Expert review of Aptos solar panels for 2023
Individual panel prices
Prices of DIY kits
Installed system prices
If you’re in the market for home solar panels, it’s possible that you’ve come across Aptos Solar Technology. This U.S.-based solar panel manufacturer has been around for a few years, and its market share is growing as the company’s products prove themselves worthy of attention.
But are Aptos solar panels right for your home? Read our full review below to find out.
Aptos Solar Technology started in 2019 by co-founders Alex Kim and Thanh “Frank” Pham, both of whom came from longstanding Texas company Mission Solar. Initially, Aptos designed solar panels for other firms before securing manufacturing of its own products in 2021.
The company is based in Silicon Valley, with headquarters and operational offices in Santa Clara and Irvine, California, a sales office in San Antonio, Texas, and manufacturing and quality control in Bac Ninh province, Vietnam.
Aptos’s products were named as one of the top solar panels for 2022 by Solar Power World, but the company hasn’t quite made the cut for our top 10 solar panel manufacturers list.
Aptos currently offers two main lines of solar modules, differentiated by the number of cells they contain. The DNA-120 and DNA-144 product lines each contain all-black monofacial and bifacial solar panels, and the DNA-144 line also comes in a higher-efficiency silver frame version.
The Aptos panels most often used in home solar installations are the monofacial 120-cell models, but the monofacial 144-cell panels can also work well for residential rooftops. The bifacial versions are best for use on commercial rooftops, carports, and in large ground-mounted installations.
The “DNA” in the names of the Aptos products comes from its patented “Dual Nano Absorber” solar cell technology, in which ultra-thin “passivated” layers are added to half-cut PERC solar cells.
It’s not clear what effect these passivation layers have on performance, although Aptos claims they allow “uniform light absorption.” That’s not to question the quality of Aptos’s technology, though. Essentially, their half-cut PERC cells are just as good as those used by most other Tier 1 solar manufacturers. Incidentally, Aptos itself isn’t listed by Bloomberg New Energy Finance as a Tier 1 manufacturer, but the company says its manufacturing partner in Vietnam is.
Aimed squarely at the residential market, Aptos DNA-120 series panels come in one color: black, and two builds: mono- and bifacial. The monofacial modules are good for standard rooftop installations, while the bifacial modules are best for use in solar pergolas or ground-mount installations.
As the name implies, these panels come with 120 half-cut solar cells and use Aptos’s DNA technology. Based on slight changes in the efficiency of the cells used, the panels can generate 360, 365, or 370 watts (W) under Standard Test Conditions.
Like the DNA-120, the 144 series comes in all-black mono- and bifacial varieties, but they also come in a slightly more-efficient silver frame style with a white backsheet. Silver and white increase efficiency simply because they allow for greater heat dissipation, and heat reduces the output of solar cells. People like the look of all-black solar modules, but they trade about 10 W of output for the look.
The DNA-144 series come in 430, 435, and 440 W output varieties, while the silver frame version can output 440, 445, or 450 W under Standard Test Conditions.
Aptos solar panels are used by SunPower as some of the offerings in its U-Series line. The U-Series is essentially SunPower’s “budget” line, allowing its installers to hit a lower price point than SunPower is traditionally known for. This doesn’t mean that Aptos panels are bad; just that the Maxeon panels SunPower has long used are the highest-efficiency and highest-cost panels on the market.
For many years, SunPower manufactured all its own panels for U.S. installations until spinning off its manufacturing arm as Maxeon in 2020. As of January 2023, SunPower is no longer the sole dealer of Maxeon solar panels in the country, although it does still sell the Maxeon 6 (white labeled as the M Series). This means that SunPower needs more modules than it can get from Maxeon, which is why the U-Series was born.
All Aptos DNA solar panels come with a 15-year product warranty and 25 year peak power warranty. The former covers failures due to materials and workmanship, while the latter states that the panels will output at least 98% of their peak power rating in the first year and lose no more than 0.54% of their ability to generate power over each of the following 24 years. That means the DNA panels should be at no less than 85.1% of their rated output after 25 years.
The company also offers extended warranty terms that increase the materials and workmanship coverage to 25 years and extend the power production warranty to 30 years, with no less than 82.4% of rated peak output available after 30 years. The warranty extension is available from your solar installer for a slight increase in the final installed price.
The Aptos standard warranty is pretty much in line with the rest of the mid-tier players in the industry, but the many of the best solar panel manufacturers feature 25- or even 30-year product and performance warranties. Maxeon’s industry-best warranty covers its non-SunPower panels for 40 years. We don’t have pricing data on Aptos’s extended warranty, but we’d like to see the company eventually make the extended terms standard.
Sure they are. If they’re good enough for SunPower, you can trust them to perform. Also, having a place at SunPower means they’ve got a locked-in supply agreement, which means they’ll be selling as many as they can make for the foreseeable future.
Aptos uses proven, modern technology in its solar cells, and the modules should last for as long as the company claims. It’s good that the company founders have past experience in the industry, and we’re pleased to see how Aptos has grown in the past few years since its founding.
What remains to be seen is if Aptos can stick around long enough to go public and prove some financial performance numbers. The solar industry has experienced some problems with supply chain shortages, so a company like this that promises a secure supply of modules for the U.S. market can be very valuable indeed.