Solar panels can make up about 30% of your solar system’s cost. As a significant portion of your solar investment, it’s important to consider your options and make a well-informed decision.
While it may be tempting to go with the least expensive option out there, this could come back to haunt you.
Solar is a long-term investment, one that can last 25 or 30 years - even more. However, it’s also front-weighted, thanks to incentives like the Solar Investment Tax Credit and accelerated depreciation for commercial projects.
But because solar is a 30-year investment, you want to purchase equipment that will stand the test of time. After all, the longer your solar panels operate, the more free electricity they’ll generate, and the less electricity you’ll have to purchase from the utility company.
There are a lot of options to choose from when it comes to solar panel manufacturers and models. To make this process a little easier, we want to tip you off on three mistakes we’ve seen solar owners falling into when selecting their solar panels.
1. Choosing Your Solar Panels Based on Price, Not Value
A solar system is a big-ticket item. It’s completely understandable that you’d like to keep costs as low as possible. One seemingly simple way to do this is to go with the cheapest solar panels.
While a lower-cost panel will save you money upfront, most cost less for a reason. Be it lower efficiency, less durability, or a poor warranty, you may not be investing your money in the options that will have the most value in the long run.
First off, let’s talk about efficiency. Efficiency is a measure of how much electricity the solar panels can produce with the available sunlight. Most panels fall within the range of 14% to 20%. High-quality panels, like LG Solar, can reach up to 22% efficiency.
So while the panel that’s 14% efficient may cost less than the panel that is 22% efficient, you could end up spending more. The 14% efficient panel will produce 50% less electricity than the 22% efficient panel.
This could mean you’re sacrificing a good deal of free electricity, which may add up to thousands of dollars over the course of your solar system’s lifetime. Or it could mean you’re buying more panels that you need to.
A small system with high-efficiency panels may produce just as much electricity as a larger, low-efficiency system for less money. When it comes down to it, you need to evaluate the long-term value of your solar components to see which makes the most financial sense.
In addition to efficiency, budget panels may be lacking in durability, as evidenced by poor manufacturer warranties. This can lead to headaches down the road.
Maybe your budget panels work great for the first few years, but then quickly degrade, meaning they produce less and less electricity with the same amount of sunlight.
With a trusted, well-vetted manufacturer, you can rest assured that your panels will be manufactured with quality and longevity in mind, able to withstand the elements and time. And if something goes wrong with them, you’ll be able to fall back on a solid warranty.
2. Undervaluing the Panel Manufacturer’s Warranty
Just like any other household appliance or gadget, solar panels simply won’t last forever. But quality panels really do last for decades. Manufacturers are so certain of the longevity of their panels that many include 25 or even 30-year warranties on their equipment.
A comprehensive warranty should be a major factor when considering which type of solar panel to buy. It will protect your investment from manufacturing errors that can interfere with how much electricity your panels produce.
If you’re on the hook for faulty panels that have fallen out of warranty, you’ll either have to pay to replace them or suffer from the lost electricity. Either way, it negatively impacts your solar investment.
On the other hand, the manufacturer will replace the panel for free under the warranty should anything happen. You’ll only be on the hook for the labor it takes to replace the faulty panel (that is, unless you go solar with Paradise Energy’s Triple Ten Guarantee, which includes complimentary labor for manufacturer’s replacements).
While it’s important to consider the longevity of the solar panel warranty, you should also take a look at the dependability and health of the manufacturer guaranteeing the equipment. If the company isn’t solid financially, they may not be around in 20 or 25 years to honor that warranty.
3. Selecting Panels That Don’t Integrate with the Rest of Your System's Equipment
Solar panels are just one portion of your solar system. There’s also the combiner box, the DC and AC disconnects, the inverter, distribution panel and other equipment that is used to mount the panels and wiring that connects the system.
If you buy miscellaneous equipment as you find good deals, you could end up creating an inefficient, and even dangerous, solar system. Not all solar components will connect properly to one another. An inverter must be properly sized to support the output of your solar panels (which will vary based on the weather and other factors).
Another thing to consider is some panel manufacturers produce panels in sizes that aren’t standard across the board. If you decide to go with one of these panels, you could run into obstacles down the road if the panels need to be replaced. Selecting a brand that uses standard panel sizes will allow you to interchange panel brands in most cases. This could save you a few headaches and money down the road.
Designing a solar system is an important step in going solar. It should involve an experienced professional who knows the ins and outs of the equipment. A full-service solar installer can design your system, and it should also guide you through the equipment selection process. They’ve likely vetted many solar panel manufacturers and can help find the components that meet your short-term and long-term goals for your solar system.
Selecting the Best Solar Panels
With all the different manufacturers and models, choosing the right solar panel can be overwhelming. In situations like that, it’s easy to fall back on choosing the one that is the least expensive. However, doing so can negatively impact your return on investment.
You also need to consider efficiency, durability, warranty, and the other equipment you’re installing to make a solid choice.
At Paradise Energy, we’ve guided well over 1,300 people through the process of going solar. Throughout that process, we’ve settled on a selection of solar panel manufacturers we feel offer the most value to our customers. Combining price, efficiency, durability, and longevity, the brands we offer are backed by substantial guarantees and years of great performance.