How to Find the Best Solar Panels in 2017

The thought of getting free energy from the sun has had many people considering buying solar panels for home energy at one time or another. But it can be confusing to know what to choose and daunting to take that first step of installing solar panels for your home.

There are many makes and models out there, and it can be difficult to know which brands are the best solar panels and most reliable to power your home. Affordability is also a key factor considered when looking at home solar panels.

Best Solar Panels For Your Home

Award Emblem: Best Solar Panels For Your Home

Home solar panels and solar installations in general have experienced a growth rate of more than 60% since the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) was passed in 2006, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association® (SEIA). Prices have dropped by more than 60% over the last decade, making solar panels for homes an attractive option.

In this article, we will take a look at the top 6 best solar panels we’ve found, review costs, credit incentives, and options for installation. We’ll also go over some common questions about energy output and tax incentives available for a solar power system for home use.

By the end of the article, we hope to give you a better understanding of options for solar power for homes, how installation works, and what costs to expect when considering the best solar panel options.

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AdvisoryHQ’s List of the Top 6 Best Solar Panels for Your Home

List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the best solar panels names below to go directly to the detailed review section for that solar panel):

Top 6 Best Home Solar Power System | Brief Comparison & Ranking

Best Solar Panel Companies & Products

Maximum Efficiency

Panel Warranty

Grape Solar® PhotoFlex


2 years

Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Kit™


10 years

Panasonic HIT® Photovoltaic Module


15 years

SolarWorld Sunmodule® Plus Series


20 years

SunPower Equinox™


25 years

Trina Solar ALLMAX M Plus-DD05A.05(II)


10 years

Table: Top 6 Best Solar Panels | Above list is sorted alphabetically

Home Solar Power System FAQ | What’s Involved When Buying Solar Panels for Your Home?

One of the main questions from people who are considering solar panels for homes is about how it all works. For example, “Do I have to contact my power company?” and “How will it change the way the electricity is connected to my house?”

We’ll take a look first at the main steps involved with getting solar power for homes and then how the system connects to the main power grid with net metering.

Initial buying and installation steps for solar-powered homes:

  1. Contact the home solar panels installer
  2. Assessment consultation to review your options
  3. Design of the hardware and mounting layout
  4. Paperwork submitted to utility for any approvals
  5. Installation of the solar panels for home use
  6. Connection to the utility

Most of the steps above are handled by the provider that is installing the solar panels for home energy use, but you may need to sign paperwork with your power company for the utility to connect to your home solar panels.

How does everything connect in solar-powered homes?

The connections are fairly straight forward. The solar power system for home energy is connected to an inverter that collects the sun-powered energy from the home solar panels. Panels will collect a direct current (DC) and the inverter converts that to usable alternating current (AC), making it usable electricity.

The inverter connects to a meter that allows additional unused electricity to be fed back into the power grid, which means you can get a credit from your power company. Excess energy can also be stored in a battery if desired. 

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Home Solar Power System FAQ | Rebates and Tax Incentives

A big selling point that helps make the best solar panels for home energy more affordable is available rebates and tax incentives. The financial incentives that you are eligible for will vary according to where you live, but there is a federal tax credit for solar panels for home use that covers everyone in the U.S.

Federal Incentive for Solar-Powered Homes

The Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is a 30 percent credit for both commercial businesses and solar power for homes. The credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction on income taxes based on 30% of the cost of installing solar panels for your home. You can find a handy fact sheet here.

home solar power systems Rebates and Tax Incentives

Image Source: Home Solar Power System

Good news for people considering buying solar panels for home energy is that the ITC was extended by Congress last year for homeowners through 2021. The credit remains at 30% through 2019, then goes to 26% for 2020, and 22% for 2021.

State and Local Incentives for Solar Powered Homes

You can use the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency® (DSIRE) to see what incentives your state may offer. Some incentives are related to financing, and others give you an exemption from paying sales tax on solar panels for homes.

Here are a few examples, but you will definitely want to check the database for your particular state to see what incentives you can get when buying solar panels for your home.

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Detailed Review – Top Ranking Best Solar Panels

Below, please find a detailed review of each product on our list of best solar panels for home energy. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these home solar power system products to score so highly in our selection ranking.

Grape Solar® PhotoFlex Review

Grape Solar has been selling solar power for homes since 2009 and was listed by Portland Business Journal as a Fastest-Growing Private Company in 2012. The company is based in Eugene, Oregon, and their solar panels for homes are sold at stores such as Walmart, Kmart, and The Home Depot.

They sell three main styles of solar panels for home use, including mono-crystalline PV Modules and poly-crystalline PV Modules, but it was their very unique Grape Solar® PhotoFlex panels that caught our attention.

Best Solar Panels by Grape Solar

Image Source: Grape Solar® Best Solar Panels at Sears

What makes the PhotoFlex so unique is that it is a thin, flexing, high-efficiency solar cell, and the design is made to fit off-grid installations such as boats and RVs. This best solar panel contender is available in a PhotoFlex-050W (50 watt maximum power) and a PhotoFlex-100W (100 watt maximum power).

Some of the key features of this home solar power system are:

  • 18% maximum efficiency
  • 2-year limited product warranty
  • 2-year warranty on >90% power output
  • CE Certification
  • Cell dimensions, 125mm x 62.5mm (50 W), 125 mm  x 125 mm (100 W)
  • Weight, 1.5 lbs (50W), 3 lbs (100 W)
  • Pricing per panel, $262 for the 100 W size

Find Out More About Grape Solar® Solar Panels for Your Home Here

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Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Kit™ Review

If you’re looking for a well-known brand, then check out Mitsubishi Electric. The company is based in Cypress, CA, and has over 90 years of experience in electronics manufacturing and 40 years of experience innovating solar panels for home energy generation. 

Their Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Kit™ earned them a spot on our top six best solar panels ranking because it simplifies solar installations for both residential and light commercial buildings. It packs a full solar power system for home energy into one convenient package.

With this all-in-one home solar panels kit, you get their superior-quality photovoltaic modules with maximum power or 270 W, two inverter options — the Solectria String Inverter or the Solar Edge Optimized Inverter and Optimizer — and the Orion Solar Racking System, a pre-assembled system that makes installation easy.

Here are some of the great features of this home solar power system:

  • 16.9% maximum efficiency
  • 10-year materials & workmanship warranty
  • 25-year performance warranty
  • UL1703 Compliant
  • Panel dimensions, 1625mm x 1019mm x 46mm
  • Weight, 44 lbs
  • Pricing for the kit is in the $9,000 – $10,000 range

Find Out More About The Mitsubishi Electric Home Solar Panels Here

Panasonic HIT® Photovoltaic Module Review

When you hear the name Panasonic, you may think of Blu-Ray players, digital cameras, and other electronics, but they also make solar panels for your home. Panasonic is one of the world’s largest product manufacturers comprised of 473 companies, with one of the world’s largest patent portfolios. Panasonic Corporation of North America is based in Newark, New Jersey.

The Panasonic HIT® Photovoltaic Module stood out as a best solar panel for us because of the exemplary technology that comes with the Panasonic name. They’ve been a leader in manufacturing solar panels for homes for over 17 years. Their HIT® Photovoltaic Module uses a unique cell structure and patented design for high efficiency.

These solar panels for home use have a unique pyramid structure engineered to capture sunlight more efficiently by reducing reflection. They also perform better at higher temperatures, something that can reduce the efficiency of other home solar panels.

Here are some important features of these best solar panels for home energy:

  • 23.8% maximum efficiency
  • 15-year materials & workmanship warranty
  • 25-year performance warranty
  • UL1703 Compliant
  • Panel dimensions, 1590mm x 1054mm x 35.5mm
  • Weight, 41.81 lbs
  • Pricing per panel, $455.00

Find Out More About Panasonic Solar Power for Homes Here

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SolarWorld Sunmodule® Plus Series Review

SolarWorld has been a leader in American manufacturing of the best solar panels since 1975. The company is based in Hillsboro, Oregon, and has production facilities in the U.S. and Germany. 

The company holds Green Brand Certification, and their best solar panel is the only one certified by the National Green Building Standard (NGBS).

A stand-out feature we saw with SolarWorld Sunmodule® Plus Series is that the company provides two different formats: a white backsheet model for higher power, and a black format for a sleeker, more aesthetic appeal. Both formats come with a 25-year warranty for maximum performance, and all panels exceed IEC testing qualifications.

With a variety of sizes and power, SolarWorld products are suitable for a range of applications, including remote generators and large-scale power plants. Their Plus Series solar panels for home use are designed for safety and durability. They are available in 60-cell versions (SW 290-300 and SW 285-290) and 72-cell versions (SW 340-350).

Some of the key features of these top solar panels for your home are:

  • 17.89% maximum efficiency
  • 20-year product workmanship warranty
  • 25-year linear performance guarantee
  • Extended cable lengths for easier installation
  • CE Certification
  • FSEC/CEC Certified
  • VDE Quality Certification
  • UL1703 Compliant
  • Panel dimensions, 1675mm x 1001mm x 33mm
  • Weight, 39.7 lbs
  • High-performance PERC cell structure

SunPower Equinox™ Review

SunPower has been leading the way in sustainability and solar innovation since 1985. This Silicon Valley, California, company has more than 200 patents for their best solar panel technology and boasts the “world’s highest efficiency solar panels,” which feature their SunPower Maxeon® cell technology.

We really liked the sleek design of their SunPower Equinox™ solar panels for home energy generation; they’re made to be attractive on any roof. Their website is also one of the most comprehensive we’ve seen, and it explains the science of solar simply yet thoroughly.

SunPower’s Maxeon® solar cells in these top solar panels for homes capture the sunlight using a special copper-back design that is corrosion-resistant. These panels for solar-powered homes can produce 55% more energy than conventional cells in the first year of operation.

Here are some of the main features of these solar panels for your home:

Find Out More About SunPower’s Solar Panels for Home Use Here

Trina Solar ALLMAX M PLUS-DD05A.05(II) Review

The last top solar power system for home energy comes from China. Trina Solar was founded in 1997 and since then has helped China become a world leader in manufacturing technology for solar power for homes. The company has over 1,200 patents filed and is a leading photovoltaic module manufacturer globally.

Like the SunPower home solar panels, the Trina Solar ALLMAX M PLUS-DD05A.05(II) has a sleek and eye-pleasing design with black frame and black front. The 60 cell monocrystalline module is designed for a power output range of 270-295 watts.

A benefit of the monocrystalline solar panels for home efficiency is that they have a higher efficieny rate for generating electricity from the sun and are also space saving. The ALLMAX solar panels for home use are also wind, hail, and snow rated to withstand harsh conditions.

Here are some key features of this solar power for homes technology:

  • 18% maximum efficiency
  • 10-year product warranty
  • 25-year power output warranty
  • UL1703 Compliant
  • Panel dimensions, 1650mm x 992mm x 35mm
  • Weight, 41 lbs
  • Pricing per panel, $199.95

Find Out More About Trina Solar Home Solar Power System Here

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Conclusion – Top 6 Solar Panels for Your Home

We hope that our top six review and ranking of home solar power system options helped clear some of the fog for you about residential solar energy. Once you understand the mechanics and components of installing solar panels for homes, the process of going solar can seem a lot less scary.

Solar-powered homes are becoming more common in many neighborhoods, thanks to the multiple federal, state, and local tax rebates available. Be sure to check out the DSIRE database to see what rebates and credits you can take advantage of; it can make a big difference in the affordability of a solar power system for home efficiency.

As you can see, there are a lot of options for a home solar power system in a variety of styles and price ranges to fit everyone’s needs, so you don’t have to stick to one style or color of panel any longer. Solar panels for your home are now design-friendly as well as more energy efficient than ever, so the time has never been better to consider going solar.

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