Korea’s LG Energy has a strong reputation for reliable solar panels. According to reports, only three of the 360,000 LG panels installed in Australia have been returned.
LG panels boast degradation rates of about 0.6 percent per year, somewhat lower than the annual average of 0.8 to 1 percent. The company also offers standard 25-year warranties guaranteeing energy production rates and 12-year warranties protecting against defects — slightly above the standard 10-year defect warranty.
LG has grown steadily since entering the solar energy market in 2009. The company has set production targets of 1.8 gigawatts of solar panels by 2018 and three gigawatts of solar panels by 2020, up from just 1 gigawatt in 2016. Some of their most well-reviewed panels include:
The panels are available in 275, 280, 285, 295, and 300-watt models with efficiency rates of 16.8, 17.1, 17.4, 17.2, and 17.5 percent, respectively. LG boasts that these monocrystalline modules can withstand up to 100 pounds of snow and wind speeds of over 200 miles per hour. With the lowest dollars-per-watt cost among LG’s residential offerings, this panel is also an affordable option for the solar enthusiast on a budget.
LG NeON 2 panels are available in seven unique wattages, from a low of 305 watts up through a maximum of 335 watts. Efficiency rates for the low end of the NeON 2 panels start at 18.6 percent and reach 19.6 percent for the highest-watt edition. The NeON 2 is also available in a premium edition, the NeON 2 Black. Unlike other LG panels, which have black solar cells but white backsheets, the NeON 2 Black (available in 300, 305, 315, and 320-watt versions) has black cells and a black backsheet, giving it a modern, minimalist look.
The LG NeON R is the most efficient of all LG panels. The panels are available in 350, 355, 360, and 365-watt editions, all of which boast efficiency rates of over 20 percent. The NeON R uses N-type solar cells coated in phosphorus rather than the more common P-type cells that are coated in boron. As a result, the NeON R has a lower degradation rate than most other solar panels.
The LG NeON 2 ACe offers less variation than the other LG panels, and is currently available only in a 330-watt model. But with a 19.3 percent efficiency rating, this panel is one of the most efficient on the market. Its integrated microinverter allows for easy expansion if you later decide to add more panels, and reportedly cuts installation time in half relative to standard solar panels.
Overall, LG solar panels are reliable, durable, and efficient. Along with California-based SunPower and the Japanese firm Panasonic, they’ve quickly become a leader in the premium solar panel market.
Their high quality comes at a price, though; according to one analysis, LG panels cost about $0.40 more per watt than the average panel. Still, that’s not as expensive as a SunPower panel, which costs almost a dollar more per watt than the average. Panasonic panels, on the other hand, were about $0.13 per watt cheaper than those from LG.
But other analyses have found that the 330-watt LG NeON 2 is the best value on the market when ranked against comparable modules like Panasonic’s 330-watt HIT panel and SunPower’s 360-watt X22 panel. (The different conclusions in these analyses, like real-world differences in solar costs, are due to variations in pricing models that might assume different panel wattages, installer costs, and economic conditions.)
While LG falls somewhere in the middle of the pack in terms of cost, it ranks poorly on efficiency metrics relative to its rivals. The average LG panel is over 18 percent efficient, but Panasonic’s efficiency rates hover around 19.6 percent, and SunPower’s average efficiency rates are over 20 percent.
What does that efficiency difference really mean? Not much. A 10-percentage point difference in efficiency could require you to buy more panels to achieve the same energy production, but a difference of 1 or 2 percent won’t.
In that sense, LG’s solar panels offer a good value. That－along with the company’s solid brand as a manufacturer of phones, kitchen appliances, televisions, and other electronics－is why LG panels continue to be among the highest-rated premium panels available.