The Best Solar Panels

How to choose the best solar panels for you

The best solar panels imageIf you are thinking about installing solar panels for your home or business but are not sure how to decide between different solar panel manufacturers than this article is for you.

Choosing the best solar panels can be a daunting and complex task. However this does not have to be the case. Here we explain the key things to think about when choosing the best solar panel for you and your property.

Like any product there are a wide range of solar panels on the market, and like any other product you want to choose a solar panel that is good quality, fits your budget and will perform well for years to come.

There are a few key considerations that need to be taken into account when choosing solar panels. Some of these issues will be more important for some people or properties and less important for others. The main four factors to consider are normally:

Solar Panel Efficiency
  • The manufacturer's stability/reputation and their panel warranties
  • Solar panel aesthetics
  • Solar Panel Cost

The following factors are also relevent, and quite closely tied with the items above. All of the factors mentioned are detailed futher on in the article:

  1. Solar cell type

  2. Solar panel accreditations

  3. Compatibility with inverter

  4. Solar panel warranty

  5. Solar panel dimensions

  6. Solar panel manufacturer technical support

If you are interested in installing a solar pv system, the panels will likely be on your roof for 25-30 years. Most solar panels come with a performance warranty of 25 years and so you want to know the panels are going to be working well for the next 2-3 decades. You also may have limited space on your roof and you may want a panel with a certain aesthetic so that the system looks attractive on the roof. You will also want a system that will suit your budget. All in all there are a lot of considerations to take into account when choosing the best panel for you. Lets look at the above points in more detail.


Solar Cell Type

There are three main types of solar cell that are commonly used in solar pv panels in the UK: monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin film. Monocrystalline and polycrystaline panels are both similar in efficiency, although on average monocrystalline tend to be the more efficient of the two. Thin film panels have a lower efficiency and so you need more area for the same size system - this is often not practical, especially on buildings with limited availible area.

Solar Panel Accreditation

All solar panels installed in the UK need to have MCS approval in order for the system to be eligible for the feed-in tariff. Your installer can send you the panels MSC certificate. This can also be checked using the MCS Product Search tool here.

Solar Panel Efficiency

Because of scientific research and development solar panel efficiencies consistently creep up year-on-year. At the moment solar panels range in efficiency from a 250 Wp panel at around 15% efficiency to high efficiency 320+ Wp panels at around 20% efficiency . The very high efficiency panels from manufacturers such as LG, Panasonic and Sunpower all use monocrystalline cells. These are more expencive to buy but they do mean you can fit significantly more kWp on your roof. An example might be if you can only fit 10 panels on your roof, using lower efficiency 250 Wp panels you would only have a 2.5 kWp sytem whereas is you used higher efficiency 320 Wp you would have a 3.2 kWp system - this will generate significantly more energy over a year and reduce energy bills more. Also most of the installation costs would be identical in both options so you should end up with an economy of scale leading to a better return on investment.
Solar cell best efficiencies

The cost of the solar panel

How much the solar panel costs is always going to make a difference. It always makes sense to get at least 2-3 quotes from reputable installers to make sure you are getting a good price. There are also cheaper solar panels from less established, recognised brands and there are more expensive, quality panels from established recognised household brands for example LG and Panasonic. If you only look at the return on investment or payback periods the cheaper panels will always look better - but this does not paint the whole picture which includes things like performance of solar panels over time and whether the company is around to deal with warranty issues in 5, 10 or 20 years time.

You can read more about this in our article on the Cost of Solar Panels.

Solar Panel Cost Comparison

Solar Panel Manufacturers Reputation

The aesthetic of the panel

The aesthetic of the solar panel system can be very important. The common panel types range from sliver framed with blue cells to sleek looking all-black panels.
Different types of solar panel aesthetic

Compatibility with inverter

Solar panel warranty

Solar panel dimensions

Solar panel manufacturer technical support

Solar panel manufacturers stability