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The 7 Most Efficient Solar Panels of 2024: Expert Reviewed

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Author Image Written by Tamara Jude + 1 other Reviewer Icon Reviewed by Roger Horowitz Updated 04/18/2024

We recommend Maxeon as the best high-efficiency system because of the company’s average panel efficiency of 20%–22.8%. Solar panel efficiency ratings indicate how well solar panels convert sunlight into usable energy. The higher the efficiency, the better the energy conversion and electricity production, which saves you more money on your power bill. Investing in high-quality solar panels with excellent efficiency rates helps maximize your potential energy savings from solar and improve the ROI on your solar system.

We spent more than 90 hours researching the most efficient solar panels from top manufacturers. In this guide, we share our top picks and explain factors that impact panel efficiency, as well as tips for choosing the best options for your home solar system.

Key Takeaways

Maxeon solar systems are the most efficient, with panels reaching efficiency of up to 22.8%.
Higher efficiency panels provide better energy production, lowering your power bill.
Solar panel efficiency is constantly improving, but for now, any efficiency above 21% is excellent.
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Compare the Most Efficient Solar Panels

Below are our picks for the most efficient solar panels, listed from highest to lowest available efficiency rate. Our list includes only high-efficiency monocrystalline panel options.

BrandEfficiency RateBest For
Maxeon20%–22.8%Energy efficiency
Canadian Solar18.7%–22.8%DIY installations
REC19.1%–22.3%Durability
Panasonic21.2%–22.2%Hot climates
Silfab18.9%–21.4%Warranty protection
LONGi20.3%–21.2%Mid-Tier option
Q Cells19.6%–20.9%Value

What Should I Know About Choosing Solar Panels?

Before reading about the panel brands we recommend, learn answers to common solar efficiency questions to better understand how the brands on our list compare.

Solar panel efficiency refers to how well a panel converts sunlight into usable electricity compared to the panel’s size. Solar panel efficiency is expressed as a percentage.

Today’s leading solar manufacturers produce panels commonly measuring at 19%–21% efficiency. This is considered competitively efficient. An exceptionally efficient solar panel measures above 21%.

Solar panels can never be 100% efficient. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the highest efficiency ever achieved was 47.6%, recorded in 2022. These advancements help solar panel manufacturers discover new ways to produce higher-efficiency products.


7 Most Efficient Solar Panels of 2024

We analyzed solar panel efficiency ratings, cost per watt, panel options, and warranty period to see which panel brands offer the most. The following options topped our list for most efficient solar panels:

Maxeon (formerly SunPower): Most Energy-Efficient
Canadian Solar: Most DIY-Friendly
REC: Best Durability
Panasonic: Best Panel for Hot Climates
Silfab: Best Power Guarantee
LONGi: Best Mid-Tier Option
Q Cells: Best Value

Our Top Solar Panel Picks

Maxeon Best High-Efficiency System
4
  • Average panel efficiency: 20%–22.8%
  • Warranty: 25-year product and power production warranties

Why we chose it: Maxeon has some of the best high-efficiency residential solar panels in the industry. These panels work well on roofs with limited space and are offered in sleek all-black models.

Pros and Cons
Pros 92% guaranteed end-of-warranty panel output 25-year product warranty and power production guarantee High-efficiency panels with ratings up to 22.8% Cons Panel availability varies by ZIP code Panels sold by SunPower installers and authorized dealers only Priced higher than other panel manufacturers, according to customer reviews
Installation Companies
  • SunPower
  • Blue Raven Solar
  • Additional authorized dealers and Master Dealers (varies by state)
Types of Solar Panels
  • M Series: These panels provide up to 22.8% efficiency and offer up to a 440-watt (W) output.
  • X Series: This model offers efficiency rates up to 22.7% with a maximum output of 370 W.
  • U Series: This line offers output levels of up to 400 W and up to 20% efficiency.
Canadian Solar DIY Friendly
4
  • Average panel efficiency: 18.7%–22.8%
  • Warranty: 25-year performance warranty and 12- to 15-year manufacturer warranty (varies by panel model)

Why we chose it: Canadian Solar provides monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels, catering to various homeowner budgets. The company also offers do-it-yourself (DIY) solar panel options, including portable solar power kits. It also has high-efficiency heterojunction (HJT) panel options, combining two cellular technologies for increased efficiency.

Pros and Cons
Pros Advanced PERC and HJT panel options DIY solar panel kits and portable energy solutions Monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels Cons Panels are not ideal for roofs with limited space Panel performance declines in warmer environments Product warranties fall below the 25-year industry standard
Installation Companies
  • Blue Raven
  • Sunrun
  • Solanta Solar
Types of Solar Panels
  • HiHero line: These new models use HJT technology with a 22.8% efficiency rating.
  • HiKu line: This line offers monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels with outputs ranging between 330 W and 555 W and efficiency ratings up to 21.5%.
  • HiKu Black line: All-black monocrystalline panels with 20.9% efficiency ratings.
  • DIY Solar kits: Canadian Solar offers the Maple 3 DIY solar kit, a portable lighting and power solar system.
REC Best Durability
4
  • Average panel efficiency: 19.1%–22.3%
  • Warranty: 20–25-year product and labor warranties and 25-year performance coverage

Why we chose it: REC puts its panels through testing three times more rigorous than other manufacturers. Its panels can withstand extreme temperature changes and perform well in most climates.  

Pros and Cons
Pros Durability tests are three times more rigorous than other brands Excellent panel performance in extreme heat or cold Panels with HJT cell technology Cons High-end models have very high price tags REC installer required to receive 25-year warranty coverage Some models only offer an 86% end-of-warranty output guarantee
Installation Companies
  • Elevation
  • Momentum Solar
Types of Solar Panels
  • REC Alpha Pure-R: These panels use HJT technology and offer up to 430 W of output and 22.3% efficiency.
  • REC Alpha Pure: This HJT line offers lower power outputs up to 410 W and peaks at 22.2% efficiency.
  • REC N-Peak 2: This series includes N-type monocrystalline panels with up to 20.3% efficiency and 370 W power output.
  • REC Twinpeak 4: This line offers up to 370 W output and maxes out at 20.3% efficiency.
Panasonic Best for Hot Climates
4
  • Average panel efficiency: 21.2%–22.2%
  • Warranty: 25-year warranty for parts, product, labor, and performance

Why we chose it: Panasonic solar panels have an excellent temperature coefficient, making them great for hotter climates. They’re also tested to withstand weather conditions such as high winds and heavy snow.

Pros and Cons
Pros 92% guaranteed end-of-warranty output Excellent performance in hot climates Lower degradation rates compared to other manufacturers Cons Costs less than SunPower but more than other manufacturers Limited high-performance panel options Outsourced panel manufacturing as of March 2022
Installation Companies
  • Elevation 
  • Green Home Systems 
  • Solanta Solar
Types of Solar Panels
  • Evervolt H Series: This line includes models with up to 22.2% efficiency and 410-W power output options.
  • Evervolt HK Black Series: These all-black panels provide efficiency ratings of up to 22.2% and an output of up to 430 W.
Silfab Best Warranty
4.3
  • Average panel efficiency: 18.9%–21.4%
  • Warranty: 25-year manufacturer’s warranty and 30-year power guarantee

Why we chose it: Silfab panels include a 30-year panel performance guarantee with each model, along with excellent efficiency ratings. This is one of the longest performance warranties of our reviewed panels.

Pros and Cons
Pros 30-year performance guarantee Four high-efficiency panel options Panels made specifically for North American homeowners Cons Lower power ratings than other panels No certified installer program Third-party manufacturing process
Installation Companies
  • ADT Solar
  • Astrawatt Solar
Types of Solar Panels
  • Silfab Prime line: This line includes the SIL-400 HC+ and SIL-370 HC models with efficiency ratings as high as 18.9%.
  • Silfab Elite line: Explicitly made for U.S. homes, the SIL-410 BG and SIL-380 BK models offer up to 21.4% efficiency.
LONGi Solar Best Mid-Tier Option
3.8
  • Average panel efficiency: 20.3%–21.2%
  • Warranty: LONGi offers lower-priced panels with above-average efficiency ratings. Though they don’t have the same high-powered performance as premium panels, they offer good energy generation for less money.

Why we chose it: LONGi offers a 12-year limited product and workmanship warranty, plus 25 years of performance coverage.

Pros and Cons
Pros Cost less than premium panel options Panel design uses both half-cut and PERC cells for improved efficiency Panels offer above-average efficiencies Cons Only one panel series for residential installations Low end-of-warranty output of 84.8% Shorter product warranty compared to other reviewed panel
Installation Companies
  • Sunrun
  • Solar Energy World
Types of Solar Panels
  • LR4-72HPH: These high-power panels have efficiency ratings up to 21.2% and offer outputs as high as 460 W.
  • LR4-60HPH: This model ranges up to 385 W with efficiency as high as 20.9%.
  • LR4-66HPH: These panels offer higher output up to 425 W with 20.8 efficiency ratings.
Q Cells Best Value
4.3
  • Average panel efficiency: 19.6%–20.9%
  • Warranty: 25-year linear performance guarantee and 12–25-year product warranty (varies by model)

Why we chose it: Q Cells offers the best balance between efficiency and affordability. The company has an excellent panel output variety to fit your solar project perfectly.

Pros and Cons
Pros 25 years of labor cost coverage Panels offer high efficiency and affordability Various power output options are available Cons Limited model variety for residential customers Low end-of-warranty output levels Some models require more roof space
Installation Companies
  • ADT Solar
  • Elevation 
  • Palmetto Solar
Types of Solar Panels
  • Q.PEAK DUO BLK-G10+: These all-black panels provide efficiency rates of up to 20.6% with performance output of up to 370 W.
  • Q.PEAK DUO BLK ML-G10+: This panel offers up to 410 W with efficiency rates of up to 20.9%

What Is Solar Panel Efficiency and Why Does It Matter?

The best solar panel companies use solar efficiency to measure solar panels’ ability to convert sunlight into usable electricity. Efficiency ratings are expressed as percentages to help you quickly compare the different panels’ performance. For example, if a solar panel has a 20% efficiency rate, 20% of its captured energy is converted into usable electricity. A solar energy system that operates at a higher efficiency leads to a better return on investment (ROI) for the buyer. 

Faster Payback

The average solar payback period is six to 10 years. Howevcer, if your panels operate at peak efficiency, you may be able to close that gap faster. High-efficiency solar panels produce excellent energy, leading to better savings on electricity bills and quicker ROI.

Space Efficiency and Lower Impact of Project

High-quality solar panels offer better power production, leading to fewer panels in your installation. Fewer panels also mean less crowding and more roof space. Monocrystalline panels work especially well for homes with limited roof space. Although monocrystalline panels are more expensive, their higher efficiency rate means you’ll cut down on labor and material costs compared to buying one of the best cheap solar panels, which have lower up front costs and efficiency.


What Affects Solar Panel Efficiency?

Other physical attributes can impact solar panel efficiency. We’ve listed some of the most significant panel features to look out for below.

Backing

Panel Type

Wiring

Solar panel backing determines how much sunlight is reflected instead of converted to electricity. The less sunlight a panel reflects, the more efficient it is. Many companies add antireflective coatings to increase efficiency.

A solar panel’s efficiency rate depends mainly on its type. Monocrystalline solar panels are currently the most common and efficient option for a solar energy system. However, polycrystalline or thin-film solar panels may better fit your home if you have excess roof space or low energy needs. We’ll discuss the different types of solar panels in the section below.

Improper wiring can significantly impact your solar panel system’s efficiency. Different solar modules may have slightly different electrical and wiring components. A mismatch during installation can lead to performance loss. The same issue can occur if inverters between solar panels are mismatched.

For example, you might buy various monocrystalline panels, but each panel’s design may cause a dip in efficiency if they’re not designed to work together. Getting residential solar panels and inverters from the same manufacturer is always best.


Efficiency by Solar Panel Type

There are three types of solar panels: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film. Each type has a different efficiency, life span, and cost.

TypeAverage EfficiencyLife SpanAverage Cost Per Watt*

Monocrystalline

15%–23%

25–40 years

$1.00–$1.50

Polycrystalline

13%–16%

25–35 years

$0.75–$1.00

Thin-film

7%–12%

10–20 years

$0.43–$0.70

*Average per-watt cost based on wholesale prices (without installation). Cost data from Aurora Solar.

Monocrystalline Panels

Monocrystalline (or mono) panels are the most efficient solar panels available. They use a single silicon crystal in their construction. This single crystal provides better sunlight conversion, improving efficiency and energy production. These panels have an all-black appearance, allowing them to blend in better with rooftop designs.

Mono panels come in more compact sizes, making them suitable for homes with limited roof space. They also work well in low-light conditions, which is ideal for cloudy areas. Due to their higher efficiency and production costs, mono panels are pricier than other panel options.

Pros
Features an average efficiency of 15%–23%
Has the longest average life span of 25–40 years
Requires less roof space than other panels
Cons
Most expensive solar panel type
More wasteful manufacturing process

Polycrystalline Panel

Polycrystalline (poly) panels incorporate multiple silicon structures in their design. They have more inconsistencies within the solar cell, resulting in lower efficiency. These panels have a blue hue, making them more visible on rooftop installations. Since they provide lower energy production levels, you’ll need more poly panels to support your energy needs. These panels work best at home with ample roof space and sunlight. Manufacturing poly panels costs less than mono panels, resulting in lower pricing.

Pros
Features an average efficiency of 15%–23%
Has the longest average life span of 25–40 years
Requires less roof space than other panels
Cons
Most expensive solar panel type
More wasteful manufacturing process

Thin-Film Panels

Thin-film solar panels use thin layers of photovoltaic substance in their design, making them more flexible. These panels weigh less than mono and poly varieties but offer the lowest overall efficiency ratings. Thin-film panels have the thinnest construction, making for an easy installation. However, they lack durability and a shorter life span than other panel options. This is why they’re the least expensive solar panel option.

Most solar installers won’t recommend thin-film panels for your home, though they may be incorporated into smaller-scale solar projects, such as a shed or garage.

Pros
Features an average efficiency of 13%–16%
Costs less than monocrystalline solar panels
Has an average life span of 25–35 years
Cons
Has a lower power output than monocrystalline
Requires more roof space than mono panels
Features a noticeable blue hue

What Environmental Factors Impact Solar Panel Efficiency?

Many environmental factors also influence a solar power system’s efficiency. A solar installer will consider these factors when calculating your quote and possible savings. Below are the most significant environmental factors that affect system performance.

Temperature

Typically, solar panels have peak efficiency between 59 degrees Fahrenheit and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Most panels have standard testing conditions of around 77 degrees Fahrenheit. High temperatures can hinder a panel’s performance. If your solar panels get hotter than 130 degrees Fahrenheit, you may experience a performance drop.

Shading

Obstructions such as trees, hills, and other buildings may create shaded roof areas at different times of the day, which can reduce the amount of sunlight your solar panels get. How much this affects solar panel power output depends on how long the shading occurs and the shadow size.

Soiling

Soiling refers to the accumulation of debris, such as dust or snow, on your solar panels’ surfaces. This debris reduces the sunlight that reaches the solar cells, causing inefficiency. Although most panels are cleaned naturally by rain, you may need additional cleaning if you live in an area susceptible to dust, snow, or drought.

Weather

Weather and climate play a critical role in your solar energy system’s performance. Overcast regions with more rain and storms are less suited for solar power than regions with clear skies and plenty of sunshine. However, you can still build a solar energy system to power your home effectively in these conditions.

Orientation, Latitude, and Angle

Your roof’s angle and the direction it faces affect how suited your home is for solar. A south-facing roof is best for solar panels. West and east-facing rooftops also work well but won’t be as efficient. North-facing roofs are often denied for solar panel installation due to their inefficiency.

Your latitude also influences the best direction for your panels. For example, a north-facing roof in Texas or Florida may produce as well as a south-facing roof in Illinois or Pennsylvania. Because many utilities charge more for peak electricity in the afternoon, some homeowners install west-facing solar panels to offset these peak charges, even though a south-facing system is more efficient.

Additionally, for maximum efficiency, a 30-degree angle is best for year-round solar energy production. Many solar companies will consider an installation if your roof is between 15–40 degrees, but 30 degrees offers peak performance.


What Should I Consider When Buying Solar Panels?

Several influences, such as average energy use, local climate, and roof structure, can affect your future solar panel system. Below are some key factors to consider before installing a solar system.

Average energy use and spending: In most cases, solar panels help offset energy costs, reducing your monthly spending. However, that’s not the case for every household. You may not benefit from a solar conversion if your home uses little monthly energy or your electricity rates aren’t high.
Buying or leasing: Cash payments and solar loans offer the best financial benefits, such as qualification for solar incentives and rebates. Solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs) provide little to no money down and keep panel ownership with the solar provider. Although we recommend buying your system, leasing may be better if permanent ownership isn’t right for you.
Local weather and climate: Areas with plentiful sunlight benefit most from solar panels. Your panel performance will reduce if your area has frequent cloudy days, rain, or snow. You may need additional solar panels installed to compensate for low-sunlight conditions.
Roof space and structural condition: You’ll need ample roof space to house your solar array. Mono panels require fewer modules and less space compared to poly options. You should also check your roof’s structural integrity to ensure it’s in good condition. If your roof needs repair or replacement, you must complete those upgrades before installing a solar system.
Surrounding trees and roof shading: Check for nearby shading from trees, tall buildings, or other obstructions that could reduce direct sunlight. Partial shading will reduce energy absorbency, lowering panel efficiency and production. If your property contains too much shading, you may need tree removal services to make your home more viable for solar energy.

How Much Do Efficient Solar Panels Cost?

Efficiency monocrystalline solar panels average $1–$1.50 per watt. Before applying solar incentives to reduce costs, that comes to around $29,410 for a 2,000-square-foot home. Various factors influence solar panel costs, such as your energy needs, financing options, and available tax incentives. Below are the main financial factors to keep in mind.

  • Household electrical demand: Your monthly energy needs impact your solar array size. Homes with mostly gas appliances will use less electricity than those with mostly electric appliances.
  • Purchasing options: Paying for your system up-front is the most cost-effective way to finance a solar project because you receive access to tax incentives and avoid additional interest accrual on a loan. Solar loans also qualify you for tax incentives. Solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs) offer little to no up-front cost. However, they disqualify you from solar incentives. 
  • Solar panel installation cost: The installation price varies by location and solar provider. Cost also depends on your chosen solar panel brand, type, and system upgrades. In most cases, you must decide between monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels. Mono panels cost more than poly options. 
  • Tax incentives: The federal solar tax credit provides 30% back for solar installation costs. Additional solar tax incentives vary according to state. We recommend using the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) to find all available statewide solar incentives. 

Our Conclusion

Based on our research, Maxeon offers the most efficient panels, with ratings close to 23%. You must sign up with SunPower, Blue Raven Solar, or an authorized dealer to use Maxeon panels. If you’re looking for a more cost-effective alternative, consider Q Cells panels. These panels offer high-efficiency ratings at a lower price tag than Maxeon.

Although solar panel efficiency is essential to system performance, other factors, such as available roof space, system costs, home design, and climate, could impact when panels work best for your home. We recommend getting quotes from at least three solar installers to compare panel options.

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FAQ About Solar Panel Efficiency

What is the most effective type of solar panel?

Monocrystalline panels are the most effective type of solar panel, typically performing at 20% efficiency or higher in many cases.

Is there a 30% efficient solar panel?

A few research institutions have developed solar panels with efficiency ratings of 30% or higher in recent years, but this technology has not been adopted in mainstream manufacturing processes, so there isn’t a solar manufacturer today that sells panels with this level of efficiency.

Why does solar panel efficiency matter?

Solar panel efficiency matters because the more efficient your panels are, the more energy they’ll produce and electricity costs they’ll offset. This leads to a faster payback period on your system and better ROI.


Why Trust Us? We conducted 770+ hours analyzing online customer feedback and researching solar companies.
68
Companies considered
2000
Solar customers surveyed
10000
Customer reviews analyzed

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.