Top 10 Cheapest (Best Value) Solar Panels

“What are the most efficient solar panels?” is a question we get asked all the time here at Energy Informative. Homeowners constantly get hung up in conversion rates (efficiency) of solar panels, but what they really should be looking at is price.

Most homeowners will get along fine without the best performing solar panels on the market (unless their roof space is very limited). What are the best value solar panels?

 

Price per Watt

Solar panel prices are often listed as cost per watt ($/Watt). This is a useful measure when quickly comparing different solar panels, but is not the be-all end-all when determining the value of a complete solar system (more about this later).

The following table contains the ten cheapest solar panels from wholesalers and retailers on the Internet:

# Manufacturer Model Power (STC) Price Price per Watt
1. Talesun TP660P-235 235W $183.30 $0.75
2. Canadian Solar CS6P-235PX 235W $190.35 $0.81
3. Eoplly E156P/60-230W 230W $204.70 $0.89
4. Eoplly E156P/60-240BB 240W $213.60 $0.89
5. Eoplly E156P/72-280W 280W $249.20 $0.89
6. Talesun TP660PB-240 240W $220.80 $0.92
7. Talesun TP660PB-245 245W $225.40 $0.92
8. Suniva MPV285 285W $262.20 $0.92
9. Jinko JKM-235P 235W $230.30 $0.98
10. EcoSolargy ECO230S156P-60 230W $227.70 $0.99

These prices are based on bulk purchases of a minimum of 25 solar modules – about the size of a large residential solar system (5 – 6 kW). Add 10-20% to the price if purchasing on panel-by-panel basis.

 

Output is King

Instead of evaluating a solar system by its capacity in kilowatts (kW), get your solar advisor to quote how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) the solar system is expected to generate in its lifetime.  Divide this number with the cost of the system.

You are now left with how much you are paying for every kWh of electricity the solar panels produce ($/kWh). Divide again by hundred to get cents/kWh.

Electricity prices in the United States typically range from 8 to 17 cents/kWh. [1]

 

If you`re just comparing two solar panels, and the length of their warranties is the same, doing the same analysis for the first year (as opposed to their lifetime) is usually good enough.

Solar panels are typically warrantied for 20 to 25 years. The performance of solar panels slowly degrades over time. Solar manufacturers typically guarantee the power output of their solar panels to stay above 80% before the warranty expires.

 

Case Study

Details Solar System 1 Solar System 2
Manufacturer SunPower Canadian Solar
Model SPR-210-WHT-U CS6P-250P
Efficiency 16.9% 16.1%
# of Solar Panels 28 28
Output (Year One) 8,930 kWh 9,066 kWh
Total Cost $42,000 $38,000
Area 375 ft² (34.8 m²) 485 ft² (45.1 m²)
Value $4.70/kWh $4.19/kWh

 

System 2 is superior from a financial standpoint and most homeowners would choose it for this reason. System 1 is a good option for homeowners that lack roof space for a less efficient (but cheaper) solar system.

We generally see that the less efficient and cheaper solar panels tend to produce more electricity in a year for the same price as more expensive high-efficiency solar panels.


 

If you want to look up the details for the specific solar modules, take a look at Solar Panel Comparison - the largest database on the entire Internet where you can compare over 10,000 solar modules!

 

The Bottom Line

Any salesman will tell you that his solar panels are the best. Ask specifically for how many kilowatt-hours they will produce, divide by total costs (not panels or labor exclusively), and then compare to offers from other solar installers in your area.


 

Comments

  1. Akshat says

    Well I can provide modules for a cheaper price than the above quotes at $0.75/watt for german quality modules.
    From all ranges of 235,240, 245, 250.

  2. Muhammad Rahim says

    nice information,uppps i dont know why i have not used solar module to resolve energy crises at domestic level.

  3. Solar Buck says

    Canadian Solar is a good company to work with. Like you mentioned in your table they have great value panels, but not only that the customer service is awesome too.

  4. Greg says

    good info! I am trying to repair a home solar system and need some help figuring out what is still needed. Please email me and Ill give you more details

  5. john says

    Hi Akshat please contact me on eagerjohn@yahoo.co.uk for some help in setting me up for a PV system for my house today if possible please as there are some solar panels that are on sale for half price or so they say and I need your guidance before I make a loss.

    Thanks

    John

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