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The 4 Best Solar Panels for Homes: Expert Reviewed

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Roofs of single-family homes with solar energy panels

Author Image Written by Tamara Jude + 1 other Reviewer Icon Reviewed by Roger Horowitz Updated 06/23/2024

With so many solar panels to choose from, finding the right ones can feel overwhelming. We’ve spent more than 300 hours researching the best solar panels available to help you narrow down your choices. Learn more about each of our top panels, their benefits, and how they impact your solar investment in our guide.

Top 4 Solar Panels for Homes

We analyzed the best solar companies product selections, efficiency ratings, customer reviews and more to choose the following solar panels as our top picks.

Best Value: Q Cells
Best Power Guarantee: Silfab
Best for Hot Climates: Panasonic
Most DIY-Friendly: Canadian Solar

Major Differences in Solar Panels

  • Cost: Panel pricing varies between solar installers and panel manufacturers. You’ll pay more for higher quality, name-brand panels that produce more energy. 
  • Efficiency: High-efficiency panels convert more sunlight into usable electricity than low-efficiency options, leading to better energy production, savings, and return on investment. You’ll also need fewer high-efficiency panels to achieve the same energy production as lower-efficiency ones.
  • Panel type: Monocrystalline panels offer the best power production and efficiency but cost the most. Polycrystalline solar panels are more affordable but provide lower energy production. 
  • Warranty: Consider solar panels with warranties of 25 years or longer to protect your investment. Most manufacturer warranties last 25 years, while workmanship coverage lasts for 10. Some companies have a performance warranty that guarantees your panels won’t fall below a certain production level as they age.

Our Top Solar Panel Companies

Q Cells Best Value
  • Why we chose it: If you need a balance of affordable panels that don’t sacrifice efficiency, Q Cells will be your best value. Although its panels don’t meet the standards of SunPower, Q Cells delivers quality panels at a more reasonable price point.
  • Average Panel Efficiency: 19.6%–20.9%
  • Warranty: 25-year linear performance guarantee and 12–25-year product warranty (varies by panel) 
Pros and Cons
Pros Low and high power output options available Additional 25 years of labor cost coverage Panels offer balance of performance and affordability Cons End-of-warranty output levels are lower than some other reviewed panels Limited model options for residential customers
Installation Companies
  • ADT Solar
  • Elevation Solar
  • Palmetto Solar
Types of Solar Panels
  • Q.PEAK DUO BLK-G10+: These powerful all-black panels offer efficiency rates up to 20.9% with a maximum output of 410 W. 
  • Q.PEAK DUO BLK ML-G10+: This model produces up to 370 W with efficiency rates topping out at 20.6%.
Silfab Best Warranty
  • Why we chose it: North American company Silfab Solar provides solar panels with one of the longest warranties available. Backed by a 30-year performance warranty, the company promises panels that will outlast most solar panels in this review.
  • Average Panel Efficiency: 18.9%–21.4%
  • Warranty: 25-year manufacturer’s warranty and 30-year power guarantee
Pros and Cons
Pros 30-year performance guarantee, the longest offered in our review Four high-performance panel options available Panels manufacturers specifically for North American homeowners Cons No certified installer program which could lead to panels being mishandled Third-party manufacturing process
Installation Companies
  • ADT Solar
  • Astrawatt Solar
Types of Solar Panels
  • Silfab Prime line: This panel line includes the SIL-400 HC+ and SIL-370 HC models with efficiency ratings up to 18.9%.
  • Silfab Elite line: Explicitly created for U.S. homes, these panels offer up to 21.44% efficiency for the SIL-410 BG and SIL-380 BK models.
Panasonic Best for Hot Climates
  • Why we chose it: Panasonic solar panels provide the best performance in hotter climates. Panasonic panels can withstand extreme temperatures thanks to their excellent temperature coefficient, while effectively producing solar energy.
  • Average Panel Efficiency: 21.6%–22.2%
  • Warranty: 25-year parts, product, labor, and performance warranties
Pros and Cons
Pros 92% guaranteed output after 25 years Excellent performance in hot environments Better degradation rates than most manufacturers Cons Higher price point due to well-established brand name Panel manufacturing outsourced as of March 2022
Installation Companies
  • Elevation Solar
  • Green Home Systems 
  • Solanta Solar
Types of Solar Panels
  • Evervolt H Series: This line includes two panel models that provide up to 22% efficiency with 400+ W output ratings.
  • Evervolt HK Black Series: These all-black panels balance sleeker designs with high performance.
Canadian Solar DIY Friendly
  • Why we chose it: Canadian Solar offers monocrystalline and polycrystalline residential panels, providing more options for different budgets. In addition, the company has DIY solar panel options, such as portable solar energy kits. 
  • Average Panel Efficiency: 18.7%–21.5%
  • Warranty: 25-year warranty for performance and 12- to 15-year manufacturer coverage (varies by product)
Pros and Cons
Pros Advanced PERC cell technology for improved performance Monocrystalline and polycrystalline panel options Portable, DIY solar panel kit options Cons Panel performance drops in warmer climates Product warranty falls short of the 25-year industry standard coverage
Installation Companies
  • Blue Raven
  • Sunrun
  • Solanta
Types of Solar Panels
  • HiKu line: These monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar models provide 330 W and 555 W with efficiency ratings between up to 21.5%.
  • HiKuBlack: These all-black monocrystalline panels provide up to 20.9% efficiency ratings.
  • DIY Solar kits: The company offers several DIY solar kits, including the Maple 3 portable lighting and power solar system. 

Note: In July 2024, SunPower notified dealers it would be halting all new shipments and project installations. The company also noted it would “no longer be supporting new Leases and PPA sales nor new project installations of these financing options.

How Do Solar Panels Work?

Solar panels work by absorbing sunlight that hits their surface. This energy enters into your system as direct current (DC) electricity. Your home needs alternating current (AC) energy for power. A component known as the inverter converts DC power into AC power and runs this electricity throughout your home. You can also use solar batteries with your system to store energy for later use. This stored energy powers your home at night and during blackouts. You can rely on stored energy to offset periods of high electricity rates.

Factors That Impact Solar Panel Performance

Several factors impact overall panel performance, such as your panels’ quality, their positioning, and your local climate. We’ll review some of the biggest performance factors below. 

  • Cleanliness: Accumulating dirt, pollen, and other debris will impact panel performance. Although most debris cleans off naturally with rain, you may need occasional cleaning in areas prone to heavy dust. 
  • Orientation and angle: Northern Hemisphere homes should position their panels true south for optimal performance. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the optimal solar tilt should match your home’s geographic latitude. Solar panel installers use your latitude and longitude to find the ideal solar panel angle
  • Panel type and size: High-quality solar panels, such as Tesla solar, offer better power output and efficiency levels. These panels provide the best electricity bill savings. Opting for cheaper solar panels reduces your overall savings and could lead to a larger solar project. 
  • Shading: Nearby shading from trees or other obstacles could impact panel efficiency. Any shadows cast over the panels’ surfaces reduce their sunlight absorption and overall efficiency. 
  • Weather and sun exposure: Your geographic location, climate, and seasonal weather may impact your system performance. Areas with abundant sunlight and cloudless days have higher solar panel energy production than cloudy environments.

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?

According to the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), solar panels cost an average of $3.16 per watt in 2022. If we apply this estimated cost to a typical 6-kilowatt (kW) system, you’ll pay $18,960 before any solar incentives. Solar panel costs can increase based on your local solar prices, solar installer, equipment, and energy needs.

Factors That Impact Solar Panel Cost

Factors such as panel type, efficiency, and quality can impact your solar panel costs. Here’s a breakdown of some notable cost factors.  

Country of Origin

Most solar panel manufacturing takes place overseas in China or Singapore. These companies include Trina Solar and LONGi. These panels typically have lower price points and shorter warranties. North American-based manufacturers, such as Canadian Solar, produce panels in both Canada and the United States. American solar panels cost the most but often have longer warranty coverage. Some manufacturers, such as Silfab, tailor their panels to suit North American homes. We recommend comparing panel quality and warranty coverage to find the best fit for your home energy system. 


Most solar panels are tested to withstand extreme weather conditions, but some panel manufacturers include additional protection for panel performance. For example, Panasonic panels are made to better withstand hotter climates, while Canadian Solar panels work best in colder environments. Additional design elements, such as reinforced frames and improved solar cell durability, help extend your panels’ life span and protect your long-term savings. 


Solar panels with higher efficiency rates can convert more sunlight throughout the day. The more captured sunlight, the more power generated to run your home. We recommend shopping for the highest-efficiency solar panels within your budget.

The University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems says solar panels typically fall between 15% and 20% efficiency. Though high-efficiency panels cost more, they’ll help save you more money on energy bills in the years to come.

Type of Panels

There are several types of solar panels with varying advantages and costs. We’ve broken down each panel type below. 

  • Monocrystalline solar panels: These panels offer an efficiency of 20% or higher and provide the best energy production. Due to their improved performance, they use less space than other options and work well on roofs with limited space. These panels last an average of 25–35 years or longer, making them a sound investment. Monocrystalline panels have the highest cost of all panel types. 
  • Polycrystalline solar panels: Polycrystalline panels are more cost-effective but less efficient, with ranges between 15% and 17%. Since they produce less energy, you’ll need more panels to meet your energy needs. Polycrystalline panels can last 20–35 years. 
  • Thin-film solar panels: Thin-film panels work for small-scale solar projects, such as boats, recreational vehicles (RVs), and smaller buildings. They cost the least but also have the lowest power production. Most thin-film panels have an efficiency rating starting around 7% and a life span of 10–20 years. 

Some newer panel technology includes solar roofing, which combines traditional roofing materials’ strength with solar panels’ energy savings. Adding efficient solar shingles or tiles to your existing roofing will boost your energy conversion while maintaining a sleek home aesthetic. Full solar roofing options replace the roof entirely with durable solar materials to provide protection and energy savings at the same time. Solar shingles are often more aesthetically pleasing but less efficient when compared to solar panels. These factors are important when deciding if you should buy solar shingles.

Solar Incentives and Payment Options

Solar incentives, credits, and rebates promote solar conversion by reducing the cost of going solar. Perhaps the biggest incentive is the federal solar tax credit, which allows you to claim 30% of your installation costs on your federal taxes. Using the example above, you would save $5,688 on a $18,960 system. Note that the credit reduces your owed taxes; it does not provide a refund. Homeowners can also apply the federal credit to stand-alone battery installations.

Many state governments provide solar incentives and rebates to support solar growth. Examples include rebates for adding solar batteries to your system and property and sales tax exemptions. Local utility companies and city governments may offer additional benefits. We recommend checking the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) for local solar incentives. 

Most solar incentives require system ownership. To meet this requirement, you must pay for your system up-front or take out a loan. These solar financing options provide the best return on investment and the lowest payback period. Other options, such as solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs), keep panel ownership with the solar company. While they work well for solar users not interested in legal ownership, they provide little to no ROI and offer limited home value benefits.

Are Solar Panels Worth It?

Although solar panels offer many benefits, they don’t fit every household situation. Several environmental and cost factors impact your solar savings potential. Consider the following factors to determine if solar panels are worth the investment

  • Amount of daily sunlight: Areas with abundant sunlight benefit most from solar. Although panels do work on cloudy days, they won’t reach the savings potential of sunnier environments. Nearby obstacles, such as tall trees or buildings, can also cast shadows, hindering your panels’ efficiency. 
  • Available roof space: You’ll need ample roof space to accommodate your solar panels. Depending on the solar panel type, you may need a large solar system to meet your home’s energy needs. Other roof features, such as skylights and chimneys, reduce your available space and could impact your solar panel installation. 
  • Electricity costs: Areas with high electricity rates will see the biggest savings from going solar. Converting to solar in an area with relatively low energy costs won’t yield the same savings.
  • Solar incentives and rebates: We recommend maximizing your solar savings with local incentives, credits, and rebates. Some states offer more incentives than others. Homeowners in states with more solar incentives will save more than residents with limited options.

Pros and Cons of Solar Panels

Access to renewable energy that reduces your carbon footprint
Energy cost savings for 25 years or longer
Performance depends on your local weather conditions
Significant financial investment
Available roof space required for installation

What To Expect During a Solar Installation

Our team spoke with professional solar installers and experts to better understand the solar installation process. Here’s a step-by-step overview.

  1. Consultation: A company representative will conduct a virtual or in-person consultation to evaluate how suited your home is for solar power and which system will best fit your needs. Have your latest energy bill handy so the rep can determine your average energy usage. The salesperson will provide details on your potential solar power system, energy savings, and estimated payback period.  
  2. Site survey: An employee will check your roof’s condition and structural integrity. They will identify the ideal panel installation location. They will consider your available space, nearby shading, and roof pitch and angle.  
  3. Designing, paperwork, and permitting: The design process includes choosing solar panels as well as additional components, such as solar batteries and electric vehicle chargers. You’ll receive a finalized, detailed quote for all costs. Some companies also assist with finding and filing for local solar incentives. Most installers handle all necessary permitting and paperwork, which takes two to four weeks on average. 
  4. Installation day: On installation day, your solar company will install your system using either their in-house staff or third-party contractors. When speaking with professional installers, we discovered most panel installations take one to two days, but may run longer for complex jobs. 
  5. Final inspections: After completing the installation, your solar installer will coordinate with local officials for final system approval. Installations must meet local codes and match the originally approved project blueprints. This may take an additional two to four weeks, depending on all parties’ availability. 
  6. System activation: Once approved, your solar energy system receives permission to operate (PTO). Your installer will work with your local utility company to get final approval and grid connection.

Depending on your home’s condition, you may need additional services to prepare for a system installation. This may include electrical panel upgrades, roof repair, or tree removal. Your solar installer will advise you of any additional repairs or system upgrades. 

Learn about the cost of tree removal in out in-depth article.

How Do I Find The Best Solar Company in My State?

To find the best solar installers in your state, consider your desired system efficiency, warranty protection, and additional solar services. Read positive and negative customer reviews on trusted sites such as Better Business Bureau and Best Company. Our team compiled the following state solar guides to assist with the shopping process. 

Find A Solar Installation Company in Your State

Our Conclusion

We recommend investing in high-quality, efficient solar panels to support your energy needs. The most efficient solar panels (which have 20% or higher ratings) will cost more initially but offer better long-term savings. Choose panels with long-term warranty protection, including a 25-year product warranty, 10 years or more for workmanship, and a 25-year production guarantee.

We recommend Maxeon solar panels for maximum solar panel efficiency and savings. Q Cells work best for budget-conscious homeowners who want efficient panels for less. Finally, consider Silfab and its 30-year production guarantee for long-term system protection.  Request quotes from at least three solar companies to find the perfect panels for your home. 

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FAQ About Best Solar Panels for Homes

What is the best type of solar panels for homes?

In terms of efficiency, monocrystalline panels are the best options for homes. They offer high efficiency, durability, and have a roughly 25-year life span. All top solar companies offer mono panels, so be sure to compare the various options to find the best panels for your home. Although the up-front cost will be higher, it will pay off in the future.

How big of a solar panel do I need to run my home?

Your specific energy needs will determine your solar panels’ size and wattage. Panels range from 200–400 watts per panel. In terms of the panel’s physical size, installers will choose panels that best fit your roof space. Larger homes can reduce the amount of required panels by using more efficient options such as mono. For example, a 60-cell panel with 21% efficiency would generate more power than a 72-cell panel with 16% efficiency. Reputable installers will ensure the selected solar panels work effectively for your home’s needs.

Do solar panels require regular maintenance?

No, solar panels require minimal maintenance. You should have panels serviced every five years to verify their power production and functionality. Panels are cleaned naturally by rainfall. However, they may need periodic cleaning if you live in an area susceptible to dust or wildfires, such as Arizona or California.

Will solar panels work on a cloudy day?

Yes, solar panels continue working on cloudy days. However, your panels’ power production and efficiency will drop slightly without direct sunlight.

What are the main disadvantages of solar panels?

Solar panels’ main disadvantages are their weather dependency and high initial costs. Solar panels produce more power on sunny, cloudless days. In cloudy conditions, panel efficiency and production drop. Solar panels also don’t work at night, so you need a supplemental power supply, such as grid-tied connections or a solar battery. In terms of cost, homeowners could pay an average of $15,000–$25,000 for a full solar system, according to the Center for Sustainable Energy. These initial costs vary based on your selected solar installer, equipment, and energy needs.

Our Rating Methodology

We are committed to providing comprehensive and unbiased reviews to our readers. After over a thousand hours of research on solar companies, interviews with experts, and common customer needs, we’ve created a detailed rating system for solar providers based on six factors:

  • Solar equipment, installation, and services (25%)
  • Warranty and performance guarantees (25%)
  • Brand reputation and certifications (15%)
  • Financing options (15%)
  • Experience (10%)
  • Availability (10%)

Total scores are divided by 20 for a final 5-point rating scale.

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