The Latest on Solar Panels Made in USA
Many consumers want to support United States manufacturing by purchasing American-made solar panels. But finding solar panels that are 100% made in the USA can be a bit complex.
First, it’s difficult to determine which solar panels are genuinely American-made. Many American solar companies manufacture their solar panels overseas. Alternatively, some overseas solar companies have manufacturing plants in the United States.
Where solar companies choose to build their panel manufacturing plants depends on a few factors. Generally, manufacturing solar panels in Asia is the least expensive due to low labor costs and the availability of refined silicon and solar cells. The latest industry changes, however, are shifting this trend; recent tariffs on imported solar panels are pushing solar companies to set up manufacturing plants in the United States.
Solar Industry Tariffs in the United States
For years, American solar panel manufacturers have lobbied for tariffs on imported solar panels to maintain competitive pricing while paying rates for labor and materials.
But the United States solar industry — which employs around 250,000 people — relies on the flow of inexpensive, imported solar panels. As you can see, there is a delicate balance between supporting U.S. manufacturing and encouraging job growth and clean energy adoption.
In 2018, President Trump introduced a tariff on imported solar panels, excluding the first 2.5 GW of solar cells every year. This tariff started at 30% and was reduced by 5% each year until its expiration in 2022. In 2019, bifacial solar panels (common on large-scale commercial solar systems) were exempt from the tariff for about a year and a half. In its fourth year, the Trump administration adjusted the tariff rate to 18% instead of lowering it to 15%.
In February 2022, President Biden extended the tariff for four more years, with a few changes. The annual exclusion changed from 2.5 GW to 5 GW, and the exemption for bifacial solar panels was reinstated.
In June 2022, Biden waived solar tariffs for two years on products from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. At the same time, Biden also invoked the Defense Production Act to speed up investment in domestic solar panel manufacturing.
USA Solar Panel Manufacturers
It’s crucial to know the difference between a solar company with headquarters in the United States versus one that manufactures solar panels in the States. For example, SunPower, an American company based in San Jose, California, makes all its products in overseas manufacturing plants.
Here’s a list of the top solar companies that are manufacturing solar panels in the United States today:
Mission Solar is based in San Antonio, Texas. They source their solar cells from overseas but engineer and assemble the panels in San Antonio. This brand is known for its attractive black-on-black solar panels with a good efficiency rating and high snow load. Mission Solar panels are an excellent choice for home solar installations in the United States.
SunSpark is located in Riverside, California, with a parent company based in China. SunSpark solar panels are assembled at their manufacturing plant in Riverside. This brand has a reputation for durability and efficiency, and the panels come at a competitive price point that works well for home solar or small commercial projects.
Hanwha Q Cells
Hanwha Q Cells is a well-known solar brand that makes a diverse range of solar panels with varying sizes and efficiency ratings. Hanwha originates from South Korea; however, they operate a regional office in Irvine, California, a 1.7 GW solar panel manufacturing plant in Dalton, Georgia, and other plants overseas. Hanwha Q Cells also develops large-scale solar farms across the United States, helping to employ American solar industry workers.
Solaria is a small solar panel manufacturer based in Fremont, California, with networks in South Korea. Like Mission Solar, Solaria also makes higher-end black-on-black solar panels. If you’re considering buying from Solaria, know that it might be difficult to determine which products are made in the USA.
Other North American Solar Panel Manufacturers
Silfab Solar is headquartered in Ontario, Canada. They manufacture solar panels in Toronto, Canada, and also have two manufacturing plants in the U.S., in Washington State. Silfab makes high-efficiency solar panels with a high price point.
Heliene is another Canadian solar company based in Ontario, Canada. Their manufacturing facilities are located in Canada as well as Minnesota. Heliene primarily manufactures custom orders for large-scale products, though they do have some modules available for consumers through standard distribution channels.
The Bottom Line on Solar Panels Made in USA
Finding solar panels that are 100% made in the USA can be difficult. You’ll likely find that even U.S.-based solar manufacturers still source materials overseas. Additionally, it’ll be even more challenging to find other components of your solar system — like inverters or racking — that are 100% American-made.
Ultimately, when choosing best solar panel system for your home, the country of origin isn’t as important as the system’s performance and capabilities for your home.
If you still have questions about selecting the right solar panels for your system, get in touch with the experts at GoGreenSolar. We provide free PV system design and will work closely with you to offer the best recommendations for solar panels, inverters, racking and parts — so you can purchase and install your system with confidence!