SunPower Review: Are SunPower Solar Panels Worth it?

Last Modified on September 30, 2022 by Staff Writer

If you are considering going solar and have researched the best installers and solar products, you have probably come across a company called SunPower. This is because it’s one of the renowned solar companies in the U.S. and worldwide.

But is SunPower the right company to help you shift to solar energy with its products and services?

We put the company’s popularity aside and provide an honest SunPower review to help you make informed decisions about their solar solutions.

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    Overall Rating

    After a detailed analysis, we gave SunPower a 4.5 out of a possible 5 points, which was the highest amongst its peers.

    How We Determine Rating

    For this SunPower review, we analyzed several factors you should consider once you decide to go green with solar energy. These were:

    • Licenses and certifications
    • Reviews
    • The efficiency of solar panels
    • Performance of the company’s solar products and systems
    • Product and performance warranty
    • Cost of solar panels per watt
    • Availability (number of states)

    Why Trust Us

    You can trust all data presented in this article because we are committed to providing unbiased reviews to help you go solar

    We collect and analyze different sources of reliable data before giving you an informed review. Our review policy enables us to see behind the looking glass to determine what is true and what is not.

    Pros and Cons

    Pros

    • SunPower is available in many parts of the U.S.
    • Has some of the best solar panels
    • Wide range of products and services
    • SunPower is a leader in sustainability
    • Offers a 25-year product warranty for labor and equipment
    • Solar panel and system performance can be monitored using a smartphone app.
    • It uses patented technology.
    • Manufactures its solar panels and related products.
    • Provides solar installation support to each customer.
    • It works with all types of rooftops.
    • Favorable financing options.

    Cons

    • The cost per 1 kW is higher than the national average ($3).
    • Products for residential owners do not come with power purchasing agreements.
    • SunPower only uses its products when installing solar systems
    • Its products are only sold by select dealers.
    • Reported cases of poor customer service
    • SunPower is facing a class-action lawsuit over inadvertent lawsuits.

    About

    SunPower is an American solar energy company founded in 1985 in San Jose, California, by Richard Swanson. The professor of electrical engineering from Stanford University established the company to produce innovative solar capture and storage technology, such as photovoltaic cells, panels, inverters, chargers, and batteries.

    The solar power company produces IBC solar panels for industrial, business, and residential use. SunPower solar panels have been trusted by industry leaders such as NASA and Honda.

    Since its establishment in 1985, SunPower has grown into one of the world’s leading producers of IBC photovoltaic cells. This growth has been spurred by its solar panels, which are among the best in the market because of their high efficiency and performance.

    SunPower went public in 2005 after being backed by Cypress Semiconductors. In 2011, Total Energies purchased a $1.37 billion controlling stake in the company.

    In 2019, the solar power company spun off its manufacturing division known as Maxeon Solar Technologies. Maxeon Solar Technologies is intended to develop, manufacture, and distribute solar technology.

    On the other hand, SunPower focus on sales, distribution, and installation of SunPower Maxeon solar panels.

    SunPower also acquired Blue Raven Solar, a solar power company known for exceptional customer service and innovative product financing options. In 2022, it was acquired by Total Energies.

    Currently, SunPower has many development facilities in different corners of the globe. These plants are found in the U.S., the Philippines, Mexico, China, and Europe. They develop products for North America and Europe.

    All SunPower products are developed in-house, and no third parties are involved. Because of its exceptional performance and the company’s impressive record, SunPower is considered a global leader in photovoltaic cell development and solar panel manufacturing. This also explains why it is known for supplying the market with some of the best solar panels.

    Service areas

    SunPower is available in all 50 states of the U.S, which is one of the reasons why it stands out. Therefore, you can get their products and solar panel installation services without a struggle, regardless of location.

    Licenses and Certifications

    SunPower is certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), and Cradle to Cradle Sustainability.

    It is worth noting that SunPower’s panels were the first to be certified by the Cradle to Cradle Sustainability because they are safe, sustainably produced, and circular.

    SunPower also possesses all the licenses and certifications required by individual states to sell and provide solar panel installation services. This means they have permission to operate in your area should you give them a phone call.

    Services

    SunPower offers a wide range of solar solutions that you can obtain directly from the company or through its approved dealers and installers.

    Solar Panels

    SunPower develops and sells some of the best solar panels on the market. The SunPower solar panels can be grouped into Maxeon, performance, and flexible solar panels. One of the reasons why SunPower solar panels are among the best is their high efficiency. This results in more energy production even with fewer panels.

    In addition to developing and selling high-efficiency solar panels, SunPower also provides solar system installation services for homeowners, businesses, and industries. However, the installation work is mainly done by their certified contractors.

    Battery Storage System

    SunPower develops and installs battery storage systems compatible with all residential solar systems.

    The purpose of the solar storage setup is to allow you to store the excess energy generated by your solar system for later use.

    EV Chargers

    Through its partnership with Wallbox, SunPower also provides EV charging solutions. The EV Chargers offered can be installed together with your solar energy system.

    The chargers are compatible with all EVs available in the market. They are also easy to monitor, thanks to the myWallbox app.

    System Monitoring Solutions

    SunPower has developed a solar monitoring system to help you manage your solar system more effectively.

    Using the monitoring system, you can check the performance of the whole solar installation system and also individual components using your phone or computer.

    For example, you can monitor the power produced by a solar panel at any given time and the energy consumed.

    The SunPower monitoring system is integrated into your solar system during the installation process.

    Equipment

    SunPower offers various brands in the market under its solar panel, storage battery, EV Charger, and system monitoring categories.  

    Solar Panels

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    The high-efficiency solar panels available in the market are the SunPower E Series, X Series, A Series, M Series, and P Series. The series are differentiated by their power rating and efficiency, which also determine the best panels for residential solar systems and commercial use.

    Here is a summary of their power rating and efficiency.

    Series

    Power Rating

    Efficiency

    E series

    340W to 360W

    20.4%

    X series

    370W to 400W

    22.8%

    A series

    390W to 415W

    22%

    M series

    420W to 440W

    22.8%

    P series

    370W to 390W (Residential Panels)
    405W to 420W (Commercial Panels)
    475W to 500W (Utility-Sized Panels)

    20.4%

    E Series

    The SunPower E-series is a Maxeon solar panel group that uses Gen 3 high-performance IBC solar cells arranged in 104-cell clusters to improve maximum power output.

    They have a high efficiency of 20.4%. However, their low-spec IBC cells have a low power rating of 340-360W. There are 3 SunPower E-series solar panel models. These include:

    SunPower E-Series Commercial DC Panels

    The SunPower E Series Commercial DC solar panels are some of the best products in the market. In 2015, they were ranked the best in the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition Solar Scorecard.

    They have also been awarded a silver certification in the Cradle to Grave Certification and ranked highly in the LEEDS certification.

    They use 96 Maxeon Gen 2 solar cells (the Helix version uses 128 Maxeon Gen 2 cells), which makes them highly efficient even after 25 years of consistent use.

    SunPower E-Series Residential A.C. Model

    The SunPower E-Series Residential A.C. model is designed for residential solar systems where homeowners consume minimal energy. They use 96 Maxeon Gen 2 cells, which makes them highly efficient even after 25 years of consistent use. They also come with a microinverter, which makes them easy to install.

    SunPower E-Series Residential DC Panel

    This model is one of the most powerful, efficient, and durable panels for residential solar systems. It uses 96 Maxeon Gen 2 solar cells, which produce 45% more energy than conventional residential panels.

    As a result of its high efficiency, this SunPower solar panel group was awarded the first rating in the 2015 Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition Scorecard, has contributed severally to the LEEDS certification lists, and has a Bronze Cradle to Grave certificate.

    X Series

    The SunPower X-Series panels are a group of flagship modules that use N-type IBC cells. Their high efficiency of 22.8% makes them the most efficient panels globally. Their 104-cell format also enables them to produce high power outputs of 370W to 400W. There are 4 X-Series models. They include:

    X-Series Commercial A.C. Solar Panels

    The X-Series panels use 128 Maxeon Gen 3 solar cells, making them one of the world’s most efficient, reliable, and durable panels. For context, it is worth noting that the Maxeon Gen 3 cells are ranked first according to the Fraunhofer durability test. The X-Series Commercial A.C. Solar Panels have also been found to be 60% more power efficient than their peers.

    X-Series Commercial DC Panel for Helix

    The X-Series panels are designed to be compatible with helix-shaped roof space. Their clips enable you to install them with minimal tool use and time disruptions. They use 96 Maxeon Gen 3 solar cells for increased power output and efficiency.

    X-Series Residential DC Panel

    The X-Series Residential DC Panel is built for residential solar systems. It uses 96 Maxeon Gen 3 solar cells for increased power output and efficiency. In 2015, this SunPower solar panel was ranked first in the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition Solar Scorecard. It has also been given a Bronze Cradle to Grave Certification.

    X-Series SunPower Residential A.C. Module

    This model is designed to be used alongside SunPower’s Equinox system, which enables each customer to store more power. The Equinox system has the highest A.C. energy density and is very energy efficient.

    The X-Series panels use 96 Maxeon Gen 3 solar cells and SunPower offers each panel with a 25-year product warranty.

    A Series

    The A-Series is a group of SunPower solar panels that use 6” N-type IBC Gen 5 solar cells arranged in a 66-cell array. They have a lower voltage than the X and S series panels but have a higher power output, producing 390W to 415W on average. They also have a high power efficiency rating of 22%.

    The A Series panels come in three types:

    420-390 W Residential A.C. Module

    This model uses 66 Maxeon Gen 5 solar cells, which are 65% bigger than the Gen 3 solar cells, but 60% lighter. As a result, they are more powerful and efficient. The panel’s energy efficiency is 60% higher than that of a conventional solar panel.

    390-400W Residential BLK DC

    This model uses 66 Maxeon Gen 5 solar cells, which are much bigger than the ones in the 420-390 W Residential A.C. unit. These SunPower solar panels are considered 54% more energy efficient than other conventional panels.

    430-450 W Commercial A-Series Panels

    This solar panel model uses 72 Maxeon Gen 5 cells. They have a very high LEED certification because they are considered some of the most powerful and efficient units. They have also been awarded some of the highest ratings in the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition’s Solar Scorecard over the past three years.

    M Series

    The M-Series refers to a group of SunPower solar panels that use 66 Maxeon 6 N-type IBC solar cells. Released in 2022, the M-series is the latest panel to be introduced. There is only one M-series unit, The SunPower 420-440W Residential A.C. Module.

    Even then, others are currently being developed. Each solar panel from the M-Series has a high power output of 420W to 440W and a high-efficiency rating of 22.8%.

    The SunPower 420-440W Residential A.C. Module

    This model uses 66 Maxeon 6 N-type IBC solar cells, which are 5% bigger than the gen five solar cells. Their large size and power output might not suit particular residential areas and applications.

    The SunPower 420-440W Residential A.C. Module also comes up pre-equipped with tools, eliminating the need for additional hardware and connections. They also use the Equinox energy storage system.

    P Series

    The P series is a bunch of highly efficient solar panels. They produce between 370W and 500W depending on the specific model chosen. Unlike other models, their photovoltaic cells use P-type silicon, which is more flexible, affordable, and has low microcracking rates.

    However, their cells are less powerful than the N-type IBC solar cells. There are currently two P series varieties:

    SunPower Performance Series 1000V

    This solar panel model has a high-efficiency rating and power output. By buying it, you can be guaranteed that the module will only lose 0.6% of its power per year. SunPower offers the product with a standard 25-year warrant.

    SunPower Performance Series 1500 Volt

    This model is designed for more power consumption. It is usually used by utility plants and industrial producers. It is very reliable and efficient. It is intended to be highly reliable and efficient, producing 82.6% of its original power output after 25 years of consistent use.

    The EquinoxR System

    The EquinoxR System is a solar system that SunPower offers as a package. It is one of the company’s unique solar solutions because each component used during installation, from the solar panel to batteries, is from SunPower.

    The solar power system also stands out because the products and installation process is designed in a way that does not mess up the appearance of your roof space.

    The SunVault Storage System

    The SunVault Storage System is a common name in the solar market. The system is basically solar storage batteries combined with a control system to help you monitor the performance of the solar energy storage battery.

    SunPower recommends integrating the SunVault Storage System with the EquinoxR System during installation.

     The EnergyLink™ Monitoring System

    The SunPower monitoring system, EnergyLink™, is another famous brand in the solar industry. The system comes with hardware, firmware, and software that allows the required data to be collected.

    You can monitor your solar system’s performance online by accessing the SunPower EnergyLink™ dashboard.  

    Costs

    As was noted earlier, SunPower’s panels are more costly than average solar panels. On average, it costs an American customer $2.77 per watt. However, the average cost of SunPower panels is $3.30 per watt.

    This means you can pay between $12,500 for a 4 kW SunPower system and $39,000 for a 12 kW system. The costs can be attributed to their unique cell designs, patented technology, and high energy production.

    Financing options

    Despite their relatively high cost, SunPower offers several financing options. You can choose to finance your solar system through cash, loan, or lease payment options.

    A customer who pays through cash typically recoups most of the investment, which is not the case with customers who use other payment options. Furthermore, they have more incentives as they can utilize federal solar tax rebates and tax credits.

    On the other hand, if you choose the loan option to finance the purchases, you must pay the debts within 5 to 12 years after installation. You will also pay interest, which adds to the cost of purchasing the equipment. Users who opt for this method can still utilize tax incentives, such as tax credits and rebates.

    Finally, you can lease solar panels from SunPower for a fixed period. Customers who use this method pay negligible upfront costs and monthly fees for the power they generate. The monthly payments are usually lower than the typical electric bill. However, SunPower still retains ownership of the panels. Furthermore, you do not benefit from any tax credit.

    Related article: 9 Things You’ll Need to Know About Solar Leases

    Warranty

    The company has some of the best product warranty in the solar energy sector, which show the confidence they have in their equipment and installation.

    All SunPower solar panels come with a 25 to 40-year warranty. These warranties usually cover materials and performance issues caused by defective and failed products or parts. Therefore, if you are going solar and are concerned about quality and performance, you should consider purchasing SunPower panels.

     SunPower EquinoxR System comes with a 25-year complete system warranty, the only exception being ten years for the monitoring hardware. Some of the areas covered in the complete solar installation warranty include performance, equipment, and labor.

    Finally, the SunPower SunVaultTM Storage System has a 10-year warranty.  

    Awards

    Most of SunPower’s solar products have been certified by Cradle to Cradle™, which shows that they are sustainably produced and safe for use. It is worth noting that SunPower was the first solar power company to achieve a silver Cradle to Cradle rating.

    SunPower won the 2019 solar industry Sustainability Award offered by pv magazine. The award is given to companies in the renewable energy sector that are committed to sustainability.

    Sunpower Reviews

    Many expert and customer reviews rank SunPower’s products and services highly. The positive SunPower reviews are linked to factors such as the high efficiency of its solar products and the high performance of its systems.

    However, a quick search through the internet shows several negative SunPower reviews by clients, where some complain about poor customer service.

    But, in recent years, the solar company has slowly upgraded its customer service platform to ensure customer satisfaction.

    Lawsuits

    SunPower is facing a $4.75 million class-action lawsuit from investors because of losses they allegedly experienced when the company sold faulty microinverters. SunPower denied any allegations of wrongdoing.

    FAQ

    • Is SunPower a reputable company?

      SunPower has high reviews and has all the licenses and certifications needed in each state. This makes it one of the best solar companies.

    • Is SunPower worth the money?

      Despite being costly, SunPower panels are some of the best globally. They have high efficiency, high power rating, and are durable.

      Furthermore, they come with a standard 25-year warranty, with some having a 40-year one, which is way more than what other solar companies offer.

    • Which is better, SunRun or SunPower?

      SunPower panels have a high efficiency of up to 22.8% compared to SunRun solar panels, which attain a maximum of 22%. This means that a SunPower solar power system produces more energy within a short time compared to one by SunRun with the same rating.

      SunPower product warranty and performance warranty run between 25-40 years, unlike those SunRun offers, which often go to a maximum of 10 years.  

    • Is SunPower solar going out of business?

      No. The solar company continues to cement its position as one of the best in the solar industry.  

    John Gathuita
    John Gathuita

    John is an electrical and solar technician, writer, and blogger who specializes in renewable energy, sustainability, and technology. He seeks to inspire more people to adopt solar energy and to work towards a sustainable future.

    Author

    • John is an electrical and solar technician, writer, and blogger who specializes in renewable energy, sustainability, and technology. He seeks to inspire more people to adopt solar energy and to work towards a sustainable future.