When it comes to solar panels, there are multiple options on the market, whether it be different brands, models, or types.
We want to give you a basic understanding of solar technology, brands, and general industry standards so you can have a better idea of which residential solar panels will best suit your needs. We will also share our experience and expertise to reveal the secrets we have learned over the years and our approach to installing the best residential solar panels.
As a homeowner, it can be difficult to determine which panels are best for your home. Most solar companies offer one brand and usually market their panels as the best residential panels available, which can be very deceptive, even if they are great panels. Every property and style is unique, which means it is vital to take every aspect of a solar system into account to make a sound decision.
At Blue Raven Solar, we know there is a lot more to a panel than its brand name. Here are all the qualities distinguishing an average solar panel from the best solar panel on the market, so you can get the best solar technology.
The Best Type of Solar Panel
To make an informed decision regarding the best solar panel, it is imperative to gain a general understanding of current solar technology. There are 3 main types of solar panels available in the industry:
- Thin film
Each panel type has its own advantages and disadvantages, and some are naturally better suited for residential properties.
Monocrystalline solar panels are made from crystalline silicon. They are the most space efficient, which means these are generally the most expensive. Because monocrystalline panels can produce more energy in a smaller space, they are the most common panel to be installed on houses and often the most effective panel in the residential solar industry.
Polycrystalline panels work the same way monocrystalline panels do, but they are bigger in size and less expensive. They are typically used in larger installations like commercial solar or solar farms because they need more space to produce as much energy as opposed to monocrystalline panels.
Thin film panels use a completely different technology than crystalline silicon panels, and the technology for this type of panel is still evolving. Currently, thin film solar panels are the least energy efficient, but they are expected to greatly improve as science advances. They were invented about 20 years after crystalline panels, so it may take some time before they have the same kind of efficiency, durability, and availability.
Based on the different characteristics listed above, monocrystalline panels are the best type of panel for residential solar systems. Rarely do homeowners have large enough roofs for polycrystalline panels to be effective. Thin film panels have yet to reach their full potential and are much more expensive.
Regardless of the size or shape of your roof, you can reduce your power bill significantly by purchasing monocrystalline panels which will soon cost less and produce more power as the solar industry continues to gain momentum.
At Blue Raven Solar, we are proud to provide effective monocrystalline panels to all our customers!
The Best Solar Panel Brand
If you have looked into residential solar panels, you will know there are hundreds of brands, both stateside and internationally. Does brand really matter?
We have decided major brands like Jinkosolar, SunPower, REC, Solaria, JA Solar, Panasonic, Trina, Yingli, Maxeon, and Canadian Solar all make quality products. Each of these companies have invested millions of dollars and have spent years (even decades) improving their premium monocrystalline panels.
Thus, brand does not usually determine which solar panel is the best and should not be the biggest deciding factor for homeowners looking to go solar. However, when getting a quote from a solar installer, all potential solar buyers should verify their installer provides panels from a reputable solar panel company.
Researching brands can be an easy starting point for you to determine what will and will not work for you. If you would like to get more details on the best brands in the solar manufacturing industry, look at Solar Reviews’ comprehensive Top 20 List. This list gives an in-depth analysis of the pros and cons of twenty 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 is a wide variety of sizes. Size can have a big impact on panel performance and energy output. To be clear, we are not talking about the physical dimensions of the panels (most monocrystalline panels are about 5.4 feet by 3.25 feet and weigh roughly 50 pounds). We are referring to the large wattage number listed after the brand name.
This number represents the wattage potential of the specific panel. If the panel name is followed by the number 250, it means this panel will produce 250 watts of electricity per hour in perfect solar conditions.
Monocrystalline panels typically range from about 170 to 405 watts. Anything under 170 watts will require a larger number of panels to be installed and thus a larger roof. Anything above 405 watts is generally more expensive and not as cost-effective for residential homeowners.
Recently, larger solar panel brands are trending toward larger wattage panels because it means homeowners will need a smaller number of panels to offset their entire energy bill. After years of researching, testing, and tracking energy efficiency and performance at Blue Raven Solar, we chose to use 315, 320, 325, 330, 335, 400, and 405-watt panels because we believe these sizes provide homeowners with several options for the most energy at the lowest cost available.
Best Solar Panel Efficiency
The best solar panels have high efficiencies, meaning a high amount of sunlight converted into electricity. Most solar panels will produce electricity with continued improvements in efficiency, but what does this mean?
Each solar panel is filled with dozens of solar cells. Solar photovoltaic cells are the small, silicon squares absorbing sunlight and transforming that light into electricity for your home. Generally, each panel will contain a total of 48, 60, or 72 solar cells.
Solar is a relatively new technology; scientists have not discovered how to get solar cells to perform at 100% efficiency. Thus, a solar panel generating 20% efficiency means the solar panel can convert 20% of the light coming from the sun at any given moment into electricity.
This percentage might seem quite low, but these efficiency levels are still generally high enough to reduce or eliminate power bills. As solar becomes more and more popular, the technology is bound to continue making improvements to overall efficiency. Additionally, solar is already affordable enough to give owners a return on their investment in less than a decade of owning a system.
Higher efficiency panels can be great for small homes, but, in most cases, choosing a panel slightly less efficient can save large amounts of cash. At Blue Raven Solar, we provide our customers with high-quality panels with plenty of efficiency (18-20%) and wattage (315-405W), so we can help our customers save from the beginning.
The Best Panels Come with a Warranty
If you are buying solar panels outright, you will want to check to see if they come with a warranty. A product without a warranty puts you at risk for unforeseen expenses, and it may also indicate you are working with a company who is not worried about the customer experience.
All panels are susceptible to wear and tear, physical defects, and installation errors. If your panels are not covered by a warranty, you may have to pay if your solar panels need to be fixed. When you purchase a solar system to save you money, paying thousands of dollars out of pocket to fix your solar panels does not align with your original money-saving plan.
Luckily, the brands we mentioned previously offer great panel warranties, and most large solar companies provide workmanship warranties.
We care about customer satisfaction and give all our customers panel, workmanship, and production warranties:
- 25-Year Product Warranty: All our solar panels come with a 25-year product warranty, which means our solar systems provide our customers with savings every month.
- 10-Year Workmanship Warranty: Each homeowner who partners with Blue Raven Solar will have a 10-year workmanship warranty. This allows our customers to get free repairs on any installation or workmanship errors for the first decade with their solar system.
- Total Customer Satisfaction: Lastly, if your solar system underperforms the expected rates, we cover the costs of getting the system performing as originally projected for two years.
Our solar panels are 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.
Our Pick for the Best Solar Panel
Considering the size, efficiency, warranty, and price, we have found the best options for our customers.
We currently install panels with several different wattage sizes and perform at 18-20% efficiency. We believe these are some of the best panels available on the market, and we know they can help you save you thousands of dollars.
If you have more questions about residential solar panels, please contact us! Blue Raven Solar believes in a no-pressure experience, and we are here to help you get the best solar panels. You can start your rooftop solar installation by requesting a free quote.
After you send your request, we will provide you with a no-commitment estimate based on the information you provided. If you decide to take the next step, one of our experts will schedule a visit to your property to create the most efficient and effective solar system design.
If you are interested in seeing how much a solar system with these types and brand of panels would cost, please give us a call or reach out to one of our solar specialists today.