Comparing the Most Popular Solar Panels

 

How do the most popular solar panels compare?

At SAVKAT we always hear the question,

“Why would I go with an expensive SunPower panel when I could get a solar system for less?”

The best way to answer this is to discuss the different factors that contribute to “rating” a panel: cost per watt, warranty (performance and equipment), degradation, efficiency, and monitoring. Of course, we are a SunPower dealer, but this analysis will clarify why buying just any solar panel does not guarantee the same solar benefits. We have selected four of the most popular solar panel choices that our customers also look at in order to get a general picture of the solar panel market. SunPower panels consistently come out on top.

SunPower X22

LG NeON R

Hanwha Q Cells Duo G5

Canadian Solar HiKu

 

COST PER WATT

Often times people want to compare Cost Per Watt of different panels in order to know how much upfront money they need to spend in order to install a solar system. However, this number really depends not only on the type of panel but also on your chosen contractor, your location, and your specific project details. It also can vary depending on state incentives available and Federal Tax Credits you qualify for. Let us look at the average range of Cost Per Watt with each popular panel, knowing that this does not provide a whole financial picture.

​SunPower
3.36 

LG
3.19

​Hanwha Q Cells
2.95

​Canadian Solar
3.08

Although SunPower panels come with a marginally higher price tag, they offer a significantly better warranty, lower degradation, a better efficiency rate, and a more reliable monitoring system. You really do get what you pay for in solar.

 

WARRANTY

Solar panel systems come with a warranty in two parts: an equipment warranty and a performance guarantee. The equipment warranty applies to all systems and covers the panels and equipment for a promised number of years. The performance guarantee only applies to leased systems, and promises that the panels will produce at a certain percentage promised to the customer.

​SunPower 
25 YR Equipment Warranty
Covers Everything
92% Performance Guarantee (Leases)

LG
25 YR Equipment Warranty
Covers Panels
87% Performance Guarantee (Leases)

​Hanwha Q Cells
12 YR Equipment Warranty
Covers Panels
85% Performance Guarantee (Leases)

​Canadian Solar
10 YR Equipment Warranty
Covers Panels
83% Performance Guarantee (Leases)

As you can see, SunPower panels offer the best warranty on the market (even out of panels we didn’t include!) with a promise of 92% of the production estimate met and a warranty on all hardware for 25 years. Choosing, designing, and installing a system takes time and money—you want to make sure that your product will last and is covered.

With SunPower, you get the whole package from one company. Every piece of equipment used to install your solar system is SunPower equipment, which not only means it is all covered under the 25-year equipment warranty but is easy to install, compatible with all of its components, and easy to monitor.

 

DEGRADATION RATE

Many people ask, “how long will these solar panels last?” The answer depends on the type of panels you choose, but the warranties we just examined can act as a clue. Warranties are influenced by the underlying Degradation Rates of each panel. As solar panels are converting sunlight into electricity, they are exposed to many natural elements that affect their productivity over time: temperature changes, flexing, humidity, UV rays, and freezing. Solar panels respond to their environment, and some panels are able to handle the natural conditions better than others.

Another factor that affects degradation is simply using the device over time. Similar to your smartphone, using a solar panel causes normal wear and tear. In the case of both your phone and a solar panel, after years of daily use it will not operate with the same efficiency as when it was new.

SunPower    
0.2% degradation / year

LG    
0.4% degradation / year

Hanwha Q Cells
0.6% degradation / year

​Canadian Solar
0.5% degradation / year

These rates describe how much efficiency of production is lost per year due to degradation. Currently, SunPower panels still own the top spot for the lowest degradation rate – in short, this means that SunPower is the only company that can promise you the highest guaranteed production for the longest (available on the market) life of your panel.

 

EFFICIENCY

The efficiency of a panel could be the most important consideration when deciding what company to choose: how well does it convert sunlight into electricity? Under the same conditions and utilizing the same footprint, a more efficient panel is able to produce more kilowatt hours of electricity.

Each company uses different technology in their solar panels, allowing for varying degrees of efficiency. You can find more info with Energy Sage, where they list efficiencies of many panels on the market. https://news.energysage.com/what-are-the-most-efficient-solar-panels-on-the-market/.

SunPower X22    
22.2% Efficiency

LG NEON R    
21.1% Efficiency

Hanwha Q Cells   
19.9% Efficiency

Canadian Solar   
18.33% Efficiency

The 22.2% efficiency estimate translates to 60% more energy than conventional panels over 25 years. Choosing SunPower also means you need fewer panels to meet your energy needs.

SunPower is able to achieve this amazing efficiency through its Maxeon cell. Unlike other solar cells, Maxeon cells are made with a strong solid copper foundation, ultra-pure silicon for maximum power conversion, and finished with a unique light-trapping surface. There are also no grid lines on the front which allow for maximum sun exposure. You can read more about the SunPower Maxeon cell at  https://us.sunpower.com/why-sunpower/maxeon-solar-cells .

 

MONITORING SYSTEMS

The customer’s favorite part of getting a new solar system installed is often the easy monitoring that each company offers. However, not all monitoring systems are created the same as they depend on the platform offered, ease of use, and responding to issues.

SunPower X22    
EnergyLink – Always Accessible

LG 

LG EnerVu – Needs WiFi

Hanwha Q Cells 

???

Canadian Solar 

??? 

SunPower panels are equipped with EnergyLink, an app that shows your solar system’s production and consumption, and also tracks your lifetime savings. This app is also equipped with four auto backup communications options so that when the wifi goes down you still have access to your power information. No other solar panel company openly advertises its monitoring system or is able to offer the customer a seamless portal to view energy usage.

We reached out to Hanwha and Canadian Solar for any information on monitoring and have not heard back. We will update this post if we receive information.

 

To get your free SunPower panel quote from SAVKAT today fill out your contact info on our Contact page, and we will be happy to schedule an in-home, phone, or video consult with you to discuss your solar options!

 

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