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Solar Panel Comparison

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

I have written a somewhat controversial page that explains why in most cases it makes absolutely no difference to your power production or warranty, which solar panel brand or model you install.

If you are not interested in that, then please enjoy all the various comparisons below.

 

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%
  Typical for most panels
0.40%

 

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), which are both expensive 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 (6 diodes)

 

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
  Typical for most panels 10 years

 

Best price

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 $0.55 per watt)

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

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

 

So, which panel is 'the best' in our (my) opinion?

Whilst I not only think, but I also have the datasheets and data from thousands of real installations to back it up, that there is, for any normal circumstance, absolutely nothing to pick between any other them...see this page , I will offer my thoughts on "what's best"

ET Solar are the cheapest of the Tier 1 brands this year. Not sure why, but they've been a bit cheaper for a while. Not by much as you can see from the table above. Couple a good price, with a better than average defect warranty, and add in the fact they 100% make all their own panels in house from silicon wafer to cell to finished panel, I'd pick them for a standard install.

They don't have an Australian office, but they are imported by Australia's largest solar wholesaler, One Stop Warehouse, and they have been sold in Australia for a long time.

We've installed gazillions of them without a fault. So, highly recommended as a standard mainstream panel.

Q.Cells get the same top marks as ET Solar, with the addition that they are German engineered which is nice, and they have an office in Australia and Matt there is very knowledgeable and helpful. They are also a very well known brand and earn some bragging rights around the BBQ.

Canadian Solar, Jinko and Trina are the top 3 huge manufacturers. Nothing exceptional but well known. The Jinko and Trina Maxim enhanced panels are shaping up to be a fantastic solution for shade at a fraction of the price, and with better results, than micros.

REC Peak Energy is just another regular panel, but the REC TwinPeak is a great all rounder. A bit better in every category, efficiency, temperature, shade than a regular panel. It's a bit more expensive, but if you don't mind spending a little more for sheer class, I'd pick this one.

And then you have LG and SunPower

LG have a couple of really quite ordinary models (the cheaper ones in the table above), but the SunPower X and the LG NeonR (not Neon2) are simply out there in a whole class of their own. You pay ridiculous amounts of money for them but with 25 year defect warranties and their advanced technology, years ahead of the rest, they are the luxury choice where price is less important than technology and peace of mind.

 

 

 

 



 

 

 



 

 

 

 
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