Who are the top solar companies in the world and in the USA? Industry analysts from SPV, SEIA and other organizations offer their top rankings, based on updated shipping forecasts from each of the companies included. *Note: if you are looking for information about the Trump Administration’s tariff on U.S. solar panel imports, read our complete analysis here.
The top 3 solar manufacturers
Currently the top 3 solar manufacturers in the world are JinkoSolar, JA Solar, and Trina Solar (respectively) based on market share among panel manufacturing companies. The biggest solar installation companies in the U.S. are Sunrun and Tesla.
There were some major changes over the past few years, including some new leaders in solar manufacturing who were once no names in the PV industry. JA Solar is grabbing market share with a passion while Hanwha Q CELLS has slumped. The question for you as a solar shopper: should you care if your solar panels are made by one of the big 10 manufacturers in the world? Are American made solar panels truly the better product when the majority of manufacturers are located elsewhere? Here’s our breakdown of the best solar manufacturers around the globe.
How to compare the best solar energy companies in the world
Because solar panel manufacturer rankings are based on the total volume of solar panels that the companies ship, being in the top position does not necessarily mean they offer the highest quality panel. Some of the smaller manufacturers specialize in premium products, whereas most of the larger manufacturers have gotten to where they are by either making a panel for the high volume market or by focusing their efforts on large-scale projects. That being said, a company’s proven ability to produce and sell a large amount of product is testimony to its brand’s credibility, buildng trust among consumers and installers alike.
The important thing for you to keep in mind as a solar shopper is the ability to differentiate between them to find the panel that best suits your needs and budget. To this end, EnergySage has developed a solar panel quality ranking system of our own so that our customers can confidently choose a panel and manufacturer.
If you’re interested in learning more about how panels are ranked, visit our Solar Decision Guide. When it comes to metrics like solar panel efficiency, the simple cost per watt of a single solar panel is not a unit of measure that can stand on its own. It’s important to understand the conversion potential of your panels as a way to decide which brand to go with. SunPower, for example, is heralded for its impressive conversion efficiency which has regularly fluctuated over the past 10 years for holding the world record. That being said, SunPower panels are much more expensive than a cheaper brand such as Canadian Solar and thus the size of your solar system and panel output will help you decide what will generate the most solar savings and most immediate payback period.
Where are the best solar panels being made?
The simple answer to this commonly asked question is East Asia, and you will notice that the majority of the top ten manufacturers are Chinese as the bulk of global solar panels are manufactured there. East Asia has become the solar manufacturing hub of the world and the latest emerging trend is that companies outside of China are starting to have success, including Canadian Solar.
As we’ve noted before, however, a panel’s country of manufacture is not usually the most important consideration for someone going solar. Instead, most people will find a balance between cost and quality, with a panel’s country of manufacture being a secondary consideration – a possible deal-breaker. For some homeowners, the importance of energy independence is a major factor when considering what brand of panels they would prefer. Though we at EnergySage support American companies and sustainability of the U.S. nation, we do recommend getting advice from your installer and considering their suggestions. After all, they will have the most up to date experience with long term efficiency, maintenance and durability of various solar panel brands and will also know which models are most popular on the market.
What are the top companies making solar panels in the U.S.?
Though the large majority of solar manufacturers import their equipment from southeast Asia (even in the case of leading American solar companies like SunPower), there is a short list of American solar companies that actually make their solar panels here in the United States and are headquartered in the country.
Here is the breakdown of U.S. solar companies:
Top American solar companies
|Company||Headquarters||Types of Panels Offered||Warranty Period Range||Number of Years in Business|
|Auxin Solar||San Jose, CA||Monocrystalline||25 years||12 years|
|Certainteed Solar||Malvern, PA||Monocrystalline||25 years||110 years|
|First Solar||Tempe, AZ||Thin film||12 years||30 years|
|Global Solar||Tuscon, AZ||Flexible thin film||25 years||24 years|
|GreenBrilliance||Sterling, VA||Monocrystalline, polycrystalline||10 years||13 years|
|Lumos Solar||Nederland, CO||Monocrystalline||10 years||14 years|
|Prism Solar||Highland, NY||Monocrystalline||25 years||15 years|
|Seraphim||Houston, TX||Monocrystalline, ploycrystalline||10 years||19 years|
|Solaria||Fremont, CA||Monocrystalline||25 years||20 years|
|SolarTech Universal||Riviera Beach, FL||Monocrystalline||15 years||18 years|
|SunPower||San Jose, CA||Monocrystalline||25 years||35 years|
|SunSpark||Riverside, CA||Monocrystalline, polycrystalline||12 years||5 years|
|Tesla||Palo Alto, CA||Monocrystalline||25 years||17 years|
|Panasonic||Osaka, Japan||Monocrystalline, thin film amorphous silicon||25 years||102 years|
The top 10 list of solar panel manufacturers (global)
A big part of calculating solar panel quality is understanding the metrics and factors that determine it such as module efficiency and performance. Check out this solar panel analysis to better understand significant characteristics that will impact your solar system’s panel performance. Also notable is the fact that not every company that made this list has a significant share of the US residential solar power market.
Included in the table below are the solar panel manufacturers with the largest global market share in 2020, based on sales in 2019. This is the most recent data available.
Top solar panel manufacturers
|2021 Rank||Company||Headquarters||Types of Panels Offered||Warranty Period Range||Number of Years in Business|
|1||LONGi Solar||China||Monocrystalline||12 years||20 years|
|2||JinkoSolar||China||Half-cell technology||12 years||14 years|
|3||JA Solar||China||Half-cell technology||12 years||15 years|
|4||Trina Solar||China||Monocrystalline||25 years||23 years|
|5||Canadian Solar||Canada||Monocrystalline, polycrystalline||12 years||19 years|
|6||Hanwha Q-CELLS||South Korea||Monocrystalline||12 years||21 years|
|7||Risen Energy||China||Monocrystalline, thin film amorphous silicon||12 years||34 years|
|8||Astroenergy||China||Monocrystalline, polycrystalline||10 years||36 years|
|9||First Solar||USA||Thin film||12 years||30 years|
|10||Suntech||China||Half-cell technology||12 years||20 years|
What are solar panels made of?
Most panels on the market are made of monocrystalline, polycrystalline, or thin film “amorphous” silicon. On a more granular level, solar panels are comprised of six different components including the following:
- Silicon solar cells: convert sunlight into electricity using the photovoltaic effect
- Metal frame: protects against inclement weather and helps mount the panel at an angle
- Glass sheet: shields the silicon solar cells, and allows sunlight through
- Standard 12V wire: regulates the amount of energy being transferred into your solar inverter
- Bus wire: connects the solar cells together in parallel
To learn more about the processes and materials that leading manufacturers use, read our blog about cell types and parts of solar panels.
Three Tips for Solar Shoppers
1. Homeowners who get multiple quotes save 10% or more
As with any big ticket purchase, shopping for a solar panel installation takes a lot of research and consideration, including a thorough review of the companies in your area. A recent report by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recommended that consumers compare as many solar options as possible to avoid paying inflated prices offered by the large installers in the solar industry.
To find the smaller contractors that typically offer lower prices and great warranties, you’ll need to use an installer network like EnergySage. You can receive free quotes from vetted installers local to you when you register your property on our Solar Marketplace – homeowners who get 3 or more quotes can expect to save $5,000 to $10,000 on their solar panel installation.
2. The biggest installers typically don’t offer the best price
The bigger isn’t always better mantra is one of the main reasons we strongly encourage homeowners to consider all of their solar options, not just the brands large enough to pay for the most advertising. A recent report by the U.S. government found that large installers are $2,000 to $5,000 more expensive than small solar companies. If you have offers from some of the big installers in solar, make sure you compare those bids with quotes from local installers to ensure you don’t overpay for solar. For more information on financing incentives and rebates, read our blog article for tips on how to pay for a new solar system—regardless of if you opt for a local or larger installer.
3. Comparing all your equipment options is just as important
National-scale installers don’t just offer higher prices – they also tend to have fewer solar equipment options, which can have a significant impact on your system’s electricity production and storage capacity using solar batteries. By collecting a diverse array of solar bids, you can compare costs and savings based on the different equipment packages available to you.
There are multiple variables to consider when seeking out the best solar panels on the market. While certain panels will have higher efficiency ratings than others, investing in top-of-the-line solar equipment doesn’t always result in higher savings. The only way to find the “sweet spot” for your property is to evaluate quotes with varying equipment and financing offers.
Frequently asked questions about solar panel companies
The top 10 solar panel companies globally with the largest market share are, in order, LONGi Solar, JinkoSolar, JA Solar, Trina Solar, Canadian Solar, Hanwha Q-CELLS, Risen Energy, Astroenergy, First Solar, and Suntech.
As noted earlier, China is the largest producer of solar panels worldwide. In 2017, the nation’s market share reached 51% and has since declined to just 27% in 2019—this indicates that new countries are producing and installing solar panels at a higher rate in a short period of time. As for the company with the largest production rate, JinkoSolar, headquartered in Shanghai, China, ranked first according to the most recent data.
When you select an installer, you want to know that it’s a reputable company, with a strong track record, that has all the licenses and certifications required in your state, and with the expertise to design a solar panel system that’s right for your needs.
Picking between solar installers can be a daunting task, but EnergySage is here to help. We vet the installers that quote on our Marketplace, present installer-specific differentiators in the quotes you see, and have created a badge tier system that helps you find the top solar installers in your area.
For any homeowner in the early stage of shopping for solar that would just like a ballpark estimate for an installation, try our Solar Calculator that offers upfront cost and long-term savings estimates based on your location and roof type. For those looking to get quotes from local contractors today, check out our quote comparison platform.