Solar Consumer Reporting

solar good and bad equipment

 PV panels by Brand names                                    

This will be a list of panels and manufactures with any test results as I get them. They are made in many different countries. Some of the best are made in the USA.  There are many types of panels and more coming. The most widely used are mono or poly crystaline panels. Some others are ribbon and thin film. Most use silicon crystal but a few use other materials like first solar.  

2012, the best panels in the world are now Sunpower with over 24%+   efficiency and the best and highest warranty. The E22 panels that have been shipping for over a year actually measure +5% higher than stated so we see close to 30% efficiency. These are about two times more efficient than any other panels in the world.  I'm very impressed.

2012 Also many Solar back up systems are now offering advanced Lithium batteries for backup. These last longer and are more efficient. Even Electric Auto maker TESLA is offering lithium back up system. A few leading EV makers are even putting V2G Vehicle To GRID in their vehicles so your auto can provide battery backup. ACPropulsion is the leader in the world.   


                                                      On the web there are hundreds of makers , see the links below :

also see

 photon magazine also rates 3,000 panels by make and type. issue 2-201 April 2010

 ARCO-One of the oldest makers of solar panels, bought by shell and later ?

ASTRO POWER- no longer in business

BP Solar-makes solar panels and sells and refines oil-gasoline

Centron Solar -China made, is nothing but Changzhou NESL Solartech CO., LTD dressed up in Red, White and Blue. Their current solar panel modules, both the 175W and 180W are rated on this solar blog and seem to be the lowest ratings: :

 CSI Canadian Solar Inc-Regular modules are powered by 125 x 125mm (5 inch) or 156 x 156mm (6 inch) high efficiency mono-crystalline or poly-crystalline solar cells. These modules are suitable for all types of solar applications from large scale solar farms to residential and commercial roof-top systems. Key Features  =Strong frame, passing mechanical load test of 5400Pa, instead of the normal 2400Pa, to withstand heavier snow load and higher wind-pressure  Industry leading power tolerance : +/-2.5%   25 years performance warranty  ,The 1st manufacturer in PV industry to apply ISO:TS16949 (The automotive quality management system) in module production  , ISO17025 qualified manufacturer owned testing lab (pending), fully complying to IEC, TUV, UL testing standards

EPV Solar EPV-42, 46 and 50, 53 & 56 Watt  Solar Panels Thin-film modules, which include amorphous silicon (a-Si), copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS), and cadmium telluride (Cd-Te), are made by coating entire sheets of substrate, generally glass or stainless steel, with micron-thin layers of semiconductor materials. This leads to a process that can be highly efficient in materials utilization, has relatively low labor requirements, and uses comparatively little energy. The a-Si process is especially efficient in costs and utilization of raw materials making it the lowest cost PV production technology currently available.                In addition to lower manufacturing costs thin-film products:
• have better temperature coefficients resulting in a greater percentage of rated power production at higher ambient temperatures
• have minimal feedstock availability issues
• do not experience broken connections due to inter-cell contact failure
• produce more power on cloudy days in low light conditions 
• a-si modules produce more electricity per rated watt than single crystalline silicon by producing electricity in low light situations (i.e. early and late day, cloudy conditions)
• Uniform dark color that is aesthetically appealing making them particularly attractive for applications with high visibility Warranty: 25 year limited power output warranty and 2 year limited workmanship or materials

 EVERGREEN SOLAR-sold in 2011 to China- Was a US  pure solar company with no other lines of business. The Spruce Line™ features high power, state-of-the-art solar panels up to 195W designed specifically for residential or commercial applications. These solar panels offer the end-user superior performance and complete peace of mind while providing the utmost in installation flexibility. Key benefits of the Spruce Line solar panels include:

  • Best-in-class performance ratings proven by field installations
  • 98% of rated power guaranteed for 180, 190W product; 100% guaranteed for 195W product
  • 5 year workmanship and 25 year power warranty
  • Smallest carbon foot-print leading the fight against global warming
  • Quickest energy payback time for maximum energy conservation

PV modules produced by Evergreen Solar are distinctive in their appearance because they incorporate proprietary crystalline silicon technology known as string ribbon. This process allows for an energy payback time up to 40% faster than other leading crystalline technologies. Made in the U.S. UL Listed.

Evergreen Spruce Data Sheet:
Data Sheet ( 712 KB PDF file)

Manufacturer's Website:  I (Jim Stack) have some 120 watt panels and they are great.  +++ EVERGREEN SOLAR ES Modules are the TOP RATED paneles for output as reported in Solar Today, May 2009 page 55. These were tested side by side with many other modules April thru September 2008 By TUV Rheinland !






  First Solar- USA Tempe AZ and Ohio. No silicon used, lowest cost of manufacturing the the world at just under $1 a watt in 2009. Building a new large PV factory in Mesa AZ 2012!

GE Energy-GE Solar's module line, featuring single crystal solar cells, spans the range from 66 to 200 Watts. One of GE’s Solar's modules is right for off-grid or on-grid power needs. All of GE Solar's modules carry a 25 year limited warranty

Kaneka Silicon PV's generated watt-power is approximately same as that of other crystalline silicon PVs during the winter months, but in summer the Kaneka Silicon PV generates significantly more power compared to other crystalline silicon PVs.  Source: "NEDO/Ritsumeikan University Demographic Module Field Test and Operational Analysis" presented at the International PV SEC-11, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan, 1999. Installation location: Kusatsu, Shiga Prefecture Japan Slope angle: 15.3 degree

Kyocera-Japanese solar panels. They are one of only 2 solar panel makers that will recycle any panels you turn in to them that have broken, failed etc.

Matrix Solar/Photowatt-BOURGOIN-JALLIEU France, 12-230 watt, 25 year warranty. 4,5 and 6 inch cells.

Mitsubishi-Japanese solar panels

Motorola- They no longer make solar panels. They used to make some of the highest efficiency panels used in space.

Photowatt- French made. They many defective panels 2000-2005 PW1650 28,000 panels , 5-6% of production. Mostly sold in Germany and Spain.

RECsolar-Norway bases US produced silicon in a Scandinavian deisgned panel 205-230 watts

Sanyo-Japan , N series 5 inch and B series 4 inch cells.

SCHOTT Solar - Albq, NM and Germany. Solar panels, BIPV Inbuilding panels on clear mountings.

SHARP-Japan-Sharp is the largest manufacturer of solar cells worldwide with nearly as much generating capacity as the next three largest manufacturers combined

Siemens -Germany , then Shell solar now Solar world !- All Monocrystalline Shell Solar Panels listed are backed by a 25 year performance warranty.All CIS Shell products are backed by a 10 year peak power warranty.

SILIKEN-USA Made in San Diego 14.8% efficient, high rating (#3) by TUV testing for output power and standard 25 year warrenty with 10 year material workmanship (double everyone else)

SolGate-   Scarborough, Ontario, M1S 4A9, Canada  Module Warranty : 25-year limited  
   warranty of 80% output; 12-year limited
   warranty of 90% power output. 

SolarTech Power Inc- TUV certification UL certification QIGU.E309468  High power module using 6’’ Multicrystalline solar cell
Using low iron tempered glass, EVA laminate and black TPT backsheet  3 diodes to increase shade tolerance Anodize aluminum frame
10 years limited warranty of 90% power output and 25 years limited warranty of 80% power output

SolarWorld -  was siemens, was shell solar *American Made* SolarWorld California was founded in March 2005 and expanded in July 2006 with the acquisition of Shell Solar Industries' solar manufacturing facilities that had been operating in the U.S. Since 1977. The factory, originally opened by ARCO Solar, later sold to Siemens Solar and then Shell, was purchased by SolarWorld in 2006.
SolarWorld California modules are made in the USA ensuring unsurpassed quality, performance and output. SolarWorld is the largest manufacturer of solar modules in the U.S. Modules are supported by a 25-year power warranty.


Sun- 10 watt to 205 watt


Suniva- monocrystalline Solar panels made in Atlanta Georgia USA

SunPower- California-22% efficient, highest that are avaiable ! 25 year warranty. Now 2012 24%+  efficient, better in heat, cold and low light than any other panels. They also run cooler ! Almost double most panels in efficiency !

SunTech   Monocrystalline silicon solar cells , China based company, added a factory in Goodyear AZ 2011.

SunWise-Kingston NY UL listed to UL-1703 and cUL listed (except SW90C), FM approved for hazardous locations Class 1 Div. 2 (except SW90C), and ISPRA certified to IEC61215. All SunWize modules carry a limited 25-year, 80% power output warranty

Trina Solar-

UNISOLAR- flexible solar panels. 8-9% efficent. Can be glued on metal seem roofing. As of 2009 thse are still more costly per watt compared to mono crystaline and poly crystaline panels. They are $6 awatt and others are about 4.00 a watt.

 Xiamen Fengwei Energy Technology Co.,Ltd is located in China, Xiamen,Fujian Province. It is a professional manufacturer of crystalline silicon solar modules. ISO 9000 and CE, TUV, ICE and UL  approved

 --------------------------------------------Test Rating Terms below--------------------------------------

PTC refers to PVUSA Standard Test Conditions, which were developed to test and compare PV systems as part of the PVUSA (Photovoltaics for Utility Scale Applications) project. PTC are 1,000 Watts per square meter solar irradiance, 20 degrees C air temperature, and wind speed of 1 meter per second at 10 meters above ground level. PV manufacturers use Standard Test Conditions, or STC, to rate their PV products. STC are 1,000 Watts per square meter solar irradiance, 25 degrees C cell temperature, air mass equal to 1.5, and ASTM G173-03 standard spectrum. The PTC rating, which is lower than the STC rating, is generally recognized as a more realistic measure of PV output because the test conditions better reflect "real-world" solar and climatic conditions, compared to the STC rating. All ratings in the list are DC (direct current) watts.

Neither PTC nor STC account for all "real-world" losses. Actual solar systems will produce lower outputs due to soiling, shading, module mismatch, wire losses, inverter and transformer losses, shortfalls in actual nameplate ratings, panel degradation over time, and high-temperature losses for arrays mounted close to or integrated within a roofline. These loss factors can vary by season, geographic location, mounting technique, azimuth, and array tilt. Examples of estimated losses from varying factors can be found at:

** BIPV = Building-integrated photovoltaic modules


SunPower is still the leader with the most efficient panels. 24.5 % by moving their connections called Tabbing to the back of the panel and making them thicker to have less resistance. They also run cooler so are great in the heat. New models will be even better.