Buying cheap solar panels in 2021: A guide to discount solar panels

Updated

2020 guide to cheap solar panels

Upgrading to photovoltaic solar panels can be an expensive commitment, but there are plenty of cheap solar panels to choose from. This is due to an overall large drop in solar panel prices, coupled with a substantial increase in efficiency. 

This means solar is cheaper and better at producing energy than ever before. So, which cheap solar panels are right for your solar power system? Browse our recommendations below!

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    Top 5 recommended cheap solar panels

    Using SolarReviews solar panel reviews, you can find a lot of important information about solar panel brands and products. At the time of writing, these are the panels that stood out as the best quality of the cheapest panels in terms of efficiency rating, pricing per panel and wattage. 

    1. Solarland SLP020-24U Silver Poly 24 Volt Solar Panel

    Solarland panels are the cheapest overall. 

    Solarland SLP020-24U Silver Poly 24 Volt Solar PanelImage source: Solar-electric.com

    • $63.80 per panel
    • 20-watt panels
    • Unknown efficiency
    • 10-year warranty on power output

    Their most popular cheap model is the Solarland SLP020-24U Silver Poly 24 Volt Solar Panel, which is typically used for powering traffic lights and other small off-grid uses. 

    Certain features, like its efficiency rating, are either non-existent or challenging to find, which makes this cheap panel a potentially risky purchase.

    2. LONGi Model #LR6-60-HPB-310M

    As for residential solar panels that can power an entire house, the LONGi brand is well-rated on SolarReviews and offers a few cheap model types, including LONGi Model #LR6-60-HPB-310M and LONGi Model #LR6-60-HPB-300M.

    LONGi Model #LR6-60-HPB-310M

    • $165 per panel
    • 310-watt panels
    • 18.7% efficiency
    • Limited 25-year warranty

    LONGi is a great panel that offers good efficiency and reliable wattage, it is a high-quality cheap panel option. 

    3. LONGi Model #LR6-60-HPB-300M 

    LONGi also offers a lower wattage model if you want to spend a little less per square foot and have roof space to spare for extra panels.

    LONGi Model #LR6-60-HPB-300M 

    • $196.11 per panel
    • 300-watt panels
    • 18.1% efficiency
    • Limited 25-year warranty

    Although LONGi panels are not as efficient as their top-tier counterparts, they can provide enough power for your entire home for a guaranteed 25 years.

    4. Canadian Solar Model #CS3K-315MS

    Canadian Solar is another highly-rated, cost-effective solar panel manufacturer. The cheapest option is Model #CS3K-315MS.

    Canadian Solar Model #CS3K-315MS

    • $207.90 per panel
    • 315-watt panels
    • 18.96% efficiency
    • 25-year output warranty

    Canadian Solar panels are slightly more expensive than LONGi but they offer better efficiency, so you can use less of them to power your home.

    5. Panasonic Model #VBH330RA03K

    Panasonic solar panels are regarded as some of the best-quality panels, but you can find a good deal with the VBH330RA03K model.

    Panasonic Model #VBH330RA03K

    • $291.18 per panel
    • 330-watt panels
    • 19.7% efficiency
    • 25-year warranty

    Panasonic is definitely the most costly option on this list, but its brand recognition, higher efficiency, and wattage might make it worth the money in exchange for the peace of mind that comes with a known and well-liked brand. 

    Why do solar panel costs vary?

    Although individual solar panel prices are listed, normally when solar installers order materials for installation, they might be able to find a better deal because of relationships they have with manufacturers or through various incentives for solar in your state. 

    Find what solar incentives you could be eligible for here.

    When buying solar panels for a project, the cost per watt of the panel can end up being less than if you bought 20 individual panels. Working with a licensed installer can help you get the best quality panel for the best cost.

    Additionally, while cheap solar panels offer the best price upfront, they might not be the best long-term option. Cheap solar panels have a shorter lifespan because usually what makes them cheap is that they have lower efficiency, or ability to absorb sunlight, and they deteriorate more quickly. 

    However, if you are determined to get the best deal for solar panels, going the DIY route might be your best bet. 

    DIY solar panels offer a cheap alternative to professional installations

    One alternative to buying new solar panels is to buy a DIY solar kit that you can install yourself. 

    Whether the purpose of the solar you need ranges from a small kit to act as an electronics charger for your off-grid RV lifestyle to solar panels that can power your entire house, there are DIY kits for them all.

    Grape Solar grid solar panel kits can be purchased at various retailers and can be large enough to power your entire house. Connecting the system to the grid, obtaining the necessary permits, or any help you might need during installation might increase the overall cost, so working with professional installers can actually end up being cheaper. 

    Portable solar panels are great if you are looking for a cheap solar generator for use on the go, such as camping needs, or for backup power should your electricity go out. You can go to Amazon and purchase portable solar panels at any time. We recommend the following kits: 

    • Renogy 100W 12V Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit and solar charge controller
      Price: $152.52

    Renogy 100W 12V Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit and solar charge controller

    Image source: Amazon.com

     

    • HQST 100 Watt 12 Volt Polycrystalline Solar Panel
      Price: $69.99

    HQST 100 Watt 12 Volt Polycrystalline Solar Panel

    Image source: Amazon.com

    If you choose to purchase solar panels, solar racking and a solar inverter to install yourself, you could save thousands of dollars. However, if you are not a contractor or have experience drilling holes in your roof and working with electrical wiring, this might be a larger project than is worth it. 

    Another drawback of DIY installations is that in some states, incentives are not available unless the panels are installed by a licensed contractor. So you could save more money if a professional installs your panels because of all the incentives you might qualify for.

    What solar incentives are available to me?

    There are many local state and utility solar incentives that you can research while planning your solar installation. 

    One of the best incentives is the federal solar tax credit, which is 26% until 2023. This incentive works by reducing your federal income taxes by 26% of your system’s value - which works out to essentially be a 26% discount!

    Some utility companies also offer rebates on the purchase of a solar system, to view your local solar incentives enter your zip code below for a free estimate.

    How much could you save on solar with local incentives?

    Solar energy also saves you money by offsetting the cost of energy that you would otherwise have to purchase from your utility. In most states, this is done through a program called net metering. Incentives vary state by state so be sure to research the options that are available to you.

    Are buying cheap solar panels worth it?

    Solar panels vary in price for a few reasons. High efficiency panels with more solar cells, or ones that have a higher wattage amount, are generally more expensive because they can produce more electricity per panel than less efficient options. 

    While purchasing cheap solar panels might save you money upfront, the long-term benefit of installing more expensive solar panels might outweigh the initial savings. Higher-quality panels will produce more electricity and last longer so you will need less panels to cover the energy consumption of your home. 

    Cost generally comes down to how a panel was built, both in terms of quality and the method used, i.e. monocrystalline versus polycrystalline, and its efficiency.

    While cheap solar panels might be tempting, the best-priced solar panels are ones that will provide the highest payback over the long term. Despite the large initial price tag involved with a quality solar system, depending on where you live, you can save upwards of $60,000 over a 25-year period instead of spending that money on utility bills.

    Solar power is one of the most profitable renewable energy home investments in the United States and is currently helping hundreds of thousands of homeowners save money on their electricity bills. Provided you install the right system size, you can wipe out all or most of your electric bill. Solar panel installation companies are more than happy to help you find the cheapest solar installation.

    Finding the best overall price on a solar system is simple - you can contact local installers and ask for a quote. You can do this commitment-free by entering your zip code below.

    Find out how much you can save annually by switching to solar

    Key takeaways

    • Cheap solar panels can save you money upfront but are not the best long-term investment. They are usually less efficient, have lower wattage, and do not last as long as more expensive panels.
    • DIY solar panels may cost more money in the long run, as you will have to fund permitting and various other costs associated with installing a solar system, on your own.
    • Working with a professional installer can get you the cheapest cost per watt and best savings incentives.
     - Author of Solar Reviews

    Ana Almerini

    Web Content Specialist

    Ana is a web content specialist at SolarReviews. She has 5 years of marketing experience blended with 2 years of experience in climate communications and holds a master of arts degree in climate and society from Columbia University. Ana frequently volunteers for environmental causes ranging from oyster reef restoration in NJ to expanding bike sharing in Naples, Italy.

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