If you ask 5 solar installers what the best solar panels are, chances are high that you'll get 5 different answers. There are more than 15 solar panel brands I recommend, including:
- Trina Solar
Some people think that 'the best' simply means the most expensive - but you'll find the panel brands listed above vary quite a bit in price.
It's perfectly logical to think best = most expensive. When people think about the 'fastest car' or the 'best TV', they're usually the most expensive ones on the market.
But - the difference in performance between a budget-end solar panel (from a reputable brand) and a top-end panel can be quite marginal.
And when the difference in price between a system using top-end brands and budget-end brands can be thousands of dollars, some rightly question whether the diminishing returns are worth thousands!
I truly believe that the best solar panels to buy are simply the ones that best meet your needs.
To help you gauge the best solar panels for your situation, ask yourself the following questions:
- How long do I plan to stay in my home?
- How important is a long warranty to me?
- Is my budget realistic for my wants?
Let's look at these questions in a bit more detail:
How long do I plan to stay in my home?
A 6.6kW solar system is the typical size installed in Australia these days. Such a system can save you around $1,600 per year, depending on your location.
A budget-end 6.6kW solar system can be had for around $5,000. A top-end 6.6kW solar system will can cost up to $9,000 or more.
What this means is - with savings of $1,600 per year, a budget-end 6.6kW system can pay for itself in just over 3 years. A top-end 6.6kW system can pay for itself in five and a half years.
So - if you're planning on staying in your home for a decade or less, you may want to maximise your return on investment by choosing a solid budget system using cheaper, good quality solar panels over a premium one.
How important is a long warranty to me?
Following on from the point above, these days the vast majority of reputable solar panels offer at least a 12 year product warranty at a minimum.
High-end brands offer 25+ years product warranty.
So - again - if you're planning on staying in your home for around a decade or less, you'll be covered that entire time by the minimum 12 year product warranty good panel brands offer.
You may find it pointless to purchase a solar panel brand that offers a warranty length that you'll never utilise.
As an aside - many people consider warranty lengths a proxy for quality - as a company wouldn't risk offering a lengthy warranty if they weren't confident their panels could go the distance.
So they may purchase panels with a longer warranty because of this implied quality - which is fair enough.
Is the most efficient panel the best solar panel?
A more efficient solar panel is not necessarily better. A low-efficiency 370W panel and a high-efficiency 370W panel will both produce 370W in the same light. The difference is that the high-efficiency 370W panel will be a bit smaller because it needs fewer solar cells to do the job.
You'll pay a lot extra for the most efficient panel on the market. That extra cost is only worthwhile if you need to squeeze as much power as possible from a limited roof area.
If you really want the most efficient panel, you can find it (and compare panel costs) on my solar panel comparison table. Just select the 'sort by efficiency' option.
Is my budget realistic for my wants?
It's all well and good to want the best, but you need to be realistic as to whether you have "champagne tastes on a beer budget".
The "best" solar panel, in my humble opinion, is the one that fits neatly into your performance and warranty expectations, without breaking your budget.