The Best Solar Panels to Power Any Home

The Renogy 100W Monocrystalline Solar Panel is our top pick

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Commerce Photo Composite

The Spruce / Amelia Manley

Solar panels provide a way to capture the sun’s energy and put it to work to power your home.

We researched dozens of solar panels—including those that require professional installation and kits for small-scale DIY projects—evaluating effectiveness, durability, and overall value. Our best overall pick is the Renogy 100W Monocrystalline Solar Panel, thanks to its compact design, ability to withstand natural elements, and overall efficiency. 

Here are the best solar panels for every type of home.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Renogy RNG-100D-SS 100W Monocrystalline Solar Panel

4.6
Renogy 100W Monocrystalline Solar Panel

Courtesy of Amazon

Type: Monocrystalline | Dimensions:  42.4 x 20 x 1.38 inches | Wattage: 100 watts

What We Like
  • High efficiency rating

  • Lightweight

  • Compact

  • Designed to weather elements

What We Don't Like
  • No additional items included

Who else recommends it? This Old House also picked the Renogy 100W Monocrystalline Solar Panel.

What do buyers say? 95% of 3,300+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

For the most efficient solar panels on the market, start your search with monocrystalline panels. This type of solar panel can be more expensive but converts the sun's rays to solar energy with the highest efficiency rating, compared to polycrystalline or amorphous panels. In the case of these compact and lightweight solar panels by Renogy, you’ll see solar efficiency ratings of 18 to 21 percent according to the manufacturer. 

The Renogy 100 Watt Monocrystalline Solar Panel was designed to save space and weigh less, thanks to a lightweight aluminum frame. This makes these solar panels popular for RV installations, but they’re a good choice for roof installation and other applications as well. Specifically designed to weather the elements, these popular solar panels have been rated to withstand wind speeds up to 130 miles per hour and snow loads up to 125 pounds per square foot.  

This model has an IP65-rated junction box to protect against dust and rain, along with IP67 connector cables. Use the cables to connect this panel to an inverter, if you’ll be converting the energy to an AC current. You can also connect multiple Reonogy Monocrystalline panels together to create a larger array of solar panels for increased energy production.

Best Value: Nature Power 110W Polycrystalline Solar Panel with Inverter and Charge Controller

Nature Power 110W Polycrystalline Solar Panel with Inverter and Charge Controller

Courtesy of Home Depot

Type: Polycrystalline | Dimensions: 39.7 x 1.4 x 26.6 inches | Wattage: 110 watts

What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Convenient

  • Can connect multiple Nature Value panels

What We Don't Like
  • Need to upgrade to add more panels

  • Needs an additional 12-Volt battery

If you want to combine convenience and value, consider this solar panel package from Nature Power. The solar panel bundle includes a 110 watt polycrystalline panel, along with an 11 amp charge controller, and 300 watt string inverter. You’ll need to supply a 12 volt battery to store captured the solar energy and complete the set-up.

You can connect multiple Nature Value solar panels for expanded energy output, but keep in mind that you’ll need to upgrade the controller if you choose to add more solar panels. The panel comes with a 25 year limited warranty, and the charge controller and power inverter come with a one year limited warranty.

Best Splurge: Goal Zero Boulder 100W Monocrystalline Solar Panel

Goal Zero Boulder 100W Monocrystalline Solar Panel

Courtesy of Amazon

Type: Monocrystalline | Dimensions: 40 x 26.75 x 1.75 inches | Wattage: 100 watts

What We Like
  • 18 percent efficiency rating

  • High-quality monocrystalline solar cells

  • Integrated kickstand

  • Durable frame and reinforced corners

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Goal Zero makes go-anywhere solar panels that have a reputation for durability and longevity. Just be prepared to spend more than you might expect for this 100 watt panel. It costs about twice as much as a budget 100 watt solar panel, but offers a substantial 18 percent efficiency rating thanks to the high-quality monocrystalline solar cells. 

The Goal Zero Boulder 100W Solar Panel is built with a durable aluminum frame. It can be permanently installed, but it’s most often used as a travel option with a portable generator. The integrated kickstand provides angled support, though it’s worth noting that you can’t adjust the angle to optimize the amount of sunlight reaching the panel. It comes with a one year warranty.

Best Portable: Jackery SolarSaga Portable 100W Solar Panel

Jackery SolarSaga Portable 100W Solar Panel

Courtesy of Amazon

Type: Portable and made with ETFE | Dimensions: 22.83 x 19.69 x 2.36 inches | Wattage: 100 watts

What We Like
  • Portable

  • Lightweight

  • Quick set up

What We Don't Like
  • Not waterproof

For solar power anywhere the sun shines, consider a portable panel. Commonly used for camping, outdoor events, or off-grid uses, a portable solar panel is quick to set-up and can give you the power you need. Use it to charge your devices, operate LED lights, or power a solar generator. 

The Jackery SolarSaga is a popular folding solar panel. This 100 watt model is lightweight and is made with ETFE, which is a fluorite-based plastic and is 100 percent permeable for UV rays. This translates into more light reaching the panel, resulting in an efficiency rating of 23 percent for the unit. Take note that this model is designed for short-term set-ups and temporary applications—it’s not waterproof, so you wouldn’t want to mount it outside or leave it exposed to rain or snow. Jackery also manufactures 60 watt and 200 watt versions of this solar panel.

Best for Pools: Smart Pool S601 Pool Solar Heaters

Smart Pool S601 Pool Solar Heaters

Courtesy of Amazon

Type: Passive heating | Dimensions: 240 x 54 x 2 inches | Wattage: Not applicable

What We Like
  • Cost-effective

  • Mounts to your roof to save space

What We Don't Like
  • Larger pools need more than one panel

Another popular use for solar energy is to warm up chilly pool water using the sun’s energy. Unlike photovoltaic panels that are used to generate electricity, this type of solar systems directly heats water by pumping the water through tubing. They are a passive means of heating your pool and can be a cost-effective alternative to conventional pool heaters. The Smart Pool S601 features a polypropylene tubing system that warms incoming pool water by passing it through an array measuring 4 x 20 feet. 

While some solar panels for pools take up square footage on the ground around your pool, this model mounts to your roof for out-of-the-way energy production. Every panel provides 80 square feet of surface area. Larger pools will require more than one solar panel for maximum heating results. 

Final Verdict

The Renogy 100W Monocrystalline Solar Panel (view at Amazon) delivers up to 100 watts of solar energy and can be installed for residential home use or on-the-go applications, like your RV or boat. With an energy efficiency rating of 21 percent, it’s the most efficient solar panel on our list. However, if you’re looking for a portable version for temporary installation or uses, then the Jackery SolarSaga (view at Amazon) is an affordable polycrystalline panel that sets up and folds up in a matter of moments. 

What to Look for in a Solar Panel

Type

There are three primary types of solar panels: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and amorphous or thin-film. The differences between each relate to the type of solar cell technology used in the panel. Monocrystalline panels are generally the most expensive but also have the highest energy efficiency ratings. Polycrystalline solar technology is more affordable but also makes compromises in terms of energy efficiency, with lower overall conversion rates. Both monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels lose efficiency as temperatures rise.

Amorphous or thin cell solar panel technology has the lowest energy efficiency ratings and requires more surface area, but offers advantages in terms of flexibility and often affordability. These panels aren’t as ridged as polycrystalline or monocrystalline options and can be mounted on convex surfaces more easily. In addition, these panels often perform better in low light conditions and high temperature situations.

Energy Efficiency

The energy efficiency of a solar panel refers to how much of the sunlight received is converted into energy by the photovoltaic cells of the panel. The higher the percentage, the more efficient the solar panel will be. Top-quality monocrystalline solar panels often have energy efficiency ratings of 18 to 20 percent. Polycrystalline panels usually have slightly lower efficiency ratings of 13 to 15 percent. Amorphous or low-grade panels may fall as low as 7 percent.

Durability

Since solar panels are outdoor fixtures, durability is an important factor to consider. Many solar panels designed for fixed installation (like on a roof or permanently installed on an RV or boat) will have passed ASTM testing to evaluate their ability to withstand wind up to 130 miles per hour and snow loads up to 125 pounds per square foot. 

Most panels on the market are water-resistant, and also have sealed junction boxes to prevent damage from dust or moisture. However, some portable, folding solar panels are not weather-resistant. If you plan to install your panels or leave a portable solar outside—rain or shine, then it’s important to look for one that is water-resistant.  

FAQ
  • How do solar panels work?

    According to the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, solar panels utilize photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight into energy. UV rays from the sun are absorbed by the photovoltaic cells and an electric charge is released. An internal electrical field creates a flow of energy that can then be used, converted, or stored in a battery.

  • Do solar panels require maintenance?

    There is very little preventative maintenance required for most solar panel set-ups. A visual inspection for broken panels or loose connections is a wise idea, but damage to the system will likely be first noticed by means of a drop in solar energy production.

    You may choose to wash your solar panels of dirt, debris, bird droppings, etc. once a year. Keep in mind that only water should be used and you should avoid using high-pressure water, abrasive sponges, solvents, or hard water as these may cause damage to solar panels. 

  • Do shade and temperature affect solar panels?

    Shade will negatively impact the efficiency rating of your solar panel, but most solar panels are able to generate some electricity even on cloudy or overcast days. Amorphous panels have a reputation for better performance in shady conditions than crystalline panels. An MPP inverter, multi-string inverter, or microinverter can all maximize voltage output despite shady conditions on part of your solar array.

    Temperature also affects solar panel performance. These panels absorb the sun’s rays, and with that comes a significant rise in the temperature of the solar cells. The temperature coefficient tells you how much efficiency the panel will lose in terms of voltage output for every degree above 77 degrees. 

  • How efficient are solar panels?

    Most residential solar panels have efficiency ratings of around 15 to 20 percent. For an efficiency at the higher end of the range, the best solar panels are made of silicon crystal (monocrystalline). Higher efficiency solar panels (with efficiency ratings above 22 percent) are an option for those with a smaller roof area for panel installation.

Why Trust The Spruce?

This article was researched and written by Erica Puisis, a professional writer who specializes in large and small home appliances, along with home improvement features and additions.

This article was edited by Senior Editor Margaret Badore, who has been covering climate change and clean tech for over a decade. Her home is powered by rooftop solar.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. The 5 Best Solar Panels (2022 Review). This Old House. https://www.thisoldhouse.com/electrical/22677056/best-solar-panel

  2. "Most Efficient Solar Panels: Solar Panel Cell Efficiency Explained". Energysage.