SunPower vs. Solaria Solar Panel Review

Just like SunPower, lesser known Solaria is an American company that makes high performance solar panels.

Stylish and Efficient American Solar Panels

If you want the best-looking solar installation and the most efficient system, take a closer look at American-made solar panels. For some great looking product options two US firms worth a look are SunPower and Solaria; both companies make superb panels that are efficient, elegant and long-lasting.

SunPower and Solaria are a good choice for comparison since some of their leading products are nearly a head-to-head comparison. Both firms made a name for themselves with high efficiency solid black-faced panels. Both companies still primarily manufacture panels overseas for cost reasons but are based in the US. SunPower is in the top ten best solar company list, too.

The Companies: SunPower and Solaria?

SunPower is the older, more widely known and much larger firm, founded in the mid-80s while Solaria is a smaller company with about 100 employees that was started 20 years ago.

SunPower and Solaria

The multi-billion-dollar top-tier SunPower company recently announced a split into two companies. The company joined forces with a Chinese manufacturer (Tianjin Zhonghuan Semiconductor) to spin off a company named Maxeon Solar for manufacturing (still primarily overseas) while keeping the SunPower company focused on the US marketplace from headquarters in California. The new Maxeon firm is being powered by a $300 million dollar infusion from the Chinese company.

SunPower Panels on a Residential Roof

Solaria has been around since 2000, surviving on a small but solid product offering with a few stand-out selling points. According to Crunchbase the company has gotten more than $200 Million in venture capital since 2004. The company recently expanded into Australia, too, continuing a pattern of solid, steady growth, and they hold more than 250 patents or applications.

Solaria Panels on a Residential Roof

Watching for news and developments, though, will be worthwhile as changes hit the US solar panel marketplace, and some manufacturing has already shifted to the US. (SunPower started making its P-19 line of panels in Oregon, for instance, as a response to tariffs placed on Chinese panels.)

Head to Head Product Comparison

Solaria's PowerXT and SunPower's X-Series

Both the Solaria and SunPower product lines are highly rated, but SunPower's X-Series has achieved performance of about 22% efficiency where Solaria's PowerXT is rated at about 20%. Both product lines feature a solid black design, which gives a more elegant appearance. (Less costly panels have a multi-colored circuit layout.)

Hidden circuitry

The all-black designs are achieved by putting wiring and circuitry on the back of the panel. While this might seem obvious, moving wires to the back costs more and complicates manufacturing substantially, so much so that each company carefully patents their methods. SunPower and Solaria use slightly different methods, as Solaria uses a "shingled" overlapping approach while SunPower mounts their power cells to a matching black backing sheet.

The products in these lines also feature reliability improvements to circuitry and provide on-board power inverters, all hidden to preserve a clean-looking design.

Better efficiency plus fewer failures

Back-mounted wiring has additional benefits besides appearance. Solar panels usually have individual cells spaced widely apart to allow for front-mounted wiring, with two immediate negative effects: Panels need to be bigger and the wiring often covers a small working part of the cell.

Putting cell connections on the back has another benefit - lower failure rates. Exposed front-mounted wiring expands and contracts with solar heating and cooling throughout the day, which leads to failures. Shielding these components from temperature swings makes these product lines last longer.


Solar panels produce DC (direct current) power, but both SunPower and Solaria offer integrated inverters that convert output to AC (alternating current) ready for US homes and businesses. (Most inverters used in the US are made by Enphase.) Both companies provide panels as either AC or DC. The SunPower line with built-in power inverters is called the “Equinox” while the Solaria PowerXT comes as either AC or DC.

Built-in AC output simplifies installation but does cost more per unit. Inverters can “clip” and lower power output when power coming from the cells exceeds inverter capacity, but this is a minor issue since full maximum power output is rare. (Bigger inverters naturally cost more.)


With the lower failure rates realized by hiding components from the elements comes a greatly improved warranty offering from both companies. While the precise connection methods vary behind the scenes both companies offer a 25-year warranty on both power output and the product. Most companies offer just ten years product protections, so this is an improvement worth paying attention to.

In the fine print there is a difference, though, as SunPower says their panel will continue to deliver 92% power after 25 years while Solaria warrants an 86% output.

Made in the USA?

Both companies do manufacture some panels in the USA, but you should know that both still have larger factory capacity overseas. SunPower split off their Maxeon Solar company in China in partnership with a Chinese firm while Solaria has facilities in South Korea. There are solar panel companies making panels only in the USA, but they are the exception. In the event you must have American-only, look into Mission Solar, operating out of San Antonio, Texas, otherwise be sure to ask about the particular panels you're interested in. Most solar panels sold in the US continue to be made overseas.


Solaria PowerXTSunPower X-Series
Cell typemonocrystallinemonocrystalline
Efficiency19.6%Up to 22%
Output (STC)350 to 360 watts310 to 335 watts
Output (NOCT)258 to 265 watts233 to 252 watts
Warranty25 year power and product25 year power and product
Dimensions43.9" x 63.8"41.2" x 61.4"

The varied power outputs result mainly from panel size and cell efficiencies. STC is an efficiency rating tested in the lab. NOCT ratings allow for higher temperatures in the field.

Wrap up

If you are looking for American companies in the solar panel market, both SunPower and Solaria are worth investigating and both offer products that are longer lasting and more efficient than average. The better warranty sets these product lines atop the field. With the current stiff import costs for foreign solar panels you might find American offerings more tempting than ever and you might get the fashionable look you want for your home solar setup, too.

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