How To Compare Solar Panels Before Buying One

How to compare solar panels probably becomes the first question that comes to mind the moment you decide to ditch the high cost of energy bills. At that point, you start to find better alternatives. 

This is a very common question that tends to settle in the mind of first-timers. And that’s usually because of the hundreds of manufacturers and brands that exist in different stores.

At this point, you want to make inquiries as regards solar panels. You want to ensure that you don’t end up making decisions that you’d regret in the future.

At the end of this guide, you will be able to make perfect decisions because we will be providing important information and tips to aid your buying journey concerning solar panels.

How Solar Panels Work

Before anything else, it will be in your best interest to understand how solar panels work. This will direct the future decisions that you are going to make. This will also let you find out the best solar panels company to choose from.

When you find some interesting companies to buy from, improved understanding in this regard will guide you on how to compare solar panels. 

Just like the name implies, solar panels draw or generate electricity through the help of solar energy. Since it doesn’t necessarily need to make use of direct sunlight before it can generate electricity, solar panels can produce energy even when it starts to rain.

This is because the light which is produced by the sun happens to be the major source through which energy is generated. The energy doesn’t get produced by heat energy as many would think.

For the solar system to be fit for home use, the direct current would have to get converted to the alternating current through the solar panel inverter (a huge component of the solar system). After the conversion of current, the energy generated goes into your home for use. 

In cases where the converted current is bigger than what it’s been used for in the home, it automatically goes back into the grid. The electricity that gets back into the grid automatically shows up in the evening or night hours when you seem to use up more energy.

How To Compare Solar Panels And The Need To Consider Power Tolerance 

When you buy a solar panel for the first time, notice that the company has given specific wattage on it. The specific wattage is referred to as power tolerance. It simply helps you to know exactly the amount of energy or electrical power that your solar panel can generate at any period of time.

If your panel has a 100 wattage specified on it, and the power tolerance is +/-5%, it only means that the exact wattage it produces should be ranging between 95 W to 105 W. A lot of the time, manufacturers tend to go all low and deceitful by imprinting a false wattage. New buyers fall for this and eventually regret it.

So, to ensure that you’re buying a quality solar panel, always look out for brands that have “positive only” (+ve only) specified on their product. This is to ensure that you’re actually buying quality. Also, ensure that you ask the seller to give you a flash test certified (FTC). 

This is what helps you to verify that the power tolerance specified isn’t a mere camouflage by the sales section of the manufacturing company.

Related: Rainier R2200i Super Quiet Portable Power Station Review

Solar Panel Buying Guide And Warranty Considerations 

I’m sure you wouldn’t want to invest your money into something that wouldn’t last for long; nobody actually does. When comparing the best solar panel brands, note that the worst solar panels are usually the ones that come with a short term warranty. 

A brand that understands what quality really means will always ensure that the product they are offering their customers comes with a long life span. That said, it’s always necessary and advisable for you to channel your search towards brands that give their solar panels a warranty period of at least 25 years.

25 years is a long time to prove that a solar panel will last for a long time and it also suggests the brand is a reputable one. Again, ensure that the manufacturer who’s offering a longer warranty period is still in business and hasn’t gone dormant.

Efficiency In Solar Panels

The term “Efficiency” generally refers to swiftness. Efficiency in solar panels connects to the level of output of electricity that a solar system gives out regardless of its inputs. This is why most efficient solar panel brands are known to generate great energy output.

When comparing solar panel manufacturers, ensure that you check out the efficiency of the said products. However, you might want to consider buying a particular solar panel as long as the efficiency is up to 15%.

This is because 15% is an efficiency quality and any solar system module that has this specification will perform really well. Also, higher efficiency solar panels will not occupy a lot of space on your roof. They are more compact with high-performance levels.

Why Temperature Coefficient Is Necessary When Looking Out For The Best Solar Panels 

As you already are aware, solar panels thrive on sunlight. That’s the only way that they can keep generating energy. The temperature coefficient helps you to determine the quality of power reduced each time the degree of the temperature goes up to 25°C or more.

The 25°C is usually the panel temperature and doesn’t in any way, belong to the ambient temperature. A good temperature coefficient is rated at -0.4%°C. Everything that falls within that line is considered a gold temperature.

The manufacturers of the product might not be able to state with accuracy the temperature coefficient of their products. But if you thread with care, you won’t go for the wrong brand.

Related: Best Solar Power Generator Comparison 

Tier 1, 2, or 3: What category should a solar panel manufacturer fall under?

We all have different choices and preferences. Some of our choices get influenced by money, preference, and other factors. Here, we are going to discuss the different tiers of solar panel companies and how you can identify them.

Tier 1

If you’re one who loves to follow and connect with anything that has to do with a big name, brand, and good reputation, then tier 1 is the category you should consider joining. Aside from home use, If you’re one who’s looking to build a brand or a station where solar panel activities are being carried out, you will be needing to get your products from a reputable company.

This is because you’d start scouting for investors when you finally build one and most people who would want to invest their money will be out, looking for a no risky venture; which smaller companies don’t promise.

For home use, reputable companies tend to serve more effectively and there won’t be a need for the fraudulent acts that’s been carried out by smaller companies sometimes. Canadian Solar, Sunpower solar panels, Trina, JA Solar, Hanwha Q cells, Rec, are all included in the list of tier 1 solar panel companies.

Tier 2 and 3

As suggested earlier, these two categories are often time, the exact opposite of the tier 1 companies. They are usually unpopular solar panel companies. Some of them tend to issue out some of the worst solar panels to their clients. 

Comparing solar panels while you decide to buy one, requires that you apply caution. This is necessary so you do not risk becoming a victim to a solar panel company that only offers substandard goods. In all, good manufacturers exist amongst tier 1 and 2 companies.

Best Solar Panel Buying Guide: The Product Considerations

Use Case – Before anything else, this is the most important thing to keep in mind when looking into the best solar panel comparison. The question is, what exactly do you want to do with a solar panel if you buy one? Do you want to use it for camping, powering home appliances, or commercial purposes?

Having your current needs clarified in this regard will also make it easier to choose the best type of solar panel that will be suitable for such needs.

Solar Panel Wattage – The interesting thing is that you’ll always find assorted options in terms of high and low solar wattage. In most cases, you’ll find the range between 500 – 3000+ watts. Here is one of the exact factors that will determine the power storage and delivery capacity of the solar panel itself.

Considering this particular factor, appliances with high power consumption needs will always require solar panels with higher wattage. In terms of commercial use cases, for example, having a higher number of electric appliances will also require the type of solar panel with high wattage.

Solar Panel Voltage – Closely related to solar panel wattage is the voltage capacity. Whether you want to do all the solar installation work on your own or engage an expert, it is very important to consider the voltage capacity when you are looking into how to compare solar panels. Voltage capacity will range from 12 – 20 volts in most cases.

Weatherproof Solar Panel – This is another key consideration that is closely related to intended use cases. The question is, how strong is it to withstand strains from different weather conditions?

To get more insights around this and other interesting factors, consider checking out some detailed solar panel reviews from other verified buyers.

Solar Panel Price – Combined, those other factors like use case and wattage will determine the price of solar panels in the market. One important thing to note here is that a higher price is never a determinant of high quality. As a matter of fact, solar panel prices can range between $150 and $500 in most cases.

Another interesting factor that may affect the price of solar panels is getting it in a bundle offer. Sometimes, some of the best solar panel brands bundle their offers with other things like a solar power generator, controllers, chargers, and cables.

Using  Past Reviews To Compare The Best Solar Panel Brands

Testimonials from people who once patronized a brand or a product can help you to make your decisions. It’s the same for solar panels.

Manufacturers who are in the habit of delivering bad items won’t have full control over the emotions of their unsatisfied customers. Checking for past reviews, ratings, and sending out relevant questions to past patronizers of solar panels manufacturers helps you compare the brands involved. 

This goes a long way to determine if you will make a good decision or a very terrible one! From the responses and reviews you see, you can go on to decide whether or not a solar panel company can be trusted.

Best Solar Panels To Buy:

How To Compare Solar Panels: The FAQs

As mentioned earlier, When people get into the quest of looking for some of the most efficient solar panel brands to get, they tend to ask several questions. Here, we shall go on with listing some of these most frequently asked questions alongside their answers. 

Q1: What Are the three types of solar panels?

Monocrystalline, thin-film, and polycrystalline are the three basic solar panels to choose from. The polycrystalline solar panel is otherwise referred to as multi-crystalline. At the moment, these are just the solar panels we have and they are all made to have individual differences in the performance, appearance, cost, most importantly, the installation methods differ.

Q2: What Are the top five solar panels?

The top brands and manufacturers that have stood out in the production of solar panels are:

  • Panasonic panels
  • Canadian solar
  • LG solar panels
  • Silfab
  •  Trina solar
  •  Sunpower solar panels
  •  junk solar

The aforementioned brands have done well over the years and are considered reputable for producing the best sets of efficient solar panels. Their products also come with extended warranties. As a rookie, buying quality solar panels from proven sources should be your major goal, so consider checking these companies out.

Q3:  Who makes the most reliable solar panels?

A: Thinking of buying solar panels from a very reliable source? Sunpower is a solar panel brand; known to be one of the best producers of very efficient solar panels. The efficiency of solar panels from this brand is usually close to 22.8%. This happens to be one of the highest angles a solar panel efficiency can get to, thus projecting the brand as one to be reckoned with.

Q4: What is the best solar inverter?

Deciding the best inverter that won’t contribute to the feelings of regret requires that you get to know the best sets of solar inverters. Here are they:

  • SolarEdge
  • Sunny Boy av solar inverter
  • New SolarEdge HD 
  • Sungrow

These are some of the best solar panel inverters to buy once you’re ready to hit the market. 

Q5: How long should a solar inverter last?

A good solar inverter would usually last for up 10, 20, and 25 years respectively. This is to ensure that you have nothing to worry about. So always be on the lookout for products with a warranty suitable to determine their durability and lifespan.

Q6: How to choose the best Inverter battery

When choosing to buy an inverter, here are the first things to put in your checklist:

1: Understand your power requirement: This should be the very first thing on your mind. Understand how long a battery will last before it finally goes.

2: Have a good knowledge of the VA rating of the batteries that get suggested to you. It will let you have a glimpse of what people think about it 

3. As time progresses, you will need to be more particular about the battery as well as the size that will fit me.

4: Think of the big appliances in your home or anywhere. They should help you to choose exactly the right specs that you might be needing.


Choosing the best set of solar panels is always a hard task. That’s because there are many options as well as so many questions to ask. But it doesn’t always have to be that way.

Rest assured that if you’ve read this solar panel buying guide, you won’t be facing any hitch whenever you want to compare solar panels. This guide is all you need to make solid, non-regrettable solar panel buying decisions. Remember, these are just tips on how to compare solar panels before buying one. The one you end up buying will most likely depend on the factors discussed above. 

As always, don’t forget to test everything immediately after arrival. Don’t forget to check the return and replacement policy before you commit to buy solar panels online or offline.

Related: The Starter Guide To Solar Light For Home 

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