Solar PV Knowledge Bank

Solar Panel Manufacturers

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Solar panel manufacturers

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Top solar panel manufacturers

As the solar industry has come of age over the last couple of decades, many manufacturers have sprung up around the world (and a few have gone bust too). Here’s a comparison of the ranges offered by the biggest names on the market:

Manufacturer

Efficiency

Power

Product warranty

Origin

SunPower

18.4% - 22.7%

310W - 400W

25 years

US

LG

18.5% - 21.4%

320W - 400W

25 years

South Korea

Panasonic

19.1% - 19.8%

245W - 335W

25 years

Japan

Canadian Solar

15.8% - 23.8% (bifacial)

275W - 420W

10 years

Canada

Sharp

16.5% - 20%

258W - 370W

10 years

Japan

Yingli

15.7% - 20.1%

260W - 390W

10 years

China

Trina

16.5% - 19.3%

270W - 380W

10 years

China

What to look for in a PV manufacturer

When it comes to choosing which solar panels to go for, there are a few key things to bear in mind:

  • Reliability. A solar system should last for decades (25 years minimum), so it’s worth investing in panels you expect to last the distance - and a company you expect will still be around if any issues do arise. Check how long they’ve been around and reviews of their customer service.
  • Warranties. Tying in with reliability, warranties give an indication of the faith manufacturers put in their own products and the support you can count on if anything goes wrong.
  • Is the manufacturer ‘tier 1’? While this is a common concern, it’s largely meaningless, as you can see in our tier 1 guide.

Our recommended solar panel manufacturers

First off, we will only work with and recommend products from manufacturers who we trust and have found to be reliable. We’re accredited partners with many brands (such as LG and SunPower) and offer a 5 year workmanship guarantee regardless of product type. When designing a system, we suggest the products that are the best for your install and budget.

Ultimately, we believe SunPower makes the best solar panels on the market. They are outstanding in efficiency, output, aesthetics and warranty cover. LG and Panasonic also offer high quality products at the top end of the spectrum, while there are a number of Chinese manufacturers producing great panels at a lower price point.

If you’d like to get in touch, we’d be happy to talk through which are the best types of panel for your project.

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What is the solar panel manufacturing process?

From sand to sun, there’s quite the process involved in making monocrystalline solar panels.

  1. Quartz sand is heated in an arc furnace, at extremely high temperatures, to produce silicon rocks.

  2. Hundreds of silicon rocks are melted down into cylindrical ingots, adding boron to give the silicon a positive electrical polarity and ensuring the atoms are correctly aligned.

  3. The ingot is sliced into paper-thin wafers with a wire saw.

  4. The sides of the wafer are chopped off to leave an octagonal solar cell, which allows for more efficient use of space in the module.

  5. Its surface is treated with an anti-reflective coating, conductors added and a layer of phosphorus diffused on top to give a negative electrical charge (creating the PN junction).

  6. The cells (usually 60) are soldered together to make a rectangular solar panel, with a metal frame, glass front and polymer backsheet to protect the cells.

Polycrystalline cells are not cut from ingots of pure silicon. Instead, multiple crystals are melted down directly into square moulds to produce the cells.

Clearly some of the steps involved in manufacture are energy intensive, but this is far outweighed by the savings of renewable power (see our blog on the carbon footprint of solar PV for more detail).