5 Best Solar Panels for Homes (2024 Costs, Reviews & More)

In this EcoWatch guide on the best solar panels for homes, you’ll learn:

  • Which solar panels provide the most value and which are the most affordable
  • What homeowners should consider when buying solar panels
  • How mono and polycrystalline solar panels differ from one another
  • Which factors have the biggest impact on solar panel performance
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Most solar panel manufacturers produce photovoltaic (PV) panels for residential use, but the options aren’t all created equal. Each brand has a different efficiency level, rate of degradation, durability and more, so choosing the best option for your solar project can be quite confusing. To make matters worse, opting for the wrong brand could cut into your energy savings over time.

In this article, we’ll be discussing the top five best solar panels for homes, and we’ll explain why each is a great option for your rooftop solar system. We’ll also explain what to look for in a high-performance panel to help you pick the best one for your needs. You can also refer to our review of the top solar panel installers if you’re searching for the best provider for your home.

What Are the Best Solar Panels for Homes?

The five solar panel companies below are the manufacturers we’ve identified as the best in the industry for home PV panels:

We’ll explain why we feel these panels are the best in the solar industry for home renewable energy systems below. Each panel includes a drop-down menu with additional information.

Compare the Top-Rated Solar Panels for Homes

Of all of the panel models from the manufacturers mentioned above, there are two that stand out for providing outstanding performance and overall value. These include the Maxeon 6 panels from SunPower and the Q.PEAK DUO BLK ML-G10+ from Q Cells. These both provide above-average production and savings without compromising on overall quality.

The table below includes a quick look at these two panel options and how they stack up against one another.

Efficiency Rating Power Output Temperature Coefficient (per degree C over 25) Power Tolerance First-year Degradation Subsequent-year Degradation Efficiency After 25 Years Total Warranty Term
Maxeon 6 22.8% 410W–440W -0.27% 0/+5% 2% 0.25% 92% 40 years
Q Cells BLK ML-G10+ 20.9% 385W–410W -0.34% 0/+5% 2% 0.5% 85.5% 25 years
Trina Solar Vertex S 21.1% 405W -0.34% 0/+5% 2% 0.55% 84.8% 25 years
REC Alpha Pure-R 22.3% 430W -0.24% -3%/+3% 2% 0.25% 92% 25 years
Panasonic EverVolt 22.2% 400W–410W -0.26% 0/+10% 2% 0.25% 92% 25 years
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Most Efficient

EcoWatch rating

Average cost


  • Most efficient panels available for homes
  • Cradle to Cradle certified sustainable
  • Industry-leading warranty coverage


  • Expensive
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Q Cells

Consumer Favorite

EcoWatch rating

Average cost


  • Competitively priced
  • Highly efficient
  • Work well in high temperatures


  • Only one type of technology available
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Trina Solar

Best Value

EcoWatch rating

Average cost


  • Great value for the cost
  • Best-in-class warranty coverage
  • Durable panels


  • Only two residential solar panel options
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REC Solar

Most Reliable

EcoWatch rating

Average cost


  • Highly efficient
  • Durable panels
  • Rigorous testing standards
  • Work well in high temperatures


  • Can be slightly expensive
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Best Temperature Coefficient

EcoWatch rating

Average cost


  • Great for extreme temperatures
  • Top-tier electronics company
  • Competitively priced
  • Durable panels


  • Expensive

What Should You Look for When Choosing Solar Panels for Your Home?

Since there are so many panel options available from a massive selection of manufacturers, it’s important to focus on the aspects of the panels that will affect you the most. Prioritizing the below features, which we believe are most important for panels for your home, will likely provide you with the best experience and energy savings possible. Unfortunately, not choosing the right panels can lead to a solar energy system that doesn’t save you as much over time.

Compare the Top-Rated Residential PV Panel Manufacturers

For most homeowners, we believe panels from SunPower and Q Cells should meet and exceed expectations. Both solar companies provide panels with excellent performance specifications that can perform well in virtually all climates and weather conditions. We’ll compare the panel options from these companies overall in the table below to help you decide which might be right for your solar project.

Efficiency Score (Out of 25) Durability Score (Out of 20) Warranty Score (Out of 20) Price Point Score (Out of 20) Temperature Coefficient (Out of 10) Sustainability Score (Out of 2.5) Appearance Score (Out of 2.5) Our Overall Rating (Out of 100)
SunPower 25.0 19.0 20.0 6.0 10.0 1.9 2.3 84.1
Q Cells 23.0 17.0 16.0 16.0 7.0 1.9 2.5 83.4
Trina Solar 23.0 15.5 16.0 14.0 7.0 1.9 1.5 78.9
REC 25.0 13.0 16.0 10.0 7.0 1.9 1.8 74.6
Panasonic 17.5 16.5 16.0 8.0 10.0 2.5 2.0 72.5

Some other considerations for solar equipment, in addition to the five we’ve reviewed above, include Canadian Solar, Tesla and Silfab.

See Also: EcoWatch Solar Calculator – Calculate Your Home Solar Energy Savings

What is the Best Type of Solar Panel for Your Home?

When shopping for solar panels, it’s also helpful to know the panel types that are available. The three basic solar panel categories are monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin-film. Each type of solar panel comes with its own list of pros and cons:

best solar panel options for homes

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

Monocrystalline panels are made from a single, pure crystal of silicon. This allows them to have higher efficiency levels, which means they’ll generate more power and offset more of your electricity bills over time. They also tend to be more expensive due to a more costly manufacturing process.

Note: If you have less space on your roof and can only fit a small number of panels, monocrystalline solar panels may be the only viable option that saves you money in the long run.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Polycrystalline solar panels are also made of silicon, but they are assembled from smaller fragments rather than a single crystal. This means polycrystalline solar panels are often a little less efficient than monocrystalline, which means they will, on average, save less on your electric bills over time.

They are also a more affordable option, so they’re usually preferred by homeowners looking to keep upfront conversion costs down.

Thin-Film Solar Panels

Finally, thin-film solar panels can be made from a variety of ultra-thin materials. They are recommended when you need something that’s lightweight, flexible and portable; they may work better for RVs and camping than for homes. Thin-film panels can be relatively low in efficiency when compared to the other two options.

These are not recommended for home use, as they efficiency often isn’t high enough to offset the electricity consumption of an entire home.

Do Top-of-the-Line Solar Panels for Homes Still Require Maintenance?

When weighing the pros and cons of going solar before making an investment, one of the most common questions that homeowners have is whether their solar panels will require maintenance.

For the most part, all the hard work comes on the front end. Installing a home solar panel system requires in-depth knowledge of electronics as well as solar power, and in most cases, the installation process will take a few days. We recommend outsourcing this to trained solar professionals.

Once your system is in place, however, the level of upkeep required is fairly minimal. Besides routine cleaning, you shouldn’t have any issues that require maintenance with your solar panels for 20 to 30 years. And if you do run into an issue, your warranty will hopefully cover it.

Solar warranties usually cover performance, manufacturer defects, the installation labor, or all three. Our recommendations for solar panels for homes include robust warranty coverage that should keep you insulated from repairs and expensive maintenance for decades.

Watch Below: If you are just beginning to explore the solar industry, you may want to spend a few minutes familiarizing yourself on how solar cells even work. In the below video, the TED team describes just that.

What Impacts the Performance of Residential Solar Panels?

Solar panels can vary quite a bit in their overall performance and productivity. There are a number of specific factors that can impact how your solar system performs, including:

  • Orientation: When your home solar system is designed, your installer will be careful to position each solar panel in a way that maximizes its exposure to sunlight. If the orientation is even a little bit off, it can compromise the efficiency of your entire system. Panels should face toward the sun (to the south, usually, in the U.S.) and should be positioned at the right angle to get the most direct sunlight. Orientation is based on the direction your home faces, the roof pitch, and your latitude.
  • Weather and sun exposure: If you live in a part of the country that doesn’t get consistent sunlight, or if your solar panels are often under cloud coverage, you’re not going to produce as much clean energy for your home. (There is a reason why solar panels are especially popular in the Sun Belt.) You might need to choose a higher-efficiency option like SunPower to maximize production, which is more likely to offset your electric bills even in cloudy or shady conditions.
  • Cleanliness: While solar panels are fairly low maintenance, you may occasionally need to wipe them down, especially in the aftermath of an intense storm or during a season like spring or fall when there is pollen or falling leaves that can block your panels. If panels become covered with grime or debris, they may not be able to absorb as much sunlight.
  • Shade: Keep in mind that any shade cast over your roof is going to impact the efficiency of your solar panels. If your house is surrounded by tall trees, for example, that could impede solar production. If part of your roof sees partial shade, you may need a panel with a higher efficiency rating to compensate for the losses.

Bottom Line: What’s the Best Residential Solar Panel for You?

Our top recommendations for residential solar customers are the panels from SunPower/Maxeon. This manufacturer has a long history in the solar industry and is known for its innovations and solar technologies that push the envelope in terms of efficiency, performance, durability and overall quality. SunPower panels are expensive, but we feel they’re well worth the investment if you can afford them.

Regardless of which panel brand you choose, we recommend getting multiple quotes from a few different solar installation companies in your area. Even if you opt for the same panel brand from multiple installers, your total solar panel system price can be wildly different due to individual pricing for labor and any discounts offered on the equipment. You can use the solar quote tool below to get multiple quotes customized for your home.

The cost information presented in this article is derived from a comprehensive analysis, incorporating data from multiple industry sources. The average cost per watt per state was calculated based on figures from Consumer Affairs, Energy Sage, and Berkeley Lab’s Electricity Markets & Policy Department. Additionally, monthly energy consumption and the average monthly cost of electricity were sourced from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, ensuring a well-rounded and accurate representation of the information presented.

Methodology: How We Reviewed Solar Panels for Homes

In our solar panel review process, we first narrowed our research to the panels that are intended for and available for residential applications. To ensure you understand how we ranked the panels we’ve reviewed above, we’ll include a breakdown of how we scored these panels below.

  • Efficiency (25%): First, we considered the efficiency rating and performance of each panel, as these are some of the biggest determining factors when it comes to long-term energy savings. One of the most significant appeals of renewable energy systems for customers is that panels will often pay for themselves and continue saving money after that, and better efficiency ratings and stats tend to reduce the payback period and boost savings over time.
  • Durability (20%): The degradation rate in the first year and subsequent years is another crucial factor that determines the longevity of your panels and your savings in the long run. The faster a panel degrades, the less it will save you on your electric bills year after year. Panels with a higher starting efficiency aren’t always going to save you more if the degradation rate is also high.
  • Warranty coverage (20%): Next, we look at the warranty coverage to make sure that your panels will continue performing and saving you money for years after installation. The specifics of the warranty—like degradation—are also considered for longevity and long-term panel performance.
  • Price Point (20%): Since a solar array is likely to cost you over $20,000 before incentives like the federal solar tax credit (ITC), the cost per watt of a panel is always going to be important. We consider the price per watt in relation to the overall quality and performance to determine the panels that are likely to have the highest return on investment (ROI) over time, especially if you don’t have access to net metering.
  • Temperature Coefficient & Adaptability (10%): To determine how adaptable a panel is for multiple climates and living situations, we look at a few things. First, the temperature coefficient tells us how suitable a panel is for hot climates. Second, we look at maximum snow and wind loads to determine if a panel is a good option for all areas throughout the country or if it is limited to areas that don’t see above-average snow and extreme weather.
  • Sustainability (2.5%): As an environmentally conscious website, EcoWatch is concerned with how sustainable a panel manufacturer is overall. We do our best to promote panels that use recycled materials and manufacturers that have end-of-life recycling programs for their products.
  • Appearance (2.5%): Finally, we know homeowners prefer panels that are all black and don’t have unappealing grid lines that are visible. We rank manufacturers based on how many of their panel options fit these criteria.

Expert Advice on Residential Solar Panel Efficiency

The EcoWatch team polled a number of experts on what homeowners need to know when it comes to getting the most out of their panel. Below are their answers.

Dr. Greg Poelzer, University of Saskatchewan
Dr. Greg Poelzer is a Professor in the School of Environment and Sustainability (SENS) at the University of Saskatchewan. He was the Co-Lead of the Fulbright Arctic Initiative III program. He is the Co-Director of a multi-million dollar SSHRC Partnership Grant (2019-2026), Community Appropriate Sustainable Energy Security (CASES), which spans 17 Indigenous and Northern communities across Canada, Alaska, Norway, and Sweden. He also is the Lead of the Renewable Energy in Remote and Indigenous Communities Flagship Initiative at the University of Saskatchewan and Lead of the UArctic Thematic Network on Renewable Energy.
What is the most efficient solar panel you can buy for homes?

As of 2022, monocrystalline solar panels remain the most efficient option for residential solar photovoltaic (PV) systems when compared to polycrystalline and thin-film technologies. However, the majority market share of polycrystalline panels indicates that many consumers are willing to accept a slightly lower efficiency for a lower cost.

Technological advancements in thin-film PV research are also rapidly pushing this lighter, more flexible and less temperature-sensitive option to achieve efficiency levels that rival the mono- and polycrystalline systems. But prices will likely have to come down significantly to make this an attractive option to consumers for residential systems.

Does solar power work in cloudy weather?

Since clouds are not entirely opaque, sunlight still passes through them and reaches solar panels. The electricity generated may be lower than on days without clouds, but there is a significant difference between the sunlight that is diffused through cloud cover versus sunlight that is blocked by solid objects like tall buildings.

Do shade and temperature affect solar panel efficiency? How do I know if my roof is good for solar?

To determine whether solar panels are a good fit for your home it is important to have an assessment of the solar irradiance (i.e. the amount of sunlight) of your roof. Solar irradiance can be affected by environmental and physical factors. These may include hours of sunlight based on weather conditions and latitude, whether your roof faces south in the northern hemisphere or north in the southern hemisphere, and obstructions such as tall trees and buildings that shade your roof.

Dr. Sharon Klein commenting on solar panel efficiency
Dr. Sharon Klein, University of Maine
Dr. Sharon Klein is an Associate Professor and the Graduate Program Coordinator in the School of Economics at the University of Maine. She has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a Ph.D. in Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University.
What is the most efficient solar panel you can buy for homes?

In general, crystalline solar panels are more efficient than thin film. However, there are a variety of specific technologies that fall under the umbrella terms “crystalline” and “thin film.” Also, researchers are pushing the limits of solar efficiency every day. For example, researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently created a solar cell with a record 39.5% efficiency. That type of efficiency is not yet being seen in residential solar. Most residential solar panels are mono- or poly-crystalline, with efficiencies that range from 15-23%.

Does solar power work in cloudy weather?

Yes. Although solar panels work best in direct sunlight, they can also work when light is reflected or diffused through clouds. However, when it is cloudy, solar panels will not be operating at their maximum efficiency. They may only be operating at 10-25% efficiency, depending on how dense the clouds are.

Do shade and temperature affect solar panel efficiency? How do I know if my roof is good for solar?

Yes. Shade will act like a cloud, diminishing the efficiency of the solar panel. Solar operates best in cooler temperatures. High temperatures reduce the efficiency. The best way to know if your roof is good for solar is to ask for free quotes from multiple local solar installers. They will be able to tell you exactly how many panels, of what type, your roof can support, whether any tree removal is necessary, and how much it will cost and you will save.

Hao Zeng commenting on solar panel efficiency
Hao Zeng, University at Buffalo
Hao Zeng is a professor of physics at the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York. His main research area is in condensed matter and materials physics. He has a strong interest in developing novel magnetic and semiconducting materials for renewable energy applications. He has published about 150 scientific papers with a total citation of 20,000 times according to Google Scholar.
What is the most efficient solar panel you can buy for homes?

For residential solar panels, the most efficient ones are monocrystalline Si, with an efficiency of 20%~ 22%. As of July 2022, the SunPower Maxeon 6 boasts a panel efficiency of 22.8%. This is followed by polycrystalline Si with a panel efficiency close to 20%. Panels made from thin films such as CdTe from First Solar are generally less efficient ~ 18%. They are used primarily for commercial and industrial applications due to the low fabrication cost. There are other types of thin film solar technology such as those based on CuInGaSe2 and perovskite materials. They have not yet seen large-scale commercial deployment.

Does solar power work in cloudy weather?

Solar panels do work in cloudy weather. However, they are less efficient in such conditions. The output power drops roughly linearly with light intensity. Depending on the cloud cover and the types of solar panels, efficiency can drop by 10 to 25 percent of the specified values.

Do shade and temperature affect solar panel efficiency? How do I know if my roof is good for solar?

Shade and temperature do affect solar panel efficiency. Shade means direct sunlight is blocked by e.g. trees, reducing the intensity of the light hitting the surface of the solar panel, thus reducing efficiency. On the other hand, efficiency of the solar panel decreases with increasing temperature. This decrease in performance is called temperature coefficient, which ranges typically from -0.3 to -0.5%/degree C. This means that the efficiency will drop by 0.3-0.5% for every degree Celsius increase in temperature. The amount of electricity generated by rooftop solar panels depends on the orientation and tilting angle of the roof. The best roof angle for solar panels is about 30 degrees. In the northern hemisphere, the best orientation of the roof is south-facing. Needless to say, your roof used for solar panel installation needs to be subjected to minimal shading throughout the day.

Mohammad E. Taslim commenting on solar panel efficiency
Mohammad E. Taslim, Northeastern University
Mohammad is a professor of mechanical engineering at Northeastern University. He is also the program director of the Energy Systems Program. He is an ASME Fellow, AIAA Associate Fellow and a member of the editorial board of the International J. Heat Exchangers.
What is the most efficient solar panel you can buy for homes?

The most efficient is monocrystalline. From the name, each cell is cut
out of one type of silicon. The other two are less efficient and the thin-film is less expensive.

Does solar power work in cloudy weather?

Yes, solar energy reaches the earth in form of waves at wavelengths from infrared to ultraviolet. Only about 46% of that energy is in the visible range (red to violet). The rest is outside the visible range that can reach earth through the clouds.

Do shade and temperature affect solar panel efficiency? How do I know if my roof is good for solar?

Yes, a target surface directly exposed to the sun is much more efficient. Shadows cast on the target surface from the trees, billboards, adjacent buildings, etc. seriously reduce the absorption of solar energy by the target surface. For any surface on earth, there are software tools to determine how many hours on a given day of the year (in the northern or southern hemisphere) the surface is exposed to the sun (sees the sun) as the sun travels across the sky. And, with the knowledge of adjacent buildings’ elevation and size, we can determine if they cast any shadow on the panels and for what period of time. As for the temperature effects, the higher the solar panel temperature, the lower its power output. An ideal ambient temperature around the solar panels is 77 degrees F.

Nathan Lewis commenting on solar panel efficiency
Nathan S. Lewis, California Institute of Technology
Nathan S. Lewis, Ph.D., is the George L. Argyros Professor of Chemistry at Caltech. Lewis is best known for developing artificial photosynthesis technology that enables sustainable production of hydrogen fuel using sunlight, water and carbon dioxide. Research interests include phototropism in the non-biological inorganic matter and related pattern-free nanoscale 3-D lithography. Lewis is also interested in weather-based data-driven modeling of deeply decarbonized electricity and energy systems based on variable renewable energy and technologies for long-term grid storage.
What is the most efficient solar panel you can buy for homes?

Generally, monocrystalline cells from SunPower are the most efficient panels due to their unique technology (but they generally cost more as well). They have a lot of value for limited areas because the higher efficiency means that one can make more electricity from a small roof than can be made from lower efficiency panels, to help meet the electricity demand of a household in full.

Does solar power work in cloudy weather?

Yes, solar panels work in cloudy weather, but not as much electricity is produced when clouds reduce the amount of sunlight striking the panels as on a bright sunny summer day.

Do shade and temperature affect solar panel efficiency? How do I know if my roof is good for solar?

The efficiency isn’t affected by shade; the panels still convert the same percentage of sunlight into electricity except that the amount of sunlight available is less so less electricity is produced

Almost all panels exhibit lower efficiency as the temperature increases.

Panels also get warn from absorbing all of that nice sunlight; if one could keep them cool on a bright, warm, sunny day they would work better but that is obviously hard to do without using some of the electricity that they make for “air conditioning” the panels themselves and it isn’t worth it generally to spend more electricity to cool the panel than they produce as a result of running cooler rather than warmer. Using water to cool the panels generally isn’t a good idea because water and all of that electricity “don’t mix” from a safety perspective in most localities.

FAQs: Best Solar Panels for Homes

Below are a few questions EcoWatch readers regularly send in about the leading solar panels for home use. If you have anymore, do not hesitate to contact us at contact@ecowatch.com!

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Article author
Karsten is an editor and energy specialist focused on environmental, social and cultural development. His work has been shared by sources including NPR, the World Economic Forum, Marketwatch and the SEIA, and he is certified in ESG with the CFA Institute. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the solar energy sector, studying energy policy, climate tech and environmental education. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace.
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Expert reviewer
Tom Peters is a commercial renewable energy developer and financial planner. He was a successful commercial real estate developer for 30 years before starting a solar development subsidiary for a Northeast regional roofing company in 2010. He has written white papers for the USDA on the creative use of renewable energy tax incentives and participated on the Steering Committee of the White House Rural Council to introduce Cross Laminated Timber manufacturing to the U.S. Tom enjoys sculpting, reading and writing on the subjects of environmental justice and spiritual evolution.