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The Best Solar Panels – Comparisons | SolarKnowHow

multiple solar panels mounted on a roof

Renogy vs. HQST vs Eco-Worthy vs. Windynation – so many options when doing solar panel comparisons! With the growth of solar energy, the number of solar panel manufacturers is growing.

Right now, 6 major players sell reasonably priced solar panels primarily online. All of these manufacturers make similar panels, and preferences often depend on a handful of factors.

  • Performance
  • Dimensions and Weight
  • Price
  • Service
  • Warranty, Guarantees, Return Policies

This article reviews each brand, pros, and cons, and then provides highlights for each panel. I’ve compared the 200W solar panels so comparisons are equivalent.

Factors When Choosing a Solar Panel

As mentioned, there a several factors to consider when choosing a solar panel. Of course, this is not every factor but some of the main ones to consider.

Performance

Check the specifications. Volts and Amps are important, and I always review the Vmp, Imp, VOC, and Isc.

If provided, also check the panel’s efficiency or tolerance. An example is Renogy. Theirs is plus or minus 3%, but not all manufacturers provide this, so ask.

Finally, read any reviews you can find, and ask the opinion of others in the DIY solar and RV forums. Real use feedback is great to have.

Dimensions and Weight

Much depends on where you want to put your solar panels.

  • How much room do you have on the roof?
  • How much do the panels weigh?
  • Will they be in the sun or shade?

If you do purchase on Amazon, check the manufacturer’s website for specifications – ALL specifications. Unfortunately, Amazon is often wrong.

Price

Price is always important, and many of these manufacturers have some pretty aggressive sales on their own websites. Renogy and Eco-Worthy are two good examples.

Make sure you always check Amazon, too, though, because once you add in coupons, shipping, etc., the manufacturers may not be less expensive, and Amazon’s return policy is often better.

Service

Service is often a toss-up with some of these manufacturers. If you want to get an idea of the type of service you will get, then look at the answers to the questions on the Amazon page.

Some of the answers are really bad, and not surprisingly, those are the same manufacturers with negative feedback.

Warranty, Guarantee, Return Policy

This is where they can all get a little tricky. There could be any number of reasons they void their warrantees, so read the tiny print closely.

Make sure you register the panels and keep your receipts/invoices.

Check the Guarantee and Return Policy. Some only give you a few days to register before these expire.

Some manufacturers make you pay for return shipping which may make it cost-prohibitive to return.

Renogy Solar Panels

Renogy Solar Panels

Renogy makes a popular panel and a favorite amongst the boating and RV crowd. This is a well-made, compact solar panel that fits well in smaller spaces.

Shop Amazon Shop Renogy

Pros

  • Price fluctuates somewhat
  • Efficient and performs as stated
  • Quality build

Cons

  • Shipping quality is not always good
  • No mounting hardware is a common complaint
  • Customer Service feedback is questionable

HQST Solar Panels

HQST Solar Panels

HQST has a reputation for producing a low-cost panel that performs. It is one of the few panels that have very little to no negative service feedback. Recently the newer panels have been made smaller and not communicated in the specifications, so you may want to check their website or confirm via phone.

Shop Amazon

Pros

  • One of the best-priced panels
  • Output is as stated
  • No negative service reviews are good in this industry

Cons

  • More recent panels are smaller than what is listed
  • Several complaints about components like cables being left out

Windy Nation Solar Panels

WindyNation Solar Panels

WindyNation makes polycrystalline panels that get excellent reviews, but there is not as much feedback on the monocrystalline panels. The few that are available are positive. The monocrystalline panels are less expensive and slightly smaller than the polycrystalline.

Shop Amazon

Pros

  • Remarkably good reviews
  • Performance/Efficiency as stated

Cons

  • Shipping and delivery sometimes result in damage
  • Monocrystalline panels are expensive

NewPowa Solar Panels

Newpowa Solar Panels

Newpowa receives good reviews on their panel performance, and they are one of the lowest-priced panels in this group. Feedback on their responsiveness and service is also some of the highest across forums and reviews. These are larger than some competitors' panels so make sure you check the specifications before purchasing.

Shop Amazon Shop Newpowa

Pros

  • One of the lowest-priced solar panels in this group
  • Very good customer service
  • Consistent efficiency ratings

Cons

  • Heaviest of all the panels in this group
  • Packaging can be poor
  • No mounting hardware

Rich Solar Panels

RICH SOLAR Solar Panels

Rich Solar is mentioned often by purchasers of Renogy panels. It is a similar panel at a better price. This is a tall, narrow, heavier panel but is becoming a favorite among RVs and campers. The only consistent negative theme is around quality control - panels sometimes differ from listed specifications, and mounting holes on the back of the panels may vary.

Shop Amazon

Pros

  • Good quality alternative to Renogy at a better price
  • Good technical service
  • Sturdy, durable frame and panel overall

Cons

  • Inconsistent – panel received different from listed and mounting holes also different
  • Durability – there are a few complaints about MC4 connector quality
  • Shipping damages on occasion

Eco-Worthy Solar Panels

ECO-WORTHY Solar Panels

Like Renogy, Eco-Worthy is very popular among mobile users - RVs, Boats, Trucks, Campers, etc. This is a smaller panel in this list and is also lightweight. The panel is good quality and at the time of this review, these were the least expensive panels. There have been some complaints about size consistency but if you order directly from Eco-Worthy this appears not to be an issue.

Shop Amazon Shop Eco-Worthy

Pros

  • Currently the lowest price on this list
  • Best value – quality vs price
  • Consistently performs as rated

Cons

  • No mounting holes on the sides of the bracket
  • Panel size sometimes varies unless purchased from Eco-Worthy directly
  • Shipping damages on occasion

Final Thoughts

All of these panels are similar. They seem to struggle with the same issues, and each brand has its fans and haters. The best quality goes to Renogy, but definitely not customer service. For service, you need to consider Newpowa or Rich.

Check out the answers to questions on Amazon. This gives you a good idea of who invests in service and who does not.

Mounting hardware is an issue across every manufacturer, which surprises me since NONE of these panels state they come with hardware. If you’re wondering – DON’T EXPECT MOUNTING HARDWARE!

Shipping breakage is also an issue across the board, so make sure you check your panels as soon as you get them, call the manufacturer with any issues, or try to return them if you ordered them through Amazon.

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