Mar 272020
Best Solar Panels in 2020 – Complete Set
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Welcome to my 'Best Solar Panels' review!

Congratulations on your decision to embark on looking at alternative sources of energy. With the pressing issue of climate change and global warming resulting in a myriad of environmental issues, like the melting of the polar caps resulting in the rising level of the oceans, an increasing number of bush fires, and more wildlife on the verge of extinction... we need to act.

I must also congratulate you for taking the time to do your research before buying any product. That is the way to avoid spending money on products that are harmful to the environment and find a legitimate way to go green.

Why Go Solar?

There are alternative power sources that may be installed at home - wind, biogas, and solar. But of these three, solar power is the easiest to harness and is once installed, needs only very minimal maintenance.

Aside from that, the solar power system has almost been perfected over the years and there are a lot of innovations that may help improve your previous experience of using solar power.

The market is also inundated with a lot of choices for quality but relatively cheap solar equipment.  Watch this video for the 5 reasons to install solar panels today:

Easy Solar Equipment You Need...

I have reviewed a few basic types of solar equipment to help narrow your choice from the multitude of products in the market now. 

Solar Panels...

You need panels to capture solar energy from the sun. These are also called photovoltaic modules. These PV modules are combined into a PV panel. It uses solar energy and converts it into electricity. 

Buy the number of panels according to your needs. Be sure to check the voltage output of each panel so you have what you need.

Most Budget-friendly

Product Name: Eco-Worthy 120 Watts Monocrystalline High-Efficiency Solar Panel with Connectors

Company: Eco-Worthy

Product Type: Solar Panel

Best Place to Buy: Amazon

My Rating: 86 / 100

Recommended: Yes

Having almost the same dimension as the regular 100-watt solar panel, this gives you a run for your money. Sold at almost the same price, this panel offers 20% more power.

It is made of monocrystalline solar cells that are more efficient than the polycrystalline solar panels. You get more from your money.

Although it was designed for RVs and camping boats, the 120-watt output of these panels can well be installed on houses. It comes with a ready-to-use junction box and MC4 cables for no-hassle installation.

Specifications...

  • Dimensions: 39.2”x26.2”x1.4”
  • Weight: 21.6 lbs (9.8 kgs)

Pros...

  • Comes with 35 inches cable to allow for better maneuverability when setting it up
  • Easy and quick set up with MC4 connectors

Cons...

  • Warning for a positive ground not included in the manual
  • Doesn’t work well with shaded/partially shaded areas

Best for the Home

Product Name: ECO-WORTHY 1KW Complete Solar Panel System Kit with Battery and Inverter for Homes House Shed Farm

Company: Eco-Worthy

Product Type: Complete Solar Panel Kit 

Best Place to Buy: Amazon

My Rating: 78 /100

Recommended: Yes

Made with tempered glass so it is a lot sturdier than the competition. No need to worry about heavy snowing, it can take up loads of up to 50lbs/ft. It also comes with MC4 connectors for easier installation. 

No need to look for other components or order separate parts; everything’s been provided to you for your off-the-grid needs. 

Specifications...

  • 6 pcs 195W solar panels
  • 1 pc 6-string combiner box
  • 1 pc 3.5KW inverter with remote controller & 6.5 ft cable
  • 1 pc 60A charge controller
  • 2 pcs 100AH battery with cords
  • 2 pcs 16.4' 12AWG solar cable
  • 6 sets Z mounting bracket
  • Dimensions of panels: 58.3”x26.3”x1.4”
  • Weight: 29.2 lbs (13.2 kgs)

Pros...

  • Complete set, ready for installation
  • Good customer service

Cons...

  • Does not deliver the promised 1000 watts, 600 watts at best

Best Bulk Buy

Product Name: Renogy 10Pcs 300 Watt 24 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Panel 3000W for Off-Grid On-Grid Large Solar System

Company: Renogy

Product Type: Solar Panels

Best Place to Buy: Amazon

My Rating: 86 / 100

Recommended: Yes

Whether you are planning to go off-grid or complement your on-grid electricity, this set of 10 pcs 300-watt 24-volt solar panels is just what you need. These are easy to work with since each panel is equipped with its  MC4 cables for easy and quick set up. 

Versatility at its best since it can be used in various applications, both in residential and commercial systems. Ground or roof-mount compatible, both on-grid and off-grid converters.

Specifications...

  • 10 units 300-watt monocrystalline solar panels 
  • Dimensions: 64.6”x39.1”x1.6”
  • Weight: 430 lbs (195.5 kgs)

Pros...

  • Versatile application
  • Can be used for parallel and series circuits
  • Sturdy enough to withstand high winds and hurricanes 
  • Can be mounted through Z brackets or adjustable mounts

Cons...

  • May have lower energy output for shaded areas
  • Some customers have reported poor packaging

Mounting Equipment...

You need mounting equipment to mount your solar panels onto. The best choice for residential solar systems is the roof-mounted ones. 

If you are mounting a solar energy system on a new house, it would be advisable to use the integrated mount where instead of roofing materials, the PV panels are placed directly into the rafters. This way, there are no visible mounts on the roof.

If you are upgrading to add a solar energy system to your existing house, a rack mount is the best choice.

Best Adjustable Mounts for Large Panels

Product Name: RICH SOLAR Adjustable Solar Panel Tilt Mount Brackets Support (up to 300 Watts)

Company: Rich Solar

Product Type: Solar Panel Mounts

Best Place to Buy: Amazon

My Rating:  85 / 100

Recommended: Yes

This adjustable solar panel mount is big enough for 300-watt solar panels and can be used on houses, RV, and other flat surfaces. It can be mounted on the roof or the ground.

Specifications...

  • Adjustable legs
  • Bolts and nuts of different lengths

Pros...

  • Made of aluminum so it does not rust
  • Sturdy enough to withstand winds at 75mph

Cons...

  • Adjustability limited by the size of the solar panel
  • When attached to the RV, you need to unscrew it so it can be laid out flat

Best Adjustable Mount for Multiple Panels

Product Name: Renogy Multi-Panel Mounting System, Adjustable Angle

Company: Renogy

Product Type: Solar Panel Mounts

Best Place to Buy: Amazon

My Rating: 92 / 100

Recommended: Yes

This adjustable mount can accommodate different sizes of solar panels; a combination of 4 100-watt panels, 2 200-watt panels of a 300 or 400-watt panel.

Specifications...

  • Dimensions: 86.6”x12.6”x10.2”
  • Weight: 165lbs (75kgs)

Pros...

  • Versatile use
  • High tensile strength
  • Can be used for areas with narrow mounting space 
  • Made of galvanized steel and anodized aluminum alloy for protection against rusting
  • Sturdy enough to withstand winds at 75mph

Cons...

  • Can be flimsy when a larger solar panel is attached or when winds are faster than 75mph

Best Z Brackets for Rooftop Installations

Product Name: Renogy 2 Sets Solar Panel Mounting Z Bracket Set of 4

Company: Renogy

Product Type: Rooftop Solar Mounts

Best Place to Buy: Amazon

My Rating: 92 / 100

Recommended: Yes

No need to worry about strong winds blowing away your solar panels. Z brackets provide a stronger hold to your solar panels by attaching them to the roof of your house or on the RV or yacht/boat. Add more Z brackets if using on solar panels larger than 150 watts.

Specifications...

  • 4 pcs Z brackets
  • 8 pcs bolt and nuts, 2”
  • 4 pcs bolt, washer, and nuts, 1”

Pros...

  • Lightweight for easy installation
  • Can be used on irregular surfaces
  • Made of aluminum for a rust-free installation
  • Pre-assembled with bolts and washers
  • Sturdier construction

Cons...

  • Can be used only for solar panels not more than 150 watts

Rechargeable Batteries...

If you are on the grid and only want to lessen your grid usage, there is no need to use a rechargeable battery. Off-grid, you need one. Your best bet would be a 12V battery with a 100-watt rating. 

If you are using multiple panels, it is best to have more than one rechargeable battery to maximize your power. For a series connection, you get increased voltage. For a parallel battery connection, on the other hand, increases the current capacity of the circuit. 

Most Used Deep Cycle Battery

Product Name: Vmaxtanks Rechargeable Deep Cycle Battery

Company: Vmaxtanks

Product Type: Rechargeable Battery

Best Place to Buy: Amazon

My Rating: 90 / 100

Recommended: Yes

​​

This deep cycle heavy duty battery has a life cycle of 8-10 years, making it best in value. The military-grade, extra-thick battery plates. Deep cycle batteries are designed to be charged and discharged repeatedly without being damaged as compared to shallow cycle batteries.

Reviews showed mostly positive comments.

Pros...

  • Recyclable 
  • Long battery life
  • Can be charged and recharged repeatedly without incurring damage

Cons...

  • Advertised as a long-life battery but some customers disagree
  • Some customers report poor customer service

Deep Cycle Battery

Product Name: ExpertPower 12v Rechargeable Deep Cycle Battery 33Ah 

Company: ExpertPower

Product Type: Rechargeable Battery

Best Place to Buy: Amazon

My Rating: 84 / 100

Recommended: Yes

The battery case is made of high-quality materials made of non-conductive ABS plastic. 

Although this is a lead-acid battery, these batteries are well sealed, valve-regulated for spill-proof batteries, and safe operation.

Pros...

  • Lightweight at 23.2 lbs (10.5kgs)
  • Can be used in a variety of vehicles and solar power systems
  • Fused cables
  • Long battery life

Cons...

  • Some customers report poor customer service and return policy

Best Gel Battery

Product Name: Renogy 12V 200Ah Rechargeable Deep Cycle Pure Gel Battery Maintenance Free

Company: Renogy

Product Type: Gel Battery

Best Place to Buy: Amazon

My Rating: 81 / 100

Recommended: Yes

The long designed service life of 10 years with the optimal operating temperature at 25oC. The Renogy batteries have PE compound separator construction that gel electrolytes and ensures the best evenness of all parts of the battery.

High-security batteries with explosion-proof safety valves designed to prevent spontaneous fire.

Pros...

  • Maintenance-free
  • Long-service life
  • Sealed construction
  • Low self-discharge

Cons...

  • Does not hold charge contrary to claims
  • Dead after a few months of use

DC to AC Inverters...

To use the direct electricity generated from the solar energy system, you need to get yourself a DC to AC converter. 

If the budget is tight or you prefer to rely upon the tried and tested, you can go for the string inverters. However, since they are working as a unit, any part that is damaged or shaded may affect the performance of the whole unit.

Another option is micro-inverters. These are installed individually per panel so when one gets damaged, the rest of the system still works well. The downside, though, is that they are not yet that established in the market. Glitches are bound to happen.

Best Heavy-duty Inverter

Product Name: Giandel 5000w Heavy Duty Power Inverter with Remote

Company: Giandel

Product Type: Inverter

Best Place to Buy: Amazon 

My Rating: 82 / 100

Recommended: Yes

High-quality inverters that can be used on RVs, trucks, cars, and solar power systems. Cooling fans help reduce heat buildup that may result in short circuits.

Specifications...

  • 500W power inverter
  • 4 pairs cables (2ft long)
  • 1 remote control with 15ft long cable, used to turn the device on and off
  • User manual

Pros...

  • Low voltage protection
  • Over-voltage protection
  • Overload protection
  • High-temperature protection
  • 2.4A USB port
  • 4 US sockets
  • Internal fuses (20x30A)
  • Can be used to provide power for an air conditioner, microwave oven, cutting machines, and vehicles, off-grid situations
  • Easy to install
  • Good customer service

Cons...

  • Can struggle with large power need e.g. kettles

Best Multi-purpose Inverter

Product Name: Ampeak 1000W Power Inverter Truck/RV Inverter

Company: Ampeak

Product Type: Inverter

Best Place to Buy: Amazon 

My Rating: 88 / 100

Recommended: Yes

This multi-purpose inverter is great for 1000W to 2000W with remote control for power on and off purposes. It comes with a 20ft long wire for longer reach.

Safe charging design with an intelligent temperature-controlled fan that turns on when the inverter reaches 104oF. 

Pros...

  • Input and output power digital display
  • Overheat protection
  • Low voltage protection
  • Overvoltage protection
  • Short circuit protection
  • Overload protection
  • USB port
  • LAN port
  • Can be wall-mounted or laid flat on surfaces

Cons...

  • Beeps a lot

Dual Outlet Inverter

Product Name: 3000Watt Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter by VOLTWORKS

Company: Beltt

Product Type: Inverter

Best Place to Buy: Amazon

My Rating: 66 / 100

Recommended: No!

Powerful enough to power a 55” TV, this 3000-watt 12-volt inverter needs a 600Ah battery, it has 4 AC outlets and 2 USB ports so you can use several appliances at the same time.

Just be careful not to overload the inverter to protect it from any unnecessary strain that may cause damage.

Specifications...

  • 1 unit 3000-watt inverter
  • 2 pairs of battery cables
  • 1 remote controller with 15ft cable
  • Use manual

Pros...

  • Smart LCD and silent cooling fan
  • 4 AC 110 outlets and 2 USB ports
  • Solid aluminum housing
  • Can be used to power mobile phones, lamps, digital cameras, electric tools, microwave oven, and other electronics
  • All-year-round protection against low voltage, high voltage, overload and short-circuit, and overheat protection

Cons...

  • Customer service and warranty issues
  • Manufacturing issues

Disconnect Switches...

For a solar energy system, you need to use disconnect switches for specific functions.

The DC disconnect interrupts the direct current from the solar panels before it reaches the inverter.

The AC disconnect, on the other hand, separates the inverter from the electrical grid. 

Determine the voltage, circuit load, amperes or breaker size, and wiring or cables used in the electrical installation inside the house. Each should complement each other to avoid future problems.

Also, take into consideration the temperature fluctuations in the installation site. A higher temperature results in a higher amperage output so it can affect the performance of the disconnect switches.

This can be easily bought from hardware stores with not much difference in the specifications.

Fuse Box Connections...

You will need 4 kinds of solar energy system fuses to make your system working. Take note that before buying the fuses, calculate the output of each component so you don't get a short circuit later.

Also, don't forget to purchase appropriately rated wires.

A solar panel fusing connects individual panels to the combiner fusing which further connects to the charge controller.  

From the charge controller, you'll need a fuse to connect to the direct current source. 

The fourth fuse connects the DC source to the power inverter. This fuse is dependent on the power inverter so refer to the power inverter manual. Sometimes, the inverter has also an installed fuse so no need to put in another. 

This can be easily bought from hardware stores with not much difference in the specifications.

Utility Power Meters...

As in the other components of the solar energy system, it is best to choose a utility power meter that will work best for your system.

For residential installations, it is best to install a bi-directional meter that has three display screens. It is capable of measuring your actual electric usage and the electricity produced by your solar panel. 

The fuse and utility power meter can be easily bought in any hardware store. 

Conclusion...

When you have been living for so long with the amenities and utilities, a sudden change may be a bit overwhelming. Even rural areas now have access to electricity and indoor plumbing. Living off the grid can be quite a shock but doesn’t have to be uncomfortable if you know the basics. 

To help you determine how much you can live off the grid before you invest in it, here's a family of 7 who chose to live off-grid.

Installing a solar panel can be a weekend DIY project you can take on with your family. If you are not yet convinced of the merits of using solar power in your home, a few more facts may change that. Do you want to make your solar panel? Here’s a video to help you with that. 

If you have any questions or thoughts on best solar panels in 2020, please do not hesitate to leave me a comment below. I will reply as soon as I can!


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Reader Comments

  1. Hey!

    Going off-grid isn’t easy, it requires a lot of planning and precision. Your recommendations are commendable and best in the segment.

    I have all the info to go solar-powered. Thanks for this article.

  2. wow this is a very comprehensive article on going green. love the writeup on inverters and solar panels. best i have read on them in ages. thank you for this

  3. Hi Catherine,

    It is a great article with such a lot of valuable information. I just checked the panels and they are wind and snow resistant as well ( up to a certain limit). It is great.

    I have one question. With the adjustable mounts, how can we decide the exact angle to install the panels so that maximum output will be achieved?

    That information will be very useful I guess.

    Thank you.

    1. Thank you, I am happy that you enjoyed it. We make advancements in technology every day and these near models are definitely more robust compared to some of the earlier models that were on the market.

      With regard to your question, you can optimize your output by ensuring the solar panels are not in shade at any part of the day. If this is hard to avoid, ensure they are in a position where they catch the sun at its highest point in the sky e.g. the middle of the day.

      Thank you for stopping by, I hope this helps.

  4. This one of my favorite subjects!!! I love alternative power. I used solar panels to power my laptop, charge my phone, power my router, a light, and a fan while I was working my way through college.
    As a college student, you have to figure out ways to save money and I decided investing in solar to power most of the things i used the most would be a great idea.
    I am now researching new systems for myself and now my mom is very interested too. She keeps asking me so many questions and truthfully, she knows more than I do: But I am not going to tell her that. lol
    Thank you for providing me with more information so I can feel smart again when talking to her…Sounds like I am joking and I am…but only a little.

  5. Thanks for a very comprehensive review of many products required for a domestic solar installation. It all sounds very daunting for anyone who isn’t regularly tackling such projects. A number of the comments you made about the issues for example with overloading certain models of inverters and the damage that could cause would frankly worry me. I have actually been looking for solar panels that could be installed in a walk way. I know there was a lot of publicity about solar roadways a few years ago and then actual experience and performance were disappointing. Are you aware of any solar tiles that could be installed at ground level and could be walked upon.
    Thanks and best regards, Andy

    1. As fr as I am aware, all of the research gone into ground-level solar has been so far unsuccessful. This is because the human body weight is too much and the dirt will prevent the effectiveness of the panel. However,self-cleaning windows have been successful so I would believe that this could potentially be a development in the solar industry one day, just not now.

  6. I stumbled on your article as since I have been on lockdown, I have a desire to go green. I frustrates me that all the oil, gas and power companies are all pushing for us to get back to normal, so they can make more money. I have loved the idea of utilising solar and wind energy for some time, but have felt a lot of companies have too many clauses (like owning your roof etc). So your article has given me lots to research and look into.

    I have a good size house with a roof that mainly faces south and gets good sun. What would be your recommendation for the best panels for me?

    I am looking forward to changing my life to a greener, more environmentally friendly way of living, and I look forward to reading more of your advice on how to do this, thank you

    1. If you have a large roof, I would go for the bulk option to save yourself some money.

      I agree with you about the issues with the oil companies. However, if the government policies enable them to operate the way they do, then we will never see the global scale changes we need in order to protect the environment. Current policies on power and energy play a big role in enabling oil companies to operate the way we do. We need to implement global scale taxes on carbon emissions.

  7. Hey, this is such a great post, so well researched, informative, well laid out. Thank you! I am definitely interested in becoming more self sufficient in the future and I am trying to take small steps to a more sustainable lifestyle. Our planet needs us more than ever to take it seriously and change our whole approach. Thank you for putting your passion out there!!

  8. Thank you for these reviews!

    I love this kind of articles: we should take care of our environment, this should be one of our priorities!

    Buying these products and use them means we are doing our part!

  9. Thank you so much for this post, Catherine. I definitely want to live off the grid (I currently live in Chicago), and have been thinking about investing in solar panels (much lower bill, environmentally friendly, less hassle). I appreciate the fact that you provided descriptions of so many different types of solar panels, as I definitely envision myself analyzing at least 30 before I make a decision. Haha I have saved your site and will definitely spread the word. God bless you!

  10. Well, thank you, you just shortened my future research a lot! Giving me such a complete overview of choices on the market! I’ve been thinking of solar panels for decades, but, back where I used to live before, we had had not very much sunny days. Perhaps, now I could think of them in UK. Also, I guess, since than, the usability of the panels greatly improved, so they are worth of installing not only in areas with high level of sun rays. I checked a few of them, and stayed confused a bit. As far as I found out during my previous researches, solar panels are usually able to process 15% to 22% of solar energy into usable energy. At ideal conditions it can go up another 10-15%, but that’s it. However, in specifications on Amazon, some state they have an efficiency rate of 95%. Is it some new way of rating that I’m not aware of?

    1. The technology in this industry is always improving. Look for the latest models when shopping. Getting the most out of your panels will depend on several factors – positioning, regular cleaning, battery bank to store energy, and a reliable system with good connections that looses little power. I hope this helps.

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