Many factors go in to determining the best solar panels. Panels differ in characteristics such as size, weight, durability, efficiency, and—of course—power output. The right combination of factors is what makes the best solar panels for a particular installation. There is no best solar panels for every situation or application. That said, the following panels are among the best currently manufactured.
1. JAC M6SF-3 from JA Solar
The JAC M6SF-3 module has better-than-standard efficiency of between 18.4%-19.5% in lab conditions, with a top power level of 265W.
This module is smaller than its competitors and slightly less durable; it likely won’t stand up to strong weather conditions.
The JAC M6SF-3 is ideal for temperate climates where extreme weather is rare.
2. HSL 60 Mono from Hanwha SolarOne
The HSL 60 Mono module from Hanwha SolarOne—a Chinese company—has a top power level of 265W during optimal conditions. This panel offers the industry-standard efficiency of 16% under lab conditions; real-life performance might differ.
Of all panels from Hanwha SolarOne, this one is the most powerful. Each panel has a 12-year warranty along with a 25-year performance warranty.
At a 20kg weight, this panel is one of the heaviest that Hanwha manufactures, though other brands’ panels weight significantly more. The moderate weight does lend itself to durability; the panels can withstand most weather conditions including snow but excluding natural disaster.
3. KD315GX-LPB Top from Kyocera
The top power output for the KD315GX-LPB Top module made by Kyocera is an impressive 315W. This panel’s somewhat high 27.5kg weight is one sign of its extreme durability. The KD315GX-LPB Top panel has the industry-standard efficiency of 16%. This panel is best suited for those seeking higher power output and durability in a solar array.
This panel’s somewhat high 27.5kg weight is one sign of its extreme durability. The KD315GX-LPB Top panel has the industry-standard efficiency of 16%. This panel is best suited for those seeking higher power output and durability in a solar array.
4. Panda 60 Cell Series from Yingli
Those focused on low-cost installation should consider Yingli’s Panda 60 Cell Series panels. The power output ranges from 260W to 280W, which provides for flexibility in the system.
Despite a relatively light weight of 18.5kg per panel, the Panda 60 Cell Series has a top-of-the-line static load capacity of 5400 Pa. It can withstand most weather conditions and includes a 10-year manufacturer warranty. Note that customers in Germany or Italy have different conditions related to the warranty.
Standard lab conditions provide a very impressive 19.8% efficiency, making it one of the best solar panels on the market. High-quality panel construction means that it’s likely to maintain its efficiency over time without degrading. Many installers use this type of panel, which makes it simple to find a reputable installer who is familiar with it for residential installation.
5. Series 4 from First Solar
The American company First Solar focuses on build quality and constantly redesigns its panels to use the latest technological advances.
Among the smaller and less powerful panels on the market, First Solar’s Series 4 panel excels in certain areas. Its 12kg weight makes it very light compared to competitors, but the Series 4 has reliable durability.
First Solar claims that their panels have an 8% efficiency advantage over other companies’ panels of similar size and power.
6. 275W Monocrystalline from ReneSola
The ReneSola 275W Monocrystalline solar panel is manufactured by ReneSola in China.
Given this panel’s lighter 19kg weight, it still retains good durability. ReneSola offers a 25-year performance warranty along with a 10-year warranty for materials. Efficiency for this panel runs between the industry standard of 16% up to almost 17%.
Because ReneSola has little inventory at hand, larger orders require lead time to accommodate panel manufacturing.
7. Solaredge Smart from Jinko Solar
China’s Jinko Solar is expanding into smart panels, which can more effectively maintain their levels of energy generation. The power output ranges between 255W and 315W and each panel weighs 19.7kg.
With a focus on long-term performance, the Solaredge Smart module will be more expensive than others because it uses newer technology. The smart panel employs power optimization, which compensates for underperforming cells, for example those that are partly shaded.
In the case of health or safety issues such as a power surge, the Solaredge Smart panel automatically disconnects.
8. CS6K-P-PG from Canadian Solar
The CS6K-P-PG module has an innovative double-glass construction that makes it very durable. Each panel weighs 23kg and provides between 255W and 260W of power output. This output is slightly less than competitors’, and the efficiency is slightly lower than the industry standard of 16% at between 15.5% and 15.8%.
The double-glass construction helps the panels have a long lifespan; Canadian Solar offers a 30-year performance guarantee, one of the longest of any manufacturer.
The installed cost of any of these best solar panels depends on the installer, array size, and roof conditions, so they cannot be compared directly on price. The other specified factors should provide enough comparison to design an adequate and well-suited system.