Solar Panel Performance: Q Cells, LG, SunPower and Winaico
When it comes to choosing the right solar panel you need to understand the performance and efficiency of each solar panel brand.
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Now, let’s continue analyzing the solar panel performance and efficiency of our selected brands.
On the other hand, Winaico focuses on using backside passivation and selective emitter technology, also called PERC. This combines high-efficiency and great performance under low-light conditions associated with the longevity and reliability that stands for Winaico.
The Winaico 315 M6 PERC model takes these features and also includes protection against leakage currents that are produced when arrays with high voltages are in the scenario. Also, the module has an 18.9% efficiency with a power output of 315W.
Hanwha Q Cells offers several models to the solar market. The brand is known by manufacturing quality modules under PERC technology and it has three main series models: Q.Power, Q. Plus and Q.Peak.
The top presentation module of the brand is the new Q.Peak series, where the ultimate product is the Q.Peak Duo G-5 that won the Intersolar Award of 2018. This solar panel is the main product of Q Cells at the moment and is based on a totally new technology known as Q.ANTUM.
Q.ANTUM is based in PERC technology but includes several unique features. The first one of them is the six-bus bar technology, this reduces the path that the electrons need to go through to reach collector bars, which avoids kinetic losses.
The next feature is that the solar panel is manufactured with half cell technology. This technology consists of solar cells that are sliced by half using lasers. Since the cells are cut in half, the current is also reduced to half, which reduces the heat generated in the cell and therefore diminishes ohmic losses up to four times.
Another important feature is that the module has a parallel connection in the design. This is a very unusual feature and Q Cells was the first brand to release such a design. The purpose of splitting the module into two halves and connect them in parallel is that under shading conditions all solar panels reduce their power output, but not entirely.
Bypass diodes act to protect the module against hot spots, but sometimes the shades have a horizontal shape and are only present in the lower or upper side of the panel. This causes not a reduction, but a complete shutdown of power production as long as the shade is present. With the parallel connection from Q Cells, the shades on the upper or lower side of the module will not affect the entire production of the solar panel. Instead, the module will work at half energy production.
Finally, the last unique feature from Q.ANTUM technology is that the module is designed with round shape busbars that reduce the shadings in a silicon layer, maximizing production and adding 2.5% more energy on each cell when it is compared to traditional technologies.
In the topic related to warranty terms, we must take a look at two factors. First, the performance warranty and second, the product warranty.
Performance warranty is mainly related to the energy yields that the solar panel is supposed to deliver by the end of its life, mainly compared with the efficiency derating over time. Meanwhile, the product warranty represents the number of years that the customer can opt to claim the warranty of the solar panel.
In this aspect, Winaico offers a 15-year and 12-year product warranty (depending on the module) and also a 25-year performance warranty that ensures at least 80.2% of the minimum power rating specified in the product sheet, while also ensuring that the panel will not degrade by more than 0.7% every year.
Meanwhile, SunPower offers a performance warranty over 25 years where the module will have at least 92% of the minimum peak power rating, and also ensures that the product will not degrade by more than 0.25% every year.
On the other hand, Q Cells warranties that at least that by the end of the 25 years, the module will have 85% of its nominal power and that degradation factors will not be bigger than 0.54% per year. The product warranty offered by the brand is of 12-years.
Finally, LG guarantees a 12-year product warranty that the power output will not decline over 0.4% each year, which means that by year 25th the actual output will be at least 87%, and in the case of the LG NeON R will be 88.4%.
We have examined three important topics for solar panel brands: the company profile, remarkable features and performance of the most iconic models, and the warranty terms of each company.
As we can see, SunPower and LG lead the way in experience and warranty. The efficiency values reached by these two companies are the top in the industry. However, when we evaluate the innovation, originality, and performance of Q Cells, we must certainly acknowledge that this brand leads the way, as the other modules do not have parallel connections or half cell technology.
Moreover, another important factor to take into account is the cost of every module. Since SunPower and LG are the most efficient brand in the market, those premium values also reflect the associated costs, this is probably the biggest downside of the brands. Meanwhile, Q Cells and Winaico offer affordable solutions to install a PV system at home, but the Q Peak Duo-G5 has a better performance than any model from Winaico, more features, and a better warranty as well.
If you are designing for a utility or maybe a big commercial system, LG and Sunpower would be good options due to the increased efficiency. However, the cost associated in the residential and small commercial market, might not be justifiable, in this case, Q Cells is the best quality and affordable solution.
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