Sourcing Solar Panels: Where They’re Made and Assembled
February 27, 2023
Today, the U.S. produces around 126 gigawatts (GW) of solar energy: enough to power about 22 million American homes. But this isn’t necessarily from American-made solar panels.
What’s more, the Energy Information Administration predicts a 6% growth in the solar energy market between 2035 and 2050.
So, it makes sense that people are looking to go solar — and want to buy U.S. products. However, as a buyer, it’s important to know where your solar panels come from. And frankly, 100% American-made solar panel manufacturers are few and far between.
Let’s explore why that’s the case.
[Related: Guide to Solar Panels]
Where Are Solar Panels Sourced?
Manufacturers source most solar panels from outside the U.S.
One way to find out where a solar panel comes from is to check where its individual parts are sourced. You can compare this to where manufacturers eventually assemble those parts.
Here’s a brief overview of where companies manufacture the main components of solar panels and where they might end up assembling them.
Before we get started, we should note solar panels have three main parts:
- Silicon cells
- An aluminum frame
- Protectants (glass, encapsulant and backsheet)
Silicon is the main ingredient in solar cells. China is the world’s top silicon producer. As of 2021, Russia, Brazil, Norway and the U.S. follow China.
The individual companies that produce silicon often have facilities spanning numerous countries. This makes it difficult to trace exactly where a panel’s parts and materials are coming from.
Imagine how a picture frame works. It’s essentially the same concept as the aluminum frame in a solar panel assembly.
A solar panel frame is what tightly binds together the solar cells, glass, encapsulant and backsheet. And most aluminum solar system manufacturers are from China, aside from 12 other countries.
Glass, Encapsulant and Backsheet Protectants
In solar panels, the glass, encapsulant and backsheet are important for protecting solar silicon cells from damage and harmful exposure, such as harsh weather.
Protectant manufacturing follows the same process as most other solar panel parts. What’s more, China is still the key player in this process. Germany, India, Korea, Japan and the U.S. rank behind China yet again.
The honest truth is that companies source most panels (the ones available for purchase in the U.S.) from overseas. Because of all the varied materials and involved parties, fully American-made solar panel companies are hard to come by.
SunPower solar panels, for example, are made, assembled and sourced outside of the U.S., but they’re the highest-rated panels you can buy in the states. And in the industry in general. They go through a rigorous quality and reliability standard, perform better than competition and have a comprehensive, full warranty.
Freedom Solar is a certified provider of SunPower solar panels and we offer a 25-year warranty on performance, product and workmanship.
[Related: Who Makes the Best Solar Panels?]
What Are the Benefits of Owning Solar Panels?
Although most solar panel equipment is fabricated and assembled outside of the U.S., a solar system is still certainly worth the investment.
Solar panels are revolutionizing the way people source their power. And in terms of making eco-conscious investments, solar panels are an ideal choice.
Solar systems are beneficial to both home and business owners, regardless of where companies source the panels (i.e., American-made solar panels or not). And of course, solar panel systems have a substantially positive impact on the environment.
So, once you’ve paid the initial purchase costs — with local rebates and incentives to offset your total cost — you’ll continue to benefit for decades to come.
Here are some top reasons to go solar:
- Reducing your energy bills (specifically electricity)
- Benefiting the environment and public health
- Increasing the value of your home and property
- Supporting the local economy through net metering
[Related: How Going Solar Saved a Struggling Colorado Farm]
Purchasing Solar Panels: Here’s What You Can Expect to Pay
Cost is usually the first thing people consider when they think about going solar. And the cost of American-made solar panels is tricky to pinpoint — many factors come into play.
Overall, solar panels might seem pricey at first glance. Fortunately, you have many helpful financing options that make the purchase feasible for you, your family or possibly your business.
And thanks to President Biden’s recently passed law, you can expect to save.
On Aug. 16, 2022, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022 into law — the largest bill in history to fight climate change. The IRA includes a significant extension to the federal solar tax credit, no matter which solar provider you choose.
“It invests $369 billion to secure our energy future and to address the climate crisis, bringing down family energy bills by hundreds of dollars by providing working families tax credits. It gives folks rebates to buy new and efficient appliances, to weatherize their homes, and tax credits for heat pumps and rooftop solar,” states Biden.
Solar panels and solar-related equipment qualify for the solar investment tax credit (ITC), as well as local solar rebates and incentives that reduce your final purchase cost. And whenever you purchase solar panels from a trusted provider, it usually includes installation in the total price.
As of summer 2022 when Biden passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), up to 30% in tax credits are available to offset the initial cost of solar panel purchase and installation. The goal is to encourage home and business owners to go solar. Come 2033, you can expect the rate to drop to 26%.
[Related: 10 Clean Energy Benefits In the Inflation Reduction Act That Could Change Your Home and Fill Your Wallet]
Going Solar: Is It Worth It?
Solar panels are absolutely worth the cost and effort. Considering the fact that the U.S. consumes 10,715 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity annually, going solar makes a real difference.
What’s more, the average American household has an electric bill reaching about $125 — and that’s without solar panels. With them, you can expect thousands of dollars in savings every year.
Solar panels also increase your home’s resale value. Real estate market research shows buyers will purchase a home for an extra $12,000 to $15,000 if it has solar panels.
So, regardless of where your panels come from, they offer many more benefits than nonrenewable energy sources.
We know you’re a conscientious buyer. Pushing toward affordable systems from wholly American-made solar panel manufacturers is important, but getting there will take time. And yes, that can be frustrating.
But at the end of the day, going solar with or without American-made solar panels is your best choice in terms of your budget, your ethics and the planet you live on.
[Related: Solar Panels and EV Stations: The Prevalence of Solar-Powered EV Charging Stations]
Contact Freedom Solar for SunPower Solar Panels
Want to join the clean energy community? Freedom Solar provides and installs SunPower solar panels — some of the most efficient on the market.
We offer a pre-construction consultation and will also collaborate with your contractor. Our goal is to ensure you wind up with the highest-quality solar panels available. Plus, our dedicated team will provide you with decades of support.
Call us at (800) 504-2337 or begin your free consultation today. One of our solar specialists will be in touch with you as soon as possible.
Featured image via Pixabay