In a world where we should all be doing our part to curb climate change and reduce the number of fossil fuels being burned, solar panels seem to be the perfect alternative to traditional energy sources. Solar panels harness the sun’s rays, turning them into clean and renewable energy that doesn’t harm the environment — and in some cases is even beneficial.
With these panels installed in your home or office, you’ll be able to power your lights and appliances without any harmful emissions or other negative effects on the environment. Besides being highly energy-efficient, these panels can help you save a ton of money on your electric bill and can last for decades. While they are an initial investment, they will ultimately pay off in the long run.
But with so many different types and models of solar panels available, it can be hard to know which ones are right for you. To help you out, we reviewed the top solar panels for 2022. So, let’s take a look!
Because solar panels come in different varieties and styles, the range of options available can quickly become overwhelming. If you want to discover the most appropriate model for your needs, in this buying guide, we’ll cover the most important things you need to keep in mind while shopping for a solar panel.
How Do Solar Panels Work?
Solar panels are made using photovoltaic cells, which absorb solar radiation from the sun when it directly shines on them. Solar energy creates electric charges that move in the cell according to its electrical field to produce electrical energy. Solar panels consist of different parts, but the main function is to convert energy from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC), allowing you to put that energy to use in your home.
You can also find some updated models of solar panels that store energy components for later use, so you can get energy even on dark winter days or when the sun isn’t up.
Care Instructions for Solar Panels
The average lifespan of most solar panels is anywhere between 20 to 30 years, with 25 years as the most common estimate. The perk of having solar panels is that they are fairly maintenance-free — all you need to do is keep them free of elements like dirt, snow, or leaves. And if your solar panels are backed by a warranty, you can also usually get free professional repairs for a certain period.
Solar panels are known to have a “useful lifespan,” which means that the panels start producing less electric energy as they age. When you compare a newly installed solar panel with the one that’s serving you for 25 years, you will notice a significant drop in energy production. For example, most manufacturers’ warranties note optimal energy production for the first 10 years. But that doesn’t mean solar panels become useless after 10 years as they can still produce enough energy for many years to come.
When we think of the lifespan of residential solar panels, it’s common to wonder how much time you’ll start making your original investment back. A lot of factors contribute to the amount of energy solar panels will produce and ultimately the money you will save. The number of solar panels you’ve installed, the amount of energy you use, and the quality of solar panels you have greatly affect the amount you save.
How to Purchase Solar Panels
Consider the mounting options
Check that the roof, ground mounting, or tracking system is engineer certified for the location in which you want to install the solar panel. If you live in a cyclone-prone area, you must check if the mounting system and mounting brackets are cyclone-rated.
Most quality systems are also wind certified, but it’s important to double-check this because you don’t want your system to take off in the middle of a storm. The mounting system is a critical component that some providers overlook, so you should always ask about wind certification and warranty agreements — and don’t forget to get copies of these documents.
Assess the solar inverter’s efficiency
The box between the panels and your appliances is called a power inverter that efficiently converts direct current from solar panels to alternating current, which is suitable to use in your home. Bear in mind that not all solar inverters are made equal, and their efficiency will directly impact the amount of time that’s needed for the system to pay for itself.
You should always look at the inverter’s efficiency before investing in a system because the more efficient the inverter, the better. An efficient inverter will waste less heat during the process of converting direct current to alternating current.
Check the solar panel’s certifications
This applies to any purchase of solar panels, but especially to those that qualify for a subsidy from the government. Certifications for solar panels show the extent and nature of their testing. The TUV IEC 61215 certification, for instance, attests that the solar panels have been evaluated by an impartial lab and found to be in accordance with their claimed qualities. Self-evaluation is a common feature of many different types of certifications, so you may need to rely on the company’s credibility regarding its claims.
Look for a manufacturer’s warranty
Take notice of what warranties the manufacturer gives. It is reasonable to assume that your solar system will serve you for decades, which should be long enough to recoup its initial investment and generate a profit. That is, provided that you purchased it from a reputable manufacturer and the panels are covered by a lengthy warranty (at least 25 years). The manufacturer must still be in business, though, for the guarantee to be valid. So, you should be cautious while shopping from not well-known companies online.
Benefits of Solar Panels
Saves money and energy
The most obvious perk of installing solar panels is the possibility of lowering your energy costs by producing your own energy. Plus, if you produce more energy than you need, the electric company may even give you a rebate if you sell it back to the electrical grid.
Increase your home’s value
Having solar panels installed on your property might be a huge selling point if you ever decide to put it up for sale. Solar panels, being a sustainable energy source, allows you to cut down on your impact on the environment while also saving money.
Independence from the electrical grid
Poorly maintained power networks are a problem in several parts of the world. Solar energy is a great way to keep the lights on if your location is prone to blackouts.
Great for outdoor adventures
You can fit smaller solar panels on your recreational vehicles or can even take them to camping sites to light up your tents or surroundings and charge devices regardless of the location.
Minimal impact on fossil fuels
While there are still huge quantities of coal and gas, such supplies won’t last forever, and in any case, it’s getting less profitable to extract them and more costly to emit their pollutants into the environment. Gas corporations are leaning more and more toward fracking, a contentious process with potentially severe environmental hazards, to obtain additional gas.
If you have installed a solar panel system to export any unused power to the grid, then not only are you compensated for that exported electricity, but it means there’s more renewable energy in the system for people to enjoy, and less need to create electricity from fossil fuels.
The Bluetti Solar Panel is a powerful, long-lasting option with features that make it the perfect addition to any recreational vehicle or camping trip. This product is built with monocrystalline cells, which makes it 23.4% more energy efficient than other models on the market. With an ethylene tetrafluoroethylene coating on the back of each panel, you won’t have to worry about rain or snow getting inside and damaging your solar panel. The coating also protects against scratches and dings for longer-lasting use.
Unlike other models on the market, this solar panel is easy to mount on any surface and features an adjustable kickstand that can be adjusted to capture more sunlight when you need it most. And if you want to move it around, the stand folds up for easy transport. This solar panel offers universal compatibility so it can be used anywhere without needing extra accessories or adapters, making it the best overall option.
The Renogy Solar Panels are a great way to get started with clean energy. Housed in durable aluminum and made with grade A+ solar cells, these solar panels feature bypass diodes that minimize power drop caused by shades and produce up to 100 watts of electricity per hour under optimal conditions. For maximum protection, this product boasts a multi-layered lamination that not only enhances cell performance but also protects them from scratches.
Thanks to their IP67 rating, you can set up both of these solar panels in your backyard and leave them there indefinitely without worrying about rust or corrosion. Not only are these panels waterproof and dustproof, but they’re also incredibly easy to install. You just need to use the included connector during installation and can start saving money on your electric bill right away!
Rugged frame to withstand impact for years
Water-resistant connectors to withstand outdoor conditions
Looking for a quick and effective way to power your home? Then the Eco-Worthy Solar Panel may just be what you need. This solar panel uses high-performance monocrystalline solar cells to generate power even in low light conditions. It also features a corrosion-resistant aluminum alloy frame that’s built to last through even the most extreme conditions.
This solar panel comes with a 30A solar controller that provides necessary information for parameter configuration, switching modes, and power status while also protecting against short circuits and overloads. Designed with versatility in mind, this option is an ideal choice for charging electronics in remote locations where there’s no convenient access to power outlets.
When you’re looking for a product that can withstand anything and everything, look no further than the Newpowa Solar Panel. It’s made with high-performance mono cells encapsulated in multi-layered sheet laminations to provide maximum protection against dust, water, and snow. With a power output of 100 watts, this solar panel is enough to handle most small-to-medium energy needs.
What’s more, it comes with four easy mount holes, pre-attached MC4 connectors, and an adjustable mounting bracket so you don’t have to worry about running into any compatibility issues when installing your solar panel. In addition to being an eco-friendly option for powering your home or cabin, this pick comes with a two-year warranty so you can buy it with complete peace of mind.
Minimize power drop by temperature compensation
Features heavy-duty outer cover for added protection
Looking for a solar panel that can keep up with your adventurous lifestyle? The EF Ecoflow Solar Panel is the perfect addition to your off-the-grid power system. This top-of-the-line solar panel uses monocrystalline cells, a maximum power point tracking algorithm, and high-efficiency connectors to achieve optimal output while remaining lightweight and easy to use. Offering universal compatibility, this product can be used with different third-party portable power stations, so you can plug in and charge your devices wherever you need to go.
Designed to survive the wild, this solar panel is made from layers of flexible ethylene vinyl acetate and tough fiberglass. It’s also laminated with ethylene tetrafluoroethylene film that provides maximum protection against the harshest elements. Plus, it comes with a travel-friendly case that doubles as a self-supporting stand, so you can take it with you wherever you go.
Has a 400-watt energy output
IP68 waterproof rating to withstand damage
Premium construction for long-lasting use
Foldable design for maximum portability
Might be a bit bulky
People Also Asked
Q: Why should I invest in a solar panel?
A: Because the price of renewable energy collectors has dropped in the last few years, solar panels are an ideal and cost-effective way to keep your home powered.
Q: Should I purchase a monocrystalline solar panel rather than a polycrystalline model?
A: Monocrystalline solar panels are more effective at producing electricity than polycrystalline versions. They are also smaller in size and lightweight, so you can carry them with you anywhere.
Q: Can I install a solar panel kit on my own?
A: Most solar panel kits are easy to install and don’t require any expertise, so you can install them yourself. Just make sure to read the user manual and follow the instructions.
The Old House Journal Review Team’s product reviews and in-depth guides are here to help you restore, repair, update, and decorate your home. The content is created by The Old House Journal Review Team. The Old House Journal editorial staff is not involved. Old House Journal is reader-supported: When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.