Updated 4 weeks ago

Top 5 cheap solar panels in 2024

Written by Jamie Smith , Edited by Catherine Lane

Find out what solar panels cost in your area

Key takeaways

  • The best cheap solar panels in 2024 come from LONGi, Canadian Solar, Trina Solar, JA Solar, and Qcells.

  • Our solar experts ranked these panels by value, warranty, module quality, and company financial performance.

  • The national average cost of solar panels in 2024 is roughly $3.00 per watt – but any installation under $2.85 per watt can be considered cheap.

  • The total cost of your installation can be lowered with the federal tax credit and any other local incentives.

  • Purchasing used solar panels or DIY solar can cut costs significantly, but we do not recommend either.

As of 2024, home solar installations can cost anywhere between $18,000 and $20,000. While solar can be a great addition to most homes, it’s a huge investment.

Looking for a reliable, cheap solar panel brand can be daunting. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of low-cost solar panels that will still do the job. Our top picks for cheap solar panels are:

Brand

Model

Cost (per watt)

1. LONGi

Hi-MO 405-425M

$2.40

2. Canadian Solar

HiKu 6 CS6R-400

$2.60

3. Trina Solar

TSM-DE09C.05 (405W)

$2.80

4. JA Solar

JAM54S30/MR

$2.80

5. Qcells

Q.PEAK DUO ML-G10+

$2.63

Find out how much solar panels will cost for your specific home

Top 5 cheap solar panels

We wanted to provide a list of low-cost panels that are also good quality. So, our solar experts reviewed panels from reliable brands to find which ones provided the best value.

You could find other solar panels cheaper than the ones we chose, but the quality would likely be low. After all, what’s the point of buying solar panels if they don’t work well?

1. LONGi

LONGi brand card; 21.8% efficiency rating, $2.40, pros, and cons


Why we chose them:
LONGi solar panels are not only the cheapest solar panels on this list at $2.40 per watt, but they also hold their value quite well. LONGi Solar offers solid solar panels with PERC technology, which allows for high-efficiency ratings.

LONGi offers high-quality panels backed by a 12-year product and  25-year performance warranty that promises its panels will retain at least 84.8% of their output by the end of the term.

These warranty terms are pretty average, which makes sense considering the low price. But, the company still checks off all the boxes for being a reliable brand. LONGi is an excellent example of how buying cheap solar panels can still mean buying good solar panels.

2. Canadian Solar

Brand card for Canadian Solar; 21.5% efficiency, $2.60 per watt, pros, and cons

Why we chose them: Canadian Solar is a long-time admired brand from SolarReviews. As one of the top five solar manufacturers in the world, there’s a good chance the installer you work with will recommend these panels. 

Most Canadian Solar models have a standard 12-year product warranty and a 25-year performance warranty with a degradation rate of 0.55% per year. These warranties fall within the industry standard, but there is definitely room for improvement. 

Canadian Solar offers a number of high-efficiency models that may cost a little more money, but they’ll still be cheaper than premium brands like SunPower.  

3. Trina Solar

Trina Solar brand card; 21.1% efficiency, $2.80 per watt, pros, and cons

Why we chose them: Trina Solar is a well-established solar panel brand offering cutting-edge technology and long-lasting value. The China-based manufacturer offers a 25-year product and performance warranty. Their performance warranty promises no less than 84.8% output by the end of the 25-years

Coming in at $2.80 per watt, Trina panels are pricier than others on this list – but still fall below the national average of $3.00 per watt! All in all, Trina uses high-quality solar technology that will bring you excellent results.

4. JA Solar

JA Solar brand card; 21.5% efficiency, $2.80 per watt, pros, and cons

Why we chose them: JA Solar is a China-based solar manufacturer with several global offices, including one in San Jose, California. Just like other panels on this list, JA panels offer half-cut cells and PERC technology to make them more efficient.

JA Solar’s warranty offers a 12-year product replacement warranty and a 30-year panel output warranty. Although the product warranty is on the shorter side compared to other manufacturers, the 30-year performance warranty goes above the industry standard. The performance warranty also promises that the panels will not produce any less than 82.5% at the end of the 30-year period.

JA panels are also on the pricier side of this list, costing around $2.80 per watt. However, they are a fan-favorite on SolarReviews website, with no ratings under four stars! Take it from people who own these panels– they’re a solid choice for your home.

5. Qcells

Qcells brand card; 20.6% efficiency, $2.63 per kWh, pros, and cons

Why we chose them: With panels, batteries, and inverters, Qcells has it all! With everything Qcells offers, it landed the #1 spot on our top solar panel manufacturers list for 2023.

Regarding affordability, Qcells cost roughly $2.63 per watt, which is a bit below the national average for solar panels. Qcells has a great reputation among installers and homeowners alike, so you can trust that you’re getting good-quality solar panels without breaking the bank.

Their warranty coverage offers a 25-year product warranty and a 25-year performance warranty, promising your system will operate at 86% of its total power by the end of the warranty period, with a 0.5% degradation rate.

Cheap solar panels price comparison

Chart comparing cheap solar panel brand prices; 1. LONGi: $2.40 per watt.  2. Canadian Solar: $2.60 per watt. 3. Q Cells: $2.63 per watt.  4. Trina Solar: $2.80 per watt. 5. JA Solar: $2.80 per watt. National average: $3.00 per watt

This chart shows where each of our top picks fall compared to the national average cost $3.00 per watt of solar installed. Each panel brand we hand-picked falls below this average.

So, while a typical-sized solar system will cost around $20,000 – a system using LONGi panels will be just $14,400. As you can see, low-cost panels make quite a difference.

Ways to save on your solar installation

There’s a good chance you’ve come across this page because you’re looking to spend as little as possible on your solar installation. After all, who doesn’t want to save money? Listed below are a few ways to cut costs on your solar project. 

Federal solar tax credit

The country's biggest incentive for going solar is the 30% federal tax credit. If you are a taxpayer in the U.S., you can claim this when you file your taxes and receive a credit equal to 30% of the total cost of your installation.

In other words, if your solar installation costs $20,000, you can receive a credit of $6,000.

Read more: The 2024 guide to the solar tax credit

Net metering

Most states have legislation requiring utilities to offer some form of net metering, so homeowners are compensated for all of the solar energy their panels generate, even if they don’t use it right away.

With net metering, excess energy generated by solar panels that is unused by the home can be sold to your utility provider in exchange for credits on your electric bill.

Net metering rules can differ depending on your utility or state’s legislation. In some cases, net metering can completely wipe your electricity bill. Savings through net metering can further reduce the payback period on your solar panel investment.

Read more: What is net metering, and how does it work?

Other local solar rebates and incentives

Certain states or utilities may offer incentives for going solar that can help you pay for the cost of a solar installation. This can come in the form of a tax credit, an upfront payment, or performance-based incentives.

For instance, homeowners in Massachusetts can get an additional tax credit of up to $1,000 when they install a solar system, which can be combined with other incentives. 

Other incentives are available for those who install battery storage with their solar panels. Before you get solar, you can consult with your local installer to see what rebates are available near you. 

DIY solar panels

Yes, it is possible to install solar panels yourself by purchasing a DIY solar panel kit. Installing solar panels yourself will cut down big time on installation costs. However, we do not recommend this method for rooftop solar.

Installing solar panels yourself is risky unless you have the expertise and skills to do so. Sometimes, utility companies may not even allow you to connect a DIY solar installation to the grid, meaning you couldn’t take advantage of net metering or other utility incentives that may be available. It may also void your roofing warranty or even the warranty from the solar panel manufacturer!

We always recommend using a qualified solar professional to install panels on your roof to guarantee a safe installation. DIY may save you some money, but it isn’t always worth the headache.

Find reliable solar installers in your area

Used solar panels

Since used materials have a lower value, you can find used, cheap solar panels from private sellers online that can save you hundreds on materials. If you’re looking to utilize solar technology for the sake of being environmentally friendly, used solar panels can be an option for small-scale projects.

Used solar panels are also not something we’d recommend when it comes to rooftop solar. 

Instead, consider looking into refurbished panels because they have been better restored to an acceptable working condition.

If you want the best results, though, just buy your panels from a cheaper manufacturer – like the ones we mentioned in this article!

Disclaimer: We urge anyone buying solar panels not to try to cut corners if they want the best results. Even if DIY solar and used solar panels are cheaper, we do not recommend them to customers. For this kind of investment, cheap doesn’t always mean good.

Financing options for solar panels

If you cannot entirely pay for your solar system upfront, you can finance it with a loan, lease, or a power-purchase agreement (PPA). 

Solar loan

The most popular method for financing solar is using a solar loan. Many financial institutions provide solar-specific loans designed with terms that will last the lifespan of your solar system.

Solar loans typically work by putting a down payment on your system and paying off your loan in monthly payments. Your loan will include interest and a dealer fee that will add to your total debt.

With a solar loan, you are still entitled to incentives and any available rebates to bring the cost down. Most installers have loan providers in their network, so they can secure the financing for you!

Solar lease/PPA

Much like leasing a car, a solar lease or power purchase agreement (PPA) is an agreement between a customer and a leasing company where the customer pays a fixed monthly amount in exchange for using the solar panels.

Solar leases and PPAs require no down payment, but this doesn’t mean the solar is free. You’re essentially swapping your electric bill for a lease payment, which is a lower monthly cost. Because you don’t own the solar panels, incentives like the federal tax credit will go to the solar company (not you!).

These agreements typically last 20 to 25 years. After that period, you can purchase the panels or have the company take them off your roof.

The main difference between solar leases and PPAs is determining the payments. With a solar lease, you pay a fixed monthly amount. PPA payments, however, can change each month depending on how much solar energy the system produces.

For more information on financing options: Solar financing: What’s the best way to pay for solar panels?

Methodology

Cheap solar panels methodology pie chart from SolarReviews

Our solar experts analyzed top solar brands to find the ones that offer the best price without sacrificing quality or reliability.

We looked at four scoring criteria:

  • Value (15 points): Our scoring system's highest value is on each solar panel's price. We looked at the average wholesale selling price of the panels in container volumes landed in the USA. The lower the wholesale price, the higher they scored. 

  • Module quality (10 points): The next highest scoring value is for the module quality. This is where we take a look at each panel’s specifications. More specifically, the efficiency, temperature coefficient, and bonus points if the modules were listed on the PVEL scorecard. The better each panel performs, the higher the score. 

  • Warranty (5 points): We looked at the product and performance warranty, so the panels recommended come protected and built to last. Panels scored higher if they had a product warranty greater than 15 years. As for performance, panels with a lower degradation rate scored higher.

  • Company financial performance (5 points): To be sure that the manufacturers we recommend are also in good standing, we reviewed the financial performance of each company. Points were awarded for company revenue, revenue growth, and a positive net profit margin. A bonus point was also given to publicly traded companies and companies with financial statements available.

TOTAL: 35 points

Cheap solar panel FAQ

Curious about buying low-cost solar panels and beginning your solar journey? Here are some frequently asked questions you might want to know. 

Want to find out if solar is right for you? Put your address into our solar calculator to learn more about solar costs and savings for your home!

Written by Jamie Smith Content Specialist

Jamie is a Content Writer and researcher at SolarReviews. A recent graduate of La Salle University in Philadelphia, Jamie earned her B.S. in communications with a concentration in journalism, mass media, and public relations. Jamie has previously worked at a marketing company where she had the opportunity to highlight and promote small business owners through long-form stories and interviews. With a deep-rooted passion for creativity, Jamie stri...

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