Best Solar Panels 2018: Top 6 Companies

Installing solar panels will not only lower your energy bills, but you'll also earn money from the UK Government Feed-in Tariff.

Buying high quality solar panels from a trusted brand will maximise your return on investment.

This guide will give you a rundown of the best solar panels available in the UK, and how to go about choosing which one is right for your home.



Solar Panel Companies: Who Is Best?

Solar panels aren’t cheap; they’re a long-term investment that can earn you a steady income over 20 years as part of the UK Government’s Feed-in Tariff. It’s therefore important that you buy from a brand that produces high quality and reliable solar panels. After all, you don’t want to be spending thousands on a product that is badly built and prone to problems, as it simply won’t be worth your money.

But what brand should you go for? The solar panel market is highly competitive, with lots of different brands trying to convince you that their solar panels are “the best that money can buy”. To help you out, we’ve reviewed over 20 solar panel companies on factors including the efficiency, cost, and warranty period of their solar panels, to bring you a rundown of the brands that we believe offer the best quality - and best value - solar panels. Choosing solar panels made by one of these brands will give you peace of mind that you’ve made a sound investment.

Check out who made the list below.

Company

Unique Benefit

Our Score

Canadian Solar
High resistance to extreme weather
LG
Up to 21.1% efficiency
Panasonic
0.004% failure rate out of 4 million modules
Sharp
Anti-reflective surface to maximise efficiency
SolarWorld
20-year product warranty
Yingli Solar
83.5% of maximum power output after 25 years


Canadian Solar

Our Score:

Canadian Solar is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of solar panels and provider of solar energy solutions. With operations across 20 countries worldwide, the company has produced over 70 million solar panels since 2001.

Number of Solar Panel Models

Types of Solar Panel

28
Polycrystalline

Solar Panel Highlights

  • • Range in power from 210 watts to 320 watts
  • • Up to 18.4% efficiency
  • • High resistance to extreme weather
  • • Over 16 years’ experience in solar technology

This table shows you a selection of Canadian Solar’s best solar panels in order of efficiency:

Model

Type

Max. Efficiency

Max. Power

Product Warranty

Power Warranty

KuMax CS3U-365P High Efficiency
Polycrystalline
18.4%
365 watts
10 years
25 years
KuDymond CS3K-305P-FG High Efficiency
Polycrystalline
18.36%
305 watts
10 years
30 years
SuperPower CS6K-295P High Efficiency
Polycrystalline
18.02%
295 watts
10 years
25 years
MAXPOWER CS6U-350P High Efficiency
Polycrystalline
18%
350 watts
10 years
30 years
Dymond CS6-350P-FG High Efficiency
Polycrystalline
17.93%
350 watts
10 years
30 years


LG

Our Score:

A pioneer of electronics, LG developed solar cells for the likes of traffic signs and clocks before it began mass producing residential and commercial solar panels in 2010. Since then, its solar panels have won the coveted Intersolar AWARD in 2013, 2015 and 2016.

Number of Solar Panel Models

Types of Solar Panel

13
Monocrystalline

Solar Panel Highlights

  • • Minimum product warranty of 15 years
  • • Up to 21.1% efficiency
  • • Over 25 years of research and development
  • • 86% of maximum power output after 25 years

Check out the table below to find out about some of LG’s best solar panels in order of efficiency:

Model

Type

Max. Efficiency

Max. Power

Product Warranty

Power Warranty

NeON R 365 W
Monocrystalline
21.1%
365 watts
25 years
25 years
NeON 2 335 W
Monocrystalline
19.6%
335 watts
15 years
25 years
NeON 2 Black 320 W
Monocrystalline
18.7%
320 watts
15 years
25 years
NeON 2 BiFacial 300 W
Monocrystalline
18.3%
300 watts
12 years
25 years
MonoX Plus 300 W
Monocrystalline
17.5%
300 watts
15 years
25 years


Panasonic

Our Score:

This Japanese technology company has been producing solar panels since the 1970s. Since then, it has sold over 3 million solar panels in Europe alone. In 2016, Panasonic broke the world record for solar panel efficiency, creating a solar module with an efficiency of 23.8%.

Number of Solar Panel Models

Types of Solar Panel

4
Monocrystalline

Solar Panel Highlights

  • • Product warranty of 25 years
  • • 86% of maximum power output after 25 years
  • • 0.004% failure rate out of 4 million modules
  • • Over 40 years’ solar experience

The table below shows you some key information about Panasonic's solar panels in order of efficiency:

Model

Type

Max. Efficiency

Max. Power

Product Warranty

Power Warranty

Photovoltaic module HIT N330
Monocrystalline
19.7%
330 watts
25 years
25 years
Photovoltaic module HIT N325K
Monocrystalline
19.4%
325 watts
25 years
25 years
Photovoltaic module HIT N245
Monocrystalline
19.4%
245 watts
25 years
25 years
Photovoltaic module HIT N295
Monocrystalline
19.1%
295 watts
25 years
25 years


Sharp

Our Score:

Technology giant Sharp entered the solar power market in 1959. With innovation at its heart, Sharp have installed solar panels on homes since 2004, but has also made solar cells for everything from lighthouses and traffic lights, to satellites.

Number of Solar Panel Models

Types of Solar Panel

11
Monocrystalline, Polycrystalline

Solar Panel Highlights

  • • Over 50 years’ experience in solar technology
  • • Portrait or landscape mounting options
  • • Up to 20% efficiency
  • • Anti-reflective surface to maximise efficiency

The table below provides you with information about some of Sharp’s best solar panels in order of efficiency:

Model

Type

Max. Efficiency

Max. Power

Product Warranty

Power Warranty

NQ-R Series | 258 W
Monocrystalline
20%
258 watts
10 years
25 years
NQ-R Series | 256 W
Monocrystalline
19.8%
256 watts
10 years
25 years
NU-SC Series | 360 W
Monocrystalline
18.5%
360 watts
10 years
25 years
ND-AH Series | 330 W
Monocrystalline
17%
330 watts
10 years
25 years
ND-RJ Series | 275 W
Monocrystalline
16.5%
275 watts
10 years
25 years


SolarWorld

Our Score:

For German-based SolarWorld, quality is its top priority, from monitoring manufacturing processes to carrying out tests on its solar panels. Because of this, its quality standards surpass the norm for the industry.

Number of Solar Panel Models

Types of Solar Panel

4
Monocrystalline

Solar Panel Highlights

  • • Resistant to extreme environments
  • • Extremely lightweight
  • • Range in power from 280 watts to 300 watts
  • • 20-year product warranty

This table gives you a quick rundown of SolarWorld’s current solar panels in order of efficiency:

Model

Type

Max. Efficiency

Max. Power

Product Warranty

Power Warranty

Sunmodule Plus SW 300 mono
Monocrystalline
17.89%
300 watts
20 years
25 years
Sunmodule Plus SW 290 mono
Monocrystalline
17.3%
290 watts
20 years
25 years
Sunmodule Plus SW 290 mono black
Monocrystalline
17.3%
290 watts
20 years
25 years
Sunmodule Plus SW 280 mono black
Monocrystalline
16.7%
280 watts
20 years
25 years


Yingli Solar

Our Score:

Yingli Solar is one of the world’s leading solar panel manufacturers, whose mission is to provide affordable green energy to everyone. Established in China in 1998, the company has already produced over 85 million solar panels - enough to power over 6.6 million homes worldwide.

Number of Solar Panel Models

Types of Solar Panel

20
Monocrystalline, Polycrystalline

Solar Panel Highlights

  • • Up to 20.5% efficiency
  • • Range in power from 260 watts to 350 watts
  • • 83.5% of maximum power output after 25 years
  • • Anti-reflective coating to maximise efficiency

The table below shows a selection of Yingli Solar’s best solar panels in order of efficiency:

Model

Type

Max. Efficiency

Max. Power

Product Warranty

Power Warranty

PANDA BIFACIAL 60CF
Monocrystalline
20.5%
295 watts
10 years
30 years
PANDA BIFACIAL 60CL
Monocrystalline
20.5%
295 watts
10 years
30 years
YLM 60 CELL HSF SMART
Monocrystalline
19.9%
350 watts
10 years
25 years
YGE 60 CELL SERIES 2 MULTI-BUSBAR
Polycrystalline
19%
295 watts
10 years
25 years
YGE 60 CELL SERIES 2 HSF SMAR
Polycrystalline
18.5%
275 watts
10 years
25 years

Request a Free Solar Panel Quote for Your Home


Back to top



What Solar Panel Features Are Most Important?


Efficiency

A solar panel’s efficiency refers to how well it can convert sunlight into electricity. A solar panel with a higher efficiency can produce a higher amount of electricity. If you want to maximise the amount of electricity you produce - or you only have a small amount of roof space on which to install solar panels - we’d recommend choosing a solar panel with an efficiency of over 19%. Highly efficient solar panels do cost more money, however, so they might not be the best option if you want to earn a good return on investment from the Feed-in Tariff.

If your property has a large roof space, it may be worth installing solar panels with a lower efficiency. A larger number of less efficient solar panels will produce the same amount of electricity as a smaller number of more efficient solar panels (and will probably save you a bit of money).

The table below shows you the solar panel efficiency of the top solar companies:

Company

Solar Panel Efficiency

Canadian Solar
15.81% to 18.63%
LG
16.8% to 21.1%
Panasonic
19% to 21.6%
Sharp
16.5% to 20%
SolarWorld
14.91% to 17.59%
Yingli Solar
15.3% to 20.5%


Warranty Period

The warranty period of a solar panel is a good indication of its quality. The longer a solar panel’s warranty period, the more faith a company has that its product is durable and reliable. Solar panels come with 2 types of warranty: a product warranty and a power warranty.

• The product warranty is a guarantee that the physical components of a solar panel will not break from manufacturing defects during the stated period (e.g. 10 years). If your solar panel does break during this period, the product warranty covers the cost of returning, replacing or repairing your solar panel (meaning you don’t have to pay a penny).

• The power warranty is a guarantee that a solar panel will produce electricity for the stated amount of time (e.g. 25 years). In most cases, this means guaranteed electrical generation for 10 years at 90% of its maximum power output, and 25 years at around 80% of its maximum power output.

Always choose a solar panel with a long product and power warranty, as you’ll be less likely to encounter any problems with it, and you’ll be able to produce more electricity over a longer period of time.

The table below shows you the product and power warranty periods of the top solar panel companies:

Company

Product Warranty

Power Warranty

Canadian Solar
10 years
25 to 30 years
LG
15 to 25 years
25 years
Panasonic
25 years
25 years
Sharp
10 years
25 years
SolarWorld
20 years
25 years
Yingli Solar
10 years
25 to 30 years


Type

The type of solar panel you choose can have an effect on how much electricity you’re able to produce. There are 2 main types of solar panels on the market today: monocrystalline solar panels and polycrystalline solar panels.

• Monocrystalline solar panels have a sleek black finish to them. They are smaller and more efficient, and are designed to have a longer lifespan. Because of this, they’re typically more expensive.

• Polycrystalline solar panels are more blue in colour, and are larger and less efficient. They also often have a shorter lifespan, making them a cheaper alternative.

The type of solar panel that is best for you will depend on your own preferences and what you want to achieve from installing them on your property.

• If you want to maximise the amount of electricity you produce, we’d recommend opting for the more efficient monocrystalline solar panels.

• Butif you’re more interested in the cost and want to recoup your investment from the Feed-in Tariff quickly, then it’s worth installing the cheaper polycrystalline solar panels.

• On the other hand, if you’re concerned about the look of solar panels on your home, choosing the sleeker monocrystalline solar panels is probably the best option.

The table below shows you what type of solar panels the top solar panel companies produce:

Company

Type of Solar Panel

Canadian Solar
Polycrystalline
LG
Monocrystalline
Panasonic
Monocrystalline
Sharp
Monocrystalline, Polycrystalline
SolarWorld
Monocrystalline
Yingli Solar
Monocrystalline, Polycrystalline


Power

The power of a solar panel is measured in watts. Solar panels can range in power from a small 10 watts up to a huge 300 watts or more. The greater the power of a solar panel, the more electricity it can supply to your home (and so the more appliances it can power).

How powerful you’ll want your solar panels to be will depend on how much of your home you want them to power at once. If you want your solar panels to cover your entire electricity usage, you’ll need solar panels with a high wattage - around 300 watts or more. Most experts recommend that you get solar panels that provide at least 20% more electricity than you need, to allow for things like unexpectedly high energy usage or low levels of sunlight.

If you want your solar panels to subsidise only part of your home’s electricity usage, then you can opt for a less powerful solar panel at around 200 to 275 watts.

This table provides you with an overview of the power of the solar panels the top solar panel companies produce:

Company

Solar Panel Power

Canadian Solar
275 to 365 watts
LG
290 to 365 watts
Panasonic
245 to 330 watts
Sharp
256 to 360 watts
SolarWorld
280 to 300 watts
Yingli Solar
250 to 360 watts

Get a Free Double Glazing Quote for Your Property


Why not take a look at: How much do solar panels cost?


Back to top



The Importance of MCS Accredited Installers

best solar panels

Once you’ve decided which solar panels you want installing on your property’s roof, you’ll need to make sure that they’re approved by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). Without approval, you won’t be able to earn cash for the electricity your solar panels generate under the Feed-in Tariff. You’ll find that the majority of top solar panel companies all make MCS-approved panels, so this isn’t something you need to worry about too much.

What’s more important is who installs your solar panels. Whatever installer you choose, they must be MCS accredited. Even if you buy MCS approved solar panels, having an uncertified person install them on your property can mean that you still won’t qualify for regular payments over 20 years from the Feed-in Tariff, so it’s not worth taking the risk. If you want to check whether a solar panel installer is accredited by the MCS, you can enter their details into the MCS installer search tool.


Get a Free Double Glazing Quote for Your Property


Back to top



Spread the Word!