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If you want to slash your energy bills with solar panels, here's what you need to know

It's not initially evident whether all panels are the same. But some solar panel brands are more trusted than others.

Best solar panel can save you serious cash

Photo Credit: iStock

The draw of solar panels is clear: paying way, way less on your energy bills while helping the environment. Who wouldn't want that? 

But when considering a significant home investment, it's only natural to wonder about the specifics. 

How many solar panels will I need for my home?

The number of panels you'll need depends on the size of your home and the amount of electricity you use. Luckily, there are plenty of tools to help you figure out how many panels you'll need. 

The PVWatts Calculator from the Department of Energy is an excellent place to start. This tool will ask you a few questions about your home and the solar panels you're considering so it can give you estimates of the sun you'll get at your location, the system size you'll need, and the energy you can expect to produce. You can also use this tool to estimate cost savings and the amount of pollution your home will avoid. 

Forbes also has simplified the process of figuring out exactly how many panels you'd need. Using just three numbers, you can determine the correct number of panels for your home.

The first number is the energy you use at home (your annual electricity usage). The second is the amount of energy produced by the panels. An average panel can produce about 300 watts of power. The third is a figure called the "production ratio" (a measure of energy output). Once you have these three numbers, you divide the first number by the second and then the third.

So, if your home uses 10,000 kWh of electricity annually, with a 300-watt system and a production ratio of 1.5, you could expect that about 22 solar panels could fully power your home.

What are the best solar panels?

Another question a potential solar panel buyer might have is whether some brands are better than others. It's not initially evident whether all panels are the same.

Some solar panel brands are more trusted than others. According to CNET, some of the best solar companies include ADT Solar, Palmetto Solar, and SunPower Solar. 

Forbes also ranked the best solar panels for homes in 2023. Similar to CNET, Forbes listed SunPower as one of the best available solar brands. 

The Forbes ranking incorporated the panels' efficiency, the max wattage, their warranty, and whether or not you could chat with a live employee about installation or maintenance. 

Best Solar Panels For Homes in 2023
Photo Credit: Forbes

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