This post contains affiliate links. Read the full disclosure here
Finding the Best Solar Cell Manufacturers for you
Different Solar Cell Manufacturers create different Solar Panels. Which Manufacturer is the Best for you?
One of the biggest differences in most modern systems is the amount of energy that the solar panels and cells from different manufacturers can deliver.
The newer solar panels have been improved in a number of ways that allow them to be more efficient and less expensive than ever.
The number of Solar Cell Makers has also increased and there are new companies joining the ranks every year. Even though most of these solar panels may seem similar at first glance, there are several key differences between these solar cell manufacturers that are important to understand when designing your system.
Solar Cells produce different amounts of power
The first thing that needs to be considered when comparing solar cell manufacturers is the amount of power a given solar cell can produce for its cost.
This value can vary wildly from panel to panel and even though a certain solar panel might be slightly more expensive than another, if it is capable of producing more power it might actually be a better value overall.
Sharp Corporation Solar Panels
Sharp Corporation has traditionally been the world’s biggest manufacturer of solar panels up until recent years. Their solar cell research dates back to 1959 and they have been producing residential photovoltaic systems since the early 1990’s.
They were historically the leader in cost per kW of power per panel, which also made them the clear choice among both consumers and contractors.
Solar Panels from Q-Cells
Even though they were the leader in the industry for the number of solar panels sold each year, they have recently been displaced by a German company called Q-Cells.
By the way, did you know that Germany is the leading country in Solar, though it’S weather conditions (often cloudy) are far from perfect? This is because the German introduced massive tax rebates and guaranteed the price for producing power for the grid, so that the meter often runs backwards.
Q-Cells is the proof that clever industry politics can make sense.
It’s also important to note that other large solar cell makers like SunTech, BP Solar and Kyocera are also very close in volume to the current solar market leader.
The Best Yield for Solar Cells (USD/W)
The title of best yield (cost per kW) for a solar panel or cell is now held by Sunpower.
They are able to manufacture a solar panel with over an 18% conversion rate. This means they can deliver a much larger amount of useful power from the same amount of sunlight as other solar panels, which makes them a great value for homeowners.
Solar Cell Manufacturers Warranty
Another important criteria when choosing between solar cell manufacturers is the warranty they offer on the solar panels. Since these solar panels are designed to be used for decades, it’s important that they are covered by a guarantee in the event of failure.
Right now a company called Photowatt offers the best warranty available from any of the solar cell manufacturers. They guarantee their solar panels for 12 years at 90% power and for 25 years at 80% power.
The thing that makes this warranty so important is that their solar panels are warranted against outright failures as well as a loss of output. This is a critical detail since most solar panels won’t fail outright, but simply get lazy over time and produce less power as they age.
An outright failure is also very unlikely since Solar Panels have no moving parts, so nothing there to break.
The Best Overall Price for Solar Cells
The final metric that many consumers care about is overall price and in this area some of the newer companies that manufacturer their panels in China win out.
Companies like SunTech Power and Yingli Green Energy both sell their panels themselves and build them as OEM panels for other solar cell manufacturers. These panels are currently the least expensive to purchase and will allow you to build a complete solar power solution for far less money than other panels.
Oh, if you are hungry, you may also be interested in “How to Make Solar Cells” 😉 Bon Appetit!