producers, Canadian Solar was founded in 2001 and is headquartered in Ontario, Canada. Canadian Solar products are sold throughout the world in 24 countries.
- BP Solar: One of the world’s largest solar panel manufacturers and distributors, BP Solar is headquartered in San Francisco, California and it also has facilities in Frederick, Maryland.
Choosing the right panel will depend on the location and sunlight characteristics of your solar system. Our solar panel installer partners work with you to determine the optimal type and brand of panel for your unique situation.