Researching solar panels on the ‘net will throw up a huge amount of information featuring words like ‘monocrystalline’, ‘efficiency’ and ‘yield’.
This can make getting the right information hard work if you aren’t a solar expert or work in the industry.
But, once these things are explained in laymen terms, the world of solar doesn’t seem quite so scary.
Most panels on the market have good points that make them the desirable choice in a whole range of circumstances.
So, don’t just go automatically go for either the cheapest, the most expensive or the one with a designer name. We aim to demystify all those terms we mentioned.
We’ve picked a few industry leading panels to highlight and, when you finish reading, know what you’re looking for.
We’ve done all the hard work for you and we’ll be looking at value for money, futureproofing and what works where.
First though, let’s explain what a solar panel actually does.
What is a Solar PV Panel?
When you are doing your solar research, you will see a lot of information about solar PV panels.
These are full of things called PV Cells that use the physical properties of silicon, the world’s second most abundant element, to convert light energy into electrical energy.
These PV panels come in 2 basic types:
Polycrystalline – where many silicon crystals are fused together within the cell.
These are the cheaper option but due to inefficiency, you’d need more of them.
Monocrystalline – these are made from cells that contain a single crystal.
They are much more efficient, but the manufacturing process adds more to the cost.
The output from PV panels is fed into an inverter to make sure any electricity generated can be used in the home,
The inverter also controls the feed of electricity into the grid and into your batteries if you’ve gone for the energy storage option.
In this guide we will be looking at Monocrystalline PV panels.
But, there is another kind of solar panel out there that could lead to you making a very expensive mistake and that’s thermal solar.
These are made to use the power of the sun to heat the water for your home, but they don’t make electricity.
SunPower Maxeon 6 AC
This list has no particular order as different panels offer different advantages and disadvantages.
We’ve started with this one as SunPower is the only UK solar panel manufacturer we’ll feature.
Someone at Heatable must have been on the sherry when they described SunPower as “capitalizing on Britain’s image as a sunny destination” but here at Solar Fast we think SunPower are a great UK company making excellent products.
The Maxeon 6 AC has a fantastic efficiency of 22.8%, putting it at the top end of panels available in the UK.
It kicks out a good 440 watts per panel, looks fabulous and, get this, it’s made from recycled materials!
That’s double eco-points for your bucks.
SunPower are not skimping on the manufacturing either, so they offer a whopping 40-year product guarantee, when you register.
They also state that their panels will be performing at 92% of their original efficiency after 25 years.
As far as downsides go, it’s pretty much just price and weight, 21.8kg, for the Maxeon 6 AC.
Hitting around the £400 mark per panel, the price for a full system would be more than average for sure.
|Long Warranty – 40 Years
|Expensive – £400 plus
|Very Efficient – 22.8%
|Heavy – 21.8kg
|Contains recycled materials
|High Yield – 440W
AIKO N-Type ABC White Hole Series
The only downside we can see to this fantastic panel is its name!
Pushing the limits of monocrystalline 72 cell panels to the very edge, this panel has a ground-breaking efficiency of 24% which is the top of the range for this kind of tech.
Because of that amazing efficiency, the panel is rated at a battery busting 620W which means you could have 6k system with only 10 panels on your roof.
If we were being pedantic, we could say the 15-year product warranty is a little disappointing.
That said, AIKO promises that efficiency will still be at 88.45% of its original rating after 30 years.
So, it’ll be pumping out up to 550W, which is still a fair whack for an appliance 3 decades old.
|Long Life Span– 40 Years
|Price only available on request
|Uber Efficient – 24%
|Heavy – 28.2 kg
|Super High Yield – 620W
Jinko Tiger Neo 420W N-Type 54 Cell
The Tiger Neo panels are the workhorse of solar, banging out a steady 420W per unit which is quite a high yield for a 54-cell panel.
This is due to Junko’s Super Multi BusBar (SMBB) technology which increases the power output and pushes the efficiency to 21.5%.
While they may not be as efficient as the previous ones, they are incredibly robust and function well under extreme weather conditions.
Even though these panels only have 52 cells, less than the usual 60 or 72, those cells include ‘Potential Induced Degradation (PID) resistance‘.
PV Panels usually degrade at a rate of 0.5% per year and PID, stray voltage jumping from the cell to the panel, is one of the problems that cause it.
To simplify that, it gives the panel a longer lifespan.
The Tiger Neo also has built in protection against extreme environmental conditions, which makes this panel very robust.
Which if perfect for keeping your yield reliable if you live by the coast, up a mountain or even just when it’s raining heavily.
Jinko put their money where their mouth is too, as the Tiger Neo comes with a 25-year product warranty and 30 years linear power warranty.
|Lower Efficiency – 21.5%
|Heavy – 28.2 kg
JA Solar JAM72S30 Mono PERC Half-Cell MBB
These panels are the first ‘Half Cell’ panels we have featured.
Half cell technology involves taking the single crystal cell and splitting it in half.
This means, in very simple terms, the electricity has less distance to travel across the cell.
Half cell panels are generally a few percent more efficient than their full cell cousins.
On top of this, JA Solar’s panels also employ PREC technology.
Again in very simple terms, this means they contain a special coating within the cell that ‘reflects’ some of the wasted light back into the cell to increase efficiency and yield.
Consequently, the JAM72S30 pumps out a massive 525W to 550W per panel with a 21.3% efficiency rating.
As well as the PERC cells, these panels also feature a high resistance to hot spot degradation, which makes them great for homes with a higher-than-average consumption.
The JAM72S30 is great in extreme weather, both hot and cold, and even gives a healthy yield in low light conditions.
|Good in low light
|Lower Efficiency – 21.3%
|High Yield – up to 550W
Q Cells Q.Peak DUO BLK ML-G9
This panel doesn’t really have a lot going for it, but we believe that all solar is good solar, so we know the Q.Peak DUO BLK ML-G9 has a few advantages.
One of which is its performance in extreme heat, which will come in handy as the heat continues to rise in this green and pleasant land of ours.
For every degree over 25°C an average panels gets it loses 0.34% – 0.38% of its efficiency.
The Q.Peak DUO BLK ML-G9, however, loses just 0.25%.
That may not seem significant, but it will really make a difference on warm days.
Unfortunately, the low yield of 385 watts, and a warranty of only 12 years, make this an unappealing panel.
|Low Yield – 385 w
|Good in hot weather
|Short warranty – 12 years
|Lightweight – 19.1kg
Suntech Ultra V Mini 405W
While Suntech’s Ultra V series of panels aren’t going to set the world of solar on fire (no pun intended) they are a very practical and affordable unit.
We know that clouds aren’t a problem when it comes to generating electricity through your PV panels, but enhancing low light efficiency is always a good idea.
That’s why Suntech have engineered their modules using 182mm silicon wafers that perfectly optimise the panels layout.
This increases the efficiency and, therefore, the yield when the sun isn’t as bright as we’d like.
Creating a consistent energy output in all daylight hours including when the weather is a little on the unpredictable side.
Suntech’s Ultras V panels can also perform well when the temperature drops in the wintertime, withstanding wind and other harsh weather …. even heavy snow!
They have an average efficiency rating of 20.7% and will output a healthy 405W.
|Good in low light
|Lower Efficiency – 20.7%
|Low Cost – £150
DMEGC Solar DM405M10-54HBB
(Solar Fast Recommended)
DMEGC have been producing high quality PV products since the early 1980s, so you can be sure they know what they are doing.
The DM405M10-54HBB is one of their black-on-black modules and it looks absolutely fabulous on any roofs.
In fact, the black-on-black solar panel, not just from DMEGC but other companies too, has been one of the motivating factors in people turning to solar.
The DM405M10-54HBB is another workhorse kind of panel – reliable, available and great value for money having a yield of 405 watts and a module efficiency of 20.91%.
The price tag of between £150 – £250 gives this model an accessibility that is rare in the world off solar.
The module features dual-glass and frame packaging which creates strength and durability.
Which is why they come with a 25-year product warranty and 30 performance warranty.
The DM405M10-54HBB looks great, offers a good yield in low light due to the half-cell technology and can take a beating from any extreme weather.
|Good in low light
|Lower Efficiency – 20.9%
|Low Cost – £150 – £250
Belinus M8 HJT GlasGlas
The M8 HJT GlasGlas is a cracking all-rounder and great for any domestic installation.
It has a slightly below average yield of 400W but that comes with a pretty good 22% efficiency – so swings and roundabouts.
The product warranty, however, is well above average at a stonking 35 years.
And they match the performance warranty to that, promising 86% of the yield after that 3 and half decades.
The cherry on the cake is they are a sexy deep black in colour and are possibly the coolest looking panel around.
Add the in fact that they are produced in factories that use solar power, with Belinus as a company being run on 60% green energy, and you have yourself a pretty impressive solar panel.
|Great Green Credentials
|A little heavy – 23.5
Check out the yield on this bad boy – a huge 670 watts!
That is, by far, the biggest output of any panel on this this and, we think, on the domestic market.
Of course, with great power comes great, er, other stuff! Like weight and size.
The SRP-670-BMC-BG is a massive 3.1 square metres big and weighs 38.5 kg.
This makes it a pretty impractical panel for roof top, domestic installations.
That said, if you have a strong roof and plenty of room, you will only need 10 panels for a 6.7Kw system.
This panel has the worst of all the product warranties at just 15 years, but it does have a performance warranty that states it will still be working at 84.95% after 30 years.
Seraphim have very good green credentials too and this panels is in the UN Global Compact & goal to reach “zero carbon”.
|Huge Yield – 670 watts
|Heavy – 38.5 kg
|Big – 3.1 m2
|Short product warranty
Panasonic EverVolt EVPV410H
The Evervolt is another panel proudly waving its green credentials around – and with good reason.
Panasonic have promised to reach Net Zero by 2030 – the same year the UK will be banning the sale of fossil fuel cars.
Their plan includes investing in hydrogen, creating net-zero factories and showrooms, and promoting green businesses.
What’s more the Everolt is a great little panel.
With a perfectly acceptable 410W yield, a lightweight build and 22.2% efficiency it’s ticking all the right boxes for a domestic installation.
There is no extended warranty for the performance, as it’s the same as the product warranty.
That is a perfectly decent 25 years, but Panasonic also promise it will still have 92% of its original efficiency after quarter of a decade.
|No extended performance warranty!
|92% Efficiency after 25 years
|Lightweight – 20.5kg
As you can see from this list, the solar panel market can be a bit of a minefield.
Truth is your supplier will recommend one or two different panels that are suitable for your needs and getting hung up on the ‘best panel ever’ will just frustrate you.
Technology is changing fast so it’s best to try find panels that will meet your needs for the next few decades then see what’s available are an upgrade.