By Mandy Ellis
Deciding solar energy is the right choice for your home also means picking the correct panel type. Because meeting your home’s energy needs plus getting the best value and production are critical components, this list of companies and models below offers the chance to save money over the long-term. These five brands offer the best bang for your buck through warranty, panel quality, cost, lifespan and efficiency.
“Everybody except Panasonic jumped by 30 percent [in cost] with the new tariff,” said Haim Vagas, CEO of ArtGreen Construction in Los Angeles, “Panasonic kept the same price and absorbed the tax. Besides being good panels, now with the 30 percent tax increase, Panasonic is closer [in cost] to the cheap panels.” With higher-end silicon wafers and better cell structure, Vagas says Panasonic panels provide more energy at lower costs, and homeowners should consider investing in the VBHB330SA16 model.
Panasonic provides a 25-year warranty on performance, parts, labor and placement, and they are a bit more expensive (about $300 to $350 per panel or 90 to 95 cents per watt), but their long-term value is one of the best on the market. Additionally, as Panasonic has multiple business streams, even if the solar division ends, the warranties will still be honored under the company’s umbrella.
“It’s also that the panel won’t lose more than 11 percent production over 25 years so they guarantee about 90 percent production over 25 years, with about 20 percent efficiency,” said Vagas, “When you buy solar, you want to invest in a system that performs year after year. If you buy something cheap with poor performance, maybe you saved some money on the purchase price, but you’ll pay for it down the road.”
Although LG is on the higher-end of budget-friendliness (about $300 per panel or 90 to 95 cents per watt), they offer excellent value through their built-to-last design. These panels also include 25-year performance, 12-year product and 10-year workmanship warranties. Because LG has businesses outside of solar, like in computers, cell phones, and TVs, David Yoo, founder and CEO of Pingo Solar in Buena Park, Calif., says even if the solar panel business is extinguished, the large parent company will still honor the warranties.
Like Panasonic, LG solar panels are guaranteed about 90 percent production over 25 years, and according to experts, homeowners should consider the LG NeON R models of LG350Q1C-A5 and LG365Q1C-A5.
Hanwha Q CELLS
In terms of value, Hanwha Q Cells offer excellent return, and as a business with multiple revenue producers that’s been around for 100 years, Yoo says they’ll be able to honor the 12-year product warranty. Panels are less expensive at $180 to $200 per panel, utilize high-quality materials and their up to 20 percent efficiency provide buyers good value on dollars spent. Solar experts say to review the Q.Peak DUO-G5 series.
“If you look at the companies and rank them in term of budgetary consciousness, I’d rank Hyundai panels as great products at a low price, and one step down from Hanwha Q CELLS,” said Yoo. Hyundai’s longevity and aerospace, car and ship building businesses will support the 10-year product warranty, and their up to 18 percent efficiency at $180 to $200 per panel cost make these panels a good investment. Models within the Hyundai 300 Watt RG Series are top options including the multi-crystalline type (HiS-M250RG, HiS-M255RG, HiS-M260RG and HiS-M265RG) and the monocrystalline type (HiS-S275RG, HiS-S280RG, HiS-S285RG, HiS-S290RG, HiS-S295RG and HiS-S300RG).
“I like Solaria Power XT Series, as it’s a very good brand and line, and really is a good bang for the buck right now,” said Thomas Rendon, chief executive officer and managing partner of Victoria, Texas’ Sweetwater Energy Services. Solaria, a company that’s manufactured durable solar panels with affordable value for almost two decades, provides 10-year craftsmanship and 25-year production warranties, over three decades of lifespan and an efficiency rating of up to 20 percent.
Honorable Mention Brands and Models
- SunPower E-Series
- SolarWorld Sunmodule Plus Series
- Peimar Full Black Line SG Series
- Seraphim Solar SRP-6MA Series
- SunSpark Technology SST Mono Series
- Mission Solar MSE Perc Series