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Which Solar Panels Should I Buy?

It’s no surprise that this is the most common question, since the solar panels themselves are the biggest cost component of a typical rooftop system.

But I’m not going to give you the single "Best Panel" answer you may be looking for. Sorry.

With over 100 companies making solar panels worldwide — and vast differences in efficiency, aesthetics and reliability — there is no one answer. So instead I’ll focus on the factors and characteristics to help you make the best decision for your particular circumstances.

When I think about my 20+ years of installing rooftop solar panels, I’ve come to the conclusion that highest efficiency, quality features, country of manufacturing, low light performance, annual degradation, rock bottom pricing, proprietary cell technologies, fancy advertising, long warranties and Top Ten lists DON’T REALLY MATTER! You can throw every one of these manufacturer claims and specifications out the window if the solar panel manufacturer goes out of business, or just arbitrarily decides to ignore problems with their product.

What REALLY MATTERS is your confidence in the local installer you choose to install the system. That local installer’s business depends on happy customers for the long term. You can — and probably should -- pepper them with questions. Good installers will do their best to make good on warranties, even when the solar panel manufacturer disappears. So I suggest you trust their objective advice on the best panels for your particular roof space, orientation and budget.

Please listen to this week’s Energy Show for my advice on finding the Best Solar Panels for your rooftop.


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