Homeowners have more than a hundred different solar panels to choose from. How do you pick the right one?
Each model has their own design, efficiency, warranty, and set of special features. However, you can dramatically cut down the time you spend on your search for the perfect panel if you know what features it needs to have. Check out the specs of some of the top solar panels on the market to choose the right one for your home!
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Metrics For Evaluating Solar Panel Quality
While solar companies offer a wide range of panels to choose from, only a few key metrics really matter: design, efficiency, performance, durability, warranty, and price. However, there isn’t a single solar panel that wins in every one of these categories. Your own preferences will also determine how each of these factors should be weighed. Striking the right balance between solar panel cost and performance is vital to maximizing your investment.
Solaria PowerXT® Pure Black™ comes in two main types: the Solaria PowerXT 300 Series, which features 360W, 365W, and 370W panels, and the PowerXT® Pure Black™400W solar panels. Solaria’s panels feature high efficiency, durable construction, and incredible reliability, making them a growing favorite among solar shoppers. Both models feature similar performance specs and differ primarily in the amount of power each panel generates. The PowerXT features all-black construction with greater performance than almost all of the panels on the market.
The PowerXT’s elegant design hides or eliminates the series strings, bus bars, and inactive areas, maximizing the surface area available for power generation.
PowerXT panels achieve an industry-leading 20.5% efficiency, thanks in part to built-in microinverters that allow them to produce more energy in the shade than other brands.
PowerXT panels have a temperature coefficient of -.39, meaning that for every degree in Celsius that the temperature increases, the PowerXT’s efficiency will decline by .39%.
PowerXT panels can avoid many of the problems associated with long-term degradation of sensitive components by UV light, since many of them are hidden behind the crystal itself.
Solaria offers a 25-year warranty for all of its solar panels, far longer than most other competitors.
The price per watt from a PowerXT typically ranges between $2.47 and $3.13 per watt, which is in-line with industry averages.
- High efficiency
- 25-year warranty
- Monocrystalline construction
- Reasonable price
- Higher shade tolerance than other models
- Lower temperature coefficient than some other models
LG NeON® 2
The NeON® 2 is one of the most popular solar panel models on the market and is known for its efficiency and reliability. The 60-cell module comes in 370W, 365W, 360W models, while the 72-cell module comes in 425W, 420W, 415W, and 410W models. It’s backed by a powerful 25-year warranty and features a unique design that maximizes the amount of solar energy each panel can collect. The NeON 2 is also highly resilient and has failsafes in place that allows it to continue to produce energy if it’s damaged.
The NeON® 2 utilizes LG’s Cello Technology™, which features a high density of round PV ribbons to increase the amount of solar energy captured and more wires to aid in energy transfer.
With an efficiency ranging from a high of 21.4% for 370W panels to 19.8% for 410W panels, the NeON® 2 panels rank among the most efficient in the industry.
NeON® 2 panels have a temperature coefficient that ranges from -0.4 to -0.29, which is in-line with panels across the industry, but produces 30% more electricity at peak hours than competitors in a June 2019 study.
The NeON® 2 uses a wire mesh to transfer energy, which means energy has more ways to transfer around damage that would normally render much of a panel inoperable.
LG offers a 25-year warranty, by which time they promise the NeON 2 will continue to produce 90.08% of its original output, compared to 84.3% for the top five manufacturers.
EnergySage reports the average cost of solar panels for the NeON 2 is $2.88 per Watt and ranges between $2.30 to $3.46 per Watt.
- Greater energy efficiency than typical PV ribbon panels
- 25-year warranty
- Redundancy in wiring protects against total panel failures
- Average resistance to higher temperatures
SunPower® A-Series Performance
SunPower solar panels are renowned for their efficiency and durable construction, making them a popular choice among homeowners. The SunPower® A-Series features some of the company’s most powerful and advanced solar panels. The 420–390 W Residential AC Modules include several different models: A390, A400, A410, A415, A420. There are some broad similarities across these models which contribute to their unique advantages.
Every component of the A-Series is designed, engineered, and even warranted by SunPower, meaning that the performance of every component is optimized for the system. SunPower also uses factory-integrated microinverters (MI), which improves long-term performance and simplifies repair.
Each cell in the A-Series is 65% larger than previous models, which, along with the unique engineering, can help these panels to produce 60% more energy across their lifespan than conventional cells.
A-Series commercial and residential and cells feature a temperature coefficient of −0.29%/°C.
The A-series utilizes SunPower® Maxeon® technology for longevity, with each cell backed by a corrosion-resistant copper plate.
SunPower offers a 25-year warranty on their solar panels, placing them in the top-tier of solar panel companies.
EnergySage reports that energy prices for A-Series panels typically come in at around $3.08 and $3.52 per watt.
- All components are designed and warranted by one company
- Highly efficient
- More expensive than competitors
Jinko Solar Eagle
Jinko Solar is a Chinese solar panel manufacturer that began producing a new series of panels for the American market in its Jacksonville, Florida plant. Three models comprise the Eagle series (G2, G3, G4), and the Jinko Eagle HC 60M G2 is commonly used in rooftop installations. While it differs from other Eagle models, on the whole it’s representative of the series and is useful for comparisons between brands.
The Eagle HC 60M G2 is a monocrystalline panel that features a fairly typical design for rooftop solar panels, but also features twin arrays for improved performance in the shade.
Efficiency for the Eagle HC 60M G2 is projected to decline to 97.0% within the first year, after which it declines at 0.7% per year to 80.2% at year 25.
The Eagle HC 60M G2 features a temperature coefficient of -0.36 and a 18.96% overall efficiency.
Jinko’s panels are functional and sturdy but less durable than other brands, holding up less well against extreme weather conditions, such as snow or high winds.
Jinko offers a 10-year materials warranty on its panels and a 25-year linear warranty.
The average price per watt for the Eagle HC 60M G2 is $3.05 per watt, with prices ranging on average between $2.44 to $3.66 per Watt.
- Average performance
- Not as efficient as other brands
- Shorter warranty
- Less resilient
2020’s Best of Las Vegas Gold Award For Best Solar Energy Provider
Choosing the right solar panel is only part of what it will take to maximize your investment. A poor solar panel installation could quickly eat into your array’s profitability if you choose the wrong installer. At Bell Solar & Electrical Systems, we use only journeyman electricians to install solar systems for our residential and commercial clients. We’re one of the top-rated contractors in Nevada and would be more than happy to assist you with your installation!
*Bell Solar & Electrical Systems is an official provider of Solaria solar panels and not of the other brands mentioned in this blog post.