American made solar panels: The biggest and best U.S. manufacturers

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At EnergySage, we’ve rated thousands of individual solar panels based on efficiency, power output, warranty, and other important specs that allow each panel to make the most possible electricity over the longest period of time.

If Made in the USA is also on your list of must-have features in a solar panel—whether it’s to support American workers and energy independence, or some other reason—you have a bunch of solid options to pick from. Some of these panels (and the inverters they connect to) are among the top-rated, most popular solar equipment on the EnergySage Marketplace.

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According to data from the Solar Energy Technologies Office at the U.S. Department of Energy, 16 companies build solar panels in America.

First Solar, based in Ohio, is the largest U.S. solar manufacturer, producing about 50% more panels in the US than the next-biggest American-made brand. They mainly produce panels for commercial or industrial-scale installations, which means the individual panels are less efficient than the type most commonly used on rooftops, where you want to cram as much capacity into the smallest possible space.

QCells is the second-largest manufacturer of solar panels in the US—but arguably the heaviest hitter of all the residential solar panel manufacturers, American or otherwise. 

QCells is currently the most popular brand on the EnergySage marketplace by far, appearing in about 29% of all quotes given by installers to real-world customers in the first six months of 2023. That’s 12 percentage points ahead of the next-biggest solar brand on our platform (Singapore-made REC), plus 46 other solar brands. QCells claims that they have more than 30% of the market for residential solar in the U.S.

While their parent company, Hanwha, is based in South Korea, QCells recently opened two solar-panel factories in Georgia. Not all of their new panels come from those American factories (at least not yet), but there’s a good chance that if you go with QCells for your home solar system, you’ll be supporting American manufacturing.

Other notable names in American solar manufacturing include Solar4America, Silfab Solar, Heliene, Jinko Solar, and Mission Solar.

Here's the full list, according to the DOE, as of November 2023:

Annual Capacity
Auxin SolarCalifornia150 MW
Crossroads SolarIndiana50 MW
First SolarOhio6,300 MW
GAF EnergyCalifornia50 MW
HelieneMinnesota600 MW
Hightec SolarIndiana100 MW
Jinko SolarFlorida400 MW
Merlin SolarCalifornia5 MW
Mission SolarTexas300 MW
QcellsGeorgia5,100 MW
Silfab SolarWashington400 MW
SolariaCalifornia40 MW
SPI Energy / Solar4AmericaCalifornia700 MW
Sunspark USA / SolarMax TechnologyCalifornia250 MW
SunTegraNew York10 MW
Toledo SolarOhio100 MW

None of the American-made solar panels are among the very top tier of our performance rankings. Those are from SunPower, REC, and Panasonic, who build their equipment in other countries. But plenty of the U.S. panels are close behind them in the ratings. Sometimes, as with QCells, they regularly cost less to install, which tends to mean a faster payback period on your investment, even if the long-term energy production over several decades might not be quite as robust.

Looking at the broader supply chain for solar components, the DOE counts 52 companies that manufacture those products in the U.S. It’s a little bit of (almost) everything that goes into a solar energy system, including inverters, controllers, racking systems, and more. Another 12 outfits can recycle old solar equipment.

One of the most notable companies here is Enphase, whose IQ series microinverters and controllers are wildly popular on the EnergySage Marketplace. Inverters are a crucial part of a solar energy system, and Enphase is one of the two dominant inverter brands in the U.S. About 65% of solar quotes on EnergySage in the first half of 2023 included Enphase microinverters —more than triple the number of the next-biggest inverter brand, SolarEdge. Enphase’s manufacturing is contracted out to third-party factories in Wisconsin (Foxconn) and South Carolina (Flex), according to the DOE.

All that said, the bulk of panels and components are not built in America. Even the American-made panels listed above are assembled here, but many of the components come from abroad.

Most solar equipment is built in China, and the scale of those companies absolutely dwarfs the American solar production industry. Based on 2021 data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) China manufactured 75% of all solar panels globally, and even higher rates of components in those panels including cells (85%), wafers (97%),  and polysilicon (79%).

Four out of the five biggest manufacturers are headquartered in China and primarily manufacture equipment there (though one of them is Jinko Solar, which does have an American manufacturing facility). The fifth largest is a Canadian company, Canadian Solar, though much of their manufacturing capacity is in China, too. The biggest American manufacturer (FirstSolar) produces less than 15% of the total solar capacity as the biggest Chinese brand.

Country Of Origin
Capacity (2022)
LONGiChina45,000+ MW
Trina SolarChina~43,000 MW
Jinko SolarChina42,000+ MW
JA SolarChina39,750 MW
Canadian SolarCanada21,100 MW

More American solar manufacturing could be coming following incentives and investments earmarked in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. For example, in June 2023, Canadian Solar announced plans to open a factory in the US. And in October 2023, Suniva announced plans to re-open a factory in Georgia that manufactures solar cells, a critical component in solar panels. It had been shuttered since 2019.

If you want to make sure you get American-made panels, you might have to shop around for an installer that gives you that choice. Some solar installers work exclusively or nearly exclusively with specific brands, which may or may not have been built in the U.S. When you register for the EnergySage Marketplace, we’ll let our installer network know that you’re looking for equipment that’s made in America, and aim to get you multiple quotes. Our Energy Advisors can help you sort through your options. Learn more and sign up here.

Find out what solar panels cost in your area in 2024
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  • 100% free to use, 100% online
  • Access the lowest prices from installers near you
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