When it comes to solar panels, there are a lot of options. There are different brands, different models, and even different types. As a homeowner, it can be difficult to determine which panels are best for your unique home. To make matters worse, most companies only offer one brand and usually market their panels as the best panels available on the market. At Blue Raven Solar, we know there’s a lot more to a panel than its brand name, which is why we’re going to show you all of the qualities that transform a panel from being average to being the best solar panel on the market.
The Best Type of Solar Panel
The first step to determining which solar panel is the best is to gain a general understanding of the three main types of solar panels available in the industry. Currently, homeowners can choose from three options: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin film. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, so let’s take a closer look:
Monocrystalline solar panels are made from crystalline silicon. They are the most space efficient, causing them to be the most expensive. Because they can do more in a smaller space, they are the most common panel in the residential solar industry.
Polycrystalline panels work in the same way that monocrystalline panels do, but they are bigger and less expensive. They are typically used for larger projects like commercial solar or solar farms.
Thin film panels use a different technology than crystalline silicon panels. The technology for this type of panels is still developing because they are newer. Currently they are the least energy efficient solar panel, but they are expected to improve in coming years.
As you can see, monocrystalline panels are the best type of panel for residential solar. Rarely do homeowners have large enough roofs for polycrystalline panels to be effective and thin film panels have yet to reach their full potential. No matter the size or shape of their roof, any homeowner can reduce their power bill significantly by purchasing monocrystalline panels. As the solar industry continues to gain momentum, monocrystalline panels will cost less and produce even more power! At Blue Raven Solar, we are proud to provide monocrystalline panels to all of our customers!
The Best Solar Panel Brand
If you’ve taken a look at solar panels, you’ll know that there are dozens and even hundreds of brands made stateside and internationally. With that being said, does brand really matter? We’ve determined that major brands like Jinkosolar, LG, Solaria, JA Solar, Panasonic, Trina, Yingli, and Canadian Solar all make fantastic products. Each of these companies have invested millions of dollars and have spent years (even decades) improving their premium monocrystalline panels. Each company is driven by intense competition and consumer feedback to make cheaper, more durable, more efficient, and longer lasting panels. Thus, brand does not determine which solar panel is the best and shouldn’t be the biggest deciding factor for homeowners looking to go solar. However, all potential solar buyers should verify that the installer they are getting a quote from provides panels from a reputable solar panels company. If you’d like to get more details on the best brands in the solar manufacturing industry, feel free to check out Solar Reviews’ comprehensive Top 20 List. This list gives in depth analysis on the pros and cons of 20 of the best brands in the industry as well as detailed customer reviews.
The Best Solar Panel Size
While all major brands offer monocrystalline panels, there are a wide variety of sizes that impact panel performance and energy output. You might be thinking: what do they mean by solar panel size? Well, we’re not talking about the physical dimensions of the panels (most monocrystalline panels are about 5.4 feet by 3.25 feet and weigh 50 pounds), but rather we’re referring to the large wattage number that comes after the brand name. This number represents the wattage of that specific panel. If the panel name is followed by the number 250, that means this panel will produce 250 watts of electricity per hour in the perfect solar conditions. Generally speaking, monocrystalline panels will have a wattage range from about 170 to 365. Anything below these 170 will require a much larger number of panels and thus a larger roof, and anything above 365 is generally more expensive and not cost-effective for residential homeowners. In recent years, larger companies are trending towards larger wattage panels because it means that homeowners will need a smaller number of panels to offset their entire energy bill. At Blue Raven Solar, we choose to use 315, 320, 325, 330, and 335-watt panels. We believe that these 5 sizes provide homeowners with most energy at the lowest cost available on the market.
Best Solar Panel Efficiency
The best solar panels have high efficiencies. With that being said, the majority of 2020 solar panels will produce electricity at 16-20% efficiency. But what does that mean? Well, each solar panel is filled with dozens of solar cells. Solar cells are the small, silicon squares that absorb sunlight and transform that light into electricity for your home. Generally, each panel will contain a total of 48, 60, or 72 solar cells. Because solar is a relatively new technology, scientists have not discovered how to get solar cells to perform at 100% efficiency. Thus, a solar panel that is 20% efficient means that that solar panel is capable of converting 20% of the light that comes from the sun at that given moment into electricity. This number might seem quite low, but as solar becomes more and more popular, the technology is bound to make major improvements to overall efficiency. Plus, solar is already cheap enough to where it gives owners a return on investment in less than a decade of owning a system. Usually, solar installers claim that the best panels have the highest efficiencies. However, the higher the panel efficiency, the more expensive the panel will be. For example, one of the most efficient solar panels is Sunpower’s 400W Maxeon 3 panel. It is rated to convert 22.6% of the sunlight that it absorbs into electricity. A homeowner or solar installation company can buy one of these panels for $590 on Rainbow Power Company (an online panel distributing company). If a homeowner were to purchase a panel only a couple of percentage points lower, like Canadian Solar’s 325W panel, they’d only have to pay $186. That is a massive difference and means thousands of savings when a homeowner is purchasing a system that offsets 100% of their power bill. Higher efficiency panels can be great for small homes, but in most cases choosing a panel that has a little less efficiency can be a huge money saver. At Blue Raven Solar, we provide our customers with high-quality panels that have plenty of efficiency (18-20%) and wattage (315-335W), so that they can save the most money possible.
The Best Panels Come with a Warranty
If you are buying your panels outright, you will want to make sure that they come with a warranty. All panels are susceptible to wear and tear, physical defects, and installation errors. If your panels are not covered by warranty, you’ll have to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars to get them fixed. Luckily, the manufacturing brands mentioned earlier in this post offer great panel warranties and most large solar companies provide workmanship warranties. Because we deeply care about customer satisfaction, we give all our customers panel, workmanship, and production warranties. All of our solar panels come with a 25-year product warranty, which means our solar systems provide our customers with hundreds in savings every month for decades to come. Each homeowner who chooses Blue Raven Solar will have a 10-year workmanship warranty. This allows our customers to get free repairs to any install or workmanship errors for their first decade with their solar system. Lastly, for customers whose solar systems are underperforming expected rates, we make sure to cover the costs to get the system performing as it should. All in all, the panels are only as good as their owner’s satisfaction, which is why we do our best to separate ourselves from our competition and provide the best customer service in the industry!
So, What is Our Pick for Best Solar Panel?
We have dedicated hours of time, money, and research to choosing what we believe to be the best solar panel available because of their size, efficiency, warranty, and price. Right now, we use panels that have 5 different wattage sizes (315, 320, 325, 330, and 335) and perform at 18-20% efficiency. We truly believe that these are some of the best panels available on the market and know that they will be able to save you thousands of dollars for decades to come! Plus, our black-on-black panels look great on any roof! If you’re interested in seeing how much a solar system with these panels would cost on your roof, feel free to give us a call or fill out a Get a Quote form on our website. We are more than happy to answer your questions and help you determine if solar is right for you!