As a Brisbane-based, family-owned company that has installed over 5000 solar systems, the one thing we learned right at the start was that your solar panels have to be good quality.
If not, you would find yourself having to make adjustments and do a whole lot of maintenance later on—and this would, of course, cost more.
Installing solar is much like building a house: if your foundation is rubbish, your house is rubbish, regardless of how expensive the fixtures and fittings are.
Today we are going to review the GCL P6/60-270 Solar Module as a potential first building block for your solar system, so fasten your seatbelt, this is going to be fun!
Golden Concord Group Limited (GCL) has been in the energy industry for over two decades and celebrated their 25th anniversary in 2016.
Their venture into solar energy components and systems came about 10 years ago and, after one or two minor hiccups (let’s face it, we all make mistakes), they have emerged as a respected supplier of complete solar systems.
They were founded and have headquarters in one of the world’s leading economies, China, and their solar panels have been used on several commercial projects including an impressive 100MW solar farm in Ningxia, China.
The areas of business they specialise in are power, PV, natural gas, new energy automobiles, and green smart cities.
GCL was recognised as the 6th largest panel manufacturer in the world according to online publication PV Tech as of 2016, but list themselves as the 7th (we’re loving the modesty) largest manufacturer of solar panels on their own website.
In any case, the fact is GCL is supplying 30% of efficient PV materials for the world.
GCL aims to provide a complete solution for the world’s solar energy requirements, offering residential (3kW to 10kW), commercial (50kW to 500kW) and utility-level (over 1MW) systems to their customers.
As far as solar panels are concerned, GCL has an annual production capacity of 6GW and are constantly doing research and development of their own polycrystalline solar cells.
They claim to be innovative, and with over 60 approved patents we wouldn’t disagree with that, would we?
In addition to the GCL P6/60-270, which we’re reviewing right now, GCL provides the GCL P6/60-260, GCL P6/60-265 and GCL P6/60-275.
There is a more detailed look at the technical specifications further along in this article but in general there are slight differences in efficiency, power output, voltage output and current output between these solar panels.
GCL put a lot of resources into their research and development, and most of their products have innovations that easily put them in the top-tier of energy generation.
The GCL Science & Technology Industrial Group is responsible for finding ways to maximise efficiency and reduce costs and the GCL P6/60-270 has some noteworthy features in that respect. But don’t take our word for it, see for yourself…
The concept of combing silicon with other semiconductor metals that are cheaper to provide a more affordable solar cell with similar performance to a pure monocrystalline solar cell is not new.
The P6/60-270 uses GCL’s polycrystalline silicon material. With over 17 tons being produced yearly, they have managed to refine the process of getting high efficiency whilst at the same time having a long lifespan of over 10 years.
When third-party companies put together solar systems, the P6/60-270 is included in combined systems as an affordable option whilst at the same time providing high efficiency, so most people agree that GCL has gotten this part of the process correct.
Module-Level Current Sorting
GCL implement module-level current sorting. This means that great care is taken in matching the individual solar cells based on current.
This is because each cell produces a different output.
The average current is used to sort the solar cells because this is what the current will be most of the time when the module is generating energy.
If you want to get the most out of your residential or commercial system, make sure to use the P6/60-270 only to avoid mismatching of resistance and less efficiency.
Trying to save by piecing together different modules from different manufacturers or different models from the same manufacturer would be shooting yourself in the foot in the long run, for real.
Solar cells are made of silicon and the GCL P6/60-270 cells come in the form of thin silicon sheets called wafers.
Without getting too far into the details, the thinner the material is, the less resistance there is to the flow of electrical current.
The lower the resistance of the solar module the higher the efficiency—and it’s a win for everybody!
The solar modules are tested for harsh conditions, which include salt mist, ammonia corrosion and sand blowing tests.
In Australia, there are extreme differences in temperature and humidity, so solar panels need to be able to hold up under these conditions.
This module complies with the EC 61701, IEC 62716 and DIN EN 60068-2-68 international standards, so all the experts approve of this one.
Potential Induced Degradation (PID) was taken into consideration when testing this module.
The factors that cause PID are tested for and is a factor in all crystalline silicon modules, of which the P6/60-270 is one example.
Not all PV modules are in danger of this, but the fact that GCL has tested against reversible and non-reversible PID shows a great deal of attention to detail and is proof of their focus on long-lasting products. This is good for the customer because (trust us) the PV module is the component in your system that you only want to buy once.
Long-Term Reliability Tests
Being the only renewable energy manufacturer to have a history of over 25 years, GCL has been able to research the long-term effects of using their products.
There is no doubt, as shown in the diagram below, that you will get more energy from your GCL P6/60-270 solar module than from almost all other comparable modules.
If you are in this for the long haul, you can rely on the advertised performance over time.
The linear performance warranty indicates how much output power will be lost during the lifespan of the solar panel.
Most products will have a major decrease in output power around the 10-year mark, but the GCL P6/60-270 and other solar panels will decline gradually (linearly) over time.
No matter how good a solar panel looks on the outside, it’s what’s on the inside that counts!
We will now take a look at the basic technical terms and their values for this solar panel.
You may not be the one installing the solar panel, but having a look at the datasheet may help you make a better decision when buying solar panels.
Below is a table of electrical data from the datasheet of the GCL P6/60-270 comparing it to similar modules from the same manufacturer.
For a more detailed look at this, the full datasheet can be downloaded here.
|Maximum Power (W)||
|Maximum Power Voltage (V)||
|Maximum Power Current (A)||
|Open Circuit Voltage (V)||
|Short Circuit Current (V)||
|Module Efficiency (%)||
There may seem to be small and perhaps insignificant-looking differences between the attributes of these modules, but considering that most systems, even small residential systems, will require several of these connected in series or parallel, these small differences make a major difference to the output capacity of your system.
Amongst its peers, the P6/60-270 provides slightly more power output per solar panel so is better for larger homes and business that need more electrical power on a daily basis.
This is the rate at which solar energy is converted to electrical which is, basically put, what the solar module does from the start of its life to when it ends.
For the price range of the GCL P6/60-270, the maximum power of 197.82 is well above the industry average.
Maximum Power Voltage
This is the voltage value of the solar module measured when it is at its maximum power point.
The more advanced charge controllers can control the voltage across the solar module so that it stays around this value and when it is at this voltage the solar panel is at its most efficient.
Knowing this can help you when performing maintenance on the solar module, but we wouldn’t worry about it too much if you are not doing any such thing.
Maximum Power Current
This is the current of the solar module at its maximum power point.
The more advanced charge controllers control the current across the solar module so it remains at this value and when it is at this current, the solar panel is at maximum efficiency.
Again, this is only really useful for testing purposes during maintenance and not for everyday folk to be worrying about.
Open Circuit Voltage
This is the voltage across the solar module when there is nothing connected to it other than the voltmeter being used to read the voltage.
Knowing this can help determine whether the solar module is in good working order because over time this voltage will go downwards.
Like food, every solar cell, array or module has an expiration date and testing this voltage (like tasting food) will at least let us know when that day is approaching.
Short Circuit Current
This is the current through the solar module when the negative and positive cables of the solar module are connected forming a (short) circuit.
Knowing this gives us a way of testing to see if the solar module is nearing the end of the road in terms of efficiency.
Less current indicates some of the cells in the module are not contributing to the output current of the solar module.
A module is a collection of connected solar cells and in the GCL P6/60-270 there are 60 such cells.
The efficiency of the module is the amount of electrical energy generated compared to the amount of solar energy the solar module is exposed to.
The value of 16.6% may seem low if you are not familiar with solar, but this is a realistic value based on strict testing conditions and is a good deal for the price of the solar module.
The overall opinion of GCL is that they are a well-established energy company with enough resources to back up their guarantees of quality.
They are not as widely recognised as Canadian or Jinko but have been in the top 10 solar energy companies in terms of market share for a while, which is impressive because there are thousands of companies in this market.
The GCL P6/60-270 is a worthwhile investment and holds up well when compared to panels we have installed from other brands on the market.
Is this the best solar module for this output range and price?
That depends on what you are trying to do. If you are not looking to do something large-scale like solar energy for a business or a farm (that requires more output power) you’re all good.
This module is designed to be cheap and durable and ideal for the Australian climate.
The GCL P6/60-270 gets a thumbs up from us if you need solar energy to supply your household electrical appliances, excluding any heating requirements.
This wouldn’t be the most cost-effective option for a larger system upwards of 15kW capacity, but for anyone with power requirements lower than this, we think this is a good deal.
The installation of the panels is straightforward, the price is right and if anything goes wrong there is a warranty which the company will honour so…it’s all good here.
If you want to see how much solar or battery storage could save you over the next 5 years, then take our solar saving calculator quiz below!
Or talk to an Instyle Solar expert about the best solutions for home energy storage or PV panels.
Otherwise, head back to the solar blog to find even more great educational content.