SunPower Vs. Canadian Solar (Which company should I choose?)

Rivalries between manufacturers are always positive. Customers, and the companies themselves, stand to benefit from healthy competition. The rivalry between SunPower vs. Canadian Solar is no exception!

These solar power giants have a presence globally, with service portfolios and technological breakthroughs spanning over 2 decades.

This article will help you familiarize yourself with these companies and their products and ultimately assist you with figuring out the one that suits you best!

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SunPower Vs. Canadian Solar

Before we dive in, Let us look at SunPower vs. Canadian Solar:

SpecificationsSunPowerCanadian Solar
Solar Panel ManufacturingMaxeon Solar TechnologiesCanadian Solar Manufacturing plants in Canada, China, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Brazil
Rating / Efficiency415W @ 22.3%670W @ 21.6%
Output Warranty25 years25 years
Output Guarantee92% of Rated Power (25 years)85% of rated power (25 years)
Solar Product Warranty25 years12 years
Dimensions (L x W x H)72.2″ x 40″ x 1.57″93.9″ x 51.3″ x 1.38″
Weight46.5 lbs (21.1 kg)75.8 lbs (34.4 kg)
Price per Watt$3.30 to $4.20$3.01

Who is SunPower?

SunPower began as a lab experiment at Stanford University conducted by Dr. Richard Swanson in 1985.

Dr. Richard had already begun experimenting with his lab’s most efficient solar cell. These cells would later become the hallmark of the SunPower Company, helping them to produce incredibly efficient solar panels.

Currently, the company holds more than 500 solar technology-related patents.

Solar efficiency: the amount of solar energy that a solar cell can convert into electricity. For example, a solar panel with an efficiency rating of 20% covering 1m², operating in an area with a solar irradiance level of 1000W/m², will convert 200W per m². It is, therefore, easy to see how higher efficiency cells can reduce spatial requirements.


Split

In 2020, the company split into two separate entities:

Maxeon Solar Technologies is responsible for producing SunPower’s solar panel technology. The new Gen 6 Maxeon Solar panel was released after the split, boasting a 22.8% efficiency rating. It also comes with a whopping 40-year warranty!

SunPower Corporation focuses on marketing and distributing solar panels to its customers. Additionally, they finance, sell and install solar panels and solar panel systems.

Source: SunPower Separation/Investment Announcement

As far as business is concerned, the company made $1.32 billion in revenue in 2021.

Currently, the company only serves residential customers through its end-to-end product solutions. It sells and finances panels, batteries, and solar monitoring software.


Who is Canadian Solar?

Dr. Shawn Qu started Canadian Solar in 2001. 

At the time of writing, the company has delivered 70 GW to the global grid across 160 countries. One of its flagship offerings, the 670W solar panel, has contributed to this staggering figure.

Canadian Solar boasts its own manufacturing plants that produce wafers, solar cells, solar panels, and other solar-related components in countries such as Canada, China, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Brazil. 

On the business end, the company grew from a $2,000 fund to a staggering $3.5 billion in revenue in 2020, making it a more prominent company than SunPower.


Product Offering

Canadian Solar has product offerings for residential, commercial, and industrial customers. These products include:-

Furthermore, it is essential to note that Canadian solar manufacturers solar panels from beginning to end — from ingots to wafers and solar cells. This allows them to reduce production costs.


Which Company Produces Better Quality?

One of the most significant indicators of quality is the manufacturer’s warranty.

Here, SunPower is miles ahead of its competition. It provides a 25-year product and power output warranty vs. Canadian Solar’s 25-year power output warranty and 12-year product warranty.

It’s also important to note that SunPower has been operating for over 25 years, making their claim more reliable.


Verdict

As far as panel durability is concerned, SunPower is homegrown and has a deep network of providers that tailors solutions for their customers’ needs. Moreover, it boasts a better warranty that backs up its products. As such, it takes the lead in the quality department.


SunPower Vs. Canadian Solar (Technology)


SunPower

As previously mentioned, SunPower uses IBC Maxeon Gen 6 solar cells, providing them with the best efficiency in the market.

It’s expected that the Gen 7 solar cells may possess even greater efficiency levels, upwards of 26%. This allows them to produce solar panels that take up less roof space and last longer.

Source: ScienceDirect

The cell has an N-type IBC without needing metal grid lines. Some specific design elements give it durability, including thick connectors that expand and contract due to temperature changes and solid metal backing.

Bifacial vs. monofacial solar panels.
Bifacial vs. monofacial solar panels.
Source: Couleenergy

Canadian Solar

Canadian Solar has monocrystalline bifacial (PERC or Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell) technology that enables the cells to capture more light to maximize electric power output.

These PERC cells also come with a metallic strip visible from the front giving it the look of a traditional solar panel.

In 2021, Canadian solar launched its first N-Type Heterojunction or HJT module. This enabled it to achieve efficiencies upside 22.5% and higher warranty claims.


Verdict

If you’re looking for more efficient and durable panels, SunPower is the way to go, as it has the highest efficiency in the market (smaller and lighter panels) with a high lifetime value. That being said, these panels come with a pretty hefty price tag.


SunPower Vs. Canadian Solar: Which Company Is Cheaper?

According to the NREL’s Spring 2022 Solar Industry Update, the average cost of a residential PV system is $2.68 per watt.

$2.68 per watt * 5,000 watts = $13,400


SunPower

SunPower’s panels start from $3.30 – $4.15 per watt, making them a rather costly option.

$4.15 per watt * 5,000 watts = $20,750


Canadian Solar

Canadian Solar’s panels cost an average of $3.01 per watt —a fair bit cheaper.

$3.01 per watt * 5,000 watts = $15,050


Verdict

Based on the numbers, Canadian Solar takes the lead here as its offerings are cheaper than SunPower’s. 

However, when considering the output efficiency over an extended period, SunPower’s panels will provide 92% of the rated power output (even after 25 years), while Canadian Solar will provide almost 85% of rated power over the same period. 

SunPower provides free consultation to give its clients a tailored solution rather than automatic cost estimators.


SunPower Vs. Canadian Solar: Which Has Better Efficiency?

We’ve already discussed how SunPower boasts the best efficiency in the market. But what is solar efficiency?

Solar efficiency is the amount of solar energy a solar cell can convert from sunlight to electricity during peak irradiance — when light intensity is 1000 W/m2.


Verdict

In summary, higher efficiencies relate to smaller, more robust, and even lighter solar panel systems — this is where SunPower shines. The company provides a competitive offering with its 22.3% efficient Maxeon Solar cells.


Which Company Product Has Better A Warranty?

A warranty is something that guarantees repairs or replacement on the part of the OEM.

A warranty claim, such as a 25-year parts warranty, means that a manufacturer has a lot of confidence in its product and is ready to provide you protection for any damages to the equipment.

Canadian Solar provides a 25-year power output warranty alongside a 12-year product warranty, which isn’t too impressive. The company promises an 85% rated output by the 25th service year.

In contrast, SunPower has a 25-year product and power output warranty guaranteeing a 92% rated output (even after 25 years).

SunPower vs. Canadian solar power output over a 25-year period.
Solar output over a 25-year period.

Verdict

SunPower takes the cake with its 25-year product and power output warranty vs. Canadian Solar’s 25-year power output and 12-year product warranties.

While SunPower and Canadian Solar both have 25-year power output warranties, SunPower promises significantly higher power.

Furthermore, SunPower is one of the few companies in the solar industry that has existed for over 25 years. As such, its warranties are a lot more credible.

However, Canadian Solar has been producing new solar panels with N-type cells that boast a 25-year product and 30-year power output warranty.

The new Canadian Solar HTJ series has a 25-year product and 30-year output warranty.
The new Canadian Solar HTJ series has a 25-year product and 30-year output warranty.
Source: Canadian Solar

Which Solar Panel Company Is Right For You?


Key Takeaways

Here are some key takeaways to help you with your decision:

  • Roofing limitations: if you have limited roof space or structural constraints, you may prefer SunPower. The company offers lighter and smaller solar panel modules than Canadian Solar.
  • Consultations: Suppose you prefer to take to a dedicated consultant that can guide you along the way to your solar panel installation. In that case, SunPower provides dedicated consultants that assist you with choosing the products best suited to your circumstances.
  • Budget restrictions: if you’re on a tighter budget but don’t want to sacrifice quality, go for Canadian Solar.
  • Warranty: SunPower’s 25-year product and power output warranty are superior.
  • Output longevity: SunPower’s long-term output is superior to Canadian Solar’s — 92% vs. 85% after a 25-year period.

Verdict

If you ask us, we would recommend SunPower for two reasons:

Tailored service: a consultant will guide you through the process and help you choose the best available product for your situation.

Trustworthy: SunPower boasts a 37-year legacy that brings credibility to its products and warranties. This warrants a higher price tag.

That being said, Canadian Solar provides massive value for the dollar spent, and quite frankly, its products offer good competition to SunPower, particularly with its latest offerings. 

Ultimately, we advise you to research further before deciding, as solar panels are a costly investment. Consult our article, “Are Solar Panels Worth It?” for more info on this topic.


Final Thoughts

That’s it for our SunPower vs. Canadian Solar comparison.

Should you want to compare SunPower to other manufacturers out there, feel free to check out our other comparison articles:

If you have any further questions, please reach out to us in the comments below!

Abdullah Riaz

Abdullah Riaz

Abdullah Riaz is busy pursuing his MBA from the Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan. He has a degree in Mechanical Engineering with 3 years of in-depth engineering experience in the Energy Sector. The areas that interest him the most include solar-powered systems, grey water recycling, and renewable economics. Abdullah also owns a 10 kW grid-tied solar system that powers his home.

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