Why 100 Watt Solar Panels Are Popular
100 watt solar panels are arguably the most versatile solar panel size on the market right now. They’re a good balance between efficiency and maneuverability, and they’re priced affordably for most consumers. While they are not quite as cost effective as their larger 250 watt counterparts (in dollars per watt), they are certainly much more cost effective than the smaller 50 and 80 watt solar panels.
For the DIY solar crowd, 100 watt solar panels offer unparalleled flexibility. For example, building an array of 600 watts from 100 watt panels, you can wire them in pairs, in groups of three, six panels in parallel, or all six panels in series. It’s nice to have options. Additionally, it’s usually fairly easy to tack on an additional 100 watt solar panel to existing solar power systems.
At approximately 47 in. x 21 in., and weighing only 16 lbs., the typical 100 watt solar panel is definitely manageable for a DIY solar installation, and has the added benefit that they often fit nicely on RV, cabin, and tiny house roofs. For detailed information about common solar panel dimensions, see Planning Your Solar Power System: Solar Power Dimensions.
So, there’s a lot to like about 100 watt solar panels. But I know you’re wondering:
With so many solar panels on the market right now, which 100 watt solar panel is the best?
First, let’s consider what qualities we expect to see in a good solar panel:
- Sturdy construction
- A decent warranty
In this day and age, I don’t think there’s much else that we need to consider. Some solar companies are now coming out with 2 versions of their solar panels, with either silver or black frames. While aesthetics and sleekness might be a deciding factor in the future, I don’t think it’s much of a concern right now. I’m pretty sure that most people just want a solar panel that works, works well, and doesn’t cost too much. Right?
Let’s get on with it!
Best Overall 100 Watt Solar Panel: Renogy 100 Watt Monocrystalline Solar Panels
I have six Renogy 100 watt monocrystalline solar panels mounted to the roof of my van right now, so I might be a little biased, but I also think that the 270+ five star reviews on Amazon for this product back me up.
Renogy is actually fairly new to the solar industry, and when I bought my panels in 2013, there wasn’t much buzz surrounding them. Consumers were leery of their low prices, and their Made in China manufacturing. Since then, Renogy has taken the 100 watt solar panel market by storm, proving that as long as the solar panel works and holds up to daily use, consumers will be happy. Their 100 watt monocrystalline panel is now one of Amazon’s best selling solar panels.
My six solar panels have been charging my van’s house batteries for over a year now, without a single day off. They have been working wonderfully, and I have not had one single problem with them, so I would definitely rate these panels as 100% reliable.
Renogy 100 watt monocrystalline solar panels appear to be built amazingly well. I did examine each of my six panels thoroughly when I received them, and found that I could not locate a single screw on them. I’m honestly not sure how the frames are held together. Do they snap together? Are they held with glue? I couldn’t tell, but I could see that the frame corners were perfect 90 degree corners, all of the aluminum edges were flush, and the frame did not bend at all. The glass was looked beautiful, and I really could not find any evidence of subpar quality. And, a year later, they still look and function like new.
Listed on Amazon.com at $149.99, Renogy 100 watt monocrystalline solar panels are affordable. A mere one year ago, this was absolutely the lowest price around. And it was so low, that consumers were skeptical of how well the solar panels would work. However, Renogy now has competition. Eco-Worthy’s 100 watt monocrystalline solar panels are listed at $139.99, and Windy Nation’s 100 watt monocrystalline solar panels are currently listed at $146.99. (These prices may change after this article is published).
Renogy’s 100 Watt monocrystalline solar panels come with a 25-year output warranty. They guarantee the following efficiency rates:
- 5-year/95% efficiency rate
- 10-year/90% efficiency rate
- 25-year/80% efficiency rate
These rates are the same as other solar panel manufacturers.
Renogy solar panels also have a 5-year warranty on material and workmanship. This is nice, but it isn’t stellar. For reference, Kyocera warranties their panels for 10 years on material and workmanship. While I’m not thrilled about the 5-year warranty, I also haven’t seen any manufacturer match both Kyocera’s 10-year warranty and Renogy’s low price.
Despite the slightly lower prices of Renogy’s competitors, I still think that Renogy’s 100 watt solar panel deserves the top spot as Best Overall 100 Watt Solar Panel. The Renogy panels have been around slightly longer than their competitors and have a proven track record.
Where to Buy
Best FLEXIBLE 100 Watt Solar Panel: Renogy 100 Watt Bendable Monocrystalline Solar Panels
Flexible solar panels aren’t new to the market, however, in the past year, manufacturers have made drastic improvements to the quality and functionality of flexible solar panels. It’s no wonder that more and more solar DIYers are considering them now more than ever.
Renogy’s 100 watt bendable monocrystalline solar panel was released around March of 2014 and has since done very well on the market. Prior to this panel, most flexible solar panels had a long and skinny shape that didn’t fit the needs of many consumers. They simply took up too much room. The reason why Renogy has seen so much success with their new 100 watt bendable panel is that it provides the same output as their 100 watt rigid panel, but with an even smaller footprint.
Renogy’s 100 watt bendable solar panel performs just as reliably as their rigid panels, given proper usage. Renogy recommends bending the panel up to 30 degrees. Beyond that, you would risk damaging the panel and decreasing output.
The construction quality of Renogy’s flexible 100 watt solar panel seems on par. The six holes around the edges are lined with metal grommets, but you do have to keep in mind that the solar panel is essentially a thin, laminated piece of plastic. If the solar panel is anchored to the roof of an RV using only those six grommets, leaving the panel flapping in the wind, the grommets by themselves may not be enough to keep the material around the grommets from tearing if the RV goes barreling down the highway. For best results, secure the body of the panel to a rigid surface using VHB tape or Dicor.
However, this is to be expected with all flexible solar panels of this type, and that’s why I say that the construction quality is “on par”.
Renogy’s 100 watt bendable solar panel is currently listed on Amazon at $229.99, $80 more than the rigid version. Lesser known solar companies have come out with flexible solar panels that directly compete with Renogy at slightly lower prices, however, these other panels are so new to the market that few people have tried them yet.
A few well-established companies have also put out flexible solar panels comparable to Renogy’s 100 watt flexible panel, but their prices are currently around the $250 range. As of right now, I think Renogy’s flexible panels are the most inexpensive panels that also have several 5 star reviews.
The warranty that comes with this solar panel is a 5-year warranty on material only. Honestly, this isn’t a great warranty, but again, it’s about on par with the warranties that other solar companies provide. For reference, Grape Solar provides a 2-year limited warranty on materials and workmanship on their 100 watt flexible solar panels, and a 2-year warranty on efficiency, guaranteeing greater than 90% output for the first two years.
I wouldn’t recommend that consumers spend the extra money on a flexible solar panel if they have the option of using a rigid panel. However, if you must use a flexible solar panel, then the Renogy 100 watt bendable solar panels would be my first pick. Since the quality and features of this solar panel are about the same as others, the low price in combination with a proven track record make this one a winner.