Which Solar Panel Brand Is Best? How Much Should I Expect To Pay?

Installing solar panels will lower your energy bills. You will also earn money with the Feed-in Tariff and be able to sell any electricity you don't use back to the grid.

To find our what the best solar panel system is for your home fill out the form above and receive quotes from a local MCS accredited installers.

The best solar panels

Which brand to choose?

Solar panels are a long term investment so it is important to pick a brand you trust. The most popular brands in the UK are Canadian Solar, Yingli, Sharp, Solarworld, and Suntech Solar.
It is important that no matter which brand you chose, your installer is MCS accredited otherwise you will not be eligible for the Feed-in tariff.

Is every PV panel is the same?

As long as you stick to the big brand names, you shouldn’t find a great difference in quality as most solar panels are made with similar materials and components. There isn’t much variation on price either. What is important is what type of PV panel you opt for and that will depend on your home and your specific needs.
Select one of the leading manufacturers below to learn more:

Yingli
Location: Headquartered in Baoding, China.

History: Yingli Green Energy was established in 1998 by Mr. Liansheng Miao. In 2012, Yingli Green Energy reached a production capacity of 2,450 MW per year, making it largest solar module manufacturers in the world in terms of module production capacity.

Product Overview: Yingli manufactures monocrystalline and multicrystalline solar PV modules. Its two primary solar module product lines are the monocrystalline PANDA Series and the multicrystalline YGE Series.

Here are the latest products available from Yingli:

Yingli Solar

Model NumberWidth mmAreaWeight kgPanel EfficiencyPeak Output WattsPeak Volatage VoltsPeak Current Amps
YL 165 P-23b13101.315.812.72165237.17
YL 170 P-23b13101.315.813.11170237.39
YL 175 P-23b13101.315.813.49175237.61
YL 180 P-23b13101.315.813.88180237.83
YL 185 P-23b13101.315.814.2618523.57.87
YL 190 P-26b14951.481812.8419025.87.36
YL 195 P-26b14951.481813.18195267.5
YL 200 P-26b14951.481813.5120026.37.6
YL 205 P-26b14951.481813.8520526.57.74
YL 210 P-26b14951.481814.1921026.67.9
YL 210 P-29b16501.632012.8621028.57.37
YL 215 P-29b16501.632013.16215297.41
YL 220 P-29b16501.632013.47220297.59
YL 225 P-29b16501.632013.77225297.63
YL 230 P-29b16501.632014.0823029.57.8
YL 235 P-29b16501.632014.3923529.57.97
YL 235 P-32b 18101.7922.513.11235327.34
YL 240 P-32b 18101.7922.513.3924032.27.45
YL 245 P-32b 18101.7922.513.6724532.27.61
YL 250 P-32b 18101.7922.513.9525032.37.74
Canadian Solar
Location: Headquerters in Ontario, Canada.

History: Founded in 2001 Canadian Solar is one of the world's largest solar companies.

Product Overview: The Quartech range is the latest offering from Canadian Solar. Canadian Solar sugegst their technology has a range of benefits including improved product reliability and efficiency.

Latest Product Specification:

Canadian Solar

Model NumberWidth mmAreaDepth mmWeight kgTechnologyPeak Output WattsPeak Volatage VoltsPeak Current Amps
9821.614022Polycrystalline23036.88.34
CS5A-160P8011.284015.5Polycrystalline16043.64.58
CS5A-170P8011.284015.5Polycrystalline17044.15.19
CS5A-180M8011.284015.5Monocrystaline18044.55.4
CS5A-180P8011.284015.5Polycrystalline18044.55.4
CS5A-185MX8011.284038.6Monocrystaline18544.65.46
CS5P-22010611.7440.620Polycrystalline22058.45.1
CS5P-24010611.740.620Polycrystalline24059.35.4
CS6A-150PE9821.34016Polycrystalline15028.87.12
CS6P-170PE9821.614020Polycrystalline17035.86.62
CS6P-190PE9821.614020Polycrystalline190367.33
CS6P-200P9821.614020Polycrystalline20036.27.68
CS6P-205PX9821.614022Polycrystalline20536.27.78
CS6P-210P9821.614020Polycrystalline21036.47.91
CS6P-220P9821.614020Polycrystalline22036.68.09
CS6P-225PX9821.614022Polycrystalline22536.78.19
CS6P-230M9821.614020Monocrystaline23037.18.22
CS6P-235M9821.614020Monocrystaline23537.28.34
CS6P-245M9821.614020Monocrystaline24537.48.61
CS6P-250M9821.614020Monocrystaline25037.58.74
Suntech Power Solar
Location: Headquaters in Wuxi, China

History: Founded September 2001. Suntech Power was recognized as the 2008 Frost & Sullivan Solar Energy Development Company of the Year

Product Overview:The Suntech WdS range offers efficiency of up to 16%.

Latest Product Range:

Suntech

Model NumberWidth mmAreaDepth mmWeight kgPanel EfficiencyPeak Output WattsPeak Volatage VoltsPeak Current Amps
Pluto200-Ade8081.273515.515.6720045.95.5
STP082s-AA13001.433530.25.738271.31.15
STP082Ts-AC13091.453527.55.658271.31.15
STP086Ts-AA13001.433530.26.018672.31.19
STP086Ts-AC13091.453527.55.928672.31.19
STP090Ts-AA13001.433530.26.299073.21.23
STP090Ts-AC13091.453527.56.29073.21.23
STP160-24-Ab-18101.273515.512.516043.25
STP160S-24-Ab-1810.81.2735.115.512.516043.25
STP165-24-Ab-1810.81.2735.115.512.8916543.65.04
STP165S-24-Ab-1810.81.2735.115.512.8916543.65.04
STP170-24-Ab-18101.273515.513.2817043.85.14
STP170S-24-Ab-1810.81.2735.115.513.2817043.85.14
STP170Ts-CA26002.863560.45.94170722.36
STP175-24-Ab-1810.81.2735.115.513.6717544.235.2
STP175S-24-Ab-18101.272515.513.6717544.25.2
STP175Ts-BA22002.863560.46.12175145.21.21
STP175Ts-CA26002.863560.46.1217572.62.41
STP180-24-Ab-18101.273515.514.0618044.45.4
STP180S-24-Ab-18101.273515.514.0618044.45.4
Sharp Solar
Location: Headquaters in Osaka, Japan

History: Sharp have been working on Solar cells since 1959 moving into the domestic market in 2004. Theor Solar cells have been used for evertything from solar panelled calculatprs, lighthouses to satelittes.

Product Overview:The NU and NT Series are the latest offering in domestic solar panels from Sharp.

Here is the latest Sharp Solar range:

Sharp

Model NumberWidth mmAreaDepth mmWeight kgPanel EfficiencyPeak Output WattsPeak Volatage VoltsPeak Current Amps
NA-V115H514091.424618.98.09115174661
NA-V121H514091.424618.98.51121180673
NA-V128H514091.424618.99128186688
NA-V135H514091.424618.99.513519274
NA-V142H514091.424618.99.9914218872
ND-123UJF14990.99461412.3912317.27.15
ND-130UJF14990.99461413.113017.47.5
ND-176UC113281.3257.516.513.3317623.427.52
ND-198UC114911.4857.51813.3619826.37.52
ND-224UC116401.63462013.7422429.37.66
ND-250QCS16401.63461914.725029.88.4
ND-R240A616521.63461914.624030.37.93
ND-R245A516521.63461914.924530.77.99
ND-R245A616521.63461914.924530.38.09
ND-R250A516521.63461915.225030.98.1
NE-165UC115751.3461612.6816534.64.77
NE-170UC115751.3461613.0717034.84.9
NE-80EJEA12000.64469.512.418021.64.63
NU-U230F316401.63462014.11230307.67
NU-U235F116401.63462014.42235308.4
Sunpower Solar
Location: Headquerters in San Jose, CA, USA

History: Established in 1985 Sunpower are another market leader in Solar Cell development and hold over 200 patents for solar technology.

Product Overview: Sunpowers domestic solar panels have been proven to achieve efficiency of upwards of 20%.

Latest Product Range:

Sunpower

Model NumberWidth mmAreaDepth mmWeight kgPanel EfficiencyPeak Output WattsPeak Volatage VoltsPeak Current Amps
210 Solar Panel15591.24461516.88210405.25
215 Solar Panel15591.24461517.2821539.85.4
225 Solar Panel15591.24461518.09225415.49
230 Solar Panel15591.24461518.49230415.61
315 Solar Panel15591.634618.619.3231554.75.76
SER-228P9901.644219.113.8722837.88.3
SER-235P9901.644219.114.323536.88.45
SPR-205-BLK798.61.24461516.520547.85.53
SPR-210-BLK-U798.51.24461516.921047.75.75
SPR-215-WHT798.61.24461517.321548.35.8
SPR-225-BLK-U798.51.24461518.122548.55.87
SPR-225E-BLK-U-ACPV7981.244617.118.09225485.93
SPR-230E-WHT-D7981.24461518.4923048.26.05
SPR-240E-WHT-D7981.24461519.2924048.66.3
SPR-240E-WHT-U-ACPV7981.244617.119.2924048.66.3
SPR-305-WHT-U10461.634618.618.730564.25.96
SPR-315E-WHT-D1046.21.63462419.331564.66.14
SPR-320E-WHT-D10461.634618.619.6232064.86.24
SPR-X20-2457981.24461519.6924550.86.08
SPR-X20-250-BLK7981.24461520.125050.96.2

How important is the efficiency and size of solar panels

Solar panel efficiency is as much about value for money as anything else. If you have space for a long row of solar panels on your roof you may well opt for the less efficient but overall cheaper option, and that’s not necessarily the wrong decision to take. All solar energy will save you money over time, remember. It’s just that some options will take longer to pay your initial expenditure back than others. Your decision depends partly on what you have in the bank and what you’re willing to pay up front for your solar panels.

Solar cell efficiency

The main component of a solar panel is its solar cell, so in choosing the most efficient solar panel as a whole, it’s worth getting to grips with the efficiency records for some of the best providers of solar cells first, and putting the levels into proper context. When shopping around, ask your providers which solar cells they use and what their efficiency levels are. The following three producers make solar cells for commercial and industrial use, so they’ll be more powerful than the cells used in your residential solar panels but provide a useful efficiency guideline nonetheless.

- Fraunhofer solar cells are 44.7% efficient, and belong to the expensive and non-residential concentrator triple-junction solar cell category. Used by organisations like NASA.

- Sharp solar cells come in at 37.9% efficiency. These are in the triple-junction, non-concentrator solar cells, and they’re different to Fraunhofer cells because Sharp solar cells don’t do anything to concentrate the light hitting the solar cells, while the more expensive Fraunhofer cells do.

- Solar cells by Spanish solar research institute IES and university (UPM) are 32.6% efficient. These solar cells fall into the two-junction, concentrator solar cell category.

Inverter Efficiency

When it comes to inverter efficiency, most units are comparatively similar. Look for a peak efficiency figure of 98%.

What is more important is the actual specification of your product relative to where it will be sited and the job you want it to do. Look for special features that you can benefit from.

For example, do you have a small installation area that will benefit from smaller, more powerful panels? Do you want an installation that can be upgraded easily at a later date? Do you want to sell power back to your local grid?

These are all issues that should influence the PV system you choose.

Don’t forget the warranty. Most manufacturers should give you a guarantee that your units will be operating at around 80% even after 20 years.

Does size matter?

If you have a small roof, then you’ll need solar panels that can produce more power per square foot. Moncrystalline cells will probably be your best option here. It’s also important to take into consideration other factors such as the type of roof, the weight of the system and, of course, local planning laws. Which brings us neatly on to the next matter – your installer.

Mono Vs Polycrystalline Vs Thin Film panels


Thin Film Solar Cells (TFSC) – Consisting of one to several layers of cells on each panel, the TFSC market is growing rapidly, as they can be mass produced relatively cheaply. They come with a unique advantage in that excessive temperatures and shade have less impact on their efficiency. However, they do require a lot of space, so aren’t suitable for every residential application.

Monocrystalline Solar Cells – These have the highest efficiency rates, since they are made from high-grade silicon. As a result, they need less space and should last longer than other cells.

Polycrystalline Solar Cells – Less silicon is wasted during the manufacturing process, so these can be made more cheaply. The downside is they perform less well at high temperatures than their monocrystalline counterparts.

How to compare solar panels

Each make and model of solar panel will have a slightly different power output and efficiency rating and so will produce different amounts of electricity.

Solar panels with a greater power output and efficiency rating maybe initially more expensive, but will generate more electricity and earn you more money under the Feed-in tariff scheme.

The below table shows how different solar panels will earn you different amounts of money depending on their annual output.

Example Comparison Table

Criteria

Brand X
Brand Y
Brand Z
Number of Panels
15
15
15
Annual Output
1,400 kWh
1,500 kWh
1,600 kWh
Area Needed
14m2
14m2
14m2
Cost of System
£4,800
£5,000
£5,300
FiT Income per Year
£224
£240
£256
Annual Energy Bills Saving
£84
£90
£96
Export Tariff Per Year
£32
£34
£36
Total Benefits Per Year
£340
£364
£388
Annual ROI %
7.08%
7.28%
7.32%

Compare Solar Panel Maufacturers Here

Finding the MCS accredited prices

Yingli, Sanyo, Solarworld, Mitsubishi, Schott, First Solar, Sanyo, Suntech And Kyocera all manufacture Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) approved solar panels capable of earning home owners and commercial enterprises cash for the electricity they generate under the Feed-in-Tariff (FiT). FiTs were introduced by the UK government in April 2010 to encourage consumers to switch from the use of unsustainable energy to solar power.

Finding your MCS installer

Your choice of installer is probably your single most important decision. Choose the right installer and you’ll get the expertise you need for the best system for your home. If you’ve done some research and understand the basics, then your first meeting with your installer should let you know whether or not they’re right for the job. After all, you should have some idea of the best type of system for your home and have a ballpark area for pricing. After a site survey, your installer should then be able let you know of any problems you might encounter and recommend the best solutions.

Make sure you ask the questions, such as how many kilowatt-hours your system will produce over the course of the year, and get a full breakdown of costings, so there’s no hidden charges tagged on later. That way, you can see how long it will be until your recoup your investment and start making real savings on your electricity.

The Eco Experts work with the leading MCS Installers around the UK. By completing the form at the top of the page you can get up to 4 quotes from local installers with trusted reputations. There is no obligation and the service is free.








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