Affiliate Disclosure: This Old House may be compensated if you purchase through links on our websiteRead More. Our Reviews Team is committed to delivering honest, objective, and independent reviews on home products and services.

The 7 Most Efficient Solar Panels of 2023: Expert Reviewed

Get a personalized solar estimate in under 2 minutes

Invalid Zip Code

Join the 10,601 people who have received a free, no-obligation quote in the last 30 days

By This Old House Reviews Team Reviewed By Roger Horowitz 9/26/2023

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. Investing in high-quality solar panels with excellent efficiency rates helps maximize your potential energy savings.

Our team spent more than 90 hours researching the most efficient solar panels from top manufacturers. We’ll share our top picks and explain factors that impact panel efficiency, plus tips for choosing the best options for your home.

Important Note: Sunpower only installs panels from its manufacturing partner, Maxeon. Get a quote from one of the certified installers below to install any other solar panel brand.


The 7 Most Efficient Solar Panels for Homes


Compare Most Efficient Solar Panels

Below are our picks for the most efficient solar panels, listed from highest to lowest available efficiency rate.

Brand Type of Panel Efficiency Rate Best for

Maxeon (formerly SunPower)

Monocrystalline

20%–22.8%

Energy efficiency

Canadian Solar

Monocrystalline

18.7%–22.8%

DIY installations

REC

Monocrystalline

19.1%–22.3%

Durability

Panasonic

Monocrystalline

21.2%–22.2%

Hot climates

Silfab

Monocrystalline

18.9%–21.4%

Warranty protection

Longi

Monocrystalline

20.3%–21.2%

Mid-tier option

Q Cells

Monocrystalline

19.6%–20.9%

Value


Our Top Most Efficient Solar Panels for Homes

Maxeon Best High-Efficiency System
4
  • Why we chose it: Maxeon has some of the best high-efficiency residential solar panels. These panels work well on roofs with limited space and are offered in sleek all-black models. 
  • Average panel efficiency: 20%–22.8%
  • Warranty: 25-year product and power production warranties
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
  • 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, which combine two cellular technologies into one for increased efficiency. 
  • Average panel efficiency: 18.7%–22.8%
  • Warranty: 25-year performance warranty and 12- to 15-year manufacturer warranty (varies by panel model)
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: A line of 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
  • 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. 
  • Average panel efficiency: 19.1%–22.3%
  • Warranty: REC offers 20–25-year product and labor warranties and 25-year performance coverage. Warranty coverage varies by panel model.
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
  • 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.  
  • Average panel efficiency: 21.2%–22.2%
  • Warranty: 25-year warranty for parts, product, labor, and performance
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 Solar
  • 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
  • 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. 
  • 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 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
  • Why we chose it: 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. 
  • Average panel efficiency: 20.3%–21.2%
  • Warranty: 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
  • Why we chose it: Q Cells offers the best balance between efficiency and affordability. The company has an excellent panel output variety to perfectly fit your solar project. 
  • Average panel efficiency: 19.6%–20.9%
  • Warranty: 25-year linear performance guarantee and 12–25-year product warranty (varies by model)
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 Solar
  • 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?

Solar companies use solar efficiency to measure solar panels’ ability to convert sunlight into usable electricity. Efficiency ratings are expressed as a percentage to help you quickly compare the different panels’ performance. For example, if a solar panel has a 25% efficiency rate, 25% of its captured energy is converted into usable electricity.

Building a solar energy system that operates at a higher efficiency leads to a better return on investment (ROI). Below are several significant reasons to consider optimizing your solar power system for peak performance.

Faster Payback

Solar panels pay for themselves within six to 10 years on average. However, if your panels operate at peak efficiency, you may be able to close that gap faster. High-efficiency solar panels have excellent energy production, leading to better savings on electricity bills.

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 less efficient, cheaper solar panels.


Efficiency by Type of Solar Panel

A solar panel’s efficiency rate depends mainly on its type. Monocrystalline solar panels are currently the most common, efficient, and cost-effective 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 below.

Type of Panel Average Efficiency Life Span Average 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 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 and Cons

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 Panels

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. Poly panels cost less to manufacture than mono panels, resulting in lower pricing.

Pros and Cons

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

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 have 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. They may be incorporated into smaller-scale solar projects, such as a shed or garage.

Pros and Cons

Pros Most affordable solar panel option Weighs less than poly and mono panels Works well for small-scale solar projects
Cons Features an efficiency between 7%–12% Lasts between 10 and 20 years Requires maximum roof space to perform well

Cost of Efficient Solar Panels

According to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s 2022 Tracking the Sun report, average solar panel installations cost between $2.90 and $4.80 per watt. Various factors influence solar panel costs, such as your energy needs, financing options, and available tax incentives. Read on to learn about the main financial factors that impact solar system costs.

  • 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 solar financing option 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’ll need to decide between monocrystalline versus 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. 

What Factors Impact 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

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.

Solar Cell Type

A solar cell is a small electrical device that converts sunlight into electricity through the photovoltaic (PV) effect. Most solar cell technology is made from small components called crystalline silicon (c-Si) wafers. Single crystals are used to create monocrystalline silicon solar panels. Multiple crystals are used for polycrystalline panels. When ordered correctly, solar cells from a single crystal have higher efficiency than those pieced together from multiple crystals.

Thin-film solar panels use cells made from amorphous silicon (a-Si). These cells’ atoms are randomly arranged rather than being in an ordered crystalline structure. As a result, they’re less efficient.

Wiring

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.


What Environmental Factors Impact Solar Panel Efficiency?

Many environmental factors 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. 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 amount of 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 effectively power your home 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 opt to install west-facing solar panels to offset these peak charges, even though a south-facing system is more efficient.

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


What To Consider When Installing Solar Power 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 a better option 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.

Find A Solar Installation Company in Your State


How To Choose Solar Panels

Before getting a quote for the most efficient solar panels, there are some important decisions you and your installer must make, such as the number of panels and their roof location.

The video below breaks down those considerations to help prepare you for your quote:


Our Conclusion

Based on our research, we found that SunPower Maxeon offers the most efficient panels, with ratings close to 23%. You must sign up with SunPower or one of its authorized dealers to use Maxeon panels. As 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 obtaining quotes from at least three solar installers to compare panel options, including type, brand, and size. 

Get Estimates from Solar Experts in Your Area
Totally free, no phone call required

FAQ About Efficient Solar Panels

Are 100% efficient solar panels possible?

Yes, 100% efficient solar panels are possible. However, these panels are not available for residential use, nor are they currently an affordable venture.

What is the highest efficiency solar panel?

Monocrystalline panels offer the highest efficiency, with ratings up to 23%. Researchers continue to improve solar panel technology to reach better efficiency levels. In 2022, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) created solar panels with a maximum efficiency of 39.5%

How many solar panels are needed to power a house?

The number of solar panels needed to power a house depends on your home’s location, the panels’ efficiency rates, and your home’s average monthly electricity consumption. Typically, most homes use between 20–30 solar panels to power their appliances and systems.

Can you DIY solar panel installation?

Yes, DIY solar panel installation is possible, but it’s not recommended for everyone. Panel installation requires extensive solar tech knowledge and electrical expertise. The casual do-it-yourselfer wouldn’t have the right experience to complete a successful installation. We do not recommend completing DIY home installation. Consult a professional solar installer for assistance.

What are the longest-lasting solar panels?

Crystalline panels are the longest-lasting options available. Monocrystalline panels can last up to 40 years, while polycrystalline panels have a life span of up to 35 years.


Our Rating Methodology

The This Old House Reviews Team is 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.