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Solar Panel Comparison

Which solar panel is the best, and for that matter what does 'the best' even mean?

The data below is taken from the datasheets for each panel, which begs the question, "How much do we all trust those datasheets?" Our experience is that all of the Tier 1 brands that we have installed do what they claim. As we are rather a unique solar company in that we take the time to run reports for our customers every three months on their system performance we have ample evidence to support the validity of the datasheets, but there again, we have predominately only sold and installed meaningful quantities of five or six of these top brands, leaving more than 20 other Tier 1 brands that we have next to no personal experience of.

Best in the heat

All solar panels operate best when the air temperature is VERY cool. 5°C is optimum
For every °C above 5°C they lose some power. Therefore the best solar panel, during the day, whether the temperature is a wintry 12°C, a pleasant 25°C or a scorching 40°C will be the one that loses the least amount of power. The difference between best and average only results in one to four percent more power a day, but that's EVERY day for decades.

Read more here

Brand Model
Loss per °C
SunPower X 360W
0.29%
LG NeonR 360W
0.30%
SunPower E 327W
0.35%
REC TwinPeak 290W
0.36%
LG Neon2 330W
0.37%
  The rest
-0.39% to -0.41%

 

Most space efficient

The way 'efficiency' is measured is simply to take the output of the panel under standard test conditions (STC)..e.g. 270W and divide it by the surface area (length x width) of the panel.

Do you care? Probably not if you have enough space on your roof to fit what you need, or what you are allowed. The typical efficiency for a Tier 1 brand is 16.5%.

Read more about panel efficiency here

Brand Model
Efficiency
SunPower X 360W
22.1%
LG NeonR 360W
20.8%
SunPower E 327W
20.1%
LG Neon2 330W
19.3%
Trina Honey Plus 300W
18.3%
Longi LR6 300W
18.3%
  Typical for most panels
16.5%

 

Best in shade

Shade comes from clouds, bird droppings, tree pollen, leaves, dust as well as from larger obstructions like trees, buildings, TV antennas, chimneys, flues etc.

If some shade is unavoidable then there are three options.

Use micro inverters (Enphase), use DC optimers (SolarEdge, Tigo, Huawei) attached to the panels, or get a panel that has power loss from shade minimisation technology built in.

Read more about this here

Brand Model Reason why it's best in shade
Jinko Eagle MX 265W 3 x DC optimisers / MPPT trackers built in
Trina Honey MX 265W 3 x DC optimisers / MPPT trackers built in
SunPower X 360W 96 individual cells that shut down individually
REC TwinPeaks 120 cells split into 6 rows of 20 cells (3 diodes)
  The Rest Diodes will shut down 1/3rd of panel if shade is bad

 

Best warranty

There are two types of warranty on a solar panel. The Performance or Power warranty is almost always 25 years, and it's where the manufacturer is guaranteeing that the panel will still be making 80-85% of its original power in 25 year's time...as long as it is 100% working. That's right, if its cells aren't 100% working, then that falls under the other warranty, the Defect warranty, and in most cases that is 10 years. Whilst solar panels, at least from these Tier 1 brands are extremely well made and you are very unlikely to have a fault for a very long time, the reality is that they give a 10 year defect warranty for a reason. They expect that a percentage of panels WILL fail. The ones most likely to go belly up are those that get a little bit of regular shade, especially from things like a TV antenna. This small amount of shade causes the affected cells and connectors to heat up, and in time hot spots, fractures, cell and eventually total panel failure can occur.


The longer the defect warranty you can get, the better.
(Footnote. The Jinko and Trina panels described above in the 'shade' section with built in DC optimisers should very significantly improve the life of a panel because the technology, as long as the Maxim chips inside are working, eliminates hot spots).

 

Brand Model Defect Warranty
SunPower X 360W 25 years
LG NeonR 360W 25 years
SunPower E 327W 25 years
Q. Cells All models 12 years
ET Solar All models 12 years
LG Neon2 330W 12 years
BYD All models 12 years
  Typical for most panels 10 years

 

Tier 1 brand panels Best price
(Prices change daily, specials come and go. Guide only)

As solar panels come in all different sizes (e.g. 265W up to 360W) it's hard to compare price based on the actual panel itself, so we will take things down to a price per watt. e.g. if a 270W panel costs $220 then the price per watt is $0.81.
(Note, this is before deducting the value of the STCs (rebate) which is approx $0.60 per watt)

Click the blue brand name to link to a full review page of that brand inc datasheets.

Brand Model
Defect Warranty
Price per watt
Price for 5000W (5kW)
Eging P60 - 265W
10 years
$0.71
$3,550
BYD P6C-30 260W
12 years
$0.75
$3,750
ET Solar Elite 270W
12 years
$0.75
$3,750
Talesun TP660P 280W
10 years
$0.77
$3,850
Jinko JKM 270W
10 years
$0.80
$4,000
ET Solar Elite 290W
12 years
$0.83
$4,150
Trina Honey Plus 300W
10 years
$0.83
$4,150
GCL M6 290W
10 years
$0.84
$4,200
Trina Allmax 270W
10 years
$0.84
$4,200
GCL P6 270W
10 years
$0.84
$4,200
Canadian Solar MaxPower 320W
10 years
$0.85
$4,250
REC Peak Energy 260W
10 years
$0.85
$4,250
Jinko Eagle 290W
10 years
$0.86
$4,300
REC TwinPeak 290W
10 years
$0.88
$4,400
Q.Cells Q.Power 270W
12 years
$0.88
$4,400
Jinko Eagle MX 265W
10 years
$0.89
$4,450
Trina Honey MX 265W
10 years
$0.90
$4,500
Canadian Solar Quintech 270W
10 years
$0.91
$4,550
Longi LR6 300W
10 years
$0.92
$4,600
Q.Cells Q.Plus 280W
12 years
$0.95
$4,750
Q.Cells Q.Peak 300W
12 years
$0.99
$4,950
LG X 300W
12 years
$1.10
$5,500
LG Neon2 330W
12 years
$1.21
$6,050
SunPower E 327W
25 years
$1.31
$6,550
LG NeonR 360W
25 years
$1.51
$7,550
SunPower X 345W
25 years
$1.58
$7,900
SunPower X 360W
25 years
$1.68
$8,400

 

Manufacturers

All of the panels above are from Tier 1 companies as ranked by Bloomberg New Energy Finance as being financially secure, and experienced and therefore worthy of investment if you are planning to invest a few hundred million dollars in a commercial solar farm.

Most of the brands operate a serviced office in a central Sydney or Melbourne tower block with no actual warehousing or staff actually present, whilst others don't bother with that at all and use large wholesalers like One Stop Warehouse to import and distribute their products, and a couple may or may not have their own full scale office and warehouse operation.

Whether it matters or not is, in our opinion, not of huge concern as we have almost zero reason to ever need to talk to them on any sales or service related matter. Over the years we have called Matt at Q.Cells a few times to verify things like are any panels still made in Germany (No), and do they still have research and development done in Germany (Yes,by more than 200 Germans, a few of whom we have met at trade shows) and are their panels made in South Korea (Yes), Malaysia (Yes) or China (also Yes). That sort of thing.

The three largest manufacturers in the World, Trina, Jinko and Canadian Solar, manufacture either themselves, or under contract to smaller factories, stupendous amounts of panels each year, and most of it gets installed in China. We prefer a smaller company called ET Solar who made the decision to keep everything in-house for better quality control, and as a result they make far less, but at times, we have to wait a while to get new stock.

If you read the threads on popular forum Whirlpool you would be forgiven for thinking that that

there were only two decent solar panels brands, LG and SunPower

Whilst it is 100% true that these manufacturers make the finest solar panels currently available, it is also true that they cost a lot more and deliver higher profits to the retailer.

 

 

 

 



 

 

 



 

 

 

 
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