Getting started in the solar panel market might seem a bit confusing at first. As solar energy becomes more popular, more and more brands are coming to the market, and choosing between them can be tough. After all, most of us aren’t going to buy solar panels more than once. However, solar panels are a big investment, so you’re going to want to know that you’re getting a good product. In order to help you out a little, here’s our guide to the big solar brands, as well as a brief explanation of how much you can expect to pay.
The Big Brands
Just like with most products, there are certain brands that dominate the solar panel market. There are five big brand names that you should probably be aware of:
- Sharp Solar is probably the most recognisable name on this list, since many of us already use Sharp brand electronics. This Japanese company has been on the domestic solar market since 2004.
- Canadian Solar as you might expect is a Canadian company, based in Ontario. They’re one of the biggest solar panel companies in the world, and have been on the market since 2001.
- Sunpower Solar is an American company, launched way back in 1985, and they hold many patents for solar technology, meaning they have a lot of high tech panel offerings.
- Suntech Power Solar is the first of two Chinese companies on this list, and was founded in 2001. Chinese companies have been relatively late to enter the UK solar market, but have rapidly built up a big customer base.
- Yingli is the second of our Chinese companies, and is currently the largest solar panel manufacturer in the world. They were established in 1998.
There are many other smaller solar panel manufacturers, but the quality of their products varies quite a lot. If you’re looking for the best brands, then these top five companies are probably going to be the best bet. They all have a solid reputation and offer dependable warranties on their products.
Additionally, if you’re looking to participate in the government’s feed-in tariff scheme and get paid to produce solar energy, then you must make sure that the panels you buy are MCS certified or approved. This should be clearly stated in the product description.
How Much Will I Pay?
How much you’re going to pay for your solar panel system will depend a little on which brand you choose to go with, and a lot on how many panels you decide to install on your home. According to the Energy Saving Trust the cost of panels for the average UK house, including installation, is around £7,000. This is an average, but in general you’re looking at paying between £5,000 and £10,000 depending on how big you want your system to be.
Free Solar Panels
It’s worth mentioning here that there are some companies that offer you free solar panels, sometimes known as “rent-a-roof” companies. You will indeed get free panels, and you’ll profit from the free electricity generated by the panels as well, which will lower your household energy bills. However, you will not get any money from the government’s feed-in tariff programme, as all profits will be taken by the company that you sign a contract with. Generally contracts are long term, twenty years or so, so it is a big commitment.
These offers can sound appealing, but research has shown that most households end up saving/making more money in the long run by buying their own panels. Plus, as the government feed-in tariff rates have gone down and companies are making lower profits fewer and fewer firms offer free solar panels.
And that should be all you need to know about the best solar panel brands and how much you should expect to pay. This is general information, of course, and if you want more specific answers your best plan is to get an estimate from a solar panel installation company. However, many people find that installing solar panels is cheaper and easier than they assumed.