Updated 1 month ago

Qcells vs. REC residential solar panels: a side-by-side comparison

Written by Jamie Smith , Edited by Catherine Lane

Qcells vs. REC residential solar panels: a side-by-side comparison

With a vast market and plenty of manufacturers to choose from, finding the right solar panel model can be hard. Many solar panel installation companies offer more than one brand of solar panels. In fact, the SolarReviews Solar Industry Survey found that one of the most common choices offered by installers is between Qcells and REC panels.

So, which company reigns supreme? We’ll compare Qcells and REC’s most popular residential solar panels to help you decide what’s best for your roof.

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Key takeaways

  • Qcells and REC panels are both among some of the best solar panels in the industry.

  • REC panels have a better warranty, better specs, and perform better overall, but they are a bit more expensive.

  • Qcells panels don’t have record-breaking performance, but they give you the best value, especially for a product from a well-established and reliable company.

About the brands

Qcells was founded in 1999 in Thalheim, Germany, and has since grown to become one of the largest international solar panel manufacturers in the game, with manufacturing sites all over the world. The company has also won countless awards, including being named ‘top performer’ by PVEL for six consecutive years. Qcells was also SolarReviews’ pick for the best solar manufacturer of 2023!

REC Solar was founded in Norway in 1996 and is known as one of the pioneers in the solar industry. Since its founding, REC has expanded its presence to the United States, Asia, and other parts of Europe – with most of its manufacturing based out of Singapore. REC also made an appearance on our top manufacturers list, along with being named the second most popular brand among home solar installers in the SolarReviews Solar Industry Survey Report.

What do these panels offer to solar customers?

Solar customers want an affordable panel that can generate more solar energy – because more energy equals better savings. It’s easy to get lost in all the numbers when researching what makes a solar panel good. Lucky for you, we’ve done the hard work of breaking down the cost, efficiency, performance, and warranty of both Qcells and REC‘s most popular models for rooftop solar. Let’s take a look at which brand gives you the best bang for your buck.

The chart below gives a side-by-side comparison of all the specifications between Qcells DUO BLK ML-G10+ panels and REC’s Alpha Pure series:






Power rating

385 - 405 watts

390 - 410 watts


19.6% - 20.6%

21.1% - 22.2%

Temp. coefficient




6 x 22 Q.ANTUM HALF cells

6 x 22 REC heterojunction bifacial cells

Performance warranty

86% output @ 25 years

92% output @ 25 years

Product warranty

25 year

20 year (25 with REC ProTrust)

Labor warranty


25 year (REC ProTrust only)


$2.80 - $2.95 per watt

$2.40 - $3.60 per watt


First – and perhaps most importantly – how much do these panels cost? Determining the total costs of an average system size can be one of the biggest deciding factors for solar customers.

For Qcells, recent estimates show that Qcells panels cost around $2.80 to $2.95 per watt. That would bring the cost of installing a Qcells system to roughly $23,000, assuming you installed 8kW of solar. After applying the 30% federal solar tax credit is applied, you’re looking at a final cost of about $16,000.

REC panels, on the other hand, cost anywhere between $2.90 to $3.60 per watt. An 8kW system with these panels could cost you between $23,200 to $28,800. Once you consider the federal tax credit, the total cost is between $16,000 and $20,200.

Winner: Qcells. Solar installations using Qcells panels are usually cheaper than those using REC panels.


Solar panel efficiency describes the percentage of sunlight a panel absorbs and turns into usable electricity. The industry average for efficiency is anywhere from 18% to 21%, meaning 18% to 21% of sunlight is converted into renewable energy. Premium panels have efficiency ratings of 22% or higher.

The DUO BLK ML-G10+ panels from Qcells have efficiency ratings that range from 19.6% to 20.6%, depending on the model. This rating is pretty standard for a solar panel. Qcells has boosted its efficiency ratings over the years by using half-cut solar cells. This technology has numerous advantages, like higher power output, reduced losses, and increased durability.

The Alpha Pure models from REC range from 21.1% to 22.2% efficient, meaning some panels fall into the premium efficiency category. To reach these high-efficiency levels, REC also uses half-cut cells but takes it a step further by using heterojunction technology (HJT). HJT cells use layers of different photovoltaic materials to increase power density - AKA generating more energy in the same amount of space.

Winner: REC. While both offer high-efficiency panels, REC is ahead by just over 1%, bumping it up to premium efficiency status.


How solar panels will actually perform on your roof is a significant thing to consider when searching for the right panels for your home. One way of measuring performance is by looking at the temperature coefficient.

Believe it or not – the hotter they get, the less power a solar panel can output. The temperature coefficient tells you how much a solar panel’s output will drop as the panel’s temperature increases. In other words – the lower the temperature coefficient, the better your panel is expected to perform as the surface temperature increases.

Qcells models have a temperature coefficient of -0.34%/°K, while the Alpha Pure series model from REC has a -0.24%/°K coefficient.

Winner: REC. REC’s temperature coefficient is slightly lower than Qcells, meaning REC panels can better handle the heat!


Solar panels last for up to 25 years. It’s important to find a manufacturer that will offer good solar panel warranties that will cover you throughout your system’s lifespan in the event of a faulty solar panel. Manufacturers typically offer two warranties:

  • Product warranty: covers any defects in manufacturing

  • Performance warranty: covers how well the panels produce energy over time

It’s pretty standard for solar manufacturers to offer around a 12-year product warranty and a 25-year performance warranty. Qcells and REC both offer product warranties well above industry standards. Qcells panels come with a 25-year product warranty, while REC panels comes with a 20-year guarantee.

For Qcells, the performance warranty states that the DUO BLK ML-G10+ model will put out at least 98% of its total power within the first year, after which the performance will degrade by 0.5% each year. At the end of the 25-year span, the panels are guaranteed to be performing at 86%.

REC’s Alpha Pure panel warranty guarantees 98% performance at the end of the first year. The degradation rate thereafter is 0.25% each year, bringing the performance guarantee to 92% by the end of the 25-year lifespan.

Important note: REC also offers the ProTrust warranty, which outlines that any panels installed by a REC Certified Professional installers are guaranteed a 25-year product warranty, a 25-year performance warranty, and adds in a 25-year labor warranty that guarantees added protection for any errors performed during the installation and/or maintenance of the panels. Keep this in mind when you’re searching for installers!

Winner: REC. With a better performance guarantee and the ProTrust warranty offer, REC’s coverage is just slightly better than Qcells.

Financial visibility, U.S. investment, and availability

You want to think about more than just what’s on the datasheet. You want to get panels from a brand you can trust will be around to honor that warranty we just broke down. You can do this in a few ways, but we like to consider the financial visibility, investment in the American market, and the company’s dealer network.

With its huge manufacturing facility in Dalton, Georgia that is set to expand thanks to the IRA, Qcells has proven it is invested in the future of the solar market and manufacturing in the U.S. Qcells is also a top financial performer in the solar industry; as a long-time subsidiary of the large corporate group Hanwha, Qcells has longevity as a brand. Qcells also has an excellent installer network, making the brand widely available to customers.

Though REC does a bulk of its manufacturing overseas, it does have a strong presence in the U.S. It also has a fairly strong dealer network, though not as wide as Qcells’. A Mumbai-based conglomerate called Reliance Industries Limited recently acquired REC, which could potentially impact manufacturing quality, however, it seems unlikely. We should also note that REC manufacturers Panasonic’s solar panels. If Panasonic trusts REC - so can you.

Winner: Qcells. Overall, because of Qcells’ strong corporate backing and extensive installer network, they just narrowly beat out REC.

And the winner is…

The two models were pretty neck-and-neck when it came down to each category. Considering all of the criteria, it’s proven that both Qcells and REC offer high-quality, durable panels and both brands can be beneficial purchases for different reasons.

When it comes down to just the specs, REC comes out on top. They have great specs and an excellent performance guarantee. But they do cost more money. If you have limited roofing space or value having the best specifications, REC is right for you.

But if you’re looking for a more affordable option, go with Qcells. It may not top the list for best performance specs, but it’s a solid product from a dependable brand. Not to mention that Qcells products are more widely available.

If an installer quotes you for both panels, consider what’s most important to you: the best value or the best specifications. Either way, REC and Qcell panels are high quality and are sure to lower your electricity bills. To better understand how much solar panels can save you, check out our solar calculator.

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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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