Are all solar panels the same? Not even close! Here’s what to look for when it comes to finding quality solar panels.
Going solar is an investment, so you want to make sure you’re investing in a product that’s going to stand the test of time. Here’s what to look for.
First, ask what’s the warranty. It’s an excellent starting point to indicate quality. If a panel has a high level of degradation, that’s going to tell you that there’s been a lot of R&D and the manufacturer is going to be standing behind their product.
But there are warranties and there are warranties. Don’t just be wowed by how long the term of the warranty is. Pay attention to the degradation. Think of it like a car—parts are going to degrade over time, but when you pay for higher quality, you’ll get a longer lifespan out of it.
A high-quality panel will have a high degradation percentage. For instance, a 25-year warranty with 94% degradation means that you’ve only lost 6% of power production over two and a half decades. On the other hand, a lower quality panel might have a 25-year warranty but you’re at a degradation of 40%, meaning your panel is barely producing anything.
(Another fun fact: Higher-quality panels will mostly be built by robots, not humans, as a way to reduce the chance for human error!)
If you get a quote that seems too good to be true, definitely poke into the quality of the solar panel. Often, new solar installation companies will hit the market with a middle-grade panel, just to cut their costs. One way to investigate this is to ask: Why do your panels cost less (or more) than what I’ve seen quoted elsewhere?
As the Granite State Solar CEO, Alan Gauntt puts it: “Solar is a home improvement. As with any home improvement, you get what you pay for. You wouldn’t go with any-old contractor just because they’re the cheapest.”
By Julia Westbrook
Not sure what panels are right for you? Our solar advisors will help you navigate your options.
What Is an Inverter?
How to Use a Solar Battery Backup
How Do I Get Snow off of My Solar Panels?