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How to Choose the Best Solar Panels for Your Home

How to Choose the Best Solar Panels for Your Home

Published 3/12/2024

Wondering which solar panels are the best? The first step to choosing your ideal solar panels is understanding how solar panels work and what your options are. A trusted installer like Sunrun—the #1 home solar and battery company in America—can guide you to the perfect fit for your needs. Our experts focus on reliability and quality of the solar panels we use in our installs and will help you choose the right option for your home. Let's start with some solar basics before diving into the best options.

The basics of solar panels

Understanding the basics of solar power and solar panel construction can guide you in choosing the best solar panels for your home. At their core, solar cells are constructed of silicon or another semiconductor material. Solar panels are designed to generate a significant amount of energy from the sun and provide it throughout the year, all by converting sunlight into electricity. 

Solar panels use Photovoltaic (PV) cells to soak in energy from sunlight. Once the sun is absorbed, it produces an electrical charge. This is possible due to the way the cell is constructed. Next, the electricity flows into your house.

The process works as follows: solar cells convert light (photons) directly into electricity (electrons). These cells consist of silicon, a semiconductor. As the sunlight hits the cells, it becomes absorbed. It shakes the electrons loose so they can move around uninhibited.

The solar energy system also consists of an inverter, which changes the DC electricity to alternating current (AC) electricity. This type is compatible with your power system. Finally, a home battery system will store solar electricity and deliver it at the time of day it’s most valuable, or during a power outage.

At Sunrun, we offer unrivaled home solar and battery experience. We’ve installed solar panels at 900,000 homes and counting. Keep reading to understand how to choose the best solar panel system for your unique needs.

The best types of solar panels

Deciding to switch to solar power is the right move, but you may feel overwhelmed as you choose a solar installer. It’s helpful to research the various types of solar panels and how they’re constructed as you make your decision.

Even though there are a variety of brands and styles of solar panels, they all fall within one of three main categories: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin film.

Monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels are used primarily for residential installations, while some types of thin-film panels are frequently used for small projects, such as powering a shed or RV because they are lower cost (as well as the least efficient).

Different types of solar panels

Today, there are 3 main types of solar panels, each with distinctive material, cost, and solar panel efficiency. The three main solar panels are as follows:

Monocrystalline solar panels

All residential solar panels today are monocrystalline. The word monocrystalline has “mono” as its prefix. These consist of one silicon crystal. These are the most common types of solar panels for residential systems because they’re more efficient and better suited for roofs with limited space.

When it comes to monocrystalline solar panels, there are different efficiency levels depending on the specific cell technology used. In this context, “higher” efficiency means a higher power rating for the same physical area of the panel. That said, as a consumer, your main priority should be ensuring that the company you work with sources the highest quality solar panels, and that you get the desired annual energy production from your system. At Sunrun, we’ll guide you through the process of choosing the perfect sized system for your family. 

Polycrystalline solar panels

Polycrystalline panels are the result of earlier solar technology, and are rarely sold commercially anymore.

These panels have a blue hue and look somewhat marbled, whereas monocrystalline panels are mostly black. If you’re a homeowner looking for what the best solar panels might look like, it would be monocrystalline. They are more subtle on your roof and won’t stand out as much.

Thin-film solar panels

The final type of panel is thin film solar. There are multiple types of thin-film technology. Most of the time, thin-film is used in utility scale projects and uses CIGS (Copper Indium Gallium Selenide) technology as opposed to the silicon-based technology of monocrystalline panels. This type of thin-film panel is less efficient than monocrystalline, and the manufacturing method lends itself to large format modules that aren’t suitable for home installs. 

Another type of thin-film technology is amorphous silicon. These panels are very low efficiency, inexpensive, and are most often used to power RVs, boats or other small setups.

How to decide which solar panels are best for your needs

There are different factors to consider when determining what are the best solar panels for your home. At Sunrun, our solar experts will walk through the process with you, so you secure the best panels for your specific needs.

Here’s what to consider when learning about your solar panel options:

Figure out your energy needs

The first step in selecting the best solar panels is to determine what size you’ll need based on your energy needs. To do this, you’ll need to know your current electricity usage.You’ll also want to account for additional electricity needs you may have in the future, for example, if you’re planning on growing your family or adding an electric vehicle. Determining the size of a solar system for target annual production and offset is quite complex and requires specialized software. That’s why when you choose a solar provider like Sunrun, we work together with you to ensure that your system design is a perfect match for your energy requirements. 

Ensure you get high quality solar panels

Quality is critical in obtaining the best solar panels. You want to ensure that the company you work with uses top-quality solar panels. As a consumer, it can be difficult to determine the highest quality panels as all photovoltaic (PV) panels offer a 25-year warranty. However, there are some key attributes you can research when it comes to determining whether a solar panel provider is high quality:


Bankability refers to the financial stability and reliability of a solar panel provider, which offers consumers reassurance that their provider will be able to offer long-term viability for your solar system. Here are a couple key ways to assess bankability:

  • The provider offers high-quality, durable products that perform as expected, reducing the risk of project underperformance. One of the key advantages of Sunrun’s solar system financing model is that Sunrun owns the panels and is responsible for their performance. 

  • Choose solar panel companies that have a history of successful installations and satisfied customers. For example, Sunrun has installed over 900,000 residential solar systems and counting; no provider has more experience installing and maintaining U.S. residential solar panels.  

Factor in your location

Geographic location determines the intensity and duration of sunlight received, which will impact overall energy production for your solar panel system. 

Read reviews

Take time to check out the reviews from other customers before purchasing your solar panel system. This will help determine if you’re getting the right fit.

Use professionals for the installation

Some people like to do projects on their own. However, with something as complex as a solar panel system, you’ll want to get professional installation experts to complete the project for you.

Choosing the best type of solar panels is a nuanced process. Installation is even more challenging. With an experienced solar panel installation technician, you can rest easy knowing it will be done correctly. Also, you’ll have the benefit of a warranty.

Choose the best solar panels for you

Sunrun is your main stop for getting the best solar panels.Contact one of our solar advisors for a consultation today.

Additionally, when you purchase with Sunrun, you receive a factory-backed warranty. If you get solar panels on a monthly subscription plan, you’ll receive 24/7 proactive monitoring and free maintenance from us.

Get a quote for the best solar panels for your home

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