How do we compare the most popular solar panels?
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 compare the most popular solar panels 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 will compare solar panels from the top four and most popular solar companies: SunPower, LG, Hanwha, and Canadian Solar. This will give you a good idea of the solar panel market and you will see that SunPower panels consistently come out on top.
LG NeON R
Hanwha Q Cells Duo G5
Canadian Solar HiKu
COST PER WATT
Often times people want to compare solar by 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.
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.
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.
25 YR Equipment Warranty
92% 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.
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.
0.2% 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.
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/.
The 22.2% efficiency estimate translates to 60% more energy than conventional panels over 25 years. Choosing SunPower also means you need fewer panels t
o 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 .
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. Let’s compare the monitoring offered by these solar companies:
EnergyLink – Always Accessible
LG EnerVu – Needs WiFi
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!