Canadian Solar panels 2024 expert review
If you’re interested in going solar, chances are at least one of the installers you’ll talk to will offer Canadian Solar panels. As one of the top 5 solar panel manufacturers in the world, Canadian Solar has a long history of success and big plans for the future.
Canadian Solar offers some excellent solar panels at very good prices. The company’s products compare favorably on performance with other top brands, and they stand behind them with excellent warranties. Based on product quality and the company’s longevity and stability, SolarReviews recommends Canadian Solar panels.
Below, we’ll discuss how Canadian Solar's panels compare to offerings from other top brands and whether you can trust them to last for multiple decades on your roof.
Canadian Solar Incorporated is one of the 5 largest solar module manufacturers in the world; as of late 2022, they had an annual production capacity of about 31 GW.
The company’s corporate headquarters is located in Guelph, Ontario, and they maintain a 500 MW manufacturing facility also in Canada. That said, the vast majority of Candian’s module manufacturing is done in China. In addition to the Chinese and Canadian facilities, Canadian Solar also manufactures various solar materials in Indonesia, Vietnam, and Brazil.
Canadian Solar was founded in 2001 by Dr. Shawn Qu, making it a relatively old solar manufacturer. It has since grown to employ thousands of people on several continents. The company is partially vertically integrated, meaning they not only make solar panels (also called ‘modules’), but also produce some of the raw silicon ingots, wafers, and solar cells that go into those panels.
Here’s a video of SolarReviews CEO Andy Sendy discussing how Canadian Solar fared in our ranking of the top solar panel brands:
As you might imagine with a company that has 20 years of solar manufacturing under its belt, Canadian Solar offers a large number of products.
The bread-and-butter of the company is its HiKu line, which comes in many varieties that can use either polycrystalline or monocrystalline silicon cells in configurations of 108, 120, 132, or 144 half-cells. For commercial and industrial markets, Canadian also offers a bifacial solar module called the BiHiKu.
For residential use in the United States, Canadian Solar offers three main solar panel module series: HiKu, HiKu6, and HiKuBlack. Here’s some information about each of these products:
Canadian’s HiKu solar panels are their stock-standard offering.
Most models use industry-standard technology like half-cut monocrystalline PERC solar cells, but lower-cost modules also use polycrystalline cells. Canadian stands out for its continued use of poly cells, and they do a good job of making very high-quality modules using this relatively older technology.
Learn more: Polycrystalline vs. monocrystalline solar panels
In the HiKu module series, they offer polycrystalline and monocrystalline panels. The HiKu6 series offers monocrystalline, and an All-Black model.
Base HiKu models for use in residential installations have model numbers that start with CS3 followed by a string of numbers and letters that correspond to the module’s wattage and cell type. For example, CS3L-360P is a 360-watt polycrystalline module, while CS3L-360MS is a 360-watt monocrystalline module.
If roof space is at a premium, choose the mono modules, which have efficiencies up to 20.8% and can generate up to 385 watts in the same footprint as a poly panel, which maxes out at 370 watts. The mono modules also offer a better temperature coefficient, which means they’re better for hot climates (lower temperature coefficient means their energy output is reduced by smaller amounts as temperatures rise).
This classic HiKu model from Canadian Solar features panels that range from 330-460 W, depending on what size model you go with. These panels feature 144, 132, and 120 dual-cell PERC technology. This technology allows for higher efficiency levels. These panels can reach up to a 20.9% efficiency rating, which falls within industry standards.
If you demand an all-black solar panel, Canadian Solar has you covered, as it offers the HiKu in an All-Black version.
The only difference is the All-Black HiKu is slightly less efficient, because its non-reflective black backsheet causes it to retain more heat, and therefore causes the cells inside to produce less energy. Sure looks nice, though.
A newer version of the HiKu was introduced in early 2022. HiKu6 modules have model numbers that begin with CS6, followed by additional characters that describe the number of cells and wattage. For example, CS6R-420MS is a 420-watt module with 108 half-cut mono PERC cells.
HiKu6 modules come with standard aluminum frames and white backsheets in 395 to 420-watt power ratings, or in an All-Black version that can output between 380 and 405 watts, depending on the efficiency of the cells inside. These panels tend to be more efficient than their other models, coming in at 21.5% maximum efficiency. This is just above the industry standard!
Canadian Solar’s HiKu6 line offers both product and performance warranties. The standard warranties include 15 years of protection against failures related to materials and workmanship, and a 25-year performance guarantee that the panels will make at least 98% of their rated power by the end of the first year, and guarantees the panels will work at no less than 88.85% by the end of the warranty period.
But wait, there’s more! Canadian Solar is now offering 25-year product warranties on select models. If you purchase a residential system in the U.S. after July 1, 2021 that uses monocrystalline HiKu modules with model numbers that start with CS3N or CS3W, you’ve got extra warranty coverage! Unfortunately, the HiKu6 maintains only 12 years of workmanship coverage in the US.
Read more here.
On top of being great quality panels, Canadian’s residential solar panels come in at a great price too. Costing an average of $2.60 per watt, expect to spend about $15,600 for a typical 6 kW solar system using these panels. Keep in mind that this is just for the panels alone, no other additional costs. For peace of mind, the national average cost of solar as of 2024 is $3.00 per watt, so Canadian's panels fall below this average!
That cost can change based on system size, your location, and the complexity of your roof, as well as the availability of solar incentives and rebates - find out which you are eligible for here.
Canadian Solar makes excellent products and backs them up with warranties that meet or exceed the industry standard. The prices are competitive, and the company has a relatively long history of profitable operation, so you can be sure they’ll be around to back up those warranties.
A system that uses Canadian Solar panels is a good investment, in any state where solar panels make financial sense. If you’re ready to find an installer near you, start by using our free solar calculator to determine how much solar you’ll need for your specific home, and get cost and savings estimates.