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Shedding Some Light on Solar PV

August 19, 2015 | Kerry Inserra

One of the most common things Diablo Solar customers ask when they start to consider going solar or start to plan their solar expedition is which are the most efficient solar panels.  However, the more important question is not which solar panels are most efficient, but which solar panels are the best value for the money.

Before taking a look at some of the top solar panel producers, let me first define the basic term “PV” then let’s review some of the most efficient solar PV manufacturers.

Let’s start with the term PV.  PV is a term we see frequently when researching solar.

What is PV or Photovoltaics?  Pronounced pho-to-vol-ta-ics.

Photovoltaics (PV) is a method of generating electrical power by converting solar radiation into direct current electricity using semiconductors that exhibit the photovoltaic effect. That’s the standard definition.  Ok…I hope I haven’t lost you.  Stay with me because “PV” is literally one of the most important words in the solar lexicon.

But what does PV really mean to the average consumer interested in purchasing a solar system for their home? Does the average consumer care that the first PV module came to life on April 26th, 1954, when The New York Times declared the introduction of PV “the beginning of a new era, leading eventually to the realization of one of mankind’s most cherished dreams-the harnessing of the almost limitless energy of the Sun for the uses of civilization?” 

But when it was explained to me this way, “that PV is turning light energy directly into electricity”, well, I could wrap my mind around that basic precept.  The term photovoltaic combines photo, from the Greek word for light, with voltaic, named after Alessandro Volta, a pioneer in the science of electricity. The device that creates this is called a photovoltaic cell, a solar cell or a PV cell.  Sunlight hits the PV cells and creates DC (direct current) power.

Again, why does this matter to the average consumer?  First of all no matter what incentives are offered your solar system will save you money on your electricity bill and in most cases completely eliminate it!  Furthermore, electricity rates are increasing across the board, so generating your own electricity hedges against further rate increases, improving your ROI.  What matters is saving money on rising energy costs and PV is the very product that makes this possible.

There are many PV manufacturers out there touting competitive price points or high efficiency solar output.  When considering which solar company to go with, ask which PV manufacturers the solar company does business with.  This will help you make an informed decision.  For example, at Diablo Solar, considerable time and energy (no pun intended) was and is spent reviewing all of the latest solar PV manufacturers.  We ferreted out all of the various PV modules in the marketplace and have determined which products are best for the solar market we serve-mainly residential homeowners in Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano and Napa Counties.  Let us look at both.

Diablo Solar has determined that some of the best PV products on the market are the following:


Hillsboro, Oregon is the site of their American headquarters and the location of the largest and most advanced solar photovoltaics production facility in the Western Hemisphere.  Their American-made PV solar-electric modules include 25-year and 30-year warranties.  Check out their attractive all-black monocrystalline panels and see-through clear modules.  They offer high quality and a superior product.


Suniva is a leading U.S. manufacturer of high-efficiency, high quality PV solar systems and high-powered modules. Suniva takes pride in having one of the most experienced PV teams in the world working on research, design and manufacturing of PV cells and modules. Suniva products include attractive all-black monocrystalline panels along with 25-year warranties.

LG Electronics

The LG brand has earned great respect and popularity around the world. This trusted, electronics manufacturer is known for price, performance, reliability and quality.  Everything in their line-up of solar modules is tried and tested including their popular black monocrystalline cells with white backsheets.  25-year warranties offered

Hanwha QCells

Hanwha Q CELLS offer standard efficiency with blue polycrystalline solar cells that maximize value. They offer a low cost option with a short return-on-investment.  25-year warranties offered.


For over 30 years, SunPower has led the way with record-setting technologies and innovative solar solutions.  Headquartered locally in San Jose, California, SunPower offers top-of-the-line maximum efficiency with photovoltaic (PV) solar-electric modules.  They offer all-black and black and white options with 25-year warranties.

Anyone of these above PV manufacturers would be an excellent choice for you solar needs.  Diablo Solar has installed over 21,000 solar systems in the Bay Area and PV products are built to last and all come with at least a generous 25-year warranty.

PV systems continue to be an ideal source of energy because there is a seemingly infinite amount of sunlight for fuel, and there are no byproducts from converting the fuel into electricity.  While solar efficiency is certainly a critical factor in deciding which solar product to use, the bigger question to ask when getting a bid on solar is:  Which solar panels are the best value for the money?  This is where your solar PV conversation should begin.