LG Solar Panels vs. SunPower Solar Panels
Update: Unfortunately, LG has decided to stop manufacturing solar panels. Watch the video below for a recap of what this means for the solar industry and for a list of brands that will help fill the void left by LG’s exit.
If you’re thinking about making the investment in a solar system, you’re going to want the best equipment you can get, price considered. Which brand of solar panels you choose can affect everything from how long the panels are warrantied to how much electricity they produce.
That’s why we want to take a deep dive into two of the industry’s top solar panel manufacturers: SunPower and LG. After reading this, we hope you’ll come away with what you need to know to pick the brand that’s best for you.
We’ll compare panels from each brand based on the following criteria:
Cost of LG and Sunpower Solar Panels
It’s a cliche, but it still rings true: you really do get what you pay for. There are a variety of factors that come into play when determining the price of a solar panel. The type of panel, the size of the panel, and the brand of the panel – these are all factors that determine how much you should expect to pay.
An easy way to compare is to look at how much a solar panel costs per watt. While some brands have a lower price per watt, they likely won’t offer the efficiency and wattage of a more expensive brand.
When it comes to SunPower and LG solar panels, both brands are at the upper end of the quality spectrum. While this means you’ll be getting efficient panels backed by robust warranties, they likely won’t be the least expensive of your options.
Cost of LG Solar Panels
On average, LG panels typically come in less per watt than SunPower’s panels.
Cost of SunPower Solar Panels
SunPower panels typically are more expensive than LG’s panels.
Which is Less Expensive, LG or SunPower Solar Panels?
Overall, LG typically offers a better price than SunPower. At about a 0.10 or more per watt difference, this can add up quickly, even on a smaller residential system.
Solar Panel Production
The amount of electricity your solar panels can produce will determine everything from how many panels you need to the payback of your system. We’ll look at a panel’s production based on two factors: efficiency and wattage.
Solar panel efficiency is how much energy the solar panel generates compared to how much energy it takes in from the sun. The more efficient your panels, the more electricity you’ll be able to produce. LG and SunPower offer options ranging from mid-tier efficiency to high-efficiency panels.
The wattage rating is how many watt-hours the panel will produce in one hour of full sunshine. These numbers are the result of lab tests, so it’s not likely your panel will produce exactly that amount of power all the time.
LG Solar Panel Production
LG’s most efficient panel is in their LG NeON line and features an efficiency of 21.7%, while their least efficient panel currently on the market is 19.6%. Their wattage rating ranges from 405W to 335W.
SunPower Solar Panel Production
SunPower’s X-Series offers solar panels with efficiencies of up to 22.7%. On the lowest end of the spectrum is the P-Series, which includes solar panels with efficiencies of up to 19%. The SunPower X-Series top out at 470W for commercial use only.
Their A-Series offers the highest wattage for residential systems with a 400W option. Their E-Series offers a lower watt option of 300W.
Which Panel Produces Electricity, LG or SunPower?
Determining which brand has more efficient panels or panels with a higher wattage depends on the specific models you go with. While SunPower has the most powerful combination of efficiency and wattage, that may not necessarily be the best option for your project.
power comes with a bigger price tag. Sometimes that additional power is needed because of limited space on your site, or allows you to produce more energy and offset more electricity, but which option is best for you really depends on your situation.
Solar Panel Warranties
All reputable solar module manufacturers back their products up with warranties. Most solar panels are guaranteed for 20 to 25 years.
In order to be eligible for the manufacturer’s product warranty. your panels need to be installed per their specs. This is one of the many reasons it’s important to be discerning when choosing who will install your system and how. While a DIY installation may seem like a good way to keep costs down, you really run the risk of voiding your equipment’s warranty. That’s why it’s essential to partner with a reputable solar company.
Another important thing to consider when comparing equipment warranties is the dependability and stability of the company itself. If your solar panel manufacturer closes its doors, they won’t be around to fulfill your warranty request.
LG Solar Panel Warranties
LG offers a 25-year product warranty. Founded in 1958, LG Electronics has been around for decades, producing everything from dishwashers to televisions. This global company not only has plenty of staying power, but it also backs up its warranties with an insurance policy. That means LG has the capacity to stand behind its warranties even now that they have exited the solar panel segment of its business.
SunPower Solar Panel Warranties
Like LG, SunPower also offers a 25-year warranty. However, SunPower is a younger company that specializes only in solar. In November of 2019, SunPower announced its plans to separate into two independent companies – SunPower and Maxeon Solar Technologies. SunPower will continue as a solar installer, and Maxeon will take over the solar panel manufacturing. This change introduces a bit more uncertainty relating to manufacturing warranties.
Do LG or SunPower Panels Have Better Warranties?
While both LG and SunPower offer 25-year warranties, LG comes out on top in our book. With solar panel warranties backed LG Electronics, you can rest assured they’ll be able to fulfill warranties decades down the road.
Solar Panel Performance and Degradation
Solar panel degradation is a process all solar panels go through. It’s the slow decline in your solar panel’s efficiency over time. The slower the degradation rate of your panels, the more electricity they’ll produce for you.
While degradation may sound bad, solar panel manufacturers offer protection against excessive degradation through warranties. The manufacturer will make things right if your panels degrade more quickly than they should.
LG Solar Panel Performance
LG will guarantee that some of their panels (depending on the model you select) will degrade no more than 10% in 25 years, meaning they’ll be at least 90% efficient after 25 years.
SunPower Solar Panel Performance
SunPower’s degradation or performance warranty is 92% after 25 years. That means that over 25 years, your panels will only degrade 8%.
Which solar panel degrades more slowly, LG or SunPower?
LG and SunPower offer lower degradation rates than most other solar panel manufacturers. However, SunPower comes out on top in this arena with an 8% power decline to LG’s 10%.
Are LG or SunPower Solar Panels Better?
To put it simply, SunPower is often the leader in efficiency, power output, and degradation rates. However, LG offers you almost all the high-quality, high-efficiency options SunPower does, but at a lower cost.
When it comes to warranties and degradation, SunPower offers the lowest 25-year degradation rate, meaning your panels will produce more electricity for a longer time. However, as a diversified global tech giant, LG’s warranties are backed by an extremely stable business that isn’t going anywhere.
While SunPower offers the most efficient panels on the market today, they charge a premium for that technology. LG, on the other hand, stands toe-to-toe with SunPower’s technology while still maintaining a lower price per watt.
View our other solar panel manufacturer comparisons:
We accessed these specs on each company’s website in November 2019. To find out more about each company’s offerings, visit LG’s website here or SunPower’s website here.
How much power yield can you really expect from your solar panels 10 years later?
When Next Hydraulics planned the design and construction of their second production plant in 2008, their goal was to make the building energy self-sufficient.
The company designs and manufactures mobile lifting equipment for the global market and is based in Boretto, Italy. As early adopters of clean power generation on an industrial site, they sought a system that could convert sunlight to usable electricity and offer some level of autonomy from the energy distributed through the grid.
The result was the installation of a photovoltaic (PV) system comprising 481 SunPower Maxeon rooftop solar panels. And according to the company, the system continues to produce a higher energy yield 14 years later than initially estimated.
Dependable solar panel performance over time
It had long been a priority of Next Hydraulics CEO Oreste Masetti to invest in clean energy and a system that would produce as much peak power as possible and dependable performance over time.
Like any industrial equipment, installing a PV system is a major investment and should deliver savings. Hence reliability and energy yield of solar panels are essential deciding factors.
To achieve their vision, Next Hydraulics engaged the services of Project Group, an expert in installing residential and industrial photovoltaic systems since 2006. A SunPower Premier Partner, Project Group has installed more than 400 industrial PV systems, attesting to the quality of SunPower Maxeon modules in the field.
Higher-than-expected energy outputs
At the Next Hydraulics production site, 481 SunPower Maxeon panels were installed on a surface area of 742 sqm. The system design took advantage of every available space in the roof pitches with southern exposure.
Using SunPower Maxeon modules allowed Project Group to install 108 kWp in total, about 30% more than the conventional technology available at the time, using the same space.
According to Next Hydraulics, the modules have produced an average of 1204 kWh/kWp in the last five years. This is higher than what the modules produced in their first years following installation. Not one single module has been replaced since the panels were installed in 2008.
Yearly output of the SunPower solar installation on Next Hydraulics rooftop over a decade.
Solar energy contributes to more predictable production costs
Minimal maintenance of the panels and a continuous power supply are critical to Next Hydraulics’ operations, which rely on automatic painting equipment running nonstop inside the production plant.
According to the company, the solar system benefits production for two reasons: it guarantees an autonomous energy supply for round-the-clock operations and using PV-generated energy allows for stable and predictable production costs.
For Next Hydraulics, the choice to invest in photovoltaics in 2008 was an economic and ecological decision. The constant solar power output over time has resulted in more significant payback from the panels and, therefore, reduced energy costs. And the move to clean energy generation aligns with the company’s vision to reduce its impact on the environment.
Thanks to the superior performance in terms of yield and energy efficiency of SunPower panels compared to competing products, we were able to achieve our goal. I would advise other company directors to invest in a PV system for every newly constructed building and whenever work is done on existing buildings for renovations, re-roofing, [or] energy upgrades. This move toward a more sustainable future allows us to reduce energy costs and be as self-sufficient as possible.
SunPower Solar Panels: The Leading Option in the U.S. Solar Industry
SunPower is one of the leading companies in the U.S. solar industry, with a history dating back more than 50 years ago. Photovoltaic (PV) products manufactured by SunPower are a byproduct of intense research, outstanding craftsmanship, and high-quality manufacturing processes that result in SunPower’s high-efficiency solar panels that can retain around 92% of their DC power generation capacity in 25 years.
Products manufactured by SunPower have a great performance, highly aesthetic designs, and long warranties extending up to 40 years in some cases. If you are looking to learn more about SunPower, how the company works, its technology, available products, and other interesting information about it, then this is the right article is for you.
SunPower overview: History, subsidiaries, and technology
The history of SunPower started in 1970, when Dr. Richard Swanson, the co-founder of the company, chose solar energy to deal with the oil crisis in the country. The company was finally created in 1985, as a result of two grants awarded by the Electric Power Research Institute and the U.S. Department of Energy.
Throughout its history, SunPower has heavily focused on research and adapting cutting-edge solar technology available in the industry, to create its outstanding products. As a result, SunPower has created world-record solar cells used in all types of applications like residential, commercial, utility-scale, and even special projects created by NASA.
SunPower does not only provide high-quality PV products, but a complete range of energy solutions including generation, monitoring, control, and storage. The company is currently positioned as one of the leading solar companies in the U.S. solar industry.
Understanding more about SunPower, how they work, and its technology will provide you with greater insight into the reach of the company and how its products might suit your needs.
SunPower or Maxeon Solar: Who is who?
SunPower was created as a U.S. solely based company, focusing on selling PV solutions only to the U.S., but this did not limit its reach. In 2020, Maxeon was created as a spin-off company of SunPower, allowing it to sell PV solutions to customers all over the world, by dealing with SunPower-branded products on an international scale, delivering solar energy solutions to Asia, Europe, and more than 100 countries all over the globe.
Maxeon currently holds more than 1,000 solar patents and has achieved revenue surpassing 700 million by selling high-quality PV products all over the world. This company has partnered with over 1,400 solar sales and installers to extend its reach within different countries, granting homeowners across the globe the possibility to enjoy high-quality PV solutions with fully integrated solar energy systems.
SunPower high-efficiency solar panels are manufactured using some of the best monocrystalline silicon modules in the market. The company integrates this high-quality material with highly-developed solar cell structural designs like IBC solar cell technology and shingled technology to create their high-quality products.
IBC Solar Cell Technology
Interdigitated Back Contact (IBC) solar cell technology is one of the most advanced and cutting-edge manufacturing technologies available for SunPower solar cells. The technology places solar energy conversion at the back of the cell, also relocating the electrodes at the rear side of it.
Since IBC SunPower solar cells have relocated the frontal electrodes at the back, they feature a larger useful area for photons to impact, which results in the SunPower high-efficiency solar panels. IBC SunPower solar cells are up to 20% more efficient than Passivated Emitter and Rear Contact (PERC) solar panels.
With this technology, SunPower has been able to create highly aesthetic solar panels with no visible contacts at the front, commonly known as the SunPower All Black solar panels. Installing these modules at homes or any other locations, will not disrupt the superiorly aesthetic aspect of the place while providing the capacity to generate solar power.
Shingled technology is one of the latest manufacturing methods for creating solar modules. By combining it with mono-PERC technology, SunPower has created the Maxeon Performance modules that can reach up to 625W in solar power generation with a single module, featuring a 21.2% conversion efficiency.
SunPower Performance modules manufactured with shingled technology, are robust solar panels featuring resistance to thermal stress, humidity, and Potential Induced Degradation (PID). The circuitry design can also mitigate hotspots while increasing energy production under unfavorable conditions.
Aside from increasing conversion efficiency by reducing whitespace between SunPower solar cells, Shingled technology increases flexibility for the modules, making them more durable and resistant.
Are SunPower solar panels the right option for you?
SunPower PV modules feature cutting-edge technology, outstanding performance, and superior aesthetics, making them ideal for practically any application, but especially for residential.
SunPower solar panel price tends to have a slightly higher cost than traditional low- and mid-efficiency solar panels, but the high conversion efficiency, great durability, low power degradation, and long warranty, provide benefits surpassing the price difference between modules.
SunPower has tailored-designed solar panels and other PV solutions, suited for residential, commercial, and utility-scale applications. SunPower products are the preferred option picked by many investors, project developers, electric utilities, homeowners, government entities, and retail businesses.
If you are looking for extremely high-performance modules designed for the most demanding applications and featuring highly aesthetic designs, then SunPower panels are the right fit for you.
SunPower has a wide variety of PV solutions featuring different efficiencies, price range, estimate size, power rate, and other technical and visual variations. In this section, we will introduce each product series manufactured by SunPower.
The M series solar panels by SunPower, feature Maxeon Gen 6 patented solar cells that can deliver a great performance with module options ranging from 420W to 440W. M series modules are compatible with the SunPower Equinox Solar System and the mySunPower Monitoring system, featuring an AC microinverter that directly converts DC to AC at the output of the module.
With a high conversion efficiency of 22.8%, M Series SunPower residential solar panels and commercial solar panels are placed among the most powerful AC coupled PV solutions in the market.
Coupled with powerful microinverters, A Series SunPower solar panels are among the first residential modules to have achieved a solar power generation capacity of 415W. A Series SunPower panels include high power output options going from 400W to 420W for SunPower residential solar panels, and 430W to 450W for SunPower commercial solar panels.
Featuring a maximum conversion efficiency of 22.5% for the A series, these modules are among the best AC coupled solar panels, falling second only to the M series modules.
The X Series SunPower PV modules are an outstanding show of durability, performance, and low degradation over time. These modules are designed to achieve a conversion efficiency superior to the 22.0%, delivering more power and higher savings while requiring fewer modules installed on the roof.
Featuring a power output of 360W for SunPower residential solar panels and 470W for the SunPower commercial solar panels, X Series SunPower solar panels are built over a solid metallic foundation, making them almost invulnerable to the corrosion and cracking of regular modules. These modules produce 60% more energy than conventional modules featuring the same size and they are covered by a 25-year warranty.
Customers who want to get affordable solar panels manufactured by SunPower will find the E Series to be the right fit for them. Power output for E Series modules includes options going from 320W to 327W for the SunPower residential solar panels, and one option of 435W for the SunPower commercial solar panels. E Series modules can achieve a maximum conversion efficiency of 20.4%, making them a great investment opportunity.
E Series PV modules by SunPower feature a low power degradation over time and feature a 25-year warranty. Conventional modules retain 80% of their capacity after 10 years, while E Series SunPower panels retain a little less than 90% of their capacity at 25 years of operation.
U Series. Equinox
The U Series SunPower solar panels are the latest product from Sunpower. While little is known about these interesting new additions to the portfolio of PV modules manufactured by SunPower, they are revealed as the new addition to the SunPower Equinox System.
The SunPower Equinox System is the best PV solution for homeowners and businesses who want to have complete control over their solar PV system with energy storage addition. This PV system seamlessly integrates AC SunPower high-efficiency solar panels featuring cutting-edge technology and superior aesthetics with invisible mounting, integrating the system with the EnergyLink Hardware and the EnergyLink software.
SunPower vs. Other companies: Strengths ideal applications
Over its more than 50 years of history, SunPower has delivered excellent results in the U.S. solar industry, positioning itself as one of the leading solar PV manufacturing companies in the country. SunPower is regularly compared to other world-leading solar companies like LG Solar, Jinko Solar, Canadian Solar, Q-Cell Solar, REC Solar, and other outstanding solar manufacturers in the industry.
While SunPower has a premium price on its products, the high durability, higher efficiency, great performance, long-term warranty and low power degradation of their modules, make the investment in SunPower solar panel price totally worth it. over, while other brands compete with each other to provide the manufacture of the highest efficiency solar panels, SunPower has remained in the first position with the highest efficiency solar panels for several years.
While in 2022 SunPower high-efficiency solar panels run at 22.6% efficiency, every year we get new innovations from this company that push that efficiency boundary a little higher and SunPower has managed to do that always on top of competition.
Due to all these reasons, SunPower PV modules are probably the top-quality choice for homeowners who want to install robust solar panels with great performance and superior aesthetics.
Understanding solar panel efficiency isn’t rocket science. except when it is
Be honest—if your kid came home beaming with pride for getting a 20% on a spelling test, you’d be questioning their understanding of math (as well as language arts). Because 20% just doesn’t sound impressive. But what if your grade-schooler was being quizzed on a list of 500 doctoral-level vocabulary words? You may then be tempted to call Mensa.
The same can be said of solar panel efficiency ratings. Once you understand what’s behind the grading system, where peak performers register percentages in the low 20s, you may have a better appreciation for the advances made in solar panel efficiency over time.
How is solar panel efficiency measured?
Simply put, solar panel efficiency is the ratio of energy from sunlight that a panel can transform into electricity. If you want to be a little more technical, here’s the formula:
Even without plugging in any numbers, you can see that the more watts a photovoltaic (PV) cell can produce (using the same amount of sunlight), the more efficient a solar panel will be. This can be important when evaluating commercial solar panels, but we’ll cover that later. First, let’s start with a little history.
A short history of solar cell technology
Humans have been tapping the power of the sun for centuries. Magnifying glasses were used to concentrate the sun’s rays to ignite fires in the 7th century B.C., and architects throughout history have built structures with an eye toward the sky to capture as much radiant heat as possible. But it wasn’t until the 1800s when the PV revolution really kicked into high gear. Here are some highlights:
- 1839: Edmund Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect in France when he noticed the voltage between two metal electrodes in an electrically-conductive liquid increased when exposed to sunlight.
- 1873: Willoughby Smith discovered that the element Selenium has photoconductive properties.
- 1876:William Grylls Adams and Richard Evans Day created a selenium solar cell that produced electricity when exposed to light, proving that solid matter is capable of transforming light into electricity (less than 1% efficient).
- 1932: The photovoltaic effect of cadmium sulfide was discovered by Audobert and Stora.
- 1954: Bell Labs developed the first silicon photovoltaic cell capable of producing usable electricity, with an initial solar panel efficiency rate of 4%.
- 1958: Hoffman Electronics created PV cells with 9% efficiency.
- 1959: Hoffman Electronics followed up with 10% efficient cells.
- 1960: Solar panel efficiency hit 14% by Hoffman Electronics.
- 1985: A 20% efficiency level was reached for silicon solar cells.
- 1994: The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) created a solar cell that exceeded 30% conversion efficiency.
- 1999: Spectorlab, Inc. and NREL developed a solar cell that was 32.3% efficient. (Three layers of photovoltaic material were combined into a single solar cell to achieve this level.)
- 2012: Solar Frontier achieved 17.8% efficiency on thin-film PV.
- 2015:SunPower recorded 22.8% efficiency for high-rate production commercial photovoltaic modules.
- 2016: NREL and the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM) recorded 29.8% efficiency on a lab cell.
- 2016: SunPower broke their previous world record for the highest-efficiency (24.1%) commercial solar panel using silicon cells.
- 2019: EnergySage ranks SunPower #1 among the top 5 companies who produce the most efficient solar panels.
The major take-away from this quick skip through time is that the history of solar panel efficiency shows impressive advances at first, but is now running up against the barriers of physics. Higher efficiencies require technologies that are harder to produce at scale at an agreeable cost. In other words, don’t expect any major jumps in efficiency for commercially-available solar panels any time soon.
In fact, depending on which physicist you talk to, there is also a very real theoretical limit to how much efficiency is possible for commercially-viable modules. Most authorities put that upper cap at about 30%. For some perspective, the average commercial solar panels manufactured today (with a few exceptions) hit a range of 17% to 20%.
Bottom line: While the future of solar technology is bright, advances will likely be modest for high-efficiency commercial solar panels.
But records are made to be broken, right?
Creating high-efficiency commercial solar panels that break records is a worthy goal. However, when you see claims of a new efficiency milestone being reached, be warned the results are often confined to the laboratory with no practical real-world applications on the horizon. The maximum efficiency number noted earlier is for something called “single junction cells.” These are your standard, mass-produced (and relatively-inexpensive) solar cells. When you see efficiency numbers climbing into the high 20s or beyond, be sure to read carefully. It usually means there’s some fancy tech going on that won’t likely hit the commercial market any time soon (if ever).
There are some other processes that can produce greater solar efficiency rates that do offer real commercial potential. For example, layers of different materials can be sandwiched into a single cell to capture different light spectrums, resulting in greater efficiency (more light is captured). Another approach uses lenses to concentrate sunlight onto small, highly-efficient cells (more sunlight goes into the cell, so more energy is produced). These applications can vastly improve solar panel efficiency, but likely at a considerably higher cost. The added expense may be worth it if you’re trying to power an orbiting satellite—where size, weight and amount of power generated are key. For commercial solar power systems, however, they simply aren’t practical.
Comparing efficiency ratings
Now that you have a better understanding of what you’re looking at when you see a solar panel efficiency rating, here are a few other things to think about:
- Not all solar cells are made the same. Seems obvious, but it’s worth noting. Take the industry-dominant silicon solar cell. Is it mono- or polycrystalline silicon? Monocrystalline silicon is purer and produces a more efficient solar panel; however, it is also more expensive to produce. For an interesting overview of the pros and cons of different types of solar panels, check out this article from Energy Informative.
- Not all solar equipment providers readily offer up the efficiency of the panels they sell. It could be the company doesn’t want to provide the information if it doesn’t help sales. Or, they could actually believe that efficiency is not important. Having this information is required by law, so don’t hesitate to ask.
So how important are efficiency ratings?
Are efficiency ratings important if the differences are within a few percentage points? That depends who you ask.
- Some argue that as solar cell costs go down and efficiency improves, it becomes less important because mounting hardware, inverters and other components of a solar power system have a bigger impact on the overall install.
- Others counter that solar panel efficiency is important because more efficient solar panels can produce more power in the same amount of space. This is great for constrained areas or if you just want to get maximum output. It could also mean fewer solar modules to generate the energy you need, which can lead to lower installation costs and less preventative maintenance down the line.
When you realize that commercial solar is a long-term commitment, it would be short-sighted to FOCUS solely on upfront costs. Considering solar panel efficiency ratings, as well as other aspects of your investment that could lead to the most savings over the life of your system, is not only important—it’s the Smart thing to do