SunPower Reviews

SunPower Reviews: Are SunPower Solar Systems Worth It?

Last Reviewed By: Matt Hope
Published: 2022-08-18

If you're interested in tapping into the incredible power and benefits of solar energy for your home, choosing the right solar power system can be overwhelming. Even after doing a small amount of research, you're certain to see the name SunPower pop up again and again.

An industry-leading manufacturer and distributor of solar power systems, SunPower has been in business for more than 30 years. Should you invest your hard-earned money in their products, though? Learn everything you need to know in this in-depth SunPower solar review.

Key Takeaways

  • When it comes to solar panels, the lower the temperature coefficient, the better the performance. SunPower solar panels have among the lowest temperature coefficient ratings in the industry, ranging between -0.35 and -0.29.
  • SunPower solar panels have efficiency ratings of 19% to 22%, slightly higher than most brands. Their high efficiency makes them ideal for homes with limited roof space as you don't need as many panels to generate a usable amount of electricity.
  • The vast majority of solar panel manufacturers offer 10-year materials warranties. Few offer up to 12- or 15-year materials warranties. SunPower shines brightly in this area, offering full 25-year materials warranties for all of its products.
  • Compared to most manufacturers' performance warranties of 80% to 83%, SunPower offers the most extended performance warranty in the industry, guaranteeing that its solar panels will produce 94% of their original capacity after 25 years.
  • SunPower products tend to cost a bit more than average. The average price for a solar panel system is $2.77 per watt. Solar systems that use SunPower solar panels cost between $3.12/W and $3.74/W.

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SunPower Solar Reviews: Top Pros and Cons

Before delving into the specifics regarding SunPower's range of solar panels and systems, here's a quick rundown of the top advantages and disadvantages of its products:

Pros

  • Industry-leading materials and performance warranties
  • Exceptional efficiency ratings
  • Remarkable power ratings
  • High performance ratings
  • Patented IBC solar cell technology
  • Wide array of products
  • Highly sustainable
  • Flexible payment options
  • Smartphone app for convenient monitoring
  • Streamlined design and installation process

Cons

  • Less affordable than many other brands
  • Products can only be installed by a network of 500+ certified solar companies
  • No power purchase agreements, or PPAs, for non-commercial customers
  • Some online SunPower reviews complain about inadequate customer support

A Brief History of SunPower Solar Panels

One significant advantage of purchasing solar panels and systems made by SunPower is that the company has been around for decades and was among the first to revolutionize solar panels for residential use.

Based in San Jose, California, the company that would become SunPower began in a laboratory in the early 1980s. In 1988, it officially adopted the name SunPower. Early on, its research and development team developed record-breaking photovoltaic cells using advanced cell technology. NASA later used these cells. Honda also used them in the World Solar Challenge car race in Australia – and won.

In 2007, SunPower started mass producing high-performance interdigitated back contact cells, more commonly known as IBC cells. From that point forward, the company has been one of the top solar cell and solar panel manufacturers in the world.

In 2019, SunPower announced that it would split into two independent public companies: SunPower and Maxeon Solar Technologies. SunPower covers the North American solar market, providing the distribution, sale and installation of solar panels and other products. Maxeon is the manufacturing arm of the operation, covering the global manufacturing and distribution of its patented solar cells and solar panels.

Today, SunPower has manufacturing facilities in the U.S., Mexico, Europe, China, Malaysia and the Philippines. In many regards, it is the leading developer, manufacturer and distributor of solar panels, cells and systems in the world. SunPower and Maxeon develop and manufacture all of their PV cells, panels, inverters, batteries and chargers in-house – no third-party manufacturers are involved in the process. All products are designed to work in tandem, and they all enjoy the same level of warranty coverage.

Things to Look for When Buying Solar Panels for Your Home

To understand the main features of SunPower's solar panels and decide if they're right for you, it helps to understand the most crucial quality metrics for modern solar technology. Like most people, you have probably never researched or purchased solar panels before, making it tricky to compare and contrast different options.

Some of the main things to look for when purchasing a solar system for your home include the following:

Performance

Most SunPower solar reviews rank the brand at the top in terms of performance – but what does "performance" refer to, exactly?

The temperature coefficient is the primary metric for assessing the performance of a solar panel. It reflects how well a solar panel performs under less-than-optimal conditions.

Solar panels operate most effectively when they're kept at or below a temperature of 25° C or 77° F. Depending on where you live, your solar panels may be subjected to much hotter or cooler temperatures regularly. Such extremes can impact their ability to produce usable electricity.

For every degree above 25° C or 77° F, a solar panel's electricity production will decrease by its temperature coefficient. For example, if a panel has a temperature coefficient of -0.3%/°C and the temperature increases by 1 degree from 25° C or 77° F to 26° C or 79° F, its electricity production goes down by 0.3%. If the temperature soars to 35° C or 95° F, its energy production will drop by 3%.

When it comes to solar panels, the lower the temperature coefficient, the better the performance. As many SunPower reviews note, SunPower solar panels have among the lowest temperature coefficient ratings in the industry, ranging between -0.35 and -0.29.

Efficiency

Another crucial metric to consider when investing in solar technology is efficiency. In the case of solar panels, efficiency refers to how well they can convert sunshine into usable electricity. The more efficient a solar panel is, the fewer panels you'll ostensibly need. You'll get more power for the available usable space and enjoy improved sustainability by using fewer materials and generating less waste.

The first solar panels on the market offered an efficiency rating of around 6%, meaning that they could only convert about 6% of sunshine into usable alternating-current, AC electricity. Today, the most efficient panels on the market – typically ones designed for commercial applications – offer an efficiency rating of up to 40% max, so we're still a long way from harnessing the majority of the sunshine for practical use.

SunPower solar panels have efficiency ratings of 19% to 22%, slightly higher than most other brands. Their high efficiency is one thing that makes them ideal for homes with minimal available roof space: You don't need as many panels to generate the same amount of usable electricity from less-efficient panels.

Warranty Coverage

With any major purchase, it's essential to check whether a warranty is available and what it entails. Without a doubt, SunPower shines above most competitors with its industry-leading warranties.

Materials Warranties

Solar panels typically have a materials warranty, otherwise known as a product or equipment warranty. A materials warranty guarantees that the manufacturer will replace the product in the event of equipment failure due to manufacturing defects or environmental issues.

The vast majority of solar panel manufacturers offer 10-year materials warranties. A handful of them offer a bit more, extending up to 12- or 15-year materials warranties. As many SunPower reviews note, the manufacturer shines brightly in this area, offering full 25-year materials warranties for all of its products.

Performance Warranties

The energy production of all solar panels naturally degrades over time, so a panel you buy today will inevitably perform less efficiently after 10 or 15 years. Most solar panel manufacturers offer performance warranties guaranteeing that their panels won't degrade too fast.

Across the industry, most manufacturers offer performance warranties guaranteeing that their panels will still produce 80% to 83% of their original capacity after 25 years. Again, SunPower stands out in this area, guaranteeing that its standard solar panels will produce 94% of their original capacity after 25 years. The brand's Maxeon series of solar panels come with a performance warranty guaranteeing that they will still produce 88.25% of their original capacity after 40 years.

Therefore, SunPower offers the most extended performance warranty in the industry by a factor of 10 years. The company expanded its warranty coverage after reviewing the results of a detailed failure analysis program. It revealed a rock-bottom return rate of 0.005% based on warranty claim data from the sale of more than 15 million solar panels.

SunPower guarantees that its Maxeon panels degrade by just 0.25% per year, citing the proven long-term performance and reliability of its IBC cells, which are mounted onto patented metal foundations. These panels are less susceptible to hot spot formation and micro-cracking – common issues among other brands with different designs.

Price

When shopping for solar panels for your home, don't just go straight for the cheapest option. Like anything else, you get what you pay for with solar technology, so it helps to have a feel for the average cost of solar panels.

The average price for a solar panel system is $2.77 per watt.

Solar systems that use SunPower solar panels cost between $3.12/W and $3.74/W, and the gross cost to install a complete 6-kilowatt system is between $18,720 and $22,440. SunPower products tend to cost a bit more than average. However, you get a lot in exchange for the extra cost, as you will see later in this SunPower solar review.

It's also important to note that the above figures reflect the gross cost of installing an average solar system. It doesn't include the many available solar incentives and rebates, including the 26% federal tax credit for solar technology.

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SunPower’s Line of Solar Panels: An Overview

Now that you understand how to assess solar panels and systems based on specific metrics, it's time to take a closer look at the current SunPower product lineup.

First, unlike many manufacturers, who rely on standard monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar cells, SunPower uses IBC cells with front-mounted busbars and fingers to collect currents on many of its panels. A fine grid of conductors made of N-type silicon is integrated into the rear side of these solar cells, reducing shade coverage and increasing efficiency.

Panel SeriesPower RatingEfficiency Rating
E Series340W to 360W20.4%
X Series370W to 400W22.8%
A Series390W to 415W22%
M Series420W to 440W22.8%
P Series370W to 390W (Residential Panels)
405W to 420W (Commercial Panels)
475W to 500W (Utility-Sized Panels)
20.4%

E Series

The SunPower E Series uses Maxeon Gen 3 high-performance IBC solar cells arranged in a 104-cell format that increases power output. These panels offer a maximum efficiency of 20.4%. Because they use slightly lower-spec IBC solar cells, they have a lower power rating of between 340W and 360W. However, this also means that they're a bit more affordable.

X Series

SunPower's flagship offering, the X Series is available in various sizes, offering a power rating between 370W and 400W. Like the E Series, it relies on N-type IBC cells arranged in a 104-cell format. Its efficiency rating of 22.8% makes it the most efficient series of solar panels in the world.

A Series

The A Series uses next-generation N-type IBC Gen 5 solar cells. These larger, 6" solar cells are arrayed in a 66-cell format, so it has a lower voltage than the X and E Series. As a result, you're less likely to run into issues regarding voltage limits, which typically fall around 600 volts for domestic installations.

These solar panels offer a power rating of 390W to 415W, making them among the most powerful on the market today. They also offer an efficiency rating of up to 22%.

M Series

Released in 2022, the M Series uses next-generation Maxeon 6 N-type IBC solar cells, boosting its efficiency rating to a whopping 22.8%. It uses the same 66-cell format as the A Series, making it a more versatile choice for various situations. It offers a power rating of 420W to 440W, but it's slightly larger than the A Series and may not be suitable for all applications.

P Series

The SunPower P Series, or Performance Series, features a shingle-cell design. Six long, overlapping thin cell strips are assembled vertically across the panel. The slight overlap of each solar cell strip shields a single busbar, which interconnects the cell strips. As a result, front-side busbar connections, which partially shade underlying cells, aren't needed. In turn, solar cells cover more of the surface area of the panel, increasing the overall efficiency of the panel.

The P Series solar panel uses conventional P-type silicon. Although not as efficient as N-type silicon, it's more cost-effective, making this an affordable option for many. Further, the thin-shingled PERC cells, as they are known, are more flexible and less prone to micro-cracking.

The Performance Series offers an efficiency rating of 20.4%, which is still respectable. It is available in three varieties: residential panels with a power rating of 370W to 390W, larger-format commercial panels with a power rating of 405W to 420W and extra-large utility-sized panels with a power rating of 475W to 500W.

All P Series solar panels by SunPower come with 25-year materials and performance warranties.

Other Considerations

SunPower solar reviews aren't complete without covering things like customer service and sustainability. Here's what to expect when buying solar panels from this industry-leading manufacturer.

Sustainability

SunPower is the only solar technology manufacturer to use a complete, closed-loop sustainability strategy. Most of its products are also cradle-to-cradle certified, meaning that they are safe, circular and sustainably produced. The company won the first annual Sustainability Awards from PV Magazine, cementing its place as one of the most sustainable solar energy brands around.

Appearance

Traditional solar panels have blue PV panels with prominent frames and hardware. Many homeowners feel that they negatively impact the appearance of their homes.

Many SunPower reviews note that SunPower solar panels feature all-black designs made out of anti-reflective glass covered by anti-reflective film. Their cleverly designed mounting systems are sleek and entirely black, rendering them nearly invisible on most homes.

If you're worried about how solar panels will impact the appearance of your home, you can't go wrong with SunPower solar panels.

Power Tolerance

Power tolerance refers to how much the power output of a solar panel can fluctuate under stable conditions. Most solar panels have a rating of between -0/+3% and -0/+5%. The zero in these figures denotes that the panel will always operate at least at its rated capacity. The other figure reflects the amount by which its power output may fluctuate. SunPower panels have a power tolerance rating of -0/+5%, meaning they may produce up to 5% more power at times, which isn't a bad thing.

Monitoring

After investing in a solar panel system, you'd probably like to keep track of how it's performing and other metrics. SunPower makes this a breeze, offering a convenient smartphone app that lets you monitor the performance of your solar power system wherever you go. The app delivers information about many key metrics, including power output, energy produced over time, estimated savings and the environmental impact of the solar energy the panels are producing.

Payment Options

When you buy a solar panel system from SunPower, you can choose from several payment options.

Cash is one of the best ways to pay for your solar panels, delivering the best solar payback period. In other words, you'll recoup the cost of your investment faster by paying cash. You'll also be eligible for all available solar credits, rebates, and other incentives.

The company also offers solar loans through various finance partners. These loans typically must be repaid within 5 to 12 years. You can still take advantage of solar rebates and incentives with this option.

SunPower will also lease solar panels to you, offering the lowest barrier to entry for many people. The upfront costs are negligible, but you won't be eligible for any rebates or other incentives, and the addition of solar panels won't improve the value of your home.

Customer Service

Although SunPower has an A+ rating with the BBB, many online SunPower reviews include complaints about its customer service. While the company has a streamlined system in place for ordering and installing solar panels, it may drop the ball a bit with its follow-up customer service.

One major perk of choosing SunPower for your solar panels is that the company offers an intuitive online design studio that you can use to design your system from the comfort of home. You can play around with it until you arrive at the perfect configuration.

Here's a breakdown of the process behind purchasing solar panels from SunPower:

  1. Get a Free Online Estimate – After providing information like where you live, how much energy you use and your credit score, you'll receive an estimate including the estimated cost of the system and projected 25-year savings. You can start this process now.
  2. Complete a Solar Consultation – You will then meet for a free, virtual consultation with a SunPower representative who will answer any questions you have. They'll give you a proposal at the end of the consultation.
  3. Complete Paperwork and Get Approvals – Next, you'll complete the paperwork necessary to install solar panels on your home legally. SunPower will apply for all of the permits and other approvals you'll need – a process that usually takes a few weeks. They will also enroll you in any net metering programs you're eligible for.
  4. Installation – A certified solar installation contractor approved by SunPower will come out to install your system. Installation is usually done in one day.
  5. Inspection and Permission to Operate – Finally, the city and utility company will inspect the new solar system. As long as everything checks out, you'll receive permission to operate, or PTO, meaning you can start using your solar system and reaping the considerable benefits of solar power.

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Are SunPower Solar Panels Right for You?

SunPower offers some of the best solar power solutions in the industry today, but are these solar panels right for you?

You should consider SunPower if you have limited roof space since its panels offer the highest power and efficiency ratings. SunPower is also the way to go if you're concerned about warranty coverage, with all solar panels backed up by 25-year materials warranties and performance warranties of 25 years or 40 years. If you like sticking to the cutting-edge of emerging technologies, you also can't go wrong with SunPower.

If you are primarily concerned about price, SunPower solar panels may not work for you because they're on the higher end of the price scale. Remember, though, that you get what you pay for when it comes to solar energy.

The Bottom Line Regarding SunPower Solar Panels

Like most SunPower solar reviews, the bottom line with this one is overwhelmingly positive. SunPower has been an industry leader for decades, setting the standard for emerging solar power technologies. It offers a wide array of solar energy products, multiple payment options, remarkable sustainability and a vast network of certified installation companies. We give SunPower solar panels excellent across-the-board ratings for these and other reasons and encourage you to consider them for your home.