Technology companies either improve or fade away, and solar module manufacturers are not excluded from this general rule.
Starting off with the most efficient solar module will probably get you the most efficient solar system in the end— and that’s why this is the most important component of the system.
If your solar modules are rubbish, your system is rubbish, and that sounds harsh but it’s the truth.
Today we will be looking at the Q.Power-G5 - 270-280 from Q Cells and, as always, we will get you the information you need to incorporate this into your solar system.
About Hanwha Q Cells
Hanwha Q Cells is one of the largest players in the solar industry and have won a number of awards to date.
Solar panel options that they provide include modules for residential, commercial and utility-scale operations so they are (literally) doing it big.
The emphasis of the company is providing products that work well in real conditions so we will keep it real with our review.
Q Cells manufactures solar modules, solar power plants and provides EPC (Engineering Procurement and Construction) services.
Their residential cells have a peak power of between 275W and 325W. From our experience installing systems, we have found most households can make do with 25kWh of energy a day, so there will be more than enough space to fit the around 28 panels that you would need on your roof to make a 7kW system.
For commercial purposes, the company offers the Q.PLUS BFR-G4.1 and Q.POWER-G5, the latter of which we are reviewing in this article.
The Q.PLUS-G4 solar modules provide a high standard of performance in terms of efficiency and lifespan whilst at the same time having a good look (silver and blue) which can be used to cover an entire roof.
All of their residential and commercial solar modules (except Q.POWER which is a standard poly BSF module) have made use of the award-winning Q.ANTUM technology, which we will cover in detail a little later, we promise.
Unusually for solar module manufacturers, Q Cells have four modules suitable for utility-level usage: the Q.PEAK L-G4.1, Q.PLUS L-G4.2, Q.POWER L-G5 and Q.POWER L-G5.2.
These have outputs of up to 375W, so less of them are required to provide that high-power output required at a utility level.
The main emphasis of the company throughout their residential, commercial, industrial and utility products is efficiency and they have committed resources towards developing the patented technology.
The Q.PRO G2 won the award for best polycrystalline solar panel Photon yield measurement in 2013 and 2014 and they are considered to be the best European manufacturer in this regard.
In 2015, the Q.ANTUM technology was incorporated in almost all the solar modules released by the company and since then, the company was voted as the Number 1 module manufacturing innovation by over 70000 stakeholders in the solar manufacturing industry.
The company was formed in 1999, it is one of the oldest operating solar manufacturers from Thalheim, Germany.
The Q.Power G5 Solar Module: Initial thoughts
This is a tried and trusted solar module made up of 60 solar cells and an output of 270W.
If you are looking for something efficient and reliable and are prepared to pay a little bit extra for it, this is the solar module for you.
As with all solar installations, if you are going with the Q.POWER, it’s better to do it for all the modules in your system to get good current matching between the various modules.
This is a very simple but effective adjustment that Q Cell has made to their solar cells.
When sunlight hits the silicon material, it is converted to solar energy. Some of this energy is lost because the rays of sunlight pass through the solar cell—but Q.ANTUM reflects these rays back onto the silicon material.
This results in more energy being converted by the silicon and an overall increase in the efficiency of the solar cell.
The extra cost of the reflective material is less than the savings that will result because of the increased efficiency of each solar cell.
Potential Induced Degradation (PID) is basically a decrease in the yield or overall amount of energy generated by solar cells as a result of differences in voltages found across the cells in the module. The differences in voltage cause current to flow in the wrong direction, and this results in heat being generated in the materials of the solar cell.
This heat energy would otherwise have become electrical energy and is therefore lost forever. Most solar modules have an unavoidable amount of this, but Q Cell claim that this is not something that their solar cells suffer from.
Their Anti-PID technology or APT deals with the issue of PID at a cell level, ensuring the loss of energy resulting from these leakage currents is minimal.
In reality, this cannot be completely eliminated but the benefits of this will only be noticeable in the long term.
This feature is only relevant for commercial (not residential) strings over 1000V.
A Hot-Spot is an area on a solar cell whose resistance is much lower than that of the rest of the cell. More current flows through this area and this results in a large increase in temperature.
In extreme cases, a solar module can actually catch fire because of this and a hot-spot is essentially a manufacturing defect that can have very costly consequences.
Q Cell has a 100% hot-spot free guarantee, which shows that they are confident in their product—and they should be if the reviews are anything to go by.
Q Cell has developed a good reputation for manufacturing cells that are efficient as well as long-lasting.
We have seen our fair share of fake solar modules so we know how important it is to be able to verify you have gotten the real deal.
All Q.ANTUM modules come with a tracking label, Tra.Q, that cannot be faked. You can tell where and when each module was manufactured and Q Cell is the only manufacturer offering this patented technology.
If it is made correctly (that’s a very big if), the solar panels in a solar system can last decades and only the top manufacturers of these products can provide guarantees in excess of 10 years for performance.
For the G5-270, Q-Cell guarantees the power output of each solar panel will decrease by no more than 0.6% per year. The nominal power will be at least 92% after 10 years of normal usage and it will be at least 83% after 25 years of normal usage.
As can be seen in the diagram below, this is above the industry standard.
Innovative All-Weather Technology
The major emphasis of this solar panel is its ability to operate in all weather conditions. Q-Cell aimed to make a solar panel that could operate well (meaning better than the competition) in real conditions. Looking at the independent test results, we must say they have managed to achieve this.
The allowable operating temperatures of this module are between -40℃ and 85℃, which is more durable than most solar panels we know.
In addition to the module’s ability to withstand extreme temperatures, it can withstand wind loads of up to 4000Pa and snow loads of over 5400Pa.
We are certain the snow loads are not relevant to Australians, but you can get a lot of wind on the roof where these solar panels are most likely to be mounted.
This is definitely a solar module manufactured for real conditions.
Minimum Results At Standard Test Conditions
Minimum Results At Normal Operating Conditions
Power at Maximum Power Point (W)
Short Circuit Current (A)
Open Circuit Voltage (V)
Current at MPP (I)
Voltage at MPP (V)
The normal operating conditions that the modules were put through exposed the solar module to 800W/m2 solar irradiance.
Standard testing conditions were done under 1000W/m2 which may seem like a lot of solar energy, but there are places in Australia that can get up there, so it’s nice to see that these cells can handle it.
When deciding on whether to use the G5-270, it is worth using the normal test condition figures to plan for the worst-case scenario.
In the event that too much energy is generated, there is always the option of feeding electricity into the grid or energy storage.
We will briefly run through the technical specifications that you will find useful in deciding whether or not to build your system around these panels.
Power at Maximum Power Point
This is somewhat self-explanatory and is the maximum power output in watts you will get from each module. There will be a slight decrease in this value as the solar panels age, but for this version this is barely noticeable.
Short Circuit Current
In the event that nothing is connected at the outputs of the solar panel and the positive and negative terminals are connected together, this is what the current through the solar panel will be. Whatever is connected to the end of the solar panel must be capable of withstanding this amount of current (unless you don’t mind an explosion from time to time).
Open Circuit Voltage
This is the voltage across the solar panel when there is no current flowing. The positive and negative terminals are not connected and the circuit is left ‘open’. Whatever is connected across the terminals of the solar panel must have a voltage greater than this to avoid temporary or permanent damage to the circuitry.
Current at Maximum Power Point
The maximum power or rate at which energy is generated does not occur at the point of maximum voltage or maximum current. The maximum power point is where the value of the current multiplied by the velocity produces its highest value.
Knowing the current at this point gives us an optimal current to run at. The closer the output current of the solar panel is, the more power is being generated by the solar panel.
Voltage at Maximum Power Point
In the event that the system you are using has control being implemented, the maximum power point can be tracked using the output voltage or the output current. The closer the output voltage of the solar panel is to this value, the faster energy is being converted from solar energy to electrical energy.
This is the ratio of energy put in and energy taken out. Solar energy comes from the sun and electrical energy exits the terminals of the solar panel. The 16.5% minimum is not the absolute highest in the industry but is definitely amongst the best.
If you are looking to buy these solar modules for residential purposes, this is more than enough to meet your energy needs and more.
This solar module is a solid building block for a residential solar system that can withstand difficult conditions.
The price is decent and conforms to International Standards of efficiency and longevity. Actually, Q Cells testing was done to much higher standards than IEC by VDE Quality assurance testing and internal testing.
The company Q Cell say their solar modules are the best for Australian conditions and have a point in that these solar modules are able to perform to acceptable standards in real-world conditions.
If you are in an area of consistent sunshine over long periods of time then you can go for a basic installation with a charge controller, batteries and an inverter.
If your solar cell will be shaded during certain parts of the day, you may need to invest in an optimizer.
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.