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Solar panels make it simple to power everything from appliances to electronics. With a relatively simple home solar power system, you can capture up to 500 watts of energy (or more) per day.
There’s a lot to learn about solar power—but for starters, you should know that there are three main types of solar panels available on the consumer market: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and amorphous. Of the three, monocrystalline solar panels yield the highest energy efficiency rating, but they’re also the most expensive. Polycrystalline and amorphous panels use slightly less efficient materials and may have somewhat shorter lifespans, but still make an excellent choice for many residential applications.
Whether you have a small scale need for solar energy in your home or are looking to go off-grid, these top solar panels will soak up the sun and provide plenty of power.
Best Overall: Grape Solar Monocrystalline PV Solar Panel
Monocrystalline solar panels are more efficient at converting the sun's rays to energy than other types of solar panels, which is why they are a good pick if you're trying to save on space. The panels are pricey, but you’ll get an average of 540-watt hours of energy per day from each one.
These monocrystalline panels absorb solar energy that's ready to be converted and used across a variety of off-grid applications, like battery back-up systems and RVs. These top-rated panels include bypass diodes to offset shading that might otherwise impact overall performance.
With a high rating from those who have purchased the panels, it’s safe to say that the Grape Solar 180-Watt Monocrystalline PV Solar Panel is firing up positive reviews and backup batteries alike. One satisfied user reports that despite letting an excessive layer of mud and dirt cake onto the solar panel, its performance was still acceptable. Of course, it’s not recommended to let your solar panel get that dirty, but it’s good to know that these panels will continue to perform, even in reduced light conditions.
You’ll get additional peace of mind when you invest in these top quality solar panels, thanks to a five-year product warranty and a 25-year performance warranty.
Best Budget: ECO-WORTHY 100W Polycrystalline Solar Panel High Efficiency Module
You don’t have to break the bank to cash in on energy savings—opt for polycrystalline solar panel for a more economical option to go off-grid. The ECO-WORTHY 100-Watt Solar Panel is a great choice for a budget solar panel and offers up to 500-watt hours per day.
If you’re looking to build an array of solar panels, opting for the more affordable polycrystalline panels might be your best bet. You’ll lose some efficiency per square foot since polycrystalline solar panels convert energy at a lower rate than monocrystalline panels. However, the power guarantee for the ECO-WORTHY panels is still excellent, guaranteeing 80 percent power retention within 25 years.
People who have purchased these budget-friendly solar panels are happy with the performance and design of the panels, but you should know that they are considerably heavier than monocrystalline models—each panel weighs about 18 pounds. If you can make do with a little less energy efficiency—or have the room for additional panels to offset the drop in power production—then consider the ECO-WORTHY Polycrystalline panels.
Runner-Up, Best Budget: HQST 100W Monocrystalline 12V Solar Panel
If you have a bigger budget but still want a value-driven solar panel, consider the HQST 100-Watt Monocrystalline Solar Panel. This HQST panel offers a more affordable solar panel that still utilizes high-efficiency monocrystalline technology. The increased efficiency means that less surface area is needed to reach your energy needs—which is something to consider when designing an array of panels or when space is at a premium (like on the roof of your RV).
In addition to offering significant savings, HQST solar panels are well-respected and highly rated, even compared to more expensive solar panels.
Best Portable: Renogy 50W 12V Eclipse Monocrystalline Portable Solar Panel
Take your solar energy to go with a portable solar panel—like this 50-watt mini-panel from Renogy.
This panel measures 24 x 22 x 2 inches, weighs just over 12 pounds, and has a convenient kickstand that allows you to set it up on any level surface to absorb solar rays. A black frame protects the monocrystalline solar panels and corner protectors further insulate the panel from bumps and jostles it might endure on your travels.
This portable solar panel is small but mighty, so you can count on it to reliably deliver power to your devices or small equipment in outdoor settings, such as tailgating, camping, or anywhere else the sun shines. People love the performance and workmanship of Renogy solar panels, and the Mini Eclipse Portable Solar Panel lives up to the brand’s reputation.
Best Value: Grape Solar GS-STAR-100W Polycrystalline Solar Panel
If you are looking for a solar panel that gives you plenty of bang for your buck, consider Grape Solar’s Polycrystalline Solar Panels. By opting for slightly less efficient polycrystalline solar cells, you’ll get a panel that is powerful and cost-conscious.
The 100-watt polycrystalline model is our top pick for a value solar panel since it delivers up to 300-watt hours per day of solar energy, while still being budget-friendly. Customers rave about the quality construction and reliability of these solar panels, and they’re recommended by nearly everyone that has reviewed them.
It’s true that polycrystalline solar panels can be more sensitive to high temperatures and that their reduced energy conversion rates mean they need more surface area to produce the same power as monocrystalline panels. But if you have the room for slightly bulkier panels, this option is one worth considering.
Best Flexible: Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Extremely Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel
Expand the possibilities of solar power with a flexible solar panel that can be mounted on a wide range of surfaces and positioned in a number of ways. The Renogy Flexible Solar Panel delivers the same performance and quality construction that Renogy is known for, but in a lightweight, bendable panel that is more versatile.
The panel itself is constructed using advanced polymers that result in a version that is 70 percent lighter and 95 percent thinner than many leading rigid models. Don’t think that this flexible power source is fragile though—it has been rated for wind loads up to 2400 Pascals and snow loads up to 5400 Pascals.
These panels have the ability to flex and bend up to 248 degrees, making them a great choice for unusual mounting situations where you need a lightweight and low profile solar panel. People have used them on boats, RVs, tents, and more. If you need power in a flexible form, definitely consider the Renogy Flexible Solar Panel.
Best Kit: Grape Solar GS-100-KIT 100-Watt Off-Grid Solar Panel Kit
Just getting started with solar power? The Grape Solar 100-Watt Off-Grid Solar Panel Kit sets you up with all of the necessary components to start assembling your own solar power source. It's a good choice whether you want to build a solar panel array or set up a small system to provide constant power to things like an electric fence or automatic gate opener.
This solar kit includes a 100-watt polycrystalline panel that can produce up to 300-watt hours of power per day. You’ll also receive a 35-amp charge controller, the required cables, and connectors to set up the system. However, you’ll need to supply your own 12-volt deep cycle battery to use the energy provided by this solar kit. Some users commented that the length of the included wire can be somewhat limiting. If you plan to place your panel more than six feet from the controller, you will need to purchase an additional wire.
If you want to increase your power production, you can expand this solar panel starter kit with up to three more 100-watt panels, while utilizing the same charge controller. Rather than piecing together your solar energy system yourself, consider the Grape Solar 100-Watt Solar Panel Kit as a nearly complete solution to meet your off-grid power needs!
Best for Camping: Coleman 55W Solar Battery Charging Kit
If you love to recharge in the great outdoors but don’t want to drain your batteries—literally—then check out the Coleman Amorphous Solar Back-Up Kit.
You’ll find three solar panels that combine for an output of up to 55 watts of solar energy. An included metal stand makes it easy to mount and position the panels to receive maximum exposure to solar rays.
This solar panel system is easy to pack, simple to set up, and can supply power to both 12V and 110V appliances with the help of an included power inverter. If you're using the system to charge a 12V battery, you can rest assured that the system won’t overcharge the battery, thanks to the protection offered by the 7-amp charge controller.
People find these solar panels for camping to be quick and easy to assemble, meaning less hassle and more power for your outdoor adventure.
Output Solar panels measure the energy they can produce in watt-hours, or the amount of energy it takes to use one watt for one hour. The higher the number, the more energy a single solar panel can provide on average per day.
Panel Type There are two main types of solar panels: monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Monocrystalline panels are made up of a single crystal, which makes them both more efficient and more expensive. You'll need more polycrystalline panels to generate the same amount of energy as monocrystalline panels, something to take into consideration before opting for cheaper panels, especially if you'll need to power large appliances.
Panel Size When you're setting up multiple panels, take each panel's size into account when you're considering how efficient your space will be. Solar panels aren't all one standard size, so you'll need to do some math to consider which panel gives you the most bang for your buck...and your square inch!