Best Solar Panels

Review & Comparison, Last Update November 12, 2017
Do you want to save up on electricity bills by switching to eco-friendly solar energy? Do you need to have an independent power supply far away from your home? Then read this review and choose the solar panel that fits all your needs! ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2017
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
PANEL MATERIAL
TYPE
APPLICATION
POWER / EFFICIENCY
TEMPERATURE COEFFICIENT / TOLERANCE
NOMINAL VOLTAGE / CURRENT
OPERATING TEMPERATURE
SIZE / WEIGHT
PROTECTION
WARRANTY
 
PROS
Lightweight and flexible materials ensure an easy transportation and storage in small spaces. The panel boasts high power rates that ensure an outstanding performance.
CONS
This model is not suitable for charging 12V batteries since its voltage is too high for this.
OUR VERDICT
Thanks to a high conversion efficiency and flexibility, the panel is perfectly suitable for using on uneven surfaces.
detailed parameters
PANEL MATERIAL
Thin-film monocrystalline
TYPE
Portable
APPLICATION
Boats, Expedition vehicles, Yachts, Caravans, Popups, Marine applications, Motorhomes, RVs, Commercial trucks, Trailers, Off-grid and remote communication sites
POWER / EFFICIENCY
150W / 23.5%
TEMPERATURE COEFFICIENT / TOLERANCE
-0.45% / °C, +/-5%
NOMINAL VOLTAGE / CURRENT
24V / 5.2A
OPERATING TEMPERATURE
-20°C... +65°C
SIZE / WEIGHT
61" х 20.87" х 0.1", 6.08 lbs
PROTECTION
Rounded corners, Bendable design (up to 30°), Ingress protection rating - IP65
WARRANTY
12-month worry-free product warranty
PROS
Powerful controller provides the power up to 400W. The solar panel is capable of charging a 50Ah battery from 50% to 100% within 3 hours. The model passed EL solar modules examinations.
CONS
Relatively low efficiency.
OUR VERDICT
This solar panel is ready out-of-the-box and perfectly suitable for everyone who loves traveling in a mobile home. The model will provide you with free electricity.
detailed parameters
PANEL MATERIAL
Monocrystalline
TYPE
Stationary
APPLICATION
Off-grid applications, RVs, Trailers, Boats, Sheds, Cabins
POWER / EFFICIENCY
100W / 15.46%
TEMPERATURE COEFFICIENT / TOLERANCE
-0.44% / °C, 0-3%
NOMINAL VOLTAGE / CURRENT
18.9V / 5.29A
OPERATING TEMPERATURE
-40°C... +90°C
SIZE / WEIGHT
47" x 21.3" x 1.4", 16.5 lbs
PROTECTION
Ingress protection rating - IP65
WARRANTY
25-year transferable power output warranty, 5-year material and workmanship warranty
PROS

Two-diode junction box improves the performance of the solar panel. An anodized aluminum frame covered with tempered glass significantly increase the durability of the panel.

CONS
Due to the strengthened frame, the panel is rather heavy.
OUR VERDICT
Owing to the high transparency, this solar panel is well-suited for small and guest houses as well as sheds.
detailed parameters
PANEL MATERIAL
Polycrystalline
TYPE
Stationary
APPLICATION
Emergency backup, RVs, Pumps, Gates, Electric fences, Lighting, 12V battery charging
POWER / EFFICIENCY
100W / 17.4%
TEMPERATURE COEFFICIENT / TOLERANCE
-0.45% / °C, 0-6%
NOMINAL VOLTAGE / CURRENT
18V / 5.56A
OPERATING TEMPERATURE
-40°C... +85°C
SIZE / WEIGHT
40.16" x 26.37" x 1.38", 19.66 lbs
PROTECTION

Ingress protection rating - IP65, Panel is covered with a thin layer of tempered glass, Anodized aluminum frame

WARRANTY
5-year limited product warranty, 25-year power output warranty
PROS
Customizable handle and folding legs enable an easy usage and comfortable transportation of the solar panel. Installation is also a breeze.
CONS
Clips between two modules aren't very strong.
OUR VERDICT
ECO-WORTHY solar panel will be a perfect choice for people who like camping and hiking since it has a collapsible design.
detailed parameters
PANEL MATERIAL
Polycrystalline
TYPE
Portable
APPLICATION
Hiking, Camping, Military use, Off-grid solar panel systems, Caravans, RVs, Boats, Greenhouses, Solar pump watering system
POWER / EFFICIENCY
120W / ~17%
TEMPERATURE COEFFICIENT / TOLERANCE
-0.47% / °C, +/-3%
NOMINAL VOLTAGE / CURRENT
17.9V / 6.66A
OPERATING TEMPERATURE
-40°C... +80°C
SIZE / WEIGHT
34" x 20.16" x 28.9'', 28 lbs
PROTECTION
Ingress protection rating - IP65, Aluminium corrosion-resistant frame
WARRANTY
25-year transferable power output warranty, 2-year material and workmanship warranty
PROS
Parallel connection of diodes provides the perfect performance even in low light conditions. The panel is capable of withstanding strong winds and snowfalls.
CONS
The system requires a more powerful controller if you wish to use additional panels.
OUR VERDICT
Taking low power losses into account, this solar panel is a fantastic choice for a country cottage or a mobile home.
detailed parameters
PANEL MATERIAL
Polycrystalline
TYPE
Stationary
APPLICATION
Off-grid applications, RVs, Trailers, Boats, Sheds, Cabins
POWER / EFFICIENCY
100W / ~17%
TEMPERATURE COEFFICIENT / TOLERANCE
-0.44% / °C, 0-3%
NOMINAL VOLTAGE / CURRENT
17.8V / 5.62A
OPERATING TEMPERATURE
-40°C... +80°C
SIZE / WEIGHT
39.7" x 26.7" x 1.4", 16.5 lbs
PROTECTION
Ingress protection rating - IP67, Non-reflective glass, High transparency, Corrosion-resistant frame
WARRANTY
25-year power output warranty, 5-year material and workmanship warranty

What is a Solar Panel

Today, we live in the era when solar power is becoming a widespread energy source. First of all, the cost of solar panels has considerably decreased lately. Almost everyone now has the opportunity to buy them for home use as well as for trips, picnics, and traveling. Secondly, solar power is one of the cleanest and most reliable forms of renewable energy available today.

A solar panel is a set of cells joined together and enclosed in a frame. A solar cell, in turn, is a semiconductor device used to convert light energy into electrical power. In most cases, solar panels (or solar modules) serve as an additional source of power. In some applications, however, they can completely replace the main power supply. An important advantage of solar energy is that the amount of sunlight is highly predictable within a year. In spring and summer, for example, a solar panel receives more solar power than in autumn and winter. So, you can assess the amount of renewable energy produced by solar modules in advance. A pleasant addition is that unlike other alternative energy systems, installation of sun power solar panels is a piece of cake!

To gain the maximum benefit from solar panels and know the weather in advance, we recommend you to go through our weather station review. Also, a LED solar light will be the best solution for illuminating an area around your house.

What Features to Compare

Panel Type

The first thing we'd like to draw your attention to when choosing the right solar panel is its type. Based on materials they are made of, solar panels are typically classified into monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film panels. If you're going to install solar modules in some limited space, you should choose a monocrystalline panel. Panels of this type are the most efficient and give more power from a certain roof area. Alternatively, if there is no limit on the working space and you can install more solar panels, it's reasonable to look at polycrystalline modules. These panels boast a good quality and excellent value for the money they cost. As for thin-film panels, they don't have a rigid frame and perfectly fit for installation on uneven surfaces. Thanks to their portability, they're a splendid choice for vacation, travel or fishing.

Performance

Having decided on the type of a solar panel, pay your attention to its performance. The most important issue is the solar conversion efficiency. Basically, the higher the efficiency, the more energy you get from your module. The second crucial indicator of performance is the power output. So, you should determine in advance what wattage you wish to get from your solar power system. The most popular solar panels provide on average from 100 to 200W, however, don't forget about tolerance which shows how this index varies. A temperature coefficient also affects the efficiency of a solar panel - it shows how it works with a temperature change and to what extent its power falls. Another important criterion to consider is its operation temperature range as this issue usually varies from region to region. It's worth mentioning that a lof of modern solar panels can work at a temperature from -40 to +90 °C. It allows using these panels in different geographic areas.

Convenience

Don't forget to check the convenience of solar modules. Of course, size and weight are vital for a convenient installation. Since solar panels can be mounted not only on a house roof but on boats and trailers as well, you need to know the optimal dimensions of the panel. We'd also like to recommend users to select the maximally protected models covered with a thin layer of tempered glass. The advantage is that such panels are capable of withstanding severe weather conditions. Solar panels are usually produced in a corrosion-resistant frame made of aluminum. This reduces the weight of the structure and assures a long lifespan. However, if you plan to use solar panels while traveling, pay attention to the modules with a handle for comfortable carrying and folding legs for an easy installation.

KINGSOLAR Semi Flexible

Flexible Energy Source

Since most solar panels typically have a frame, they aren't easy to install on uneven surfaces. Thus, such modules should be placed at a certain angle which might negatively impact their effectiveness. However, there is an excellent solution to this issue. KINGSOLAR Semi Flexible Solar Panel is made of thin-film and durable material that makes it bendable (up to 30 degrees), therefore, it is easy to install the panel on an uneven roof of your truck, boat, or tent. Moreover, this solar panel doesn't need a special mount since it can be attached by adhesive tape, grommets, or Velcro. It allows you to use the module even for a short time and then easily remove it. Thanks to the semi-flexible design, a transportation and storage of the panel don't require significant efforts. And despite such capabilities, the efficiency of KINGSOLAR solar panel is up to 23.5%. Great!

Review of KINGSOLAR Semi Flexible Solar Panel

Which Panels are Better?

The first major question which arises when choosing the right solar panel is which type of panel to select, monocrystalline or polycrystalline one. The main difference between them lies in the manufacturing process and materials they are made of. Monocrystalline solar panels have the highest efficiency rates of up to 22%. In comparison, the efficiency of polycrystalline panels is typically around 18%. The point is that monocrystalline panels are made out of the highest-grade silicone with a purification degree of up to 99,999%. The cost of producing panels of this type, however, is significantly higher than of the polycrystalline ones. Therefore, before making a purchase, decide whether the best performance or low cost of equipment is a top priority for you.

KINGSOLAR Semi Flexible Solar Panel in the use

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Detailed review of KINGSOLAR Semi Flexible Solar Panel

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KINGSOLAR Semi Flexible
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Renogy Volts Monocrystalline

A Kit for Beginners

If you've decided to install a solar power system and consider purchasing a starter kit, Renogy Volts Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit is what you're looking for! The set includes not only a solar module but also a charge controller, a fixing kit, wires. Therefore, everything you need for installation is already in the box! Thanks to the powerful charge controller and a set of brackets, you'll be able to connect several additional panels without any extra costs.

It's worth mentioning that in contrast to gas generators, the operation of such solar system is absolutely noiseless. As for the effectiveness, with Renogy charge controller, it's possible to get a power output of up to 400W. However, remember that the effectiveness of the panel depends primarily on the amount of sunlight. That's why you need to choose the right place for the installation. There should be no trees and shades.

Review of Renogy Volts Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit

Solar Chargers

Today, solar cells are used not only for producing panels. There are a lot of gadgets that can be powered by solar energy in case there's no chance to use a power grid. In such electronic devices, built-in photovoltaic cells capture the sun energy and convert it into electricity. These gadgets are particularly useful for those who are fond of hiking or camping.

Renogy Volts Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit in the use

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Detailed review of Renogy Volts Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit

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Renogy Volts Monocrystalline
Renogy Volts Monocrystalline
 

Grape Solar GS-STAR Polycrystalline

Reliable and Protected

Choosing a solar panel for home, many buyers worry about the lifespan of modules as well as whether they can withstand extreme weather conditions. With Grape Solar GS-STAR Polycrystalline Solar Panel, however, there is nothing to be worried about! An anodised aluminium frame is resistant to corrosion while a tempered glass boasts enhanced stiffness and impact resistance. Thus, you can be sure that it's capable of withstanding extremely strong winds. Moreover, the model works fine at high temperatures and when it is cloudy.

Review of Grape Solar GS-STAR Polycrystalline Solar Panel

Installation Tips

On many occasions, the installation of solar panels isn't an easy process and requires some professional help. However, if you decide to mount a solar module on your own, here are some useful tips on how to do it properly. To anchor the panel, use suitable screw connections and check them for tightness.

To get the most out of your solar panels, they must be directed precisely at the sun. In the northern hemisphere, for example, solar modules always should face true south. Many specialists also suggest that the panel is fixed or has a tilt that can be adjusted seasonally. It's necessary to add that some panels have active trackers that allow for automatic angle adjustment by tracking the movement of the sun throughout the day. However, such systems are known to be quite expensive.

Finally, if you're going to install a module on an even surface, you should leave enough space between the roof and the panel to ensure proper air circulation. It will prevent overheating and ensure more efficient work of the panel.

Grape Solar GS-STAR Polycrystalline Solar Panel in the use

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Grape Solar GS-STAR Polycrystalline
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ECO-WORTHY Portable Folding Polycrystalline PV

Extremely Handy

The technology of solar panels production is constantly evolving and now there are a lot of panels of various sizes and designs. Some of them, for example, are semi-flexible while others have a solid frame. As for ECO-WORTHY Solar Panel, it is a portable module with a robust aluminum frame. This solar power panel can be folded in half forming a convenient suitcase with a handle which is perfect for transportation. Foldable legs make the model ideal for a picnicking, camping, and hunting. The solar panel is quite simple to operate, it's just necessary to unfold the module and connect wires to a battery. ECO-WORTHY Solar Panel allows using it even on wet grass since the material it's made of is resistant to corrosion. So, if you are keen on outdoor recreation, this solar power panel is just for you!

Review of ECO-WORTHY Portable Folding Polycrystalline PV Solar Panel

New Nanomaterials

Every day scientists work on inventions that maximize the effectiveness of solar panels. It's quite interesting, the British company Surrey NanoSystems have already made a breakthrough in their research of extremely sensitive optical materials. Their biggest invention is Vantablack, the blackest substance known which absorbs almost 100% of light in the visible spectrum. It’s made of tiny, hollow carbon tubes, each the width of a single atom. When you look at this new black material, you see only a hole and don't recognize even a shape and surface. Primarily, Vantablack is produced for space equipment where its ability to capture stray light makes it perfect for telescopes.

ECO-WORTHY Portable Folding Polycrystalline PV Solar Panel in the use

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ECO-WORTHY Portable Folding Polycrystalline PV
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HQST Polycrystalline Solar Panel Kit

Where You Can Use Solar Energy

Taking into account that a solar panel is a relatively new product on the market, many users might still not know how they can use one. HQST Polycrystalline Solar Panel Kit can be placed on roofs of houses, garages, industrial and administrative buildings. Likewise, it can be mounted on travel trailers to power a lighting system as well as some kitchen appliances. Such PV panels are also used at facilities where it's necessary to minimise interruptions with electricity supply. This module is a superior solution for RVs, boats, sheds, and cabins. Before installing, however, don't forget to figure out the required wattage!

Review of HQST Polycrystalline Solar Panel Kit

Wind Energy

Since solar power highly depends on seasonal weather changes, it's reasonable to consider acquiring a wind generator. Basically, a wind turbine generator is an appliance that converts wind energy into electricity. When the turbine blades capture the wind and start moving, they spin a shaft that connects a rotor to a generator. More advanced models are equipped with sensors that measure the force and direction of the wind and turn a windmill in the right direction to get more energy. However, you should know that such systems aren't effective in the regions where windy weather is rare.

HQST Polycrystalline Solar Panel Kit in the use

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Infographics

Comparison of Solar Panels

Sources:

1. Choosing The Best Solar PanelsEnergy Matters.

2. Chris Barnes Solar panels buying guide, Choice. February 17, 2016.

3. Don Vandervort Solar Electric (PV) Panels Buying GuideHomeTips. March 30, 2016.

4. Tips for Buying Solar PanelseBay. March 10, 2016.

5. Solar Power Buyer's GuideNorthern Tool + Equipment.  

6. Mike Matthews How to Pick Out the Proper Solar Panel, SFGate.

7. Chris McNamara How and why we choose solar photovoltaic panels for our houseSuperTopo. November 27, 2014.

8. Solar Power, The Camping and Caravanning Club.

9. Ucilia Wang What you need to know about shopping for solar panels, Gigaom. April 22, 2013.

10. Solar power, Wikipedia. September 25, 2016.

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