Best solar panels – Top reviews of 2018


Best solar panels – Top reviews of 2018 September 13, 2017Leave a comment

BEST SAVE

Grape Solar GS-400-KIT 400-Watt

Grape Solar GS-400-KIT 400-Watt
  • Good quality
  • Lots of power
  • Charge controller included

BEST BUY

HQST 400 Watt 12 Volt Poly-crystalline Solar Panel Kit

HQST 400 Watt 12 Volt Poly-crystalline Solar Panel Kit
  • Lots of power
  • Includes solar charge converter
  • High quality and well-made

100 Watts 100W Solar Panel 12V-18V

100 Watts 100W Solar Panel 12V-18V
  • Versatile
  • High quality
  • Good value

200 Watts Solar Panel Poly 2pc 100Watts

200 Watts Solar Panel Poly 2pc 100Watts
  • Good quality
  • Good value

HKYH Solar Panel Lighting Kit

HKYH Solar Panel Lighting Kit
  • Easy to set up
  • Includes everything you need
  • Very good value
  • Good quality

Best solar panels for your home by Mage Solar

There are tons of great reasons to consider buying solar panels for your home. The first and most important of these is simply that it is the right thing to do and can help to save the planet. That’s no small feat but it’s also completely true: the planet right now is dying, and our reliance on fossil fuels is a big part of the reason why. Every time you use power from your mains, it is being generated by a factory that releases huge amounts of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. These are destroying our o-zone layer – the planet’s crucial protective layer against the sun. As this things, sea levels are rising, coral reefs are dying, ice caps are melting and entire areas of the planet are becoming uninhabitable. We are losing countless, unique species and forms of life every month because of this process.

What’s more, is that if you don’t use the best solar panels for home use, then each time you do this you are also using up our dwindling resources. Fossil fuels are a finite resource that are running out quickly. The eventual result will be that we run out and are no longer able to rely on these as a source of energy. When that happens? Those that have set up solar panels for home use will still be able to enjoy their modern conveniences and creature comforts. The rest of us will be left without power.


But what if you’re not worried about the fate of the planet? There are still a ton of very good reasons to consider switching to the best solar panels.

Here are just a few:

  • Solar panels save you money. Because you’re able to use energy from a source other than your mains, this means your bill will be considerably lower at the end of each month.
  • Solar panels can provide a tax break. Because the government is all too aware of the dangers that fossil fuels pose to the planet (and the cost of cleaning this up), it is keen to incentivize the use of solar panels. If your solar panel is efficient enough, then you can potentially receive tax credits and save more money that way.
  • Solar panels can earn you money. So, by using the best solar panels for home use, you’re saving money on your energy bill AND on your tax bill. At the same time though, you’ll also be able to actively earn money by selling your energy back to the grid. That’s right: energy companies will often be willing to buy energy back off of solar panels for home use – meaning that you can actually make a profit from your solar investment!
  • This is the best time to use solar panels. Selling solar power back to the grid used to be practically a necessity. This was when solar energy could not be saved in any way. If you weren’t there to use the solar energy when it was generated, then you would risk losing that energy and never being able to use it. But now, solar batteries make it possible to store the energy that your home solar panels generate for later use! The technology is improving in all kinds of other ways too. It’s cheaper than ever before to install and more efficient at the same time. You can benefit from additional features too – like multiple panels in a large series, or like solar battery controllers to help you make the most from your panels. To find who makes the best solar panels and read our solar panel comparisons, scroll a little further down the page.
  • It’s cool. Yeah, using solar panels is actually pretty cool. You’ll learn a whole lot in the process, get a great feeling of satisfaction when you save money through your own effort and smarts and prepare yourself for the future. Because mark our words: the future of energy is not fossil fuels. The future is solar. Are you going to join the future, or be left behind?

Getting the Most From Your Solar Panels

So, you’ve made the choice to invest in solar panels for home use – good choice!

In a moment, we’ll look at who makes the best solar panels for you to use in your home. But first, let’s take a brief look at the differences between solar panels, how to choose the right ones for your home and how to get the very most from them.

Getting the most from your solar panels for home use is a matter of ensuring that you increase efficiency in every way that you can. That means firstly that you collect as much energy from the sun as possible in the first place.

So how do you do that? It starts by using an array of solar panels and placing them in the best possible position in your home: for instance by attaching them to your roof but in such a way that they won’t be blocked by cloud or by trees. Alternatively, depending on the shape and position of your home, you might find that you are better served by arranging your solar panel array in your garden.

From there, you then need to think about how you angle your solar panels. You can find solar panel angle calculators online which help you to identify the best position for them in order to get the most direct sunlight depending on the time of day, the month/season etc. To optimize this, you will normally need to reposition your solar panels a few times throughout the day.

Next up, you’ll get more from the best solar panels by making sure to combine them with other smart technologies. For instance, that means storing that energy with a solar battery, or a solar generator. Next, you’ll want to use a solar charge controller – which will make sure that you don’t over charge or undercharge the battery.

By collecting energy in an optimal fashion this way, you’ll be able to use it at any time of day rather than having to sell off the energy you don’t get to use.

From there, you can also think about how to make the most use of that energy once you have it (see below). Using more energy efficient appliances and avoiding wasting energy when you don’t need it can make a big difference.


Finally, consider using multiple different solar and green-energy solutions around your home. Using the best solar panels for your home will make a big difference to the energy you collect for your appliances and systems – but meanwhile you should also consider other options. You can use solar lights in your garden for instance to reduce the cost of lighting the garden at night. Likewise, you can use geothermal heating to heat a swimming pool or even to add heat to your property. How about using a solar attic fan in the loft? Or charging your phone with a solar charger?

You could even use a wind turbine to gain extra energy in addition to the energy from your solar panels for home use. Wind turbines have different strengths and weaknesses compared to even the best solar panels, so why not get the best of both worlds and maximize your home’s efficiency?

Find the Best Solar Panel Reviews

With all that said and done, it’s time to look at who makes the best solar panels with our solar panel reviews!

Grape Solar GS-400-KIT 400-Watt

Product Review

This kit is aimed at those looking to go off-grid. To that end, it once again provides everything you could need to start generating your own power from home and reduce your reliance on mains power. This means you get four solar panels, capable of providing 400 watts and a charge controller for easy storage.

Again, it’s well-made and contains everything you need to get started – a great choice for those who want to make the switch.

Overall Rating: 4/5
Pros
  • Good quality
  • Lots of power
  • Charge controller included
Cons
  • Complex installation

HQST 400 Watt 12 Volt Poly-crystalline Solar Panel Kit

OUR PICK
Product Review

This solar panel kit provides you with multiple solar panels, capable of generating 500Wh per day when under the right conditions. These panels include 12 and 24 volt arrays and also include a charge controller for charging your solar battery without damaging it.

All said, this is a great all-in-one kit for getting started. There’s a lot to sort through here and it’s not going to be to everyone’s liking to set up this array themselves. However, if you’re looking to save money by avoiding using an installation service… well then this is a great choice. And compared to some other units, it’s not that difficult – this is an issue facing all of our solar panel reviews.

Overall Rating: 4/5
Pros
  • Lots of power
  • Includes solar charge converter
  • High quality and well-made
Cons
  • Could be tricky to set up

100 Watts 100W Solar Panel 12V-18V

Product Review

Not everyone trying to find who makes the best solar panels is going to want a start-kit. Many of you will no doubt already have a solar panel array set up, or will simply be looking to power one or two appliances. For those users, buying single solar panels is the way to go.

This is a great, high quality and good-value solar panel that offers a decent amount of power and 35 inch cables for linking up. There are no mounting screws included unfortunately, but pre-drilled holes at least make the process a little quicker.

Overall Rating: 3/5
Pros
  • Versatile
  • High quality
  • Good value
Cons
  • Not a complete solution for those that need it
  • No mounting equipment

200 Watts Solar Panel Poly 2pc 100Watts

Product Review

From the same Mighty Max Battery oem (who remembers Mighty Max?) comes this two pack. This is essentially the same product but now with two panels for more power to your home. A great way to more cost-effectively upgrade your energy savings with all the high efficiency and great build quality that you’re now familiar with.

Overall Rating: 3/5
Pros
  • Good quality
  • Good value
Cons
  • Lacks peripherals and useful equipment

HKYH Solar Panel Lighting Kit

Product Review

If you know that you will be using your new solar panels for home use to light your rooms, then buying a lighting kit like this is a good choice. Add light to a room with this complete set and you’ll also be able to charge your phone and more.

This comes with not only a charge controller but also a battery, along with the energy saving lights themselves. This really is an all-in-one kit then, and what it lacks in versatility, it makes up for in ease of use and practicality.

Great for anyone who wants light and some charge for their phone!

Overall Rating: 4/5
Pros
  • Easy to set up
  • Includes everything you need
  • Very good value
  • Good quality
Cons
  • A hassle if you want to use it for anything other than lighting

More Tech That Can Save You Energy


More Tech That Can Save You Energy

Being a tech fan is a lot of fun for the most part as you get to tinker with new toys and get a glimpse of the future before anyone else. Those who are really at the cutting edge of new hardware will have already gotten to experience virtual reality, drones, augmented reality, motion controls and more – all of which is still considered science fiction by the majority of people.

But while technology is a lot of fun it also has its downsides. Apart from the fact that you probably have regular headaches induced by looking at screens, or the fact that your back is probably incredibly stiff from being sat down all the time, you'll likely also have to contend with the fact that your energy bills are sky high.

Here's the good news though: if you're really good at being ahead of the curve then you'll already be finding clever ways to keep your bills down. This is one of the great appeals of using solar panels for home use: you get to enjoy what is no doubt a high tech product while also saving energy as a result!

And if you combine this with other energy saving technologies, then you can actually use your technology to reduce your bill.

Here are some smart examples of technologies you can use that actually reduce your spending on electricity…


Nest

Nest is a device that you attach to your thermostat in order to gain immediate digital control over your temperature. This then means that you can control the temperature in your house via an app which enables you to turn it up or down a notch from the TV.

That won't help you to save energy so much though – other than your own energy. Where this part comes in then is when you use Nest in order to monitor your expenditure so that you can better keep track of exactly how much money you're spending and make changes to your lifestyle as necessary. Meanwhile, Nest will let you set up automatically rules for how the system behaves ensuring it never goes above or below a certain temperature for example.

As an added advantage, you can also use Nest very cleverly in combination with IFTTT. IFTTT is a web app that lets you sync your services – including things like your phone alarm, GPS and Nest. This then means you can get Nest to warm up the house just before you wake up and to lower output whenever you leave for work.

By combining something like Nest with the best solar panels, you’ll now have reduced your energy expenditure for heating and for your lighting.


Wemo

Wemo is a device that's similar to Nest except that it rules over a power outlet. This then means you can remotely or automatically control anything that plugs into a wall – with the most common example being your lighting.

To demonstrate the power of this, you could get your lights to turn off the minute you leave the house and then to come back on as soon as you get back. Likewise, you could use it to control your lights while you're on holiday and again you'll get a lot of data about your power usage as well as the option to sync via IFTTT.

Add this to a power outlet that is served by your new solar panels and you’ll save even more energy.


Green Energy

There are also all kinds of devices already out there that let you power things using alternative green energy sources. We’ve already looked at adding solar panels for home use, and what about solar phone chargers and the like?

If you're really ambitious though, then you can go a step further and look into upgrading your home to get real green energy flowing. This might mean getting a wind turbine for instance, or it might mean using geothermal energy in order to keep your swimming pool warm. You could even get solar panels for your roof.

Or what about switching to an electric car? An electric car isn’t perfectly ‘green’ but it’s a lot cleaner than using gas powered transport. And if you charge it from a solar panel array, then you’ll be using no non-renewable energy to get around! Elon Musk would be proud.

All these things cost a lot of money and take some effort up-front so they're not for everyone. If you do have the means though, then you'll be able to save yourself some money and benefit from various rebates and incentives. Plus you get kudos for high-techness.

How to Use Less Energy With the Right Habits using the best solar panels


How to Use Less Energy With the Right Habits

So now you’re generating green energy from the best solar panels and you’re using other tricks to keep your energy bills low.

But there’s one last factor to consider: lifestyle. That just means knowing when to ‘switch off’ and by doing this at the right time, you can make a big difference to your energy bill.

Here are some ways to use less energy from your gadgets. Here’s how to know when to turn off and how to be more energy efficient.


Kettle

Just because you’re charging your kettle from your solar panels, that doesn’t mean you can just waste the energy – you want to use that power later or sell it back afterall!

Consider the simple benefit of only adding the water you need then, which saves considerable energy each time you make tea. Fill the mug as many times as you want to make tea or coffee, then use that to fill the kettle.


Bath

The same goes for using the bath. Don’t fill it more than necessary and even consider reusing the water by sharing (it’s not as unhygienic as it sounds!). Another tip: fill the bath with the cold water first. That way your hot water isn’t standing and cooling down while you wait for it to fill.


Heating

Using nest or even geothermal heating can make a huge difference. Next, you need to learn to use less power. So that means wearing a jumper when it’s cold rather than turning up the heat. It also means keeping the windows closed and investing in better insulation.

But moreover, just experiment with turning the heating down and see if you can get by with things a little cooler!


Tablets, Phones and Laptops

If you have a chargeable device then there is no reason not to leave it on with the screen sleeping when you're not using it. Part of the convenience of these portable devices is that they're 'always on' and particularly in the case of the mobile phone if you're expecting a call. However, what you shouldn't do is to leave your devices plugged in charging when you're sleeping or not around, or even leave the chargers plugged in on their own. This is a waste of energy and it's not too much work just to turn off the wall socket.

Likewise, try turning the brightness down on these devices. Disconnect from the internet when you don’t need it (that’s good for productivity too!) and have fewer tabs open in the background.


TVs and CD Players

TVs and CD players will have an off mode as well as a standby mode and it's very important to make sure that you use the former rather than the latter. Though the screen is off in a standby mode, you will still be wasting a lot of energy in simply keeping it in this setting and sometimes this uses almost as much energy as having them on. Is it really that hard to reach over and turn the TV on before you sit down?

You’ve gone to all that energy to look at solar panel comparisons and to choose the best solar panels for your home… don’t waste it on a TV you’re not watching!

Updated July 31, 2018

David West

David West

About The Author

David is a tech journalist who has previously worked for several tech sites. He loves tinkering with technology and in his spare time he likes working on electronic engineering projects.

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