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Solar Panel Comparison

Why it makes no difference, no matter which solar panel you buy !!

(As long as they are genuine Tier 1 brands as per this list)

The No.1 concern we hear from people wanting to buy solar is about the solar panels.
They are mostly worried about reliability.

A report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (USA) on failure rates on 50,000 solar installations (so 500,000+ solar panels) installed between 2000 and 2015 found a median failure rate of 1 panel in 2,000 per annum. Here is the NREL report. It's an easy and short read. The report also says that as time goes on, the reliability rate has improved.

There's more to reliability than whether the panel was well made or not.

Read more about this here...

You can relax. All Tier 1 brand panels are extremely well made, and all very reliable. Over the past years, we have never had a single faulty panel from Q.Cells or ET Solar, although, of course, others will have.Statistically with millions out there, some must have failed. We've had a few faulty Canadian Solar panels, a couple of Risen, and one REC (that we are pretty sure was hit by a stone), so all in all, very little indeed.

So if a nasty solar salesman tries to scare you with a picture of a failed panel from every other brand other than the one he is trying to sell you, remember that (a) A small number of his panels will fail too and (b) The pictures are of the rare exceptions, not the huge majority of good ones and often caused by bad installation practice not manufacturing defect.


The next concern we hear is about power output
A 300W panel will make more power than a 250W panel, but when you take 20 x 300W panels and 24 x 250W panels and join them together to make a 6kW system, they will both make the same power. It makes no difference what brand the panel is, they make what they say they will make. Some are able to handle the heat a little better which makes a little more power (more about that here), and some handle the shade a little better (more about that here), but other than those two factors, they will all make exactly the same power.


Blind luck can help a bit too ; )

Each panel is flash tested at the factory, and let's say it's meant to be 280W, but the flash test comes back at 283W. So you might get a few watts more, on some of your panels, but there's no guarantee of it. What actually happens is that the manufacturer has a range of panels like the example below for REC and the panel gets put in the appropriate box after its flash test. So the 283W panel doesn't quite make it to the 285W box, and is therefore packaged and sold as a 280W panel with 3 extra bonus watts.


There are two major points of difference between panels.

Roof top space.
The two most expensive panels can fit a 360W panel in the same area as a regular 260W panel. Most manufacturers have a high space efficient panel in their range. It usually costs a bit more, but if your roof space is limited, they are definitely worth it.
Again, the two most expensive panels give a 25 year DEFECT warranty (not to be confused with the 25 year Power warranty that all of them give). Some of the regular panels give a 12 year defect warranty, but the majority offer 10 years.