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EcoWatch is a community of experts publishing quality, science-based content on environmental issues, causes, and solutions for a healthier planet and life.
Two vaquitas surfacing for air in the Sea of Cortez. NOAA

By Elizabeth Claire Alberts

The Mexican government will no longer protect the habitat of the critically endangered vaquita in the Upper Gulf of California, but has opened the area up to fishing, according to a news report.
Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Buffy-headed marmoset (Callithrix flaviceps) rare species of marmoset, threatened of extinction, photographed in Santa Maria de Jetib, EspÍrito Santo - Brazil.

Leonardo Mercon / VW Pics / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

By Carla B. Possamai and Sarisha Trindade

As the rainforests of Brazil disappear, so do their unique inhabitants. A tiny monkey represents the dangers faced by much of Brazil's biodiversity but also illustrates the opportunity we have to save them.

Read More Show Less
alphaspirit / iStock / Getty Images

The cost of solar panels has declined roughly 80% in the last decade, bolstering the technology's reputation as an affordable energy source like never before. Now that solar power has reached this cost-effective price point, customers and businesses looking to capitalize on the benefits of solar energy are flooding the market looking for cheap solar panels.

In this article, we'll discuss the most affordable solar panels available and whether it's better to save money upfront or invest in high-quality models. We'll also give recommendations for solar panels at the crossroads of affordability and efficiency, providing the best bang for your buck.

If you're looking for cheap solar panels, one way to find them is to get free quotes from multiple installation companies. By comparing pricing from a few local installers, you can make sure you're getting the best deal. To get started, fill out the simple form below.

Are Cheap Solar Panels Any Good?

The cheapest panels are typically manufactured in China (with the U.S. and Germany close behind), and some are cheap for a reason. They can come with underlying issues, most concerningly in the form of environmental and workers' rights violations in their production process.

Cheap solar panels also tend to be less durable and will likely come with a shorter lifespan. In fact, the cheapest upfront options sometimes end up being the most expensive in the long run. A good comparison is buying a car. Though the cheap initial cost of a beater may be the most tempting, frequent repairs, poor gas mileage and checkups can outweigh the initial savings within a few short years.

However, for those whose most important consideration is price, there are still some good options for cheap solar panels on the market today to turn your home into a renewable energy source.

Top 5 Cheap Solar Panels

Below are the five of the cheapest photovoltaic solar panels (that are rated at least 100W) on the market. Bear in mind that the current industry minimum for solar panels capable of powering a home is around 300W. Panels between 100W and 300W may be suitable for DIY solar projects, off-grid systems and charging things like portable generators or small appliances.

Note that prices and availability fluctuate with inventory, demand and supply chain issues. Prices change often when vendors have surplus supply, so sales are frequent. Customers will not be able to purchase some brands' panels directly, as they must be ordered from a distributor.

Cheap Solar Panel Price Per Panel Power Rating Price Per Watt Efficiency Rating Warranty
Renogy
100W 12 Volt
Solar Panel
$125 100W $1.25 21% 1-year materials warranty
LONGi
#LR6-60-HPB-350M
$225 350W $0.60 20.3% Limited 25-year warranty
Canadian Solar
Model #CS1H-315MS
$225 315W $0.71 18.68% 25-year output warranty
Silfab Solar
- SIL-330 NL
$250 330W $0.76 17.3% 12-year module warranty
LONGi
#LR4-60-HPH-360M
$260 360W $0.72 19.8% 25-year output warranty

Cheap Vs. Affordable Solar Panels

There's a key distinction between cheap solar panels and the most affordable solar panels. Cheap considers only the price tag. Affordability involves factors beyond initial price, such as price per watt (aka bang for your buck), efficiency of the panel and warranty. A cheap solar panel isn't worth anything if it breaks without a warranty to replace it.

The cost of a solar panel is set by the manufacturer and involves a variety of factors, from cost of production to expected lifetime. Let's break down the factors that go into solar panel costs.

Solar Panel Efficiency

The greater a panel's efficiency, the more energy each solar cell's power output will be. Efficiency matters, as a homeowner will have to buy far fewer panels to meet their energy needs with higher-efficiency panels. The most solar efficient panels usually cost more to manufacture, raising their price point and total installed cost.

Solar Panel Power

The power, or wattage, of a solar panel reflects how many watts (W) of energy the panel is capable of generating when producing at maximum capacity. Most modern residential solar panels have power factors between 300 and 350W. As is true with high-efficiency panels, a customer needs to purchase fewer panels overall if they have a higher power output. While they'll typically have a greater upfront cost, high-output panels will provide better value over time.

Solar Panel Warranty

A warranty is simple to understand, yet no less important to consider. Bearing in mind that the average lifetime of a solar panel system is about 25 years, warranties are essential in ensuring reliable energy output. Though solar panels are very durable, a lot can happen over 25 years. Falling tree branches can crack a panel, rooftop critters can chew up wiring and untreated water damage can corrode a system. Some of the cheapest panels will come with the worst warranties, and costs can add up quickly if a solar power system runs into trouble.

Solar Panel Quality

Similar to solar panel efficiency and power, the cost of a solar panel has much to do with its quality. The cheapest solar panels on the market will be of the poorest quality, making them far more prone to breaks, issues and quick aging. The higher the quality of the parts in a solar panel, the more expensive it becomes. However, this is just another time when "cheap" panels are far from the most affordable solar panels in the long run.

5 Best Value Solar Panels

With all this in mind, below are our recommendations for the most affordable home solar panels on the market in 2021.

Most Affordable
Solar Panel
Price Per Panel Power Rating Price Per Watt Efficiency Rating Warranty
LONGi
#LR6-60-HPB-350M
$225 350W $0.60 20.3% Limited 25-year warranty
Hanwha Q Cell
340W Q.PEAK DUO
$240 340W $0.70 19% 25-year warranty
Canadian Solar
Model #CS1H-315MS
$225 315W $0.71 18.68% 25-year output warranty
LONGi
#LR4-60-HPH-360M
$260 360W $0.72 19.8% 25-year output warranty
JA Solar Technology
JAM60S10 -340/MR
$240 330W $0.73 20.2% 25-year output warranty

LONGi and Q Cell are two of the most affordable solar brands that maintain reputations for good quality at a low price. As you can see, they both provide exceptional price per watt and efficiency without sacrificing warranty.

A solar installation with low price per watt and high efficiency provides a number of benefits for a solar customer. With more power and efficiency per panel, a homeowner won't need to purchase as many panels to meet their household energy needs.

FAQ: Cheap Solar Panels

What kind of solar panels are the cheapest?

Polycrystalline solar panels tend to be cheaper (and lower quality) than monocrystalline panels. You can read more about the difference between these types of panels in our monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar panel review.

What is the cheapest way to get solar panels?

The cheapest way to acquire solar panels is to purchase them through a distributor in bulk. Though one can save a significant amount of money purchasing and installing solar panels on their own, solar companies can access a wider range of products and get them for lower prices than what's available to the general public.

Should I buy cheap solar panels?

There are many excellent affordable options for solar panels due to the rapid advancement of the technology and industry behind them. There are also a great number of cheap panels that are unreliable, break easily and are likely produced unethically. The best solar panels balance quality and price.

What are the best brands of cheap solar panels?

For DIY installations of off-grid uses, Renogy produces and sells excellent solar panels that are around 100 watts. For residential applications, LONGi and Q Cell have the best reputation for affordable, high-quality solar panels.

Karsten Neumeister is a writer and renewable energy specialist with a background in writing and the humanities. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the energy sector of New Orleans, focusing on renewable energy policy and technology. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace.

'Ban Neonicotinoids Right Now,' Say Conservationists After EPA Pesticide Review

"The EPA doesn't need any more proof," said one expert after agency analyses detailed threat to endangered species.

Popular
A honey bee approaches a painted lady butterfly perched on a flower in a North Tustin garden on March 13, 2019, as swarms of butterflies invade Southern California as a result of an unusually heavy migration making its way from Mexico to the Pacific Northwest to breed, experts say. Mark Rightmire / MediaNews Group / Orange County Register via Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

Environmental and food safety advocates highlighted Thursday the decline in iconic pollinators following new analyses released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency showing three widely used neonicotinoid insecticides are "likely to adversely affect" the majority of the endangered plants and animals the agency assessed.

Read More Show Less
Trending
A Tasmanian Devil is released in the wild after being captured to check for signs of the Devil Facial Tumor Disease October 10, 2005 near Fentonbury, Australia. Adam Pretty / Getty Images

In an attempt to protect the dwindling numbers of Tasmanian devils, an "insurance population" was shipped to Maria Island causing "catastrophic" damage to the native birdlife, including the elimination of little penguins on the small Australian island.

"Every time humans have deliberately or accidentally introduced mammals to oceanic islands, there's always been the same outcome … a catastrophic impact on one or more bird species," Dr. Eric Woehler, the convener of BirdLife Tasmania said to The Guardian.

Read More Show Less
Large-antlered muntjac resemble many other deer, except males have long, sharp canine teeth used for fighting. The species is critically endangered. Michael Nosek / Getty Images

By Minh Minh Nguyen

First recognized as a new species in 1993, the large-antlered muntjac is already critically endangered and heading fast toward extinction. As muntjac go, the large-antlered is the largest species, but muntjac in general are small members of the deer family Cervidae. The species is facing a "quiet extinction," hidden away in a miniscule global range in the Annamite Mountains of Laos and Vietnam.

Read More Show Less
The Case for Passive Rewilding: 'If You Love It, Let It Free'

As ecologists meet to discuss the threat to global biodiversity, some believe that accepting chaos is the best approach.

Popular
The patterns seen in the area around Castro Laboreiro aren't unique, with European farmland being abandoned at a rapid pace. estivillml / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Alistair Walsh

Henrique Miguel Pereira likes to tell the story of a grandmother in the northern mountains of Portugal who had never in her life seen a wild boar. She had spent her life in the village of Castro Laboreiro, nestled in the remote peaks of what is now Peneda-Geres National Park.

It should have been prime boar territory, but after centuries of farming and human influence, large mammals had all but disappeared from the area.

Read More Show Less
African penguins at Boulder Beach in Simons Town near Cape Town, South Africa in 2013. Wolfgang Kaehler / LightRocket via Getty Images

The mysterious deaths of 63 endangered African penguins are being attributed to an unusual cause — bee stings.

Read More Show Less
Trending
A female white-bellied pangolin is seen at a pangolin sanctuary in St. Augustine, Florida. EdgeOfMidnight / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 4.0

By Charles Emogor

The white-bellied pangolin is one of eight evolutionary distinct pangolin species split equally between Africa and Asia. They're among the very few mammals with scales and have a tongue that, when pulled out of its cavity, is longer than their entire body, which measures about 30 inches. These gentle and somewhat quirky animals should be celebrated, but instead they're often killed for their unique scales, believed in some cultures to harbor medicinal properties.

Read More Show Less
Oliver Rossi / DigitalVision / Getty Images

"Save the bees!"

You've heard this call to action before, but what's the buzz really about? Turns out, bees are incredibly important in nature and in human food production.

Read More Show Less
Trending
What's a Siphonophore and Why Is There One on the UN This Week?

"These organisms make the earth habitable." Peter de Menocal, WHOI director

Climate
The image of a siphonophore was projected onto the facade of the United Nations' 505-foot tower from September 21 -24, 2021, coinciding with the 76th General Assembly and Climate Week NYC. Artist Rendering: UN Photo / Eskinder Debebe. Visualizations: SUPERFLEX.

This week, in honor of UN Climate Week, a Danish arts collective projected a siphonophore onto the UN Secretariat building in New York.

Read More Show Less
Kākāpō, one of this month's species with good news. Kimberley Collins /CC BY 2.0

By John R. Platt

We've had a particularly brutal summer — not to mention spring and winter — so now that autumn has arrived, let's take a break from all the awful environmental news to focus on a few good-news items you may have missed. These aren't necessarily resounding successes — we still have a long way to go on all fronts — but they illustrate that hard work and persistence can pull us back from the brink just as greed and indifference can push us toward it.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

More than a third of shark and ray species are directly threatened by extinction, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) warned on Saturday.

The revelation came in the IUCN's updated Red List assessment on endangered wildlife, which was released at the body's World Conservation Congress in Marseilles, France.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch is a community of experts publishing quality, science-based content on environmental issues, causes, and solutions for a healthier planet and life.
Two vaquitas surfacing for air in the Sea of Cortez. NOAA

By Elizabeth Claire Alberts

The Mexican government will no longer protect the habitat of the critically endangered vaquita in the Upper Gulf of California, but has opened the area up to fishing, according to a news report.
Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Buffy-headed marmoset (Callithrix flaviceps) rare species of marmoset, threatened of extinction, photographed in Santa Maria de Jetib, EspÍrito Santo - Brazil.

Leonardo Mercon / VW Pics / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

By Carla B. Possamai and Sarisha Trindade

As the rainforests of Brazil disappear, so do their unique inhabitants. A tiny monkey represents the dangers faced by much of Brazil's biodiversity but also illustrates the opportunity we have to save them.

Read More Show Less
alphaspirit / iStock / Getty Images

The cost of solar panels has declined roughly 80% in the last decade, bolstering the technology's reputation as an affordable energy source like never before. Now that solar power has reached this cost-effective price point, customers and businesses looking to capitalize on the benefits of solar energy are flooding the market looking for cheap solar panels.

In this article, we'll discuss the most affordable solar panels available and whether it's better to save money upfront or invest in high-quality models. We'll also give recommendations for solar panels at the crossroads of affordability and efficiency, providing the best bang for your buck.

If you're looking for cheap solar panels, one way to find them is to get free quotes from multiple installation companies. By comparing pricing from a few local installers, you can make sure you're getting the best deal. To get started, fill out the simple form below.

Are Cheap Solar Panels Any Good?

The cheapest panels are typically manufactured in China (with the U.S. and Germany close behind), and some are cheap for a reason. They can come with underlying issues, most concerningly in the form of environmental and workers' rights violations in their production process.

Cheap solar panels also tend to be less durable and will likely come with a shorter lifespan. In fact, the cheapest upfront options sometimes end up being the most expensive in the long run. A good comparison is buying a car. Though the cheap initial cost of a beater may be the most tempting, frequent repairs, poor gas mileage and checkups can outweigh the initial savings within a few short years.

However, for those whose most important consideration is price, there are still some good options for cheap solar panels on the market today to turn your home into a renewable energy source.

Top 5 Cheap Solar Panels

Below are the five of the cheapest photovoltaic solar panels (that are rated at least 100W) on the market. Bear in mind that the current industry minimum for solar panels capable of powering a home is around 300W. Panels between 100W and 300W may be suitable for DIY solar projects, off-grid systems and charging things like portable generators or small appliances.

Note that prices and availability fluctuate with inventory, demand and supply chain issues. Prices change often when vendors have surplus supply, so sales are frequent. Customers will not be able to purchase some brands' panels directly, as they must be ordered from a distributor.

Cheap Solar Panel Price Per Panel Power Rating Price Per Watt Efficiency Rating Warranty
Renogy
100W 12 Volt
Solar Panel
$125 100W $1.25 21% 1-year materials warranty
LONGi
#LR6-60-HPB-350M
$225 350W $0.60 20.3% Limited 25-year warranty
Canadian Solar
Model #CS1H-315MS
$225 315W $0.71 18.68% 25-year output warranty
Silfab Solar
- SIL-330 NL
$250 330W $0.76 17.3% 12-year module warranty
LONGi
#LR4-60-HPH-360M
$260 360W $0.72 19.8% 25-year output warranty

Cheap Vs. Affordable Solar Panels

There's a key distinction between cheap solar panels and the most affordable solar panels. Cheap considers only the price tag. Affordability involves factors beyond initial price, such as price per watt (aka bang for your buck), efficiency of the panel and warranty. A cheap solar panel isn't worth anything if it breaks without a warranty to replace it.

The cost of a solar panel is set by the manufacturer and involves a variety of factors, from cost of production to expected lifetime. Let's break down the factors that go into solar panel costs.

Solar Panel Efficiency

The greater a panel's efficiency, the more energy each solar cell's power output will be. Efficiency matters, as a homeowner will have to buy far fewer panels to meet their energy needs with higher-efficiency panels. The most solar efficient panels usually cost more to manufacture, raising their price point and total installed cost.

Solar Panel Power

The power, or wattage, of a solar panel reflects how many watts (W) of energy the panel is capable of generating when producing at maximum capacity. Most modern residential solar panels have power factors between 300 and 350W. As is true with high-efficiency panels, a customer needs to purchase fewer panels overall if they have a higher power output. While they'll typically have a greater upfront cost, high-output panels will provide better value over time.

Solar Panel Warranty

A warranty is simple to understand, yet no less important to consider. Bearing in mind that the average lifetime of a solar panel system is about 25 years, warranties are essential in ensuring reliable energy output. Though solar panels are very durable, a lot can happen over 25 years. Falling tree branches can crack a panel, rooftop critters can chew up wiring and untreated water damage can corrode a system. Some of the cheapest panels will come with the worst warranties, and costs can add up quickly if a solar power system runs into trouble.

Solar Panel Quality

Similar to solar panel efficiency and power, the cost of a solar panel has much to do with its quality. The cheapest solar panels on the market will be of the poorest quality, making them far more prone to breaks, issues and quick aging. The higher the quality of the parts in a solar panel, the more expensive it becomes. However, this is just another time when "cheap" panels are far from the most affordable solar panels in the long run.

5 Best Value Solar Panels

With all this in mind, below are our recommendations for the most affordable home solar panels on the market in 2021.

Most Affordable
Solar Panel
Price Per Panel Power Rating Price Per Watt Efficiency Rating Warranty
LONGi
#LR6-60-HPB-350M
$225 350W $0.60 20.3% Limited 25-year warranty
Hanwha Q Cell
340W Q.PEAK DUO
$240 340W $0.70 19% 25-year warranty
Canadian Solar
Model #CS1H-315MS
$225 315W $0.71 18.68% 25-year output warranty
LONGi
#LR4-60-HPH-360M
$260 360W $0.72 19.8% 25-year output warranty
JA Solar Technology
JAM60S10 -340/MR
$240 330W $0.73 20.2% 25-year output warranty

LONGi and Q Cell are two of the most affordable solar brands that maintain reputations for good quality at a low price. As you can see, they both provide exceptional price per watt and efficiency without sacrificing warranty.

A solar installation with low price per watt and high efficiency provides a number of benefits for a solar customer. With more power and efficiency per panel, a homeowner won't need to purchase as many panels to meet their household energy needs.

FAQ: Cheap Solar Panels

What kind of solar panels are the cheapest?

Polycrystalline solar panels tend to be cheaper (and lower quality) than monocrystalline panels. You can read more about the difference between these types of panels in our monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar panel review.

What is the cheapest way to get solar panels?

The cheapest way to acquire solar panels is to purchase them through a distributor in bulk. Though one can save a significant amount of money purchasing and installing solar panels on their own, solar companies can access a wider range of products and get them for lower prices than what's available to the general public.

Should I buy cheap solar panels?

There are many excellent affordable options for solar panels due to the rapid advancement of the technology and industry behind them. There are also a great number of cheap panels that are unreliable, break easily and are likely produced unethically. The best solar panels balance quality and price.

What are the best brands of cheap solar panels?

For DIY installations of off-grid uses, Renogy produces and sells excellent solar panels that are around 100 watts. For residential applications, LONGi and Q Cell have the best reputation for affordable, high-quality solar panels.

Karsten Neumeister is a writer and renewable energy specialist with a background in writing and the humanities. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the energy sector of New Orleans, focusing on renewable energy policy and technology. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace.

'Ban Neonicotinoids Right Now,' Say Conservationists After EPA Pesticide Review

"The EPA doesn't need any more proof," said one expert after agency analyses detailed threat to endangered species.

Popular
A honey bee approaches a painted lady butterfly perched on a flower in a North Tustin garden on March 13, 2019, as swarms of butterflies invade Southern California as a result of an unusually heavy migration making its way from Mexico to the Pacific Northwest to breed, experts say. Mark Rightmire / MediaNews Group / Orange County Register via Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

Environmental and food safety advocates highlighted Thursday the decline in iconic pollinators following new analyses released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency showing three widely used neonicotinoid insecticides are "likely to adversely affect" the majority of the endangered plants and animals the agency assessed.

Read More Show Less
Trending
A Tasmanian Devil is released in the wild after being captured to check for signs of the Devil Facial Tumor Disease October 10, 2005 near Fentonbury, Australia. Adam Pretty / Getty Images

In an attempt to protect the dwindling numbers of Tasmanian devils, an "insurance population" was shipped to Maria Island causing "catastrophic" damage to the native birdlife, including the elimination of little penguins on the small Australian island.

"Every time humans have deliberately or accidentally introduced mammals to oceanic islands, there's always been the same outcome … a catastrophic impact on one or more bird species," Dr. Eric Woehler, the convener of BirdLife Tasmania said to The Guardian.

Read More Show Less
Large-antlered muntjac resemble many other deer, except males have long, sharp canine teeth used for fighting. The species is critically endangered. Michael Nosek / Getty Images

By Minh Minh Nguyen

First recognized as a new species in 1993, the large-antlered muntjac is already critically endangered and heading fast toward extinction. As muntjac go, the large-antlered is the largest species, but muntjac in general are small members of the deer family Cervidae. The species is facing a "quiet extinction," hidden away in a miniscule global range in the Annamite Mountains of Laos and Vietnam.

Read More Show Less
The Case for Passive Rewilding: 'If You Love It, Let It Free'

As ecologists meet to discuss the threat to global biodiversity, some believe that accepting chaos is the best approach.

Popular
The patterns seen in the area around Castro Laboreiro aren't unique, with European farmland being abandoned at a rapid pace. estivillml / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Alistair Walsh

Henrique Miguel Pereira likes to tell the story of a grandmother in the northern mountains of Portugal who had never in her life seen a wild boar. She had spent her life in the village of Castro Laboreiro, nestled in the remote peaks of what is now Peneda-Geres National Park.

It should have been prime boar territory, but after centuries of farming and human influence, large mammals had all but disappeared from the area.

Read More Show Less
African penguins at Boulder Beach in Simons Town near Cape Town, South Africa in 2013. Wolfgang Kaehler / LightRocket via Getty Images

The mysterious deaths of 63 endangered African penguins are being attributed to an unusual cause — bee stings.

Read More Show Less
Trending
A female white-bellied pangolin is seen at a pangolin sanctuary in St. Augustine, Florida. EdgeOfMidnight / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 4.0

By Charles Emogor

The white-bellied pangolin is one of eight evolutionary distinct pangolin species split equally between Africa and Asia. They're among the very few mammals with scales and have a tongue that, when pulled out of its cavity, is longer than their entire body, which measures about 30 inches. These gentle and somewhat quirky animals should be celebrated, but instead they're often killed for their unique scales, believed in some cultures to harbor medicinal properties.

Read More Show Less