Solar Panels Comparison

solar panels brisbaneFor about 18 months, I’ve had 10 kW of different brands of solar panels on my Brisbane warehouse roof, testing inverters efficiencies, panel orientation, the effects of various stringing and shading and temperature coefficients. Early on, we found out about the poor performance of Blue Sun panels. Our latest test has proven something just as dramatic.

We decided to install Enphase micro-inverters on 6 different panels, ranging in price from about the cheapest on the market to the most expensive, to see how different panels perform. View it on the public platform , (but you cannot see the individual panel results from here)

In order of price we had:

  1. LG 300w NeON mono-crystalline panel.
  2. Jinko 250w poly-crystalline panel.
  3. ReneSola 250w poly-crystalline panlel.
  4. Risen 250w poly-crystalline panel
  5. A 250w second-hand no name panel.
  6. Eurosolar’s APS 250w poly panel (Australian Premium Solar). Previously ASP panels. See the ACCC’s Eurosolar Review.

I’d like to think that straight out of the box, the LG panel may perform marginally better per watt, the Jinko, Rene, Risen and APS would perform close to equal, and the degraded second-hand no-name panel would come last. The difference you might expect, would be the longevity of the panel and longevity of the company that manufactures the panel.

Here are the results:

  1. LG has so far been performing (as they claim) about 3 percent better per watt than the Jinko. This is impressive when you consider the 300w panel on the same footprint as a standard 250w panel. But not so impressive when you consider the price is about 70 percent more (per watt) than the Jinko. (*In the last 30 days, the LG is now running 2.7 percent higher than the Jinko.)
  2. Jinko is performing second – and this is the panel we install, we will use this as our control.
  3. Renesola is (*last 30 days) performing 98 percent of the Jinko. The disadvantage the Rene panels have is that they are more than 14 months older than the Jinkos, so the 2 percent difference is understandable.
  4. Risen is the surprise performed 2 percent better than Jinko (*read on for an update) however, this panel was three weeks after the Jinko, so we are looking into the anomaly (there are a few factors we need to consider including positive tolerance and degradation). If this is consistent, we may look into changing our line-up to include a Risen panel! * Update, The Risen panel seems to have lost ground and is now operating at 98 percent of the Jinko Panel.
  5. The second-hand no-name panel came in equal to Rene, running at 5 percent below Jinko.
  6. The APS panel, (*still) came unlucky last, running at a consistent 92.9 percent of the Jinko panel. (*It is now running at 92 percent! We will have an interesting warranty conversation with Eurosolar soon!)

These are early results (see them live here), but yet again I have backed up my claim, that not all panels are created equal. Not all “Tier 1” solar panels are good quality, but all good quality solar panels, are good quality. Keep tuned for more solar panel reviews.

*Updated readings were taken for the period of 16 June 2015 and 16 July 2015. While these anecdotal readings seem to prefer Jinko (our current panel) these readings do not place doubt in my mind of the quality of the Rene or Risen panel.

Mark Cavanagh

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Mark Cavanagh

Mark is the Owner and Manager of MC Solar & Electrical. He’s an Electrician, accredited solar installer/designer and an electrical contractor.

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