Best Solar Panels – Top 10 Global Manufacturers

Every year IMS Research publishes a list of the 10 largest global solar panel manufacturers. When picking your ‘best solar panel’ it is important to choose a large manufacturer, since your panel warranty often is valid for 25 years. Top 10 companies are more likely to be around in 25 years time than small ones, so this list is important in picking your best solar panel: 


Top 10 List of Solar Panel Manfacturers in 2011:

  1. Suntech (China)
  2. First Solar (USA)
  3. Yingli (China)
  4. Trina Solar (China)
  5. Canadian Solar (most operations in China)
  6. Sharp (Japan – Conglomerate)
  7. Jinko Solar (China)
  8. Sunpower (USA)
  9. Hanwa SolarOne (China)
  10. Kyocera (Japan – Conglomerate)
Source: IMS Research February 2012

According to IMS these top 10 manufactures collectively accounted for nearly half of all solar panels produced in 2011. The PV module supplier base consolidated considerably in 2011 with the largest suppliers collectively gaining share of the market. Because leading suppliers are able to leverage their strong brands, it is expected that this consolidation continues into 2012.

From the top 10 suppliers, 6 are from China, 2 from Japan, and 2 from the USA. The USA solar panel manufacturers are specialists in thin film (First Solar) or high efficiency panels (Sunpower). Hence there remain about 8 mainstream suppliers. The two Japanese suppliers are part of a larger electronics conglomerate, and can be grouped with other companies like Hyundai, Samsung, Sanyo and LG. These companies are often a safe choice given their large parent organization.

The Chinese firms are clearly focused increasing their large production capacity as quickly as possible to provide value for money solar panels with a good brand name. Volumes are important, as larger volumes imply larger factories that produce cheaper panels (like in in the LCD / TV market). It clearly shows that between 2008 and 2011 all Chinese firms have gained positions in the top 10 ranks, with USA and Japanese firms losing positions. We expect Chinese firms to keep competing on volume, and think these global and stockmarket listed firms are a very safe choice for solar panels, despite all the negative myths about ‘made in china’. The following picture gives an overview of how the ranks changed:

In conclusion, when looking for the best solar panels it is often a safe choice to start with large manufacturers, which can either be an electronics firm or a top 10 Chinese solar panel firm. This provides peace of mind since that your solar warranty for 25 years can actually still be there in 2037. Other panel aspects that can be important when looking for the best solar panel are:

  1. Best solar panels – Popular UK brands
  2. Best solar panels – High quality panels (Technical)
  3. Best solar panels – What to avoid
We will discuss these subjects in blog posts over the next weeks. In the meantime you can already check which local installers use these top 10 panel brands by entering your postcode on


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