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The 5 Best Solar Panels (2021 Review)

Installing solar panels can reduce your environmental impact and save you money on your utility bill. In this review, the This Old House Reviews Team researched the five best solar panels on Amazon to help you find the product that’s right for you and your home. The products included in this article are available at various home improvement stores, local home centers, and online retailers like Amazon.

Solar Panel Courtesy Amazon

Whether you’re converting your home to solar energy or you need electricity in remote areas while you’re camping or hiking, consider investing in a set of solar panels. As opposed to other sources of power, solar panels are better for the environment because they convert typically unused sunlight into energy. To learn about the best solar panels on Amazon, read our review below.

Most Portable: Jackery SolarSaga Portable Solar Panel

You can bring this solar panel with you on your camping or hiking trip. It’s lightweight at under 10 pounds and features a foldable design with carrying handles. In addition to its outdoor functionality, this product can also be used with power stations to run your devices during power outages.

Key Features

  • Two monocrystalline panels
  • 100 watts
  • Two handles
  • Two kickstands
  • Two-year material and workmanship warranty

What Customers Are Saying

The Jackery SolarSaga Portable Solar Panel has an average rating of 4.8 stars out of 5 stars on Amazon. Of its nearly 3,000 reviews, 95% of them have 4 or more stars. Three percent of the reviews have 1- or 2-star ratings.

Satisfied customers said that the product was easy to install and use as well as efficient, stable, and sturdy. However, some customers said that their model had poor charge capacity, and others said theirs stopped working after a short period of time.

Best Kit: Renogy Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit

This kit from Renogy comes with a solar panel, a charge controller, connectors, a tray table, and mounting brackets for a boat or RV, giving you everything you need to set up your power source. The included charge controller features protection against short-circuiting, overcharging, discharging, and overloading.

Key Features

  • One monocrystalline panel
  • 100 watts
  • Five-year material and workmanship warranty

What Customers Are Saying

More than 4,000 consumers have written reviews for the Renogy Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit, giving it an average rating of 4.7 stars out of 5 stars. Ninety-two percent of the reviews have 4 or more stars, while 4% of reviews for this product received 1 or 2 stars.

Satisfied customers were impressed with the thorough installation instructions, build quality, and value for the money. Dissatisfied customers said that their kits didn’t come complete and that communicating with customer support was frustrating.

Best Single Panel: Renogy Monocrystalline Solar Panel

While this product only has one panel instead of two or four like some of the other products in this review, it’s still efficient enough for camping or other off-the-grid trips. The panel’s transparent, iron-tempered glass is anti-reflective and impact-resistant for better performance.

Key Features

  • One monocrystalline panel
  • 100 watts
  • Five-year material and workmanship warranty
  • 25-year transferable power output warranty

What Customers Are Saying

The Renogy Monocrystalline Solar Panel has an average rating of 4.7 stars out of 5 stars on Amazon. Of the more than 2,500 reviews, 95% have 4 or 5 stars. Three percent of total reviews have 2 stars or less.

Happy customers liked this panel’s affordability and craftsmanship. One customer said that the output was impressive considering the panel’s compact size. A few disappointed customers said that the solar panel they received didn’t match the specifications advertised on the Amazon listing.

Best Value: HQST Monocrystalline Solar Panel

This solar panel from HQST is the most affordable product in this review, but it still produces plenty of renewable energy for smaller needs, such as charging electronic devices, with its output of 500 watt-hours. Additionally, this product includes a junction box and solar connect leads, which help protect its electronic components from the elements.

Key Features

  • One monocrystalline panel
  • 100 watts
  • One-year warranty

What Customers Are Saying

More than 1,000 reviews have been written on the HQST Monocrystalline Solar Panel. Ninety-two percent of the reviews have 4 or more stars, and 5% of the reviews have ratings of 1 or 2 stars. Overall, the product has a rating of 4.6 stars out of 5 stars.

Positive reviews mentioned how affordable, sturdy, and well-made this product was. However, consumers who were disappointed with their purchase expressed frustration that their HQST solar panel became defective shortly after the one-year warranty period.

Most Panels: PAXCESS RV Solar Panels

This product from PAXCESS has four panels in a row for a total length of 66.7 inches, making it capable of absorbing a lot of sunlight and generating a lot of power for your electronic devices. For example, the panels can charge an iPhone 11 Pro with a dead battery to 50% in just 30 minutes.

Key Features

  • Four panels
  • 120 watts
  • One handle
  • Two kickstands

What Customers Are Saying

The PAXCESS RV Solar Panels have been reviewed almost 500 times on Amazon to give it an average rating of 4.6 stars out of 5 stars. Ninety-two percent of the reviews have 4 or 5 stars, while 5% of the reviews have 2 stars or less.

Happy customers liked the product’s versatility, portability, and affordability. Other customers mentioned the product’s built-in stand, which helped the panels absorb more sunlight by sitting at an angle. While there weren’t many low-rated reviews, one customer mentioned the stand succumbing to high winds.

Buyer’s Guide

Solar panels use complex science to operate, so understanding solar power is a must before buying a set. Keep reading to learn about what to look for in your purchase.

Panel Type

There are three types of materials used to make solar panels: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin film.

  • Monocrystalline: Panels made of this material are the most efficient. They have a high energy output and last a long time. However, they are the most expensive, stop working if any debris even partially covers the panel, and lose efficiency over 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Polycrystalline: This material is affordable and environmentally friendly, but it’s less efficient than other panel materials.
  • Thin film: The use of film is an emerging technology, so it isn’t as readily available to consumers as the other two types. Thin film panels are flexible and lightweight, and temperature and shade have less effect on their performance. However, they are the least efficient out of the three types and are affected by snow and rain.

Energy Output

Solar panel energy is measured in watt-hours. This is the amount of energy it takes to use one watt per hour. The higher the watt-hours, the more energy a solar panel can produce.

Panel Size

Solar panels come in many shapes and sizes, though most are rectangular. Think about how much space you have for the panels, and purchase the right size and number to best fill that space.

Use/Installation

There are many uses for solar panels, including charging electronics and powering your house. If you’re purchasing a solar panel to bring with you on a trip, consider buying a portable one that doesn’t require installation. However, if you plan on using solar panels to power your home, you’ll need to have them installed on your roof, which will require professional installation and cost several thousand dollars.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do solar panels work?

Solar cells have two layers of silicon sandwiched between two conductive layers. These layers are covered by anti-reflective glass to prevent any of the light from bouncing off and going unused. When light hits the cells, it causes the electrons to move, which creates electricity.

How long do solar panels last?

On average, solar panels last for 20 years. Because solar panels lose about 1% of their efficiency every year, you’ll want to consider switching them out after they reach 80% efficiency.

How do I clean my solar panels?

Dirt, bird droppings, and other debris on your panels make them less efficient, so you’ll have to routinely clean them. Before cleaning them, read your manufacturer’s manual for specific instructions. If your manual doesn’t provide cleaning instructions, follow these basic guidelines:

  • Use a garden hose to gently spray the glass with water to remove debris.
  • If you don’t have a garden hose, fill a bucket with warm water and gentle soap, and use a cloth or sponge to lightly wipe debris off of the glass.

To share feedback or ask a question about this article, send a note to our Reviews Team at reviews@thisoldhousereviews.com.