Although households and businesses will have different criteria when selecting the best solar panel for their solar power system, there are a number of factors that will consistently be regarded as the most important. The two main considerations are the panel and the manufacturer:
Solar Panel Output
The best solar panels will output more power than their rating.
An independent study by CSIRO for Choice Magazine tested one panel from 15 of the most common solar panels available in Australia. During the test, they found that 12 out of the 15 panels performed under their claimed nominal power, some by as much as 10W. Because only one panel was used in the test, it was impossible to draw strong conclusions about certain brands, however, it certainly drew attention to the fact that there are some large inconsistencies between a manufacturer’s claimed nominal power and real-world output. For example, a 260W panel from one of the largest manufacturers in China scored a test result of 251W. This inconsistency highlights just how critical it is to have access to panel-level monitoring, which is a feature of nearly all Solaray installations.
The star performer in this test was LG Solar; their 300W panel produced a test result of 307W. This is in line what we have seen from our LG Solar systems installed across NSW and emphasises the importance of buying good quality panels.
Solar panels are manufactured with power tolerance. Each manufacturer is different, however, the better brands tend to have a +3% range. For example, a 320W panel from LG Solar will be anything from 320W up to 329.6W. Q Cells Q.Pro panels have a +5W tolerance so the 265W panel will be from 265W to 270W and so on. The only way to take advantage of this is to use a system such as Enphase and SolarEdge that facilitates panel level output, otherwise, you will be outputting power at the rate of the worst performing panel in your array. At best this will be at the panels’ rating, at worst it may be much less.
Output in low light conditions is also critical in Sydney due to our weather. We only get around 100 ‘perfect’ days a year, the rest have some rain our cloud cover. The better panels (such as the three below) not only perform well in the testing laboratory, they also output more power across the year in all weather conditions. Increased output in low light conditions can make a significant difference to your power bill over the years.
Manufacturer’s Financial Strength & Local Representation
Cheap solar panels are pumped out of China at a dime a dozen. They are often re-branded with a slick logo, or they are simply shipped into countries like Australia and sold without a brand at all! Have you ever seen a quote with “20 x 250W solar panels”? We see it all the time. It is literally a no-name product!
Cheap solar panels can often have no claimable warranty despite the marketing claim of a full 25 year Power Output Warranty. Often there will be a phone number that no one answers or contact details for an office in China where no one speaks English. Furthermore, if it wasn’t brought into Australia through an official distributor the warranty is lost if the manufacturer goes bust (or simply changes their name).
For the warranty to be of any value, the product must be supplied through official distributors and the manufacturer must have an office in Australia. The company must also be in a strong financial position and committed to the Australian market. This is why Solaray only supplies panels from the top handful of manufacturers, and we have a strict vetting process before we bring a new brand in for our technical team to begin testing. If they give it the all clear, we will then consider supplying it alongside the big brand names, as we will now get into:
LG NeON2 320W Panels
LG is a world leader in solar panel manufacturing with over 20 years of experience. The latest NeON2 320W panel is packed with the latest technology that gives households improvements that really matter, from longer warranties and higher efficiency to stronger framing and increased wind loading.
Choosing a top of the range panel such as the LG NeOn2 is an investment in superior standards of design, manufacture, back up support and warranties. This high quality is the result of LG Solar’s strong commitment to developing a module that delivers reliable, high output for decades.
LG solar products are rigorously tested beyond industry standards, and those standards apply equally when selecting materials for their solar modules. When you choose LG Solar, you’ll have peace of mind that you are buying the best.
Very few panels of this quality are available for residential installations, making LG Solar Solaray’s stand out choice as the leading brand at the top end of the market. LG Solar offers full warranty support and have local representation, and all LG systems installed by Solaray include our Platinum Service Package, which includes full replacement warranties and technical support.
The best news of all is the price – NeON2 320W panels are extremely well priced for such a quality panel. LG Solar are striving for industry-leading efficiency, but critically they incorporate this new technology into their production line to ensure all customers have access to the best technology available. It’s not much use if a company releases a 320W panel (with a lot of publicity) but only makes 1000 of them and/or charges an absolute fortune for them.
LG Solar were ranked as the number 1 panel in Australia by Choice Magazine in an independent test by CSIRO. They ranked number 1 for real world output and the only panel to achieve an ‘excellent performance’ rating.
Trina is the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels and is the largest vertically integrated one – meaning they manufacture all the key components from ingots to completed modules.
Trina not only perform large scale solar Research and Development around the world, but they also have teams of scientists working on energy-efficient product research in many of the world’s leading universities – including the Australian National University and the University of Queensland.
Recently, Trina Solar Panels were selected for Australia’s largest rooftop installation – an enormous 1.22MW array (5,004 panels) – for the University of Queensland. This facility not only provides a significant proportion of the campus’ power but is also used as a testing ground for ongoing research.
Trina Solar Panels are positioned to be at the premium end of available Chinese panels and the Trina Honey 265W panel is considered by many industry experts to be the best value solar panel made by a Chinese Manufacturer.
The Trina Honey Modules deliver high efficiency of up to 16.2% – one of the highest from a standard crystalline panel. Trina solar panels are designed and manufactured to the highest quality standards and the products have proven themselves on the field and in third party testing against other leading manufacturers. This, combined with its high performance under low light conditions allows for consistently high output and the ability to maximise system performance.
Trina Honey Technical Details
Trina Honey 265W panels have a guaranteed power tolerance of +3%, meaning that the module will be rated from 265W to 273W. It is important to note that this additional output is only of benefit if you install a system with panel-level output such as an Enphase or SolarEdge system.
Available in 60-cell configurations, advanced cell texturing techniques have enabled Trina Honey panels to set two world output records, including a 2012 record of 284.7Wp output for a 60-cell module.
Excellent low light performance on cloudy days, mornings and evenings due to cutting edge technologies:
- Advanced surface texturing
- Back surface field
- Selective emitter
Ideal High-Efficiency Solutions for your Needs – 60 cell module maximises limited space with up to 159W/m2 power density.
Trina Honey modules are highly reliable due to stringent quality control including over 30 in-house tests (UV, TC, HF, and many more). In-house testing goes well beyond certification requirements.
Through a 25 year linear power warranty, Trina guarantees panel output will not decrease by more than 2.5% in the first year and 0.7% for each year thereafter and guarantees at least 90% performance by year 10 and at least 80% by year 25.
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