Best Solar Panels in 2017
Read reviews of some of the top rated solar panels in 2017 with links to genuine customer reviews of each solar panel brand.
In 2017 there are hundreds of different brands of solar panels available on the Australian solar market, with so many panel buying options it can be difficult for even the most experienced solar panel installers to make a choice and even more confusing for the average system buyer. In this review, we will identify the best solar panels using data from solar installers based on performance, quality and value for money within the different types of PV technologies available.
The technology employed in solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity has changed little in the past 30 or so years. The primary material used to construct solar modules is silicon, however dramatic increases in module efficiency have been achieved combined with significant price reductions driven by market demand and more efficient manufacturing techniques.
How to choose the best quality solar panels
Most solar panels look similar regardless of their build quality or efficiency rating. Most solar panel installers or solar system buyers can only rely on information available on the web or spec sheets released by solar panel companies, to most people outside the industry much of this information can be confusing and too technical to understand. Solar panel reviews from system owners can be very informative and can give an excellent non-biased opinion of a solar panel manufacturers reputation and history.
Assessing the actual quality of a solar panel is not an easy task, the best test is real life use over time. Setting up solar panel tests in a laboratory over a short period can never emulate five years of service on a hot tin roof in harsh Australian UV light conditions, this highlights the value of genuine customer reviews.
Solar panel technology is forever evolving as panel manufacturers compete with each other to stay ahead of the pack. A good solar panel should have a service life of a least 25 years.
Solar panel warranty
Panels sold within Australia have a 25-year performance warranty and a 10-year product warranty.
The performance warranty relates to the power output of a panel for a set period, the industry standard is 80% performance retained after 25 years. Many solar panel installers regard the performance warranty as worthless because it's difficult to prove and there is much space for panel manufacturers to wriggle out of it.
The product warranty covers the panels for defects or faults meaning the manufacturer must repair, replace or provide a refund for panels that fail within the warranty period.
Top rated solar panels in 2017
LG Solar are manufactures of tier 1 solar panels, most of the LG panels on sale in Australia have a product warranty of 12 years and a 25 Year Linear Output Warranty. LG has offices in every Australian capital city except for Hobart. The LG Energy website currently displays four solar panel models: LG Mono X PLUS, LG NeON 2, LG NeON 2 Black and LG NeON R.
LG Solar Introduction YouTube video
SunPower is an American solar panel manufacturer producing good quality tier 1 solar panel regarded by many in the industry as some of the finest. SunPower currently has the highest efficiency rating for a solar panel sold within Australia and have a 25-year replacement product warranty. The Australian SunPower office is located in Melbourne.
The solar panel models listed on the SunPower website are E-Series Panels, X-Series Panels and P-Series Panels.
SunPower Introduction YouTube video
Winaico is a tier 1 solar panel manufacturer based in Taiwan, Winaico solar panels have 15-year product warranties and a 25-year performance warranty.
The current solar panel models listed in the Winaico website are WSP-315M6 PERC, WSP-M6 PERC FULL BLACK, WST-P6 and WST-P6 PERC.
Winaico Introduction YouTube video
REC (Renewable Energy Corporation) is a Norway based company with is solar panel manufacturing operation located in Singapore. REC produce tier 1 solar panels that have a 25-year performance warranty and a 10-year product warranty. REC have their Australian office located in Melbourne.
The solar panel models currently listed on the REC website are REC Twinpeak and REC Peak Energy with sub-variants of each.
REC Solar Introduction YouTube video
Trina Solar is a Chinese Tier 1 solar panel company and are the worlds largest manufacturer of solar panels.
The solar panel models currently listed on the Trina Solar website are DUOMAX and ALLMAX with sub-variants of each.
Trina Solar Introduction YouTube video
- Jinko Solar
- Hanwha Q-cells
- Canadian Solar
All the brands listed above have company offices located within Australia making it easy to contact each panel manufacturer should any warranty issues arise. These brands are at the high end when it comes to cost, however, don't be fooled, cheap solar panels can be expensive in the long run, check out this article The High Cost Of Cheap Solar Systems to find out why.
Other notable brands include:
Size Vs Efficiency
There are two standard solar panel sizes:
- 1m x 2m
- 1m x 1.65m
Both these sizes can range in output from 250W to 480W. The solar panel efficiency to cost ratio is an essential factor to consider when buying panels, in some cases however installing solar panels with a higher efficiency may not be the best solution, overall panel quality can be more critical. For example, if you have a considerable roof space allowing for more panels to be installed, you may be able to achieve the same output as the more expensive high-efficiency panels but at a lower cost using more panels that are slightly less efficient.