When it comes to choosing the best solar panels to purchase for your home, there are many factors to consider including efficiency, warranty, and aesthetics.
We won’t compare every solar panel on the market, but we can walk you through the criteria that we use to select the best solar panels for our installs. As the longest-running Colorado solar company, our solar experts know what features to look for and what differentiators will best help you produce clean energy.
Polycrystalline vs. Monocrystalline Solar Panels
To start, let’s go over some solar panel basics.
There are two types of solar panels: monocrystalline and polycrystalline. While both types are made of silicon and both will convert sunlight into electricity, there are several vital differences between the two.
Monocrystalline solar panels are the premium option between the two types of panels, and it is the type that Namasté Solar installs on homes. As the name “mono” implies, monocrystalline panels are made up of individual wafers of silicon which are cut up into cells. Each cell is made from a single wafer of silicon, thus the composition of the cells are purer. Because of this, the monocrystalline cells are better at converting sunlight into electricity. Monocrystalline solar panels usually have a black hue.
On polycrystalline solar panels, the cells are formed by melting silicon fragments together on a big sheet as opposed to individual cells. Because there are multiple crystals in each cell, the electrons have less space to flow. These solar panels are less expensive but not as efficient as monocrystalline solar panels. Polycrystalline solar panels typically have a blue hue.
From left, a polycrystalline solar panel and a monocrystalline solar panel.
If you look at a solar panel up close, you’ll see either a white or black back sheet. This sheet is important as it helps with the solar panel’s efficiency. The white back sheet is the more effective of the two colors as that color helps keep the cells cooler. As cell temperature goes up, voltage goes down, so while the black back sheet gives a better aesthetic, it is slightly less efficient.
Why Solar Panel Warranty Matters
Warranty is among one of the top factors to consider when weighing which are the best solar panels.
One of the most important considerations we look for in a warranty is whether there is a labor warranty reimbursement. If a panel malfunctions, which is rare, most manufacturers will cover one-way shipping costs and provide a new or refurbished panel but the labor it will take to de-install and re-install the solar panel is not included. In those instances, a customer would be billed for the labor.
Other warranty factors to consider are the production and workmanship warranties. These two warranties come on all panels.
- A production warranty is based on how well the solar panel is guaranteed to produce electricity over time. It is measured as a percentage drop in efficiency over time. A high-quality panel will have a degradation of 0.33% or less per year.
- A workmanship warranty is based on how well the solar panel is made. The standard is between 10-12 years and the best solar panels have a 25+ year workmanship warranty. If you live in an area with weather extremes like Colorado, you’ll want to make sure your solar panels have a good workmanship warranty.
Look for Solar Panel Efficiency
When weighing differentiators to decide on the best solar panels, homeowners should also consider efficiency, not just wattage. The wattage of a panel represents the potential power that panel can produce under ideal conditions, but wattage doesn’t indicate how efficient your solar panels are. You can put two solar panels of the same wattage from different manufacturers next to each other and the one with the better efficiency rating will produce more electricity. When purchasing solar panels for your home, you’ll want to ask, “how efficient is the overall panel?”
If you look at your solar panel's spec sheet, it will tell you the Module Efficiency percentage which is the measurement of your solar panel’s capacity to turn the sunlight into usable electricity. What this means for you is, the more efficient your panels are, the less number of panels you'll need installed to meet your energy requirements.
Most solar panels currently run at about 19-21% efficiency. However, some manufacturers’ most efficient solar panels can reach 22%+. For example, LG, a company that makes some of the most efficient solar panels on the market, offers premium solar panels with an efficiency of 22.1%. We install solar panels that run from 19.6 - 22.1% efficiency.
Hail and Solar Panels
Hail and the damage it can inflict on solar panels, especially in hail prone states like Colorado, is one of the biggest concerns among homeowners who go solar.
Today’s solar panels are designed and thoroughly tested to hold up against the elements, anything from high winds to hail. Most manufacturers put their solar panels through a rigorous testing and certification process to withstand use. Many solar panels are manufactured to endure hurricane force winds. The aluminum and glass casings that encapsulate solar panels are highly waterproof, designed even to repel extreme rain.
The best solar panels will work in various environments and climates, whether you’re in a desert, by the seaside, or in the mountains. While solar panels are not indestructible per se, they should be rugged enough to hold up against some of the roughest conditions Mother Nature has to throw at it.
Who Makes the Best Solar Panels?
After being in business for nearly two decades, we’ve had a front-row seat to the development of solar panel technology and have seen dozens of solar panel manufacturers come and go. We know which ones will be around for the long haul to honor warranties because they’ve produced the most robust and efficient products. We prioritize the best solar panels because they maximize your solar savings and increase your positive impact on the environment.
When shopping around for the best solar panels, there are a few questions that are important to ask.
- How long has the manufacturer been around?
- What is their warranty like?
- Will they still be in business long enough to honor their warranty?
- What is their solar panel efficiency?
- What is the manufacturer’s testing and certification process against severe weather conditions?
Based on these criteria, we choose LG solar panels to install on your home.
We chose LG as our go-to product not only because they manufacture some of the most efficient solar panels out there, but they also currently offer the best warranty on the market – 25 years, including labor. Because we are satisfied with LG’s longevity as a company, we are confident that they’ll be around long enough to honor their promised 25-year warranty. LG is also one of only two companies that offers labor reimbursement if a panel fails, which is an important differentiator we look for when choosing the best solar panels to install. LG also performs rigorous testing on their solar panels, including firing ice balls that are one inch in diameter at them to evaluate for durability against hail and performing a flame test on the panels to test in case of a structure fire.
Want to learn more about which are the best solar panels for your home? Have the non-commissioned solar experts at Namasté Solar evaluate the value of solar for your home.
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