Renogy vs. HQST vs. Eco-Worthy vs. Windynation – so many options to compare solar panels! With the growth of solar energy, the number of solar panel manufacturers is increasing.
At present, six major players sell solar panels at reasonable prices mainly online. These manufacturers make similar panels and preferences often depend on several factors.
- Dimensions and weight
- Warranty, warranties, return policies
This article reviews the pros and cons of each brand, then presents the highlights of each panel. I compared the 200W solar panels, so the comparisons are equivalent.
Factors when choosing a solar panel
As mentioned, there are several factors to consider when choosing a solar panel. Of course, this is not all the factors, but some of the main ones to consider.
Check the specs. Volts and Amps are key, and I constantly review Vmp, Imp, VOC and Isc.
If provided, also check the efficiency or tolerance of the panel. An example is Renogy. Theirs is plus or minus 3%, but not all manufacturers offer this, so ask.
Finally, read all the reviews you can find and ask others’ opinions on DIY solar and RV forums. Honest user reviews are great.
Dimensions and weight
It all depends on where you want to place your solar panels.
- How much space do you have on the roof?
- How much do the panels weigh?
- Will they be in the sun or in the shade?
If you’re buying from Amazon, check the manufacturer’s website for full specs. Unfortunately, Amazon is often wrong.
Price is always important and many manufacturers have aggressive sales on their website. Renogy and Eco-Worthy are two good examples.
Still check amazon toobecause once you add the coupons, shipping, etc., the manufacturers may not be cheaper and Amazon’s return policy is often better.
Service is often complicated with some of these manufacturers. If you want to get an idea of what kind of service you’ll get, look at the answers to questions on the Amazon page.
Some of the answers are bad, and not surprisingly, these are the same manufacturers with negative reviews.
Warranty, Guarantee, Return Policy
This is where they can all get a little tricky. There can be a number of reasons why they void their warranties, so read the fine print carefully.
Be sure to save signs and keep your receipts/invoices.
Check the warranty and return policy. Some only give you a few days to register before they expire.
Some manufacturers charge you the cost of return, which can make the return cost prohibitive.
Renogy solar panels
Renogy makes a popular board and a favorite among the boating and RV crowd. This compact and well-made solar panel fits well in small spaces.
- The price fluctuates somewhat
- Effective and works as stated
- Quality build
- Shipping quality is not always good
- No mounting hardware is a common complaint
- Customer service feedback is questionable
HQST solar panels
HQST has a reputation for producing a high performance panel at low cost. It’s one of the few boards with little to no negative service feedback. Recently the new panels have been made smaller and are not communicated in the specs so you can check their website or confirm by phone.
- One of the cheapest panels
- Output is as shown
- No negative service review is good in this industry
- Newer panels are smaller than shown
- Several complaints about components such as cables left out
Windy Nation Solar Panels
Windy Nation makes polycrystalline panels that get great reviews, but there aren’t as many reviews of monocrystalline panels. The few that are available are positive. Monocrystalline panels are less expensive and slightly smaller than polycrystalline.
- Great reviews
- Performance/Efficiency as stated
- Shipping and delivery sometimes lead to damage
- Monocrystalline panels are expensive
NewPowa solar panels
Newpowa receives good reviews on the performance of its panels, and they are one of the cheapest panels in this group. Feedback on their responsiveness and service is among the highest on forums and reviews.
These are larger than some competitors’ panels, so check the specs before you buy.
- One of the cheapest solar panels in this group
- Great customer service
- Consistent efficiency ratings
- Heaviest of all panels in this group
- Packaging can be poor
- No mounting hardware
Rich solar panels
Rich solar is often mentioned by buyers of Renogy panels. It’s a similar panel at a better price. It is a tall, narrow and heavier panel, but is becoming a favorite among motorhomes and campers. The only consistent negative theme is quality control – panels sometimes differ from listed specs and mounting holes on the back of panels can vary.
- Good quality alternative to Renogy at a better price
- Good technical service
- Overall sturdy and durable frame and panel
- The inconsistent panel received was different than shown and the mounting holes were also different.
- Durability – there are some complaints about the quality of the MC4 connector
- Occasional shipping damage
Environmentally friendly solar panels
Like Renogy, Eco-Worthy is very popular among mobile users – RVs, boats, trucks, RVs, etc. It is a smaller panel in this list and is also lightweight. The panel is of good quality, and these are the cheapest panels at the time of this review. There have been a few complaints about size consistency, but if you order directly from Eco-Worthy, that doesn’t seem to be an issue.
- Currently the lowest price on this list
- Best quality price report
- Works consistently as stated
- No mounting holes on the sides of the stand
- Panel size sometimes varies unless purchased directly from Eco-Worthy
- Occasional shipping damage
All these panels are similar. They seem to struggle with the same issues, and each brand has its fans and detractors. The best quality goes to Renogy, but not to customer service. For service, you should consider Newpowa or Rich.
Find answers to questions on Amazon. This gives you a good idea of who is investing in the service and who is not.
Mounting hardware is an issue for all manufacturers, which surprises me because NONE of these panels claim to come with hardware. So if you’re wondering, don’t expect mounting hardware with most of these solar panels.
Shipping breakage is also an issue across the board, so check your panels as soon as you receive them, call the manufacturer if there’s a problem, or try returning them if you ordered them through Amazon.
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