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Made in the USA: Top 5 solar brands

It might come off as surprising, but truly American solar manufacturers are few and far between. We've listed Top 5 local solar companies whose PV modules are definitely worth buying.

Is it American?

A simple question like this may be surprisingly hard to answer. PV modules are no exception. American solar manufacturers can be divided into three major groups: 

• both headquartered and producing their goods in the US
• headquartered outside, but using American production facilities
• headquartered in the US, but manufacturing elsewhere

Companies of all three types can claim they produce US solar panels. However, only the first two have a tangible positive impact on our economy and environment. That's why our ranking is limited to the companies that do all or a significant part of their production in the US.

Why buy local?

When you buy PV modules from American solar manufacturers, you are sure to get high quality equipment compliant with American quality standards. US manufacturers always honor their warranty and provide timely service to your solar panels if needed.

Buying American solar panels, you support the national economy by creating jobs and investment opportunities. At the same time, you reduce carbon footprint from transportation, since the equipment has much fewer miles to travel. 

The solar brands listed below all have factories in the US and are subject to American quality control regulations. While ranking the companies, we considered efficiency, performance, warranty and price of the modules they produce, as well as the feedback from our customers.

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LG

LG is a South Korean company but it had a huge facility in Huntsville, Alabama. The solar plant was capable of producing 550 MW of PV modules a year. It is enough to supply more than 91,000 US homes with a 6kW solar PV system.

LG modules were among the most efficient in our ranking. NeON R panels reach an incredible 22% efficiency, in comparison to the average 18-19%. This efficiency remains high even in hot climates. The company also offers a 25-year product warranty, which is normally limited to 10-15 years.

Unfortunately, LG Electronics announced in February 2022 that it would stop producing and selling solar panels. Apparently, the company couldn't keep up with Chinese competitors and low prices which they offered. The company continues to develop its energy storage systems.

Q Cells

Tier 1 are the big brands listed by Bloomberg as low-risk and high-quality manufacturers.

Hanwha Q Cells is another South Korean company. However, it operates the largest silicon PV manufacturing facility in the US with the designed capacity of 12,000 PV modules per day or 1.7 GW annually. The plant is located in Dalton, Georgia. 

After many experiments, the company decided to focus on one particular type of panels – those built with monocrystalline PERC cells. Their backside is covered with conductive material, which allows them to capture extra energy from the sun. Q Cells offers a range of solutions for residential, commercial and industrial customers – from kits to large scale solar power plants.

Q CELLS solar panels show higher than average efficiency of up to 22.2%. In 2020, Hanwha Q Cells was top-rated by PVEL for their Q.PEAK DUO series module. They usually come all-black, which most clients find aesthetically pleasing. As for the price, Q Cells modules are one of the cheapest among Tier 1 solar manufacturers

Silfab

Silfab Solar is one of the rare companies that makes premium quality solar equipment exclusively in North America, operating a 200 MW facility in Bellingham, Washington.Their products are specifically engineered for the American market – the continent's climates and possible weather conditions are taken into account. 

One of the company's main priorities is product innovation. For example, they brought into the market Metal-Wrap-Through technology, which eliminates additional metal that would normally have been shading the front side of the cell. At the same time, it offers a superior aesthetic, because there is less metal visible on the front side of Silfab solar panels.

Over the past decade it has become a premium brand of PV modules featuring maximum power density and ultra-high efficiency. Their Elite Series monocrystalline PV modules reach an efficiency of 21.4%. In 2020, the company earned 'top performer' from PVEL, getting top ratings in four key testing categories.

Solaria

The company appeared in 2000, when the solar energy industry was just beginning to shape. In 2014, Solaria started experimenting with shingled panels, accumulating more than 250 issued and pending patents in this field. Solaria solar panels are made in Fremont, California and in South Korea. 

Solaria's impressive expertise was incorporated into their most recent PowerXT solar panels. They feature an efficiency of up to 20%, reduced inactive space between the cells for better performance and a sleek all-black aesthetics. The company also develops other innovative solutions for residential and commercial clients, including car chargers, inverters and energy storage systems.

Mission Solar

The company was founded in 2014 in the city of San-Antonio, Texas. Mission Solar designs and assembles high-quality solar modules right at their factory in the Lone Star State. The manufacturing capacity of their facility is approximately 400 MW per year. It means they can turn the whole city of San-Antonio to solar energy in some 8 years. 

All Mission Solar panels made in San-Antonio use monocrystalline cells and are fit for both residential and commercial use. In real-world conditions Mission solar modules show almost the same performance as they do under test, so you can fully rely on the numbers specified in the data sheets. However, the panels degrade slightly faster: after 25 years you will have about 80% efficiency left, while the average number is close to 85%.

This article was updated for March 2024

Writing for electronics manufacturers like Bitmain taught Maxim to extract the important details from lengthy equipment documentation. At the same time, it made him aware of the environmental effects, and he put his talents to work for a renewable future.

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