If your Chinese solar panels are not on one of these lists, be careful!

chinese solar panels

Some Chinese panels are top quality. But which ones?

A lot of people are wary of Chinese solar panels. China doesn’t exactly cover itself in glory with some of the low quality junk it manufactures. But, as I have said many times before, China also produces some fantastic quality stuff.

Need examples? I bet the device you are reading this blog on was made in the People’s Republic. The Macbook Pro I am writing it on certainly was and it is impeccably put together (the laptop – not the blog!).

And it is the same with solar panels. There is some absolute junk coming out of China, that will be lucky to last a few years in the Aussie sun. I’ve heard first hand stories of Aussies visiting suppliers who have converted clothes factories to solar panel factories. The bottom end panels in these factories are made from B or C grade solar cells which the other factories have rejected, and their environmental standards are horrendous.

At the other end of the scale, you have some first class solar panels coming out of gleaming factories in China with world class quality control in operation, and environmental standards as good as any western plant. I’ve heard Renesola and Yingli, among others, have very impressive Chinese factories. Their panels are certainly excellent.

Of course, a lot of wary consumers are making sure they get quality by simply demanding panels made elsewhere, like Germany, Australia or Malaysia etc. The downside of this strategy, of course is that you will be paying extra dollars for non-chinese panels. Extra dollars that a lot of householders would prefer not to spend!

How do you know if a Chinese panel is any good?

So if you don’t want to pay a premium for non-Chinese panels, you are in a bit of a bind. How on earth are you meant to know if the panels you have been quoted are junk  – cobbled together in an ex-trouser factory with toxic effluent pouring straight into the local waterway – or top quality panels with expert engineering and QA behind them?

Well, the safest way has always been to go for a genuine ‘Tier 1″ panel. The problem here is that some sales people out there will swear on their mother’s life that the Tier 3 junk they are selling is really Tier 1 (usually because they have given it a German sounding name like “Mettwurst Solar”). How do you know the truth?

Well the first thing to understand is that there is no definitive list of “Tier 1” solar panels in Australia. But here are the ones that I think deserve to be Tier 1. If you think I’ve missed any worthy manufacturers off feel free to abuse me in the comment section for my ignorance:

Chinese Manufacturers classed as ‘Tier 1 in Australia’ (in my humble opinion)

Again, if you think I’ve missed anyone off unfairly – let me know in the comments!

If you want to be ultra-safe – choose a Chinese panel on that list.

But…there are still good Chinese panels which are not on that list, and they may be much cheaper, potentially saving you thousands on your solar system. Identifying those from the 600-1000 Chinese manufacturers that should not be touched with a bargepole has always been a challenge. Until now?

Enter the Chinese Government

In early January (2014) those fun guys in the Chinese Government released a list of Chinese solar panel manufacturers that they approved of.  What does ‘approved of’ mean? Well, the Chinese pollies assure us that they’ve had an “expert review” of over 500 companies and assessed them on “solar panel manufacturing norms and conditions” such as:

  • the amount of cells converted to panels
  • minimum manufacturing capacities
  • ingot and wafer quality
  • environmental conditions at the factories

They ended up with a list of 109 battery, silicon and panel manufacturers who they approve.  The companies on the list will be eligible for government support,  export tax rebates and can bid on government tenders. The implication from the Chinese Ministry is that if you ain’t on the list you may not last much longer! It sounds to me like a move by China to cull the Chinese panel oversupply and stop the relentless downward march of panel prices over the last 5 years.

Now, the keen readers that downloaded the list liked to back there will have already realised that it is all written in Chinese!

Luckily I have a friend I can call on who can translate Chinese to English fairly well. Her name is Google Translate. When I ran the list through her and filtered out the battery and silicon producers I got this list:

  • Zhejiang and Zhejiang Yuhui Solar Energy Co., Ltd
  • Zhejiang Chint Solar Technology Co., Ltd. ( cells, modules )
  • Zhe Jiang Qixin New Energy Technology Co., Ltd. ( cells, modules )
  • Yingli Energy ( China ) Co., Ltd. ( silicon ingots, silicon ingots , wafers, cells, modules )
  • Trina Solar ( Changzhou ) Co., Ltd. ( cells, modules )
  • Sun Power Technology Co., Ltd. Changshu Artes (components )
  • Sun Earth Solar Power Co., Ltd. ( Components )
  • State Sunergy Co., Ltd. ( cells, modules )
  • Solar Energy Technology Co., Ltd. Shanghai Super (components )
  • Shanghai JA Solar Technology Co., Ltd. ( Components )
  • Shanghai Chint Solar Energy Technology Co., Ltd ( Components )
  • Shanghai Alex New Energy Co., Ltd. ( cells, modules )
  • Realforce Power Company Limited ( cells, modules )
  • Qingdao Changsheng Xinhua Solar Technology Co., Ltd. ( Components )
  • Photovoltaic Co., Ltd. Guangdong Hina (components )
  • Photovoltaic Co., Ltd. , Jiangsu Matthey (components )
  • Phono Solar Technology Co., Ltd. ( Components )
  • Ma On Shan Jing Electronic Technology Co., Ltd. ( Components )
  • Juli New Energy Co., Ltd. ( cells, modules )
  • Jintan Electronics Co., Ltd. is the letter of photovoltaic (components )
  • Jinko Solar Co., Ltd. ( silicon ingots, silicon ingots , wafers, cells, modules )
  • Jiangsu Yongneng Photovoltaic Technology Co., Ltd. ( Components )
  • Hunan Red Sun New Energy Technology Co., Ltd ( Components )
  • Hengdian Group Co., Ltd. ( cells, modules )
  • Hefei JA Solar Technology Co., Ltd. ( Components )
  • Hanwha Energy ( Qidong ) Co., Ltd. ( cells, modules )
  • Hangzhou Zhejiang University Sunny Energy Science and Technology Co., Ltd. ( Components )
  • Green light for the New Energy Co., Ltd. ( ingots, wafers , cells, modules )
  • Eoplly New Energy Technology Co., Ltd. ( cells, modules )
  • Ed Solar Energy Technology Co., Ltd. , Jiangsu (components )
  • Dongguan CSG Solar Technology Co., Ltd. ( cells, modules )
  • Desiree Jiang Jing Solar Technology Co., Ltd. ( cells, modules )
  • Changzhou Trina Solar Limited ( ingots, wafers , cells, modules )
  • Changzhou EGing Optoelectronics Technology Co., Ltd. ( wafers, cells, modules )
  • Chongqing Daqo New Energy Co., Ltd. ( polysilicon )
  • CEEG ( Shanghai ) Solar Energy Technology Co., Ltd. ( Components )
  • Baoding Tianwei Yingli New Energy Resources Co., Ltd. ( ingots, wafers , cells, modules )
  • AD Solar Co., Ltd. ( cells, modules )

I’ve bolded some of the better known brands imported into Australia there.

Now – you may be wondering where the all the “Tier 1” Chinese manufacturers are on that 2nd list. Well I pinged a few of them to ask. The only one to get back to me was Renesola who replied:

We submitted our name as ReneSola Zhejiang, however during the application process the following name was entered onto the list. – Zhejiang and Zhejiang Yuhui Solar Energy Co., Ltd

And the same is most likely true for the other “Tier 1” suppliers – their factory name is probably very different to their global brand.

So – if you are a bit of a bargain hunter and you want to do your research on a Chinese panel that is not “Tier 1”, I suggest you look for the company name on the panel spec sheet or on the web (or ask your installer). If it matches one of the companies on the second list, that is a sign that the company is probably one of the better Chinese solar panel producers.

But, if you really want to play it safe with Chinese panels, the simplest way to be sure that they are good quality is simply to insist on one of the brands in the first list.

And if you think there are good Chinese panels not covered in those lists – feel free to harangue me in the comments!

About Finn Peacock

I'm a Chartered Electrical Engineer, Solar and Energy Efficiency nut, dad, and the founder and CEO of SolarQuotes.com.au. I started SolarQuotes in 2009 and the SolarQuotes blog in 2013 with the belief that it’s more important to be truthful and objective than popular. My last "real job" was working for the CSIRO in their renewable energy division. Since 2009, I’ve helped over 700,000 Aussies get quotes for solar from installers I trust. Read my full bio.


  1. I am sorry to have to disagree with you in one of your favourites, SunTech solar panels, they are a questionable company, in fact they all are questionable, how many have gone bankrupt in the last 6 months.
    “Head Lines Read” by By KEITH BRADSHER, New York Times
    Chinese Solar Panel Giant Is Tainted by Bankruptcy
    “A solar panel maker, Wuxi Suntech, declared bankruptcy in a remarkable reversal for part of a huge Chinese government effort to dominate renewable energy industries.”

    The Chinese change their minds like the wind and not all the time will they honour their warranties, and if they do they will make it cost you to get the product back and forth.

    • I’ve only had one issue involving a chinese warranty, and the service was better than anything I’ve seen in this country for more than 50 years.
      Service with a smile, apologies that their product had let me down, no stupid questions asked, no disclaimers, ifs, ands or buts, and not a single suggestion as regards transport, packaging/restocking costs or any other bullshit issue.

      As always, I guess it depends on whether you’ve got the brains to select the right people to deal with.

      ps. the issue was about a known fault with the Aerosharp inverter, which was replaced with a brand new one and included a brand new 10-year warranty ~ never mind the ‘remaining warranty period’ or a pro-rata warranty….. The sort of warranty you OUGHT to get from a company that has confidence in the quality of its product.
      It’s never missed a beat since.

      • frenchbruce says

        Phew! you are lucky…we are currently trying extremely hard to get a particular Chinese PV Company based in Anhui Province, to honour their 10year module warranty. This particular company’s name appears of the approved CEC Authorities List…and being desperate , we are now wondering if CEC might be interested in our dilemma with a batch of modules defective after just 22 months in service.

        • Finn Peacock says


          Please can you let me know what panel manufacturer it is?


          • frenchbruce says

            Can you confirm that CCTNC modules are on the CEC list…as they advertise that they are CEC approved. The product is also imported into Australia by :http://www.solardepot.com.au/

          • Finn Peacock says

            Hi Bruce,

            There are no panels with a manufacturer of the name “CCTNC” (i.e. Anhui CCTNC SOLAR) on the current CEC approved list that I can find.

            You can check for yourself here: http://www.solaraccreditation.com.au/dam/solar-accred/solar-products/PV-Modules-List/PV%20Modules%20List%20141028.pdf

            They may have been on a previous list – but expired – but I don’t have any of the old lists – sorry!

            I would ask to see the certificate. You can also contact the CEC on 03 9929 4141 and they should be able to confirm if if they were ever approved.

            Hope That Helps,


          • frenchbruce says

            try Wuhu Zhongfu PV

          • Finn Peacock says

            Yes – they have lots of panels on the CEC list. I would class them as a Tier 3 manufacturer.

          • frenchbruce says

            mmm.its then a bizarre puzzle as to why they are being difficult regarding replacing their defect modules..we are currently having a legal letter sent to them from Chinese lawyer…because they are trying to force us to purchasing a large quantity of new panels before they will replace their faulty ones.
            The defective ones we have appear to have two problems, poor quality EVA layers and defective lamination. …its clear that once water reached the edge of the laminate inside the frame..the insulation values deteriorated dramatically. Water entered the extrusion because of the lack of sealant in the extrusion.

          • Finn Peacock says

            You should not be dealing with the Chinese company unless you are the importer. The Australian company that sold you the panels must honour all warranties (including the statutory warranty under Australian Consumer law). I’m assuming you have not bought the panels direct from China!

          • frenchbruce says

            We are the NZ importer of these panels..hence our efforts to deal with the problem

          • Finn Peacock says

            Be very careful importing Tier 3 panels. Some are good, but a lot of them are absolute garbage. Why not pay a few cents per Watt more and import Tier 1?

          • frenchbruce says

            Well..we now know that the Australian importers/agents, have encountered the same problems with the company not honouring their Warranty…and no longer do business with them. On the strength of that there is probably a good case to have them struck off the CEC list.

          • frenchbruce says

            How does the CEC certification process work in Australia…?
            in times of serious trouble like our predicament, is there any CEC mechanism available to help ?

          • Finn Peacock says


            The CEC certification for panels works like this. The manufacturer sends the CEC a sample panel (do you think they may cherry pick which ones they send?) and the CEC tests that it meets the Australian Standard (a very low bar).

            The CEC approval does not warrant that the company has an Australian office or will give good customer service. Which is why I always recommend using Tier 1 panels. CEC accreditation means very little.

            Legally the company that sold you the panels must honour the warranty. They can’t palm it off to the manufacturer or importer. If they can’t get the same panel they must replace them with another brand of equivalent performance or give you a refund. If the company that sold you the panels is having issues with the people they got the panels from that is their problem – not yours. Australian Consumer Law is on your side!

            Hope That Helps,


          • Yeahbut.
            “Why not pay a few cents per Watt more and import Tier 1?”
            ……. he ‘Tier’ rating is fairly arbitrary and no more than a simple guesstimate based upon (mainly) gossip and/or non-comparative assessments; the main one appears to be how much a bank will lend to buy them ~ an obvious other one is ‘marketing’…and how many ‘experts’ push a particular product (for WHATEVER reason.)

            eg. What makes a ‘Sharp’ module any better (or worse) than a ‘Canadian’ one?
            How are ‘better’ or ‘worse’ defined, and who makes the decision ~ under what circumstances? Incidentally, country-of-make is these days no more relevant than ‘brand-name’ or ‘industry-standard’ warranties.

            My philosophy has become to buy the cheapest version of any product (unless it’s an obvious rip-off) and get something near an enforcable, iron-clad warranty.
            …. a personal warranty from the individual who actually sells you the product (unless he’s clearly a chinese tourist carrying an exit visa!).

            If it only lasts 20% of an expensive unit, but costs 10% of the price then periodic replacement leaves you well in front.
            …and sometimes you get lucky. Personal examples: a ‘Willsee’ regulator (ebay) and several ‘MeanWell’ inverters. (word-of-mouth from people I trust)

            The reverse holds true for a VERY expensive ‘world-renowned, military-grade’ european battery-charger. The advertising was true: it WAS considered top-shelf internationally, and some navies do use the company’s products ~ I checked before buying ~ but the product is crap*….and the ‘world-wide warranty/service program’ can’t be found anywhere. I could’ve bought a chinese version of it, from an AUSTRALIAN importer who would also warranty it, for about 4% (:yep! that’s FOUR percent) of the price.

            With an enforceable warranty in place it wouldn’t matter to me if it was made out of bullshit.
            * susceptible to rust, even though mounted in a very-sheltered though unsealed ‘battery-room’.

          • hehehehehe….”.we are currently having a legal letter sent to them from Chinese lawyer”.
            A cynic (who? me?) might wonder whether solar components are only a side-line…….and their REAL business is providing work for the ‘Organisation Of Chinese Lawyers in Oz’.
            ….. for a kick-back-per-customer-fee, of course.
            Business is business, as they used to say. 😉

          • Hi Fin did you miss Risen on your Tier 1 list ? Cheers Gary

          • Finn Peacock says

            Yes I did. I’ve added Risen now.

          • I note no mention of Longi panels

          • Ronald Brakels says

            Hi Les, Ronald here.

            This article is 5 years old. There may not have been any Longi panels in Australia when it was written. But you can find them on our regularly updated panel comparison table:


    • Re; Suntech Questionable ? I checked and came up with all positives. Excerpt below from Gaining Green

      Solar Stocks To Watch: Suntech Power Holdings Co (OTCMKTS:STPFQ), Yingli Green Energy (NYSE:YGE), LDK Solar (OTCMKTS:LDKSY), SolarCity Corp (NASDAQ:SCTY)

      Posted by Jeffrey Williams on May 06, 2014 from Gaining Green.com

      Wuxi Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. (ADR) (OTCMKTS:STPFQ) 3 billion yuan ($519 million) acquisition by Shunfeng Photovoltaic International paves the way for the company to rejoin the ranks of the largest solar manufacturers. Suntech confirmed the purchase in a statement on Monday. The Wuxi, China-based Company expects to ship at least 2.5 gigawatts of panels this year, exceeding the 2.1 gigawatts it delivered in 2011 that made it the world’s biggest supplier. Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. (ADR) (OTCMKTS:STPFQ) after opening at $0.32 moved to $0.32 on last trade day and at the end of the day closed at $0.314.

      Yingli Green Energy Holding Company Limited (NYSE:YGE) (“Yingli Green Energy” or the “Company”) announced that its follow-on public offering of 25 million American Depositary Shares (“ADSs”), each representing one ordinary share of the Company, was closed on April 30, 2014. Yingli Green Energy Hold. Co. Ltd. (ADR) (NYSE:YGE) shares fell -4.00% in last trading session and ended the day on $3.12. YGE return on equity ratio is recorded as -154.00% and its return on assets is -6.90%. Yingli Green Energy Hold. Co. Ltd. (ADR) (NYSE:YGE) yearly performance is 37.44%.

      A subsidiary of LDK Solar Co. Ltd. (ADR) (OTCMKTS:LDKSY) has signed an agreement to supply 765 MW of silicon wafers to Solartech Energy Corp. (Gueishan, Taiwan) from May 2014 through April 2017.

      • This is just a stock exchange listing and means nothing about the quality of the solar panels they produce.
        It’s like comparing a $90 Chinese made Tyre to a $150 Good year or Bridgestone tire. The $90 tire may be a good buy however the tire may only do 10 000 km’s when the others may do 60 000 and have better side walls and tread pattern.

        You need to see the Q A statements and the testing of the panels to see if they are good or bad panels.

        • LOL, I’m been finding many of them tire1’s have a worser fail rate than the imported chinese units in my area ! Even those SMA inverters are burning out. And ATT:- Finn

          I have found that many installers that supplied & connected them to the grid system, have also been issued with ( INSPECTORS YELLOW FAULT TICKETS ) hoping you understand (?) but it shows and reflects just WTF is being done in the outer regions of AUSTRALIA…. Oh yeah, strangely the contact numbers are now ‘DISCONNECTED’ um, it’s a clear example & proof beyond all doubt as to the CEC standards and policing they supposed to do too !
          Even on trying to reporting these matters to the ‘CEC’ they still threateningly warn me to shut up, and advise me they will start to prosecute me,for not being CEC regesitered or licensed with them ! Well being a sparkie our DUTIES TO ELECTRICAL SAFETY COMES FIRST & FORMOST,THAN A POXY BUNCH OF CEC TURKEYS THAT SIT IN SOME OFFICE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF AUSTRALIA ! I even offered them to try,anytime they like… I still await now

          A honest person of solar fraud !

      • Y’can’t have too much information, Dean, but I’d keep in mind how the GFC came to happen.
        And there are plenty of other examples.eg ABC Early Learning still trading at 380 PE-ratio (‘normal’ being considered at about 16 ~ even for the banks) on the afternoon the collapse had begun.
        And who could forget the Dot-Com crash, the timing of which was determined by the ‘factored-in’ numbers for the Y2K event.
        Gold is another such bullshit commodity: at the end of the day it has no intrinsic value (y’can’t eat it or even wipe your bum with it.)
        But the grand-daddy of all such number-dominated calamities was the ‘Tulip Bubble’ –>
        As always:- Suck it and see. (Or ask the man who owns one.)

    • well, for all the dealings I’ve had with the ‘CEC’ crowd in the past and even present time period ( up to today too !)

      They are a bunch of toothless in their claims & useless as a bull with titt’s too… They profess to claiming they are the police of these solar panels systems,without any form of power to even follow up with what they claim they do,control or regulate the clean energy crap…..

      # I myself, am a contractor, that repairs these cheap and nasty installed units. That even, many other alleged claimed to be tire1 systems fail to WHATS stated in there useage & outputs is total BUllshit to thy what they claim ! Either that, or so many Cowboys are given certificates to install them, without any actual inspections or policing of what’s being installed,for what I have found in recent times,up in the Norwest of Oz !

      It’s time for a royal commission, into just what’s being flogged by anyone that supplies/installs and rips the guts OUTTA anyone foolish enough ‘IN NOT KNOWING’ what’s paid for and put in for the customer, that is trying to do the right thing in saving this worldwide fraud of climate change shit…

      All I can say is, ” Thy buyer beware ! There are many people out there ripping your money off you .”

      • Finn Peacock says

        Hi Derbyiter,

        Thanks for the comment.

        What panels/inverters do you prefer to install?


        • Finn,

          I have never ever installed any of these panels,nor systems at all. I’m just the poor monkey that’s always being contacted,whenever ( those others that can afford or buy them get them installed )…
          To endeavour to fix up/repair/or make good,the systems after they been installed, and shit themselves ! That’s becoming a bigger percentage of my work in the last 5 years to date !

          I have found,in the tropical northern top end they fail :-
          # Invertor burnout/overloaded to [undersized units used in] installed into these systems.
          ## we had 4 units that caused total mains power loss due being to bypassed safety operations/wired inside of these invertors ! As with many of them are NOT to the AS:3000 standards regs !
          # wings ( panels ) wiring mainly shorts and failed connections to panels failure..
          # panels open circuited ( suspected from high temp’s and ingress of moisture condensation of dew I )…
          # And so far to date connection boxs, on underside of panels (pre-Invertor) to Invertor fuse holders fires/burn outs and as with many have never been installed.

          # but, the big scare is wiring failure meltdowns and non earthed floating potentials of roofing have my main concern of it all !

    • It’s a bit like Ali Express or Alibaba.
      It looks good on paper when you buy that Tommy Hilfiger shirt but when you get it you find that is a different fabric and 3 sizes too small to which the supplier will reply bad luck its my shirt sizing and is not to western standards.

      There in lies the rub….eventually these guys will go out of business and as Yahoo are finding buying Ali express was not such a good idea.
      But to be careful, if a panel is too cheap and their turnover is well, over the top you have to wait till the product is consumed to see if its an okay panel or not.
      In the meanwhile they do make some good products so if the consensus is the product is good i would believe it.
      From my own experience a TCL tv is top quality but a lenovo or Huawei smartphone is going to give you a lot of angst, mainly because they were conceived for the Chinese market..the Chinese aren’t fools .that’s why they buy Iphones in droves.

    • Melissa Whiting says

      Hi Finn,

      What are your thoughts on Jetion Solar please? I couldn’t find much on your site except that in a German test they came out above other well know brands. Thanks very much!

      • Ronald Brakels says

        Hello Melissa, Ronald here.

        As they are only a relatively small producer and are rarely installed in Australia I don’t really know anything about Jetion Solar. They may be good value for money or they may not, but at the moment they don’t have a track record here I am aware of. They are on the CEC list of approved panels, so maybe I’ll hear more about them in the future.

    • Well bugger me, look at how that turned out !!

  2. g’day again.

    I had my grid-connect installed in 2010 by a fellow (qualified electrician) I trusted for various reasons ~ and was also familiar enough with solar systems to know what questions to ask.
    He assured me that the ‘Perlight’ panels he was using were as good as any he’d (personally) tested: so I accepted that…even though they came in cartons with Chinese ‘letters’ stamped on them.

    (I’m old enough to remember when nobody with a brain would buy any ‘cheap japanese shit’: now look!)

    Anyway, my judgement ~ of his opinion ~ was good: the panels have performed admirably with never a hitch, and it’s not unusual for them (given the right weather conditions) to perform up to 400 watts (18+%) above their rated output. (ie ~ up to 2600 watts).
    Though I’m not qualified to make actual comparisons I’d recommend them to anyone ~ with the single rider that it seems they’re now produced in the US, and I have no way of knowing how that might effect efficiencies/reliability, etc.


    • Not sure whether you are suggesting that USA made is highly likely to be less reliable than Chinese made or that’s just my reading. When I got my solar system it was from a company that only supplies the best whether from China or elsewhere. The difference they stated was in the panels that they have personally tested for over 20 years shows that Chinese panels produce less power after 10, 15 and 20 years than comparable panels they provide. That is not to say that China might not produce some beauties but the best indicator of future performance is past performance and past performance is that Chinese panels don’t stand the test of the years.

      • dabbles says

        Apart from getting best value for money I have no axe to grind. I was dubious, but accepted the opinion of the provider/installer partly because I grew up with members of his family (who’ve lived locally for generations), but particularly because he was willing to not only provide a mutually-agreed warranty from his company but also provide a fair and reasonable personal warranty which I composed.
        If the panels fail I’m covered ~ even if his company goes out of business. So far they haven’t missed a beat and sometimes substantially outperform their rating. (four years later)
        For that reason I’m happy to recommend them: the chinese product. I have no way of knowing how American ownership might effect quality ~ but could point out that even Americans are buying more foreign-produced products than US-made ones.

        But you’re mistaken in relying on the idea that “the best indicator of future performance is past performance”. If that were true we’d all still be swinging around in the tree-tops by our tails. 😉

        I make a good living in the stockmarkets and get offers from ‘experts’ all over the world every day; every one of them stipulates that ‘past performance is NO guarantee of future performance’. (I sometimes respond with the question:- ‘If you’re so clever how come you’re still working for a living?’ …but that’s a different issue!)

        Anyway all of life’s a gamble; You pays your money and you takes your chances.

        But a couple of vagrant thoughts:-

        I’ve only had two warranty issues over recent years:- one was with a chinese-made inverter (mentioned elsewhere on this blog ~ Aerosharp), and got the best service and assurances imaginable).
        And, because I didn’t want to risk destroying an expensive battery-bank, I bought a top-shelf battery-charger (the company supplies NATO and 50-million-dollar private yachts), and only later found out that the software came off a conveyer-belt in Silcon Valley, the hardware was built and installed by some backyarder in china, and then the product was sent to the dutch brand-name owner who added the company name and a coat of paint. AND they only have one representative in the entire Pacific region ~ a woman I’ve never been able to contact about the rust showing up in a couple of spots. My advice is steer well clear of ‘Victron’ products.
        I could-ve bought a similar product from china/asia for one-eighth of the price. Or, put another way, bought eight of them for the same price and better warranty-service.
        It’s something I’ll be keeping in mind in the future.

        Incidentally, I remember when nobody with half a brain would buy ‘Jap-Crap’ (which word actually became part of the language).
        Now look. Second-hand solar panels I bought thirty years ago are still producing at better than 85% of their rating (on a good day) in the mountains of Gippsland.

      • dabbles says

        ps. I get suspicious at the jump about such claims:- ” When I got my solar system it was from a company that only supplies the best whether from China or elsewhere.”

        In the first place ~ to quote Mandy Rice-Davies: “They WOULD say that, wouldn’t they?”

        ….and to make such a claim genuinely they’d have to test EVERY panel made everywhere. Needless to say that’s not possible.

        Word of mouth is always the BEST advertising; and in this day-and-age I reckon ‘never mind the product, pay only for the best enforceable warranty’.

        • Word of mouth is a good starting point, but validated performance data is better than any opinion.

          • Hi.
            I’d’ve thought that ‘word of mouth’ IS a declaration of ‘validated performance’.
            Obviously data is a resource worth looking for, but you know what they say about that other data-resource:- ‘statistics’.
            Unless I’m talking to an obvious ignoramus I tend to take a lot of notice of ‘the man who owns one’, as they used to say.

      • dabbles says

        …..and if you want a good laugh to start the day, look what I just stumbled upon, more or less by accident, vis-a-vis American/Chinese quality and standards!

        It seems the Americans are doing exactly what you accused the Chinese of! 😆
        (and I’m glad I put in the ‘rider’ to my original post!)

        Statement on Abolishment of the Customer Service Center in USA

        According to the global marketing strategy of Perlight Solar Co.,Ltd (Hereinafter referred to as the “Perlight”), from 1st Sept, 2013, the Customer Service Center in Torrance, Los Angeles, USA. has been abolished. Perlight also has terminated all business cooperation with Smallbeard Solar LLC、Perlight Sales North America LLC、Zebra Energy LLC, Sunny Liu(Liu Zhe) and Gideon Needleman. Perlight hereby solemnly declare that from 1st Sept, 2013, all business activities conducted by the above mentioned companies and persons are not relevant to Perlight, and Perlight shall not be liable for any consequences caused by such business activities.
        Meanwhile the Customer Service Center for American market is temporarily being moved to Perlight’s headquarters in China. Perlight commits to all American customers by providing high quality photovoltaic Module as it always has. To guarantee the legitimate rights of American customers, Perlight will take all necessary legal means to fight against any fake and inferior Perlight products or any activities that may infringe the Intellectual property rights of Perlight. Perlight promises its customer service policy will maintain the same for all American customers, and does apologize sincerely for any inconvenience caused by this decision. Guarantee clients’ legitimate rights which shall be inviolable. The Company promise all American clients to maintain the current after-service policy, and apologize sincerely for the potential inconvenient to all clients. Any adjustment will be updated accordingly.
        Perlight Solar Co., Ltd.
        Sept. 1st 2013


  3. phase.verocity says

    Yep its usually companies that produce the cheapest made ones that last because they have a decent profit margin and more sales because more people like a good deal. I have rangsu bright group and they’ve been working very well for the last 6 months I’ve had them. I can’t say if they’ll last the 20 years the manufacturer has stated for the warranty but then I brought them through low energy developments and there a reputable Australian company who have agreed to cover that warranty anyway because they have faith in the panels. I think that’s what you should find out. How much faith a reputable Australian supplier has in the company. Panel making isn’t exactly rocket science. In fact I reckon it would be harder to make a pair of shorts. Why do you need a rocket science making company to make them.

    • phase.verocity says

      Actually on further inspection my panels were made by a company called jiangsu bright group. there website is http://all.jsbright.com/ As you can see from the picture on there main page of there establishment there not exactly operating out of a backyard. Yet I don’t see bright group anywhere on that list.

      • Finn Peacock says

        Hi Justin,

        Shoot the manufacturer an email to see if they are on the list under a different name…


      • Yep that factory photo is fake, I’ve had a look at that address and all along Yanhe Road there are farms, small private residences as well as single and double story factories at most. You won’t find any well manicured lawns or car parks there. A company called Ecoosolar is situated in the vicinity of that road.

        • Peter Walker says

          Have you been to China? It is VERY usual to go from farms to factories in a very short time Compliant regulators and the focus on the “Yuan” (buck) ensure rapid completion

          • As a Chinese lived in China for over 20 years and also an IT guy now living in Australia , I actually worked for a Chinese Solar Company in Australia for about a year(lucky I went back to IT in the end), I can tell you that piture is fake.

            First the picture is a low quality cheap 3D max picture(you can get a lot better one if u pay right price) and I googled, binged and baidued(chinese google) in both Chinese and English that location I see no Factory around that farm area. However I did a similar research on Juli, you will find almost whole map are their buildings.

            I have worked with 4 chinese suppliers before, I can tell you Juli and TianWei and Yingli are big, really big. Yingli especially dominate Europe market. The other thing is They dont really think Australia is their main market however they are here to make money, in my experience they didnt make much since a lot bs happened bettween wholesaler and them, most buyers know nothing about Solar panel and in fact, there are not big difference in Quality aspect. I dont want tell details but this business is full of crap. Suppliers are more innocent than the retailer.

            The other funny thing is, these Solar panel suppliers are really rich, but they were not getting rich from Solar panel, Solar Panel is a new business, the above suppliers are good is only because they got funds to make it big, and in Solar business, Big means good. You have whole Production and QA and Sales and Service in a line. Small business can only make good product maybe, but there is no QA/Service aftersale.

            In general, as someone mentioned before, it is not a rocket science to make solar panels, but choose a reputable supplier it does save you a lot headaches since they obviously last longer.

  4. Hey, Phase – are you using a voice recognition system to write your comments? I notice you get “they’ve” & “they’ll” right so I assume the other one and its homophone can be blamed on software.

  5. phase.verocity says

    @ Finn I’m pretty sure they are listed in research papers as Jiangsu Bright Solar Energy Co., Ltd. as they’re in the list for companies profiles with the ENF. I’m honestly not sure what ENF stands for but they say they’ve analysed the companies. Here is the page I got that from. http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/chinese-solar-cell-and-panel-manufacturers-market-survey—continuous-162124015.html

    In the write up above the writer states that bad manufacturer’s use b and c grade. I’m pretty sure mine are A grade because 1. It states it is and 2. Low energy Developments are an australian company that sell a lot of panels and i’m pretty sure they wouldn’t risk getting it wrong because it would destroy their company if every one handed them back because they were really c grade.

    In all honesty i’d be more worried about the glass used and the solder used. If they had blocking diodes or not. If they have an aluminium frame and what size they are. Obviously you need to look at how much power they can produce. Then find out if there a reputable company. Look at their profile’s on the web. A company that takes a lot of pride in their production is going to be a lot safer than one that doesn’t.

    @Ralph. No i’m not using any voice recognition system but I do type pretty fast so I’m sure I make the odd mistake. Of course the spelling correction built in to the type ups does fix a lot of stuff up but i’m sure it doesn’t catch everything. What sort of speech software are you using. I heard it was pretty hard to get to work.

  6. @Phase. I was more commenting on your use of “there” instead of either “their” or “they’re”. Once or twice in a paragraph is excusable but three times in the one sentence?

    • phase.verocity says

      @Ralph. I’m sorry you were brought up in such a way that you had to always have you’re literacy perfect. I’m also sorry you have to make yourself feel better by outlining everyone else’s mistakes. I’m quite happy using there instead of their. Sure it doesn’t have the same exact meaning but its lazy and the Australian language is built up on lazy short easy forms of writing so I guess i’m just gonna keep saying there because it’s the Australian way. Oh and please don’t tell me gonna isn’t a word. I really don’t care.

      • Grammarqueen says

        Bad spelling and grammar is not the Australian way. Either call it ignorance, laziness, lack of education or something else but don’t call it the Australian way.

        • I presume you’re joking Grammarqueen?!

          “Bad spelling and grammar …. ignorance, laziness, lack of education” is traditionally and absolutely the ‘Orstrayan’. way’.
          I’d defy you to find more than one Australian (whatever THAT is) in a hundred who can define a ‘split furkin infinitive’.
          Someone once explained that it described a promiscuous woman! 😉

          Electronic Text-Talk is a step up for most.
          uc wot imeen

          • grammahhh says

            “Bad spelling and grammar is not the Australian way. Either call it ignorance, laziness, lack of education or something else but don’t call it the Australian way.”

            Geez grammar queen, thought you might have put some quotation marks in there somewhere ! Required, and not just for the direct quotation either. Not to mention no mention of harrang(sic), lol. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the only grammar I’m familiar with is my Mum’s mum.

          • dabbles says

            I know what you meen grammahhh:- “the only grammar I’m familiar with is my Mum’s mum.”
            I’ve always like older women too. ……

          • Grammaradjudicator says

            Grammahhh I’d be less concerned with Grammarqueen’s lack of quotation marks (which she could quite legitimately claim was not an error at all because she was making a statement rather than quoting) than with the fact that she has made two other serious grammatical errors in her reply.

            Firstly, a plural subject requires a plural verb, to wit: Bad spelling and grammar ARE (as opposed to “is”) not the Australian way. Secondly, the either/or construction is only used to offer a choice between TWO options rather than between three or four or even more.

            I think we can safely assume that Grammarqueen’s ire in this matter indicates that she, herself, is Australian. Her own lack of grammatical rigour thus tends to imply that bad grammar (if not spelling) is indeed the Australian way, even among such grammatical pedants as herself.

            Apparently this is a case of “Do as I say not as I do” even making allowance for the paradoxically curious fact that.what she says and what she does are, in this instance, the same thing.

            Ah, “Those who live by the sword …” (which, no doubt, means that my own comeuppance will be immediately forthcoming).

        • Diane Laidlaw says

          A bit off topic guys. This discussion was about Solar panels. Not bloody grammar.

      • KEVIN HERON says

        Good for you mate!

  7. Todd Cranston says

    has anyone heard of RISEN, i had 3 of my sharp solar panels replaced with RISEN SYP250P polycrystalline modules. Its very hard for me to know if i am getting a reliable replacement. This work was carried out by a local electrician who is reputable.

    • Hi Todd
      Risen solar panels had a write up the other day as one of the best on the market.
      I did not know that you can mix and match solar panels.?? maybe one of the other members here can answer that question.?
      if you cannot mix and match then you will have a problem. it does pay to check.
      hope for your sake its ok.

  8. Hi Finn,
    If the price was similar would you go with a SMA/solarworld or fronius/cnpv system? I just worry about solarworld going bust in the next few years.Thanks, Mel.

    • Finn Peacock says

      I’d probably go for the Solarworld SMA. Yes Solarworld may go bust (as can be said for most solar panel companies!) but their panels are so good they are unlikely to fail in the next 25 years.

      The ideal solution is to try and get “powerguard” insurance thrown in – this will cover you if the panels fail and the manufacturer is not around any more.

  9. I reckon that yur mate rich Bowden is a secret agent for the labor party,,for one,,why should the govt subsidise anything,,except maybe to get the ball rolling,cos the supply companies only add the charge to the final cost,,no subsidy, the prices will drop,,example,1995, I buy/install solar hot water,,$1900,,then in following years the govt give $1100 grant,,the price???????? $$3000,,,
    why are Australians so very mistrustful of new technology?? is it lack of education,the kids of 25 and younger cant even read and write….

  10. Look on the bright side. If panels work properly for a time (a couple of years, say) they should go on forever. I put up my first panels 30 years ago when nobody knew anything ~ and most people had never even heard of solar panels.
    They were 45-watt Unisys (second- biggest ones you could buy) and were second-hand (the best I could afford ~ at $13+ per watt!),,,,and they’re still going strong, producing about 40 in the best conditions at a friend’s property in the mountains.

  11. Perhaps you’ll want to rejig your list on the basis of:-


    …..in the light of:-


    To a layman this comparison suggests that ‘Perlight’ panels consistently (and emphatically) outperform ‘SMA’ ones. (and/or other popular brands?)

    Or am I misreading something?

    (and though I’m not a Collingwood supporter, I AM on the record as having Perlight panels installed almost four years ago.)

  12. Angela Worthington says

    Dear Fin, I find your site very informative, so thank you. I installed a 4.92 kW system on May 2011. I do not see the manufacturer of my panels, CIS, on your list of Teir 1 manaufactures. Have I misread their name, or have I purchased very dodgy panels?
    To give you a bit more information, I have drawn doen 15441 kWh off my roof. I am in NSW, and get a 20c FIT. I have reduced my cummulative power bill by ~$5270 over the last ~3 years. I have still paid $6057, as my husband works from home, and insists on using the AC. Never mind. Does this seem reasonable, energy efficiency nut?

    • Finn Peacock says

      I’ve not heard of CIS panels. Can you provide a datasheet, or details from the installer?

      5kW in NSW should give about 20kWh per day (averaged over 1 year). In 3 years that would be 365days x 3years x 20kWh = 21,900kWh. So perhaps a bit low.

      • Angela Worthington says

        Dear Fin, my panels were purchased through SolarShop, a business that went under after the NSW government cut the feed in tarrif, so I cannot contact them for more details than what I already have. Also, your calculation does not incoorperate seasonal variations. My average daily yield over summer is 19.14 kWh/day, autumn 12.57 kWh/day, winter 9.78 kWh/day, and spring 18.47 kWh/day, over the last three years. My best season has been summer 2013-14, in which I drew down 20.50 kWh/day, which is very close to your estimate. If only it was sunny all year round, with beautiful ambient temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius. I live in hope.

  13. This is Jason from Hareon Australia having its office located in the Sydney CBD. If you start checking at Photon website of the test results from the year of 2013 which is the on-site practical test for solar system installed at different times until end of last year, then probably you can find your own answer. Facts speak louder than words. Hope you all can find the qualified and econimic panels. Hareon Solar only sell its product via its authorized local distributors with local warranty term. Hareon Solar mangaged by the CEO Mr. Samule Yang who is the Australian Citizen was listed at the Shanghai stock market in the year of 2012 and have 4 manufacturing sites. Hareon focused on the module sales, commercial projects and Solar Farm projects worldwide.

  14. Hi I brought my solar pannels in november 2009 from Modern Solar and the pannels were made by a Chinese company call Ningo Maxsolar. I have never had any problems with the solar pannels that were installed on my roof and it is now April 2014.

  15. Thanks for all the info on solar panel co’s. Finn. Sorry about the grammar nazi’s.

  16. Finn,

    Is TDG Solar reputable?

    They have a good marketing pitch e.g. … been here since 1984 from the same company who make Apple and Samsung products … but I can’t find out anything on them.

    Any clues?


    • @ Andrew
      They are a Chinese company, the web site is registered in China.
      they do not have a registered business name or ABN number specially associated with the Australian business address supplied from the web site.
      There is no registered business name of TDG Solar nor is there a trading name called that.

      Companies that I find hard to search are hiding behind other names, if you use them to install solar panels, how are you going to find them if something goes wrong.??
      they have a TDG Holdings Co., Ltd: noting the dots and commas typical of Chinese registered companies registered in China.

      I am a little confused here at the moment Andrew as their web site is so professional and real that its got me concerned how much they actually do here in Australia. they started up on the 11 August 2011.

      I would never believe a Chinese company that says they have been going for many years and see the buildings they have.

      They actually say they are now in Australia, but they do not have a registered company name here.
      If it was me, there is no way I would deal with a Chinese company to install solar panels on my home, specially this company TDG Solar.

      Now I am going to find out if this company is actually registered with the CEC

      • I’m stepping in to place my comment. I feel that people are taken for a ride on the Solar System.

        1. Solar cells are good in sunny locations. They function well in sunny days and do not in cloudy days.
        2. Even if the manufacturer is in China if he is represented in Australia by agents then his panels are good to buy.
        3. Expected life on electronic equipment is usually ten years. The life of Electrical apparatus and cables is usually 20 years.
        4. Your investment will be paid in the first ten years. If you are living in SA or Victoria.

        5. Hail, rain and excessive heat as well as birds may cause damage to the panels and that is not covered in the warranties.
        6. Starting from the tenth year, you will be having issues with your inverter and panels that could be rectified. But that will add on to your invested cost.
        7. The efficiency of the cells usually deteriorate by 2 percent every year. That means that after ten years your feedback to the grid power will be 80 % and your savings are less.

        8. If you were lucky to have a fault free cells your saving will be starting n the next ten years towards the end of life of the whole system after twenty years.

        9. It is your choice to invest in cells or to invest your money intended for paying the initial cost somewhere else and reap its reward after the first ten years.

        Your choice is used, but above are the true facts from another PE Electrical Engineer.

  17. All panels are made in China since Bosch ceased production in September 2013. One company exists ( Q Cell) that manufactures in Poland/Germany.

    • Finn Peacock says

      Not strictly true Peter.

      Solarworld are still made in Germany and USA : http://www.solarworld.de/en

      Tindo are made in Adelaide

      Winaico in Taiwan.

      And a handful more made around the world. But probably 90% of solar panels are now made in China.

  18. Does it matter? ’twasn’t that long ago that nobody with half a brain would ever buy Jap-Crap (“…after all, lok what they did in the war! ~ can’t be any good!”)
    Now, apart from a few die-hards of my acquaintance, we pay a premium for said crap.

    Anyway, I see the Chinese have begun production in Oz. (Of more Chinese!)

    • Production … that’s a new word for it.

    • Oh, please. There’s no need to bring in racial comments.

      • dabbles says

        Nor any reason NOT to, wot? 😉

        In any case, even an elderly person of the female gender who originates from that part of the world jammed between Siberia and the Himalayas and the waterway shared with that different oriental strain of homosapiens would probably/possibly/maybe be able to explain to a person of Caucasian descent residing in that geographical landmass previously belonging to a primitive (non-racial) people with not-quite-as-light-coloured skin-tones as aforementioned Caucasian descendent that ‘racial’ is a very different kind of Peking Duck ( sorry if that sounds goosical) from a ‘racist’ one.

        Which is to say, as some chinese nazi grammahh might put it: ‘Some anally-retentive, politically-correct typically ignorant Australians don’t seem to understand that ‘racial’ and ‘racist’ are two different words with very different meanings and connotations…..Any wonder we can dump shitloads of cheap crap on them at prices comparable to expensive Jap-crap!’

        ….though, given the nature of things, she’d probably phrase it in terms chinese. (oops! Sorry!)

  19. I have been reading the comments from the start to see everyone’s answer.
    Apart from the English and Australian language barrier I have found this interesting.
    Todd Cranston asked about anyone hearing of Risen solar panels and mixing them with Sharp solar panels to which I replied about being careful of mixing and matching.
    I would have thought that someone here would have answered that question instead of going on about other people’s spelling.

    Anyway Todd, I have found an answer for you after a little research which I would say you may have already done yourself.
    For starters Sharp solar panels are still going, in the USA http://www.solarelectricsupply.com/solar-panels/sharp-solar-panels wow about the same price as here even with our government subsidies.

    On checking the Australian market Sharp solar panels are also still selling here, I do not know why your electrician decided to use Risen solar panels.

    On the label at the back of the solar panel there will be label with details of what that solar panel is, hopefully you can lift up the solar panel and read the information,
    I am sorry, but if it was me checking I would do just that.

    I trust no one in the government including all our politicians and solar companies, even my sparky (electrician) whenever the government becomes involved someone always gets burnt, the batts literally.
    Now the poorer people that cannot afford solar are getting burnt with the last 2 years of a 35% rise in electrical power supplies, it’s not the solar companies putting the power costs up it’s the government, in fact the government has a lot to answer for but us Australians are too relaxed to do anything about

  20. Finn – Why haven’t you listed Sopray Solar here ….they did win the best solar panel award 2013 according to your article” February 27, 2014 by Finn Peacock ? I have the 2.53Kw system and the Output was a staggering 23-24 kw each day for the first year now 5 years on it has eased off to 15-16 Kw per day though one panel has turned yellow . It turns out that panel has a completely different serial number to the others so l guess from a dodgie batch …from memory the installer was 1 panel short on the day so he had to source one else where mmmm. It’s being replaced under warranty soon by the Australian wholesaler as the installer is no longer trading ( Enviro Mate ). It took a lot of research to find the distributor and l can only get a second hand 185 kw as the are now all 190-195 Kw … if l had used this 190 kw panel it would have void my feed in tariff according to the rules in Vic – This will be a huge issue for the industry and cost to solar users 10 years on if issues arise on older panels as you just wont be able to source the same type of panels as the technology makes bigger and better panels. You may just have to for go the faulty panel and not claim the warranty.

  21. I have just installed a 3.28 sunpower system with an afore inverter 5 panels true north and 5 true west what should my system produce I live in WA. cheers

    • Finn Peacock says


      Here’s how to work it out:

      Hope That Helps,


    • Why would you buy the very best panels and couple it with a garbage inverter?

    • For the same reason you’d install ANY kind of solar panel and face it west. That sort of rip-off should be reportable as theft and fraud.

      • CEC Design guidlines allow for differnet aspects in solar power design. To say placing panels on a west roof should be reported as theft and fraud is the most ridiculous statement i have seen. Go and get your design license and then i might not laugh at what you have to write

        • dabbles says

          The government and it’s agencies say all sorts of things* and approve all sorts of fuckwits to carry out its ‘sayings’ ~ and time after time THEY’RE PROVEN WRONG. (Don’t have time to post a L-O-O-O-ONG list of such failures ~ but you could start with the insulation fiasco and the ‘bushfire-proofing rules’.

          My owner-built house in the Acheron Valley, where the worst of the Marysville fires struck, is a good example. Owner-built by hand BEFORE the bushfire rules were ‘created’ I built it to withstand bushfires in the area the worst of the Marysville fires struck and turned everything to ash ~ including a blue-stone block house across the street.
          A government-required plastic water tank full of water and 5 metres from the back door melted into a flat puddle…..but the house wasn’t even scorched.

          I’ll bet if I wanted to sling enough into campaign-fund-coffers I could get government approval to build cars with only three wheels ~ and find dickheads to buy them.

          Suck it and see is the rule for anyone with more than three braincells ( a smallish percentage of the population!).


          • dabbles says


            And it’s a theft (fraud) because most of the ignorant people buying solar-systems DON’T KNOW what matters.
            They’ve been trained to accept what ‘the qualified experts’ and assorted other self-pronounced ‘authorities’ say.

            If some thieving swine sold my old parents such a system I’d be retrieving their money via the rrrrsoul’s rrrsole.

          • We have installed plenty of systems on west or east facing roofs due to lack of room on the north, also plenty of inverters now have dual tracking systems which allow for this. An east or west roof will drop the output by 12-15% which is explained to the client, so you go bigger to cover that lose. I would suggest you do what i did and become a CEC qualified solar power designer, that way you will know what you’re talking about before you open you’re mouth and start talking shit.

          • Finn Peacock says
          • dabbles says

            It’s hard to argue with a self-interested rip-off merchant. Especially one who can’t do simple arithmetic. By facing panels west you reduce their exposure by FIFTY percent: you put off ‘sunrise’ until midday.
            And I’ve been putting up systems in place you wouldn’t believe for probably longer than you’ve been alive.

            However, my final word is the comment posted by Phil Martin, below:-
            “Phil Martin says:
            April 21, 2014 at 5:56 am

            Please be wary of Aussiesolar. We had a system installed by them with a buy back agreement. They went bankrupt but are still operating under the same name. As a creditor we have not received one cent. How is this all possible that a company can go bankrupt and still operate from the same premises, same phone numbers, same everything, except different directors? Worst decision we ever made!



            ps, as a long-time owner-builder I had a similar shitfight with the ETU and other ‘authorities’ ~ and pointed out that over 80% of housefires were caused by faulty wiring ~ most often in the roof…. AND VIRTUALLY EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THOSE FAULTY CIRCUITS WAS ‘DESIGNED’ AND INSTALLED BY “QUALIFIED” ELECTRICIANS AND APPROVED BY THE RELEVANT AUTHORITY.

            So was the Westgate Bridge……just before it collapsed.
            …..oh…. and the assorted Appollo/Challenger/Shuttle disasters.
            If any ‘unapproved’ people had done those ‘jobs’ they’d have been jailed for life and beyond.

          • dabbies,
            It’s good to see ( with my old eyes,anyway) that someone still has a common sense using or rather operating/functioning brain in this day & age !

            # For if there is a ‘FIRE’ anywhere at all (?) it now appears to be started by a ELECTRIAL FAULT ! Without any real or proper investigation being done…. Yepo, I’m a tradie:-

            And never ever should a person or simple pleb be in charge of something they have no bloody clue about , EVER ! But, that’s the way kinky life has gone now.

            Not even the ETU is trustworthy anymore, nor most POLLIES for that matter too. As never send a little boy or a gal to do a job, that a proper trade person should be doing is where it all FUCKS UP ……


            I do owe you a few good cold beers,too !

        • dabbles says

          Yeah Finn, but the problem with your “take”:- (“An East Facing solar array will generally produce its peak power at 10-11am. A West Facing array will produce its peak at closer to 2pm.”) is that each of them will only produce at its (particular) peak power FOR HALF THE TIME of a north-facing system. The east-facing panels experience sunset at noon ~ at the same time the west-facing panels experience sunrise.

          The ‘ losses’ you (and the other ‘expert’ are talking about are the losses due to the greater air-mass at the flatter angles, which may or may not be accurate; as you know much depends on all sorts of other factors and variations.)

          North-facing panels not only produce MUCH more power due to the lesser air-mass, but produce at THAT rate for twice as long.

          I lived in Nth NSW, and was on the scene when the ‘Rainbow Power Company’ was formed by a bunch of hippies who’d been helping each other out with power issues for a few years; everybody living in the hills up there was there because they were dirt-poor and couldn’t afford to buy where the mod-cons (like electricity) were available.

          Many of them ‘lost it’ when they ‘organised’ and started doing it ‘for the money’. The original principle was to organise a group that could bulk-buy at cheaper rates so that everybody could benefit.

          When John Howard first set up a subsidy system for alternative power they claimed to be THE expert group and convinced some disinterested bureaucrat that the subsidy should be funneled through them, or other groups approved by them. That became the AEIA.

          Needless to say:- give any bastard a monopoly and UPWARD AND ONWARD go the prices and an artificial ‘scarcity’ is created…..and a hierarchy
          I roundly ~ and loudly ~ condemned them for betraying their hippie ideals and becoming rip-off middlemen-dealers. Their response was that they’d ‘qualify’ me to get in on the gravy-train as soon as I sent in my ($280) ‘affiliation fee’.
          ( I was living in Vic. by then.)

          There lay the beginnings of what became the CEC.


          Funny (sad!) ps. when the ETU learnt they were losing work because there were NO qualifications required by people setting up solar systems, THEY went to the government/s and sternly insisted the 240VAC was lethal, and should only be installed by ‘qualified’ electricians.
          A clone of the same ‘disinterested bureaucrat’ thought he’d cut out all risk to himself if something went wrong, and agreed.

          So you then had the situation where the very poor young people trying to get a start by living in the boondocks had to pay not only the grossly-inflated prices demanded by the AEIA, but were actually having to pay the AEIA (up to $200) to contract some qualified electrician to install (plug in) an inverter and associated circuitry ~ which usually added another $1000 to the bill. Back when $1000 was 5 or 6 weeks wages for a working-class man.

          The whole system is a fucking rip-off!

          And the mongrels who make it even worse by deliberately setting up inefficiencies
          (and thereby setting up a sale for extra panels “to make up the difference” ~ and profits for themselves ) ought to be jailed for fraud and theft!

          ps…. I’m familiar with the Crimes Act, and can tell you such charges would stick.

          • Jeffrey says

            Man “oh” Man. LOL (Laughing out load)
            not a truer word said and I whole heartily agree with you Dabbles.
            every time a government becomes involve there will be a stuff up along the road somewhere.
            And the CEC are pure and utter greed, all they do is take, take, and take.
            I get emails all the time from them asking for money, donations and more large amounts of money for courses that should not cost as much as they ask for.

            I have seen a home on the main road of Footscray with solar panels facing North and west, the west side has a chimney up around 2 metres high in front of the solar panels.
            I crack up every time I drive past the house.
            maybe I should take a photo for you Dabbles or you might have seen funnier installations.
            I presume these installers are qualified and CEC approved.

          • dabbles says

            Yep Jeffrey: we could swap photos. An elderly couple, foreign-born and not much education, around the corner from here are in a similar position. Spent the bulk of their working-life savings to buy a modest house mortgage-free, and were talked into having a 3.6kw system stuck up on the west-facing roof with a tall chimney right in the middle of the array at the wall-line.
            It wasn’t cheap, but they were persuaded it was ‘modern’ and well-worth the price.
            They’re not easy to talk to ~ not a good grasp of English and NO idea of modern technology ~ but the gist of it is that the system has made very little difference to the electricity bill.

            It’s probably an appropriate place to use micro-inverters, but there’s no way of explaining that to them ~ and anyway they’d lose their FiT whatever little that might be worth. And they wouldn’t even consider letting me remove their chimney, without which a house is not a ‘proper’ house.

            I started taking photos of the arc of shade the chimney was throwing, with a view to getting the mongrel ~ though qualified ~ installers charged, but the last week or so has been too overcast to even get a shadow. Will work on it though.

            The advice to anyone who doesn’t understand the implications is to ASK THOSE THAT DO before you even think of putting any money on the table.
            And, if you don’t have a perfectly-angled and oriented roof to get the best out of such a system THEN SPEND A COUPLE OF HUNDRED DOLLARS AND BUILD ONE!

          • dabbles says

            ….to conclude ( computer acting up!)….. A solar system does NOT have to go on a house roof. A few pine poles and some second-hand timber will suffice to build a suitable carport, pergola, ramp, etc. etc. to hold a perfectly-designed ‘frame ‘ to hold your array; and with a bit of imagination can even be made adjustable for elevation/direction. And you don’t even need to go through the Council bullshit to construct such a thing. (particularly if you don’t tell ’em!)
            [email protected] if you want some ideas. (that’s with THREE b’s)

          • Dabble “the east-facing panels experience sunset at noon ~ at the same time the west-facing panels experience sunrise” is only true if the east and west sides of your roof are vertical!

            Simple geometry shows that If the pitch of your roof is 25 degrees then the west facing panels experience sunrise when the sun is 25 degrees above the horizon which equates to 1 hr 40 mins past actual sunrise for a 12 hour day and the east-facing panels similarly experience sunset 1 hr 40 min before actual sunset.

            1hr 40min is 13.9% of a 12hour day so reducing output by only that amount NOT by half as you insist.

          • Just caught up with this thread, Ellis.
            I do understand the argument and point out that it doesn’t allow for latitude ~ nor time of year.
            Further, and without going into trigonometric details, the bottom line is that:- while ANY exposure will produce power, peak power is ONLY produced when that exposure is at 90 degrees in both planes.
            Certainly that’s the ideal (and, I expect, the basis on which panel ratings are established) and not practically achievable without a very precise 2-way tracker. (mechanical, not MPPT)
            But the principle remains: The longer and more closely the panels can remain aligned at 90-degrees (horizontally and vertically) to the sun the better their performance will be.
            (Leaving aside factors such as intervening air-mass, etc.)

            In practical terms that means a (true) north orientation for as long as possible (and periodic adjustment for variations in latitude where possible) is the ONLY way to get the best possible output from the panels.
            Pointing stationary/fixed panels east/west/south is a nonsense….and can only be compensated for by putting up many more panels…all of them working at way below their rating.
            Any professional ‘qualified installer’ who persuades a customer that this is the best option should be required to provide the extra panels at no extra cost to the customer.

  22. tantechrissie says

    On the subject of spelling and grammar, particularly in writing, the message loses impact if the messenger cannot manage spelling and grammar. How can one trust his or her knowledge of far more complex matters if he or she is so lacking in such a basic skill set?

    • There are many, many clever, if not brilliant, people who have trouble with spelling and grammar. Mastery of the written word is not a true indication of intelligence have you not heard of dyslexia! Do not be in such a hurry to judge anyone’s intellectual ability by their ability to write you may insult approximately 1/10th of the population.

    • dabbles says

      ps. you do realise, don’t you, that Bill Shakespeare wouldn’t pass an exam. in sixth-form English ?

      I received a fairly good education about a hundred ago, but am unable to understand English at an 8-year-old level these days.
      ….and my wife has trouble with even the most basic sentences….Like:- “Hey you! Where’s my bloody beer?!”
      She actually goes over to her mother’s house to look for it there: sometimes for a whole week!

  23. Gladys you say Chinese began production in OZ. Is that employing their own.

    • Isn’t the English language a thing of wonder and delight!
      I do hope they’re employing “their own”, denise; I can’t imagine any other way of producing…..er, “more Chinese”…… 🙂

  24. Phil Martin says

    Please be wary of Aussiesolar. We had a system installed by them with a buy back agreement. They went bankrupt but are still operating under the same name. As a creditor we have not received one cent. How is this all possible that a company can go bankrupt and still operate from the same premises, same phone numbers, same everything, except different directors? Worst decision we ever made!

    • Oh a tour of the factory so they must be good. Where do you think they get the silicon ingots for the solar panels?

  25. The company I have been dealing with quoted on Yingli 305W YGE modules but now want to substitute JA JAP6 72/295-315/3BB panels, without consultation or price adjustment. I’ll refrain from naming the company, for now at least. Am I right to smell a rat here? From what I’ve read, JA are probably OK but are cheaper panels.

    • Hi Pete,

      Yingli and Ja solar are the two latest cell manufactures in the world in that order.
      My understanding is they are pretty much the same quality and performance and both have a presence in australia.

  26. Tunya Versluis says

    Thanks Fin, for doing the research to help first timers like me make a more informed decision in shopping around! A little daunting…but interesting and entertaining reading this morning:)

  27. Hi
    I live in the west of Melbourne and am considering to solar options
    Thanks for clarifying and confusing all in one
    Could anyone recommend a company that will install a quality product and a reasonable cost – ie. happy to pay a bit more for quality
    Second query – is there any value in installing 3kW of panels with a 5kW inverter for later upgrade or is it a waste of time
    Or should I just go with a 3 or 5kW system

    • Finn Peacock says

      HI Brad,

      All these guys serve your area and are good:


      Re: inverter oversizing

      1) If you don’t actually have room on your roof for a enough extra panels to match the inverter in the future, then a larger inverter is a complete waste of time, money and space.
      2) If you do decide to buy extra panels in the future, you’ll have to get ones that are either identical or with very similar specifications. And if you don’t pay your original installer to do it, you’ll probably void your warranty on the existing system. So your upgrade will be a very limited choice of (probably very outdated and overpriced) panels and a single installer, which means you will probably pay through the nose compared with just getting the best ‘whole system’deal on the market in 3 or 5 or 10 years time.

      • Hi Finn
        I beg to disagree with what you say and would recommend to anyone to add a larger inverter to their solar installation.
        Reason: if you want to run a system full on and use it as the maximum output then eventually it will blow its self up.
        like running car car engine full revs till it can’t stand it anymore and just burn out.
        as an engineer i would thought that you would agree with this.
        a lot of inverters are not made to go maximum full on for lengths of time.
        I would have thought that this is the main factor of inverters crashing after 2 years or just out side there warranty life time.


        • yeahbut…. I don’t know about these days, but back when if an inverter wasn’t working at about 95% or thereabouts of it capacity the efficiency would fall to around 50% ~ sometimes less.
          But I do know of three of those inverters dating back to the mid-80s which are still going strong and never missed a beat.
          Go figure.

    • dabbles says

      Drop a line to dabbbles@gmail , Brad. I’d certainly recommend the (qualified) bloke who installed my system, but don’t know whether he’d want his details posted publicly.

  28. Hello Finn, Regarding your interesting read on solar panels particularly the Chinese variety. While I can’t debate the technicalities of solar panels through lack of expert knowledge I certainly can debate the issue of Chinese quality because of the last 8 items I have purchased which were made in China, all were top of the range and all had to be replaced under warranty within a very short time. My apple Iphone4s was replaced 3 times,my TomTom GPS was replaced 4 times, My 42 inch Samsung 3D smart TV was replaced the day it was installed (by a technician) My computer 4 times in 18 months and I wont bore you with the rest but same as this lot. So please allow me to enlighten you Finn there is no such thing as Chinese quality in fact it is ALL JUNK just like one of their aptly named boats. They have NEVER produced real quality and NEVER will because it is beyond their capability since China produces 25% of the World’s goods which is more than USA, UK France and Russia combined and there is NO quality control because it is cheap crap produced at frantic production speed using super cheap labour for maximum profit.
    Which is why I would much prefer to pay a premium price for a European Quality item which I know I can rely on than a piece of Chinese JUNK which is sure to fail in a very short time.

    • Hi Harry,
      Gee as an old saying goes (you must of killed a china man) intended as a punt.
      sorry to hear of all your bad luck purchasing Chinese made articles.

      Partially parts of this, I will agree with you, the Chinese need to get their act together and start making products to world standards, they have screwed their own people for that long that they think they can screw the rest of the world.

      I do not trust the Chinese warranties, they close up, change companies and addresses just like that and there goes the warranty, 25 years is a long time, hell I am going to be dead in that time, so where is my warranty going to??
      who keeps there paperwork for that long, warranties for solar panels are not worth the paper they are written on, especially after time,

      A roof has a lifetime of 25 years, your solar panels are put onto a old roof, you want to replace that roof after 10 years as its leaking like a sieve, there goes your warranty as you cant find the installer that put your panels up originally.

      I have seen some shocking old roofs that have had solar panels put on.
      I recommend to anyone have a carpenter, tiler, or builder to check your roof before you add solar to it. This is something people do not see.

      Now bearing in mind there are some types of roofs that will last more than 50 years if they are looked after

      (1) Colorbond roofs have a manufacture warranty of 25 years
      (2) Terracotta roof tiles, 50 year colour and tile warranty
      (3) Concrete roof tiles, 50 year warranty against
      (4) slate tiles (I have seen them on buildings that are over 100 years old. but if I was an installer I would charge an arm and leg for me to install on a slate tile. with a possibility of no warranty for leaking roofs, (I am an old time carpenter/joiner and been in the trade for 50 years this year.
      Yep 65 years old and still working and loving it.

      Your readers Tim should really contact their local Engineer, Builder, Carpenter or someone experienced in the building trade to make sure that the roof the solar panels are going on is strong enough to take the weight or that the roof is young enough to allow a full warranty of 25 years.

      I have left roof plumbers out of the equation as they only cover a roof frame, originally carpenters used to do this work as part of the apprenticeship and carpenters know the strength of the timber frames.

  29. Matt brand says

    You can buy actual Australian made solar panels now from tindo australia. They are made in SA I believe, competitive price with the tier 1 stuff. Actually have some good videos on there web site about how to make high quality panels com paired to how the cheap ones are made.

  30. To everyone, who Paid Money to have your Solar Panels Bolted Down on a Roof are not getting the Maxium Power out of those Solar Panels on any day!! I had Purchased Solar Panels from a Melbourne Company to Install myself on a Roof about 4 hours out of Brisbane and did not want to Pay Travelling Time on Top of the Installation Costs so I was waiting for my son to come up on the Tablelands to Help me put them on the Roof! While waiting I had a Solar Panel resting against a Ladder facing the Sun and I Checked about 3 hours later to find that No Power was being put out by the Solar Panel so I moved the Solar Panel facing the Sun again and found that the Solar Panel was Charging the System again!!

    You must Track the movement of the Sun during the day to obtain Maxium Power from your Solar Panel, which the Solar Instalation Company will not Tell you! I went too about 6 Solar Power Instalation Companies only to find that they did not Stock any Solar Tracking Systems for there Solar Power Systems and only one of the Companies had heard of Solar Tracking Systems, but had no idea where to Buy them! So much about going to the so CALLED EXPERTS, who do not know what’s available in the Market Place and how Solar Panels should be Installed to obtain Maxium Power out of the Solar Panels! Guess who is now Building a Solar Tracking System for there Solar Panels??

    • dabbles says

      goodonyer John. Back when panels were costing up to about $20 (probably about $50 in today’s money) per watt everyone was doing that; couldn’t afford to waste a watt. There’s not much to it; either compressed-air or an off-angle electric solenoid sort of set-up.

      If you’re going to the trouble you will, of course, want to include a tilt-mechanism for seasonal changes.

      A friend of mine has a simple manual set-up: array set on a steel pole which fits inside another steel pole (sort of telescopic) with a handle welded on, which allows her to just push the array around to face the sun (more or less) as she walks past it several times a day. Inexact, but works.
      Until she forgets to reset it for dawn ~ in which case she gets the useless effect of mounting panels on a west-facing roof! Usually walks by to feed the chooks or something about mid-morning and re-aligns then, so no great harm done.

      I don’t think it;s CEC- or spAusnet- approved, though. 😉

    • But John,
      all these people are CEC approved.
      you might even find people out there that are not licensed or approved who know more about tracking.
      I know one company called Suntrix who know there stuff, google them up as they are an Australian company and you will get more information from them.

      • Ha Ha, what a great web forum,
        @Jeffery, John and Dabbles on the this mountable panels topic.

        I have an old queenslander, the roof won’t allow me to mount panels so I built my own panel rotating system, mounted on a vertical pole.
        Like the aforementioned lady who goes outside and pushes it around to face the sun, SO do I, at least I get a full days direct exposure on the panels unlike the rest of the million or so fixed panels, in winter I get 6-7 hours of DIRECT SUNLIGHT, in summer I get 10-12 hours, it is also tiltabable to boot.
        As long as there is no clouds around I’m all good and happy.

        NICKEL IRON Batteries
        I directly feed into 300 AHr 1.2 volt Nickel Iron Batteries, electrolite is Caustic Soda from Bunnings, there is NO charge controller as these are not Lead Acid batteries so I can flogg them, these went through 2 floods, were dead flat for several years and still came back from the dead, do this with Lead Acid Batteries and they will be tost.

        I have a background in Auto Electrical, Wound coils for 240V AC electric motors, done a Solar Course at Red Hill Tafe in Brisbane way back in 1984, (our team was involved in the cutting over of a shop from town power to solar and it made headlines as the first in Qld to be done), as long as I leave the 240 Volt AC to my Electrician (wiring the HV output), which I have done, I am allowed to do the Very low Voltage stuff.
        I also worked for Telecom Australia in the 80’s and they have a 48VDC Battery system in their exchanges.

        BUT an Inverter output of 240volts AC a Sparkie is required by law to connect to the meter box etc etc, but you can connect the LV DC Batteries to it’s input.

        When I look at this Solar stuff, there is really no difference between the electrical systems on Cars (12v DC) to Trucks (24 volt DC), they all have Generators/Altinators, Batteries, Regulators, wiring, Switches, Lights, electric DC powered motors, solinoids and so the list goes on and on.

        As for the spelling and grammar, I have ADHD sosorrymatesthoughIhadagoodlaughontheabovepostshigherupLOL

  31. Alan Jennison says

    I am actually trying to find out more about the 100W FLEXIBLE solar panels – Does anyone have any thoughts or have actually used one? They all seem alike and I have heard completely opposing reports.

    • Alan,

      There are many types of solar panels out there, even tile solar panels, which could be on the market within the next 5 years.

      These tile panels lock into each other and are the same shape as a roofing tile, but they also have a small battery included in the tile.

      These tiles are also lightweight, but strong enough to walk on them, they can be installed by anyone, the idea of this invention is that the house is off the grid, the roof is lighter so saving on timber trusses which engineer roofing to take that weight. I have seen them but I am still to be convinced in costing and manufacturing, the pros and cons are few and the inventor has covered areas where if a tile fails how you can tell to replace which one.

      Like your flexible solar panel everything has to start from somewhere,they are probably idea for camping, but with care as scratching will deteriorate the panel
      I would be holding off the flexi panels as there are scientists working on a new type in Australian now.
      World-leading scientists at the CSIRO said the A3-sized panels, which are created by laying a liquid photovoltaic ink onto thin, flexible plastic could soon mean everyone has the ability to print their own solar panels at home. <<<<<<<<<<<<<<

      When you see this type of thing, you wonder what people are going to come up with next.
      to read more on this go to:


      I think even Finn will even like that.

  32. dabbles says

    Advancement in science/technology is a marvelous thing.
    My own tastes incline towards ‘substance’; for toughness and durability and reliability an International truck will beat a Ferrari hands down.

    • dabbles says

      ps. For full-scale contemporary uses I’d’ve thought 100 watts would be too little to be worth mucking around with.

  33. After reading many of the uninformed comments about the orientation of solar panel I will ad my two bobs worth.

    It is true when we had PFIT and after TFIT the best monetary result from solar installation was for the panels to oriented due north, now that all government have stopped these and are now paying 8c and less for feed in tariffs we do our calculations on time of day power consumption and design the system accordingly so as to give the customer maximum benefit of self generation, this will quite often mean half system north and maybe half west, it all depends on the customers power usage profile.

    Any installers that are not selling systems this way are not doing their job properly.

    There are many installations were ideal orientation is not possible, in these cases we inform the customer on what they can expect from the system taking into consideration the inefficiencies.

    Providing the customer is completely informed there is no problem

    • dabbles says

      hehehehe..—> “Providing the customer is completely informed there is no problem.”

      That’s what they told Ned Kelly just before they pulled the lever.
      Would YOU buy a car on a similar basis?:- Fuel consumption is great!…..as long as you don’t start the engine.

      I wouldn’t even consider a grid-connect system for 8c per kwh… and then have to pay 38 cpday just for the connection* as well as about 36cpkwh for power you use.

      At the very least you’d run you refrigeration, say, all day from the panels and switch it off at night.
      But if you were going to go to that amount of trouble you might as well go stand-alone from the start. I reiterate: would you buy a car that came with one wheel at the front and another on the opposite side at the back……and then be willing to pay extra for the use of the road?

      * If you do your arithmetic (and adjust your power-usage to a reasonable levels) you can buy a battery-bank for approximately your ‘service to property charge’ ~ and not counting the cost of power you actually use. (over an 8/10-year design life. )
      Not as convenient as using the grid for ‘storage’, but the main difference is that your ‘connected’ costs will increase ~ dramatically if current talk about the ‘economy’ are accurate ~ while the cost of battery-banks/other components continue to reduce.
      Remember when a ‘cheapie’ mobile-phone (brick) cost $600-and-up? Now look! They’re GIVING the bloody things away to get your business. Ditto i-pads/whatever.
      Watch for the same thing to happen with grid-connect solar-systems in due course.

      But at the end of the day, whatever the product, efficiency should be the first and inviolable principle. Solar panels not facing north are NOT effecient.

  34. Mike Jordana says

    Dear Mr Peacock: You said, “… feel free to harrang me in the comments!” I wish to “harrang” you about your spelling of “harrang.” The correct spelling is “HARANGUE.” You could look it up. Thank you for listening.

    • jeffrey says

      Jesus: I do not understand why people do this,
      you definitely understood what Mr Peacock meant by Harrang,
      This is a solar blog, not a spelling blog.
      why people go off the subject I do not know why?
      even myself at the moment for going off subject, its not good.
      Mike Jordana I know you probably want to continue or complete your subject with spelling, or that maybe an argument is forth coming,
      but really do we all need to deal with it??
      That said and if you reply I am not or will not answer to any queries from now on about spelling or grammar, if its not about solar panels I am not interested. full stop:

    • Finn Peacock says

      Mike – correction received with thanks!

  35. I have a Perth quote for a 12 panel installation Suntolite panels and 3kw system with JFY inverter. Mono crystalline 250 w panels and Warranty seems O.k. as it is WA company . Price just on $5000. Our bills are around 18 units per day and their quotes indicates Solar savings of 13.2 units .Is this a reasonable quote? He mentions this covers a rebate in this which may change as a result of budget. Any comments /help would be appreciated.

  36. david Cummings says

    Dear Mr Peacock,
    I read your article on solar panels with interest, but wish you would state at the beginning that you are speaking of the American market; I have no idea about its relevance to the Australian market . As an Australian I am finding the internet more and more annoying as we are flooded with US OF A articles ; imagine our frustration when you go to buy something, only to find out you can’t because it’s American…Regards David Cummings

    • Finn Peacock says

      Hi David,

      I am writing about the Australian market. I am Australian! What makes you think I am writing about the American market?

      Best Regards,


  37. JA Solar

    Fully automated factory. Now making the Conergy Panels after Conergy went into liquidation last year. Also make the “Toshiba” panels.

    Volkswagen Factory in the USA used JA Solar for their 9 megawatt installation last year.

  38. scott mcintosh says

    Hey Finn,
    where the hell is Jinko Panels???? Or did i miss
    fourth largest manufacturer of pv in the world
    Rated in top ten yield in Photons 2012 test.
    Panels produced as much as 270 watt in testing
    Made a profit in 2011!!!!
    plus more.
    We have had a heap of success with these panels
    PS Love your passion for our industry Finn. Keep
    it up.
    Top of the world to you….
    Scott McIntosh
    Solar Specialist
    e. [email protected]
    PSS. Lets have a Guinness some time ??!!

    • Finn Peacock says

      Hi Scott,

      My data places Jinko 14th in Australia with 20 MW sold in Aus in 2012, and 15th in the world based on 2012 global revenue.

      I class them as Tier 2, but happy to be persuaded otherwise.

      Guiness sounds good. Yorkshire bitter even better.


  39. Hi Finn,
    in 2013 Jinko was the 4th largest manufacture in the world and Ship 2.1GW. In Australia they also supplied 24MW for the Royalla project in the ACT which is currently the largest solar farm in Australia. All the Jinko modules in Australia come with the Powerguard insurance making it one of the most backed panels on the market. I am very surprised that you left them out of your tier 1 category!

  40. Tom -Sydney says

    Any reason for not using 2013 data and the fact 1 Australian project alone used 20MW in 2014?

  41. ???Since when does quantity = quality?
    China also produces more chinamen than any other nation on earth. What does that prove?
    My question would be : How strong and enforceable is the warranty.

  42. Does anyone have an opinion on Blue Sun panels? Can’t see them mentioned anywhere here.

    • Finn Peacock says

      Hi Peter,

      In my experience they are overpriced and I’ve seen some wild performance claims e.g. 25% more power than a ‘normal’ panel etc. I find that *very* hard to believe. Unless anyone can persuade me otherwise I would recommend avoiding and go for a Tier 1 panel.

      Hope That Helps,


      • Hi Finn
        Thanks for that, it does help.
        My installer also has the option of using Sunpower panels, which he says are twice the price but same performance or JY panels.
        Cant see JY panels in any of the lists on this blog either.
        JY? any good?


        • Finn Peacock says

          Hi Peter,

          I’ve never heard of JY panels – sorry.

          Sunpower are brilliant, but quite expensive, yes. A good tier one panel is the way to go, in my opinion, as they are not much more expensive than the Tier 3 panels.

          For example – looking at wholesale pricing today:

          Tier 3 Panel: 70c per Watt
          Tier 1 (Jinko Solar): 76c per Watt
          Tier 1: (Yingli): 80c per Watt

          So the difference between a risky Tier 3 panel and a well known, Tier 1 brand is 6-10c per Watt which is $60-$100 per kW installed (plus GST + installer’s margin).

          I really think the extra $100ish per kW is worth it.


  43. Dabbles, unfortunately you are misinformed. A 50% loss would be unacceptable but as Darren states- 10-12% loss is what we actually suffer given an East or West facing array. Yes I work in the industry and I’m sure you will accuse me of being a rip off merchant but do you actually HAVE a system? And is it orientated East or West? I suspect not- I do, 2.88kW system facing West in FNQ (in a very wet area, might I add) and my production efficiency is not even 10% below what it would be @ true North. 12.15kWh/Day on average.

  44. Hi Angela, I used to work for SSA, and it’s likely the panels you have are CIGS which is a type of Thin Film Panel, not the manufacturer. SSA used to use Kaneka branded Thin Film panels back when I worked for them but these were not CIGS. I would agree with Finn that your system is underperforming, however if there are shading issues at the site or if the panels are facing East/West/South this could be the reason. The other potential issue is they may have used a “single tracking” inverter and mounted the panels across two different roof facings- I have seen this done many times before and it affects production efficiency in a BIG way. You would normally expect an AVERAGE of 20kWh per day from a 5kW system so yours should be just under that on average.

  45. There are always variables for specific locations. eg. according to official (govt) records FNQ gets a year-round average of 5.5 PSH per day. Victoria gets between 6.5 & 7, and even Tas. gets 6.5 (except in the SW corner where the figure is 6.

    Long-standing anecdotal evidence is that much of QLD loses out because of the much-greater than average cloud-cover caused by humidity.
    On that basis it’s possible that early morning or later afternoon produce more power due to lower heat–>humidity at those times and longer hours of exposure due to latitude.
    It’s not unusual to hear QLDers bitching because their solar system isn’t producing anywhere near what they’re rated at. I’ve been hearing such complaints for years.

    But ambient light is NEVER a substitute for direct light; that’s why your car headlights need to be focussed AND not mounted on the bloody doors pointing off at 90degrees to the road. Try turning off your headlights some dark night and pointing a spotlight through the drivers’ window into the scrub on the other side of the road…and tramp it!

    …..and if you’d been paying attention all these months you’d know that I not only have a grid-connected solar system on the roof, but also have a second lot of panels feeding a battery-bank under the house. You’d also know that I put my first solar panels on the roof over thirty years ago (and likely long before you were a glint in your father’s eye.), and am still tracking the progress of those panels though I no longer own the property.

    Along the way I’ve experimented with alternative-power (solar, wind, water, wood-gas, etc. etc.) by myself and in conjunction with all sorts of other pioneers in the field,
    and have built all sorts of system-modifications and units, including several different types of solar-trackers, because until the contemporary rip-off rationalisations (for the money, of course) nobody EVER reckoned panels could work efficiently unless they were pointed at the sun . And that includes the US space program, which keeps their satellite-powering solar-panels continually adjusting their alignment. And I’ve also kept track of developments and innovations ~ what works, what’s viable and what isn’t.

    I’ve never been “in the industry” but have set up ~ at a guess ~ hundreds of systems in places and ways you couldn’t begin to imagine:- like 150+ plus foot up a tree because the owner couldn’t afford to clear access to the sun.

    And I wouldn’t necessarily accuse you of being a rip-off merchant; it might just be the profit-motive that allows you to juggle/manipulate the realities without even realising it.
    Or perhaps mere pig-ignorance.

    ps. Your last sentence–> “….production efficiency is not even 10% below what it would be @ true North. ” clearly admits that you DON’T KNOW what your output and/or efficiency (not the same thing) would actually be IF you faced your panels North.

    It’s the sort of stupid ASSUMPTION, based on self-interested trumped-up numbers which you no doubt foist off on the more gullible of your customers.

    Suck it and see.

    • Dabbles, if you think “I don’t know” what production efficiency in my area should be then maybe my customers who have due North facing roofs are lying to me??? How about you check out DKA the Solar Center or is that a conspiracy made up by solar companies? Average 4.86 sun hours due north, 4.27 sun hours west facing….Real world data bud, not just made up numbers. I have been in the industry for over 5 years, do you think if I misrepresent the output of systems that people in the small community where I live would still trust me??
      One of your first posts states a “50%” loss on a west facing roof….prove it! this will never happen unless there is west shading. Now consider our low feed-in tariffs, if someone wants to go solar, guess what- Daytime loads are higher in Summer in FNQ, therefore an East/West split array works most effectively. North facing is skewed to Winter generation when there is little load… At the end of the day if a customer is getting the result we indicate and their ROI is less that 7 years they are happy. Happy customers=referrals=staying in business, I would never do anything to jeopardise this and might I add I have told potential customers NOT to go solar because it doesn’t stack up for them (small bill, little daytime usage, moving soon, etc.) As a last note- the CEC puts out conservative numbers for us to work with re losses involved in facings and pitches of panels in multiple areas of Australia, I suggest you should have a look at it- the only time in our area you would expect a 50% loss of production is if the panels were mounted vertically!

      • I’m not going to haggle over variables (including panel efficiency, atmospheric conditions in particular places at particular times, etc. of which I have no experience; but I will make the point that most of what you say here are generalisations and/or misrepresentations reflecting marketing hype therefore have no specific value. eg.

        1…..You were talking about YOUR system (which had NEVER faced north for comparison, NOT “what production efficiency in my area should be”.
        2….. What your customers are telling you is irrelevant without knowing HOW they get the info. they pass on to you, and whether that info is fact or
        3….. Having a personal financial interest you’d be prone to hear what suits you, not unreasonably, and that bias is what you’d ‘represent to’ your
        customers ~ even if it was inaccurate.
        4……Like your ‘representation’ that “One of your first posts states a “50%” loss on a west facing roof…” was a reasonable genaralistion due to all the
        variables. There will always be some amount of
        peripheral/radiative exposure (my system even produces a tiny voltage from moonlight!), but my statement referred to EXPOSURE, not production.
        If the sun rises in the east (a generalisation I know) then facing panels west self-evidently means you’re precluding the first half-day of exposure.
        5…..Wherever you have competition ~ particularly for business/gain ~ there’ll be some degree of propaganda and other bullshit/bias. Whether that
        amounts to ‘conspiracy’ or not is something of a strawman.. For one thing their numbers don’t relate to FNQ. Try the unbiased figures from the
        BOM. (Y’might also look up Collyn Rivers’ publications as re. variations.) The CEC is an industry-specific organ and self-interested by definition;
        as was it’s forerunner the AEIA .
        6…..Also a strawman is your ramblings about ROI, etc. The issue was panel production-efficiency. But if you offered me a ROI of anything like SEVEN years I’d sool the dog on you! my system paid for itself (in Southern Victoria!) in two years. AND I’ve got the records to prove it.
        7…..To claim that “North facing is skewed to Winter generation” is an outright nonsense. (in principle ~ local variations may apply). 180-degree exposure will always be a MUCH better proposition than 90-degree exposure. The seasonal variation is an angle-of-attack issue, not time-of-exposure. However they’re orientented try covering HALF you panels and see what it does to production. You could post your results here for everybody’s edification.

        8……The bottom line is still, (as a generalisation):- If ALL your panels faced EAST from sunrise to noon you’d get (nearly) TWICE as much power from them than if only half of them do. If you put TWICE as much petrol in your car I’d bet you’d expect to get near twice the distance. Same principle.

        9…. Would they still trust you? How the hell would they KNOW any different? People rely on ‘expert’ opinion BECAUSE they don’t know. You wouldn’t want me to list the number of times that approach has proven disastrous, would you?

        …. How do you think bananas came to be bent? 🙂

        • Out of the mouths of babes:- Teenager with a mouthful of bubble-gum:- If northerly orientation doesn’t matter, why don’t you face them south if it’s easier?

          D’you want me to pass on your contact details to him so’s you can explain it to him?

          • Dabbles, sorry It’s been a while…to busy to follow posts on here.

            I’m not going to stoop to your level as it’s quite clear that whatever anyone tells you is fact you will always contradict with your so called experience.

            Just because you’ve been around longer than some folks don’t mean you know everything!

            The one thing I will respond to is your teenage enquirer. South facing panels you say? Why not I say!! Provided the South facing roof is relatively flat- in FNQ and further North you will get great Summer generation and average Winter generation. Why? Because the sun level in the middle of Summer is 6 degrees south and only drops 50 degrees in winter…very different to southern Australia. See http://www.gaisma.com

            Personally I have only ever cared what the “best year round” generation potential is when I’ve had a generous feed in tariff- why should I care how much I can generate if I can’t use it all anyway? Give us a couple of years and battery storage will be financially viable, but even then if my summer usage is exponentially higher than winter usage- why in gods name am I going to face my panels North? What so I can waste excess generation in winter and not have enough in summer??

            So production efficiency as a year average is irrelevant UNLESS you have a generous feed in tariff. Panels should be located to ensure the best result for the individual customer in their area!

            That’s me signing off- you can say what you will but you won’t get a response….I don’t have the time to waste!

          • dabbbles says

            ” if IF’s and AND’s were pots and pans, there’d be no work for tinkers hands.”, goes the old nursery rhyme….and you ARE in the trade, aren’t you? 😉

            And I know I’m aware that Southern Victoria is ‘different’ ~ is is Central S A, Northern NSW and as far North as Childers in QLD.: all places in which I’ve mounted solar arrays.

            But, as stipulated previously, local variations aside, your argument that :- I have only ever cared what the “best year round” generation potential is when I’ve had a generous feed in tariff- why should I care how much I can generate if I can’t use it all anyway?: doesn’t wash.

            I am well aware of the value of the FiT, and make the utmost use of it –> by facing ALL my panels North. And even though my roof is at a good-for-average-production 26-degree pitch, the angle of my panels is adjustable for summer/winter latitude differences.

            Not only does that prove of value in FiT terms, it clearly makes the point that in a stand-along system the extra generation gained means I could get by with a smaller system (not just the number of panels) entirely.
            That means not only an initial-cost saving, but permanent saving in maintenance, replacement of components, etc. etc. etc. ~ all the way down to smaller insurance premiums.
            All-up it makes a useful difference, and one that I’d be expecting my well-paid installer to take into account. It’s called ‘Design Efficiency’: the least amount of input for a required output’. Look it up.

            There’s no need to respond; your time’s put to better use bending bananas.

            ps. any unavoidably disparate production on the ‘split’ can conveniently be used in heating water or several other applications; but ideally the system should produce no more nor less than ‘enough’.
            And that means facing panels North.
            …..but not under a banana herbs. 🙂

      • I’m not going to haggle over variables (including panel efficiency, atmospheric conditions in particular places at particular times, etc. of which I have no experience; but I will make the point that most of what you say here are generalisations and/or misrepresentations reflecting marketing hype therefore have no specific value. eg.

        1…..You were talking about YOUR system (which had NEVER faced north for comparison, NOT “what production efficiency in my area should be”.
        2….. What your customers are telling you is irrelevant without knowing HOW they get the info. they pass on to you, and whether that info is fact or
        3….. Having a personal financial interest you’d be prone to hear what suits you, not unreasonably, and that bias is what you’d ‘represent to’ your
        customers ~ even if it was inaccurate.
        4……Like your ‘representation’ that “One of your first posts states a “50%” loss on a west facing roof…” was a reasonable genaralistion due to all the
        variables. There will always be some amount of
        peripheral/radiative exposure (my system even produces a tiny voltage from moonlight!), but my statement referred to EXPOSURE, not production.
        If the sun rises in the east (a generalisation I know) then facing panels west self-evidently means you’re precluding the first half-day of exposure.
        5…..Wherever you have competition ~ particularly for business/gain ~ there’ll be some degree of propaganda and other bullshit/bias. Whether that
        amounts to ‘conspiracy’ or not is something of a strawman.. For one thing their numbers don’t relate to FNQ. Try the unbiased figures from the
        BOM. (Y’might also look up Collyn Rivers’ publications as re. variations.) The CEC is an industry-specific organ and self-interested by definition;
        as was it’s forerunner the AEIA .
        6…..Also a strawman is your ramblings about ROI, etc. The issue was panel production-efficiency. But if you offered me a ROI of anything like SEVEN years I’d sool the dog on you! my system paid for itself (in Southern Victoria!) in two years. AND I’ve got the records to prove it.
        7…..To claim that “North facing is skewed to Winter generation” is an outright nonsense. (in principle ~ local variations may apply). 180-degree exposure will always be a MUCH better proposition than 90-degree exposure. The seasonal variation is an angle-of-attack issue, not time-of-exposure. However they’re orientented try covering HALF you panels and see what it does to production. You could post your results here for everybody’s edification.

        8……The bottom line is still, (as a generalisation):- If ALL your panels faced EAST from sunrise to noon you’d get (nearly) TWICE as much power from them than if only half of them do. If you put TWICE as much petrol in your car I’d bet you’d expect to get near twice the distance. Same principle.

        9…. Would they still trust you? How the hell would they KNOW any different? People rely on ‘expert’ opinion BECAUSE they don’t know. You wouldn’t want me to list the number of times that approach has proven disastrous, would you?

        …. How do you think bananas came to be bent? 🙂

        • PS Out of the mouths of babes:- Teenager with a mouthful of bubble-gum:- If northerly orientation doesn’t matter, why don’t you face them south if it’s easier?

          D’you want me to pass on your contact details to him so’s you can explain it to him?

  46. hi I read your website not long ago you stated there was no long term tests done on chinese solar panels , you gave a list of one,s from Europe which you recommended , you are right the chinese do want to flood our market with poor quality stuff, sorry we don’t agree

  47. ptambayongPeter says

    Hi Finn,

    Suntellite is made by HangZhoue ZheJiang University http://www.solar-sunny.com/ How did you conclude they are Tier 3 manufacturer?

  48. I have been working in the industry for 7 years and unfortuntaly the Chinese have nfi when it comes to making panels anymore. To them it is all about the corners they can cut to make the panel the cheapest in the market. Every brand we have tried including 10 of the listed 12 brands on your Tier 1 list have all ended up having issues (would likely be all 12 but we have not used 2 panel brands on the list!). Now one can expect issues on occasion but then we come to the warranty or rather lack of. Apparantly the Chinese way is to ignore the problem so don’t expect them to be proactive and ethical. Getting them to foot the bill for the warranty replacement is next to impossible.
    Issues we have encountered in our time from chinese made panels from multiple brands

    Yellowing of the EVA
    Frames out of square
    Cells that burnt out within a few months (Hotspots)
    Faulty Junction boxes causing them to fill with water
    Random panels from the same pallet missing the hydrophobic coating
    Glass on upside down
    Water ingress under the glass
    Obviously hand resoldered busbars
    Misaligned busbars
    Absense of colour sorting of cells in individual panels
    Microcracks appearing within a few months

    I am not saying that a 100% of the installed panels will deveop an issue as that is not the case. However the issues are far more abundant than occur in panels that are in the 90c+/watt range rather than the 60-80c/w that most Chinese panels are in.
    Also the panels in the 90c+/w range (REC/LG/QCells/Sunpower etc) are proactive if there is an issue will address the issue immediatly and even recall if needed.

  49. I could not see Blue Sun amongst your list of Chinese manufacturers. They are an Australian owned company with their head office here. Their tech specifications are put them up their. CSUN, who we also deal with, now have their own company in Australia which again gave us a lot comfort. Both great to deal with.
    We have installed a lot of large commercial systems, around 100kW.

    • Are Blue Sun fairly new? I am about to install a 5kw system using them and can’t find much info on them or any mention in any of the reviews. I’ve seen a couple of discussions where someone has specifically asked about them but any answers seem to descend into a plethora of off topic tech jargon replies between Sparkies and installers that tell me absolutely nothing.

      • Finn Peacock says

        Blue sun are fairly new to the market and I would class them as Tier 3. All the quotes I have seen for them seem very expensive, and I’m not sure why.

        • My other option is Sunpower but that will basically double the price of the system.
          How much roughly should I be paying for a Sunpower panel?
          Seems like the Blue Sun warranty is Australian based so that must be something.

          • Finn Peacock says

            Sunpower are great, but very expensive. Expect to pay about $2 per Watt for a Sunpower/SMA System.

            Why limit your choice to rock or a hard place? That is, a Tier 3 brand or the most expensive Tier 1 brand money can buy (Sunpower)?

            Why not also get a 3rd quote for a good, Tier 1 Chinese panel like the ones on this list:

            Canadian Solar
            ET Solar
            JA Solar
            Jinko Solar
            Trina Solar

            With an SMA inverter.

            You can’t really go wrong with that combination and are not risking a Tier 3 panel. Expect to pay about $1.40-$1.70 per Watt for such a system.

          • The installer is a friend of the family, so there is a certain level of trust here.
            I’m paying $5000 for a 5kw system with bluesun panels and a Delta inverter.
            I know that’s cheap but he’s giving me a big discount due to the fact we know each other.
            I get the feeling he only uses 2 or 3 different panel brands. Blue sun, GY or Sunpower. He reckons the blue sun have the same output as the Sunpower , and the added expense is not worth it.
            Maybe I’ll ask him if he can get me Trina panels, I’ve heard good things about them.

  50. Bluesun any good? Apparently tier 1 Chinese manufacturer assembled in tier 2 aus plant.

    • Finn Peacock says

      I have no idea.

      Ask them what exactly “Assembled in Australia” means.

      Also ask for the name of the Tier 1 manufacturer.

  51. This is my 1st time on your blog, it looks very informative. I have a cheap quote and searched your site for these brands and I couldn’t find any thing on them that they have quoted me on. . I have been quoted $5000 (I am in Toowoomba QLD) for a 5Kw + 1 KW system with a Evershine TL5000 Invertor factory name Zeversolar. I was told that this brand in China is now partially owned by SMA.. If I preferred the SMA invertor that would be a further $800.00 if I wanted to upgrade which was on there original quote. They weren’t trying to up-sell to the SMA and they felt the Evershine invertor was good enough.

    The quote included 6KW (24 panels) of GISTA GSP60-XXX panels. Gista Sunnyenergy PTY LTD http://gistasunnyenrgy.com again cant find any links on your blog. Anyone heard of them. There web sight says Australia owned. All stuff and fitters seem to be CEC approved.
    They use a Chiko Solar mounting system.
    The Company is Diamond Solar Plus in Brisbane. The lady was a client of mine once, and they seem like good people.
    Iis paying $800.00 more for SMA a waste? Both this one and the Evershine have a 5 year warranty. Other quotes are around $8000.00. That’s $3000.00 difference. I would be happy to even have to wait if it came to that further down the road for repairs for a week ot 2 if I had to at that kind of savings.In other words if the back up was not quiet as good as the more expensive quotes and that’s the difference then I would go for it.
    Would appreciate any advice. The bottom line is I cant spend + $8000 on a system.
    Thank You for an excellent blog.

    • Finn Peacock says

      Hi Peter,

      Zeversolars are good budget inverters and SMA’s ownership means that you get good warranty service if it fails in the warranty period.

      The SMA has a better chance of outlasting the Zeversolar after the 5 years though (in my humble opinion).

      I have never heard of Gista panels – so I can only assume they are Tier 3.

      Hope That Helps,


      • Peter Swinney says

        Thank you for an excellent blog. I took your advice and spent $800 more on yingli energy panels, they on your list. Awaiting for ergon now to give me the OK.

  52. Hi Finn

    I have a 1 kw system fitted in 2009. I have 3 phase to my house. Also have a granny flat at the back of my house. Both houses are double storey. I would like to know which would be my best option:
    Fit a 3 kw onto the granny flat that has a single phase to it.
    OR fit a 5 kw 3 phase SMA or Fronius inverter and remove the 1 kw system.
    What would you suggest?

    Thank you


    • Finn Peacock says

      Hi John,

      You really want to set it up so that:

      a) you keep the 1kW system and its generous Feed In Tariff (I assume you are getting a good rate). If you don;t touch the 1kW system then you can keep getting your generous feed in rate.
      b) on the new system you want to maximise the solar energy used in the home as explained here : http://www.solarquotes.com.au/do-i-get-paid-for-my-solar-energy.html . So that means connecting it to the meter that uses the most power in the day. I assume that is the house. I would put an appropriately sized system on the house and leave the 1kW alone.

      Hope That Helps,


  53. Steven Pilcher says

    Great article and we appreciate the list!

  54. Hi Finn. I’m from WA and recently did your “3 quote” application. I only received a reply from one company (Marks Sydney office) who don’t even have an office in Perth. Is there anyone who can point me in the direction of reputable Solar companies who actually have an office in Perth.

    • Finn Peacock says

      Hi Jezz,

      I referred you to Mark Group (who do a lot of installs in Perth), Infinite Energy (South Perth HQ) and Gryphon (also Perth based).

      Sorry you only heard from 1 of them. I pinged the other 2 asking them to get your quotes out pronto.

      In the meantime I can recommend all these guys who install local to you:



  55. Hi there Finn, has anyone out there heard of or dealt with a company called ‘DollarSolar’? Can’t seem to find any info on them. Would appreciate any comment!
    Thanking you in advance.

  56. Jack William says

    Hi Jezz,
    your post is very nice, i like it. but I’m not going to haggle over variables (including panel efficiency, atmospheric conditions in particular places at particular times, etc. sorry we don’t agree…..

  57. Eric G Shinzel says

    Why not spend your money in Australia? After all the tax payer is subsidizing your solar dream, so buy Aussie.
    Why I am saying this? I have a lot to do with ‘quality’ and in my job as a reliability engineer come across some pretty horrendous issues, mainly inferior materials and lack of service and parts.
    I certainly wouldn’t spend my hard earned and the tax payers money on substandard goods.

  58. Shanghai ST Solar did not see them on the list do u have any info on them, thx, Gerry

  59. Erik Christiansen says

    Hi Finn,

    I’ve just bought some SolarKing panels and Gel batteries. They have a local street address, and claim to have been about for ten years, so I figure my choice might have a reasonable chance of being OK. Do you have any low-down on ’em?

    The MPPT charge controller doesn’t do any reporting (there’s apparently a separate unit, which I’ll have to price), so I’m switching a meter across a 30 milliohm sense resistor in each PV string, to show what’s being delivered, and detect a problem in a string. (Yes, I’m adding another switch position and resistor for array voltage measurement too.) Eventually I’ll know how good they are.

    How closely do new panels have to match if I add another string or two later? The MPPT will presumably maximise VxI, and if there’s a difference of a volt or two in the MPP of parallelled strings, then one of them will deliver a smidge less than it could if matched, I figure. How does that sound?

  60. Hi Finn, Where is Hareon Solar? Recently updated as Tier One by Bloomberg

  61. Biggest problem is as u say, they are trying to reverse the declining panel prices. Smart when u think about it. Something that cant be said of the sell out Aussie gov. Both Lib Lab n greens.

  62. Many many good cheap panels exist. Some have expired from the CEC list.
    Some just havent bothered.
    Solar is cheap really really cheap.
    Less then $1 a watt.
    Buy the panels, install them, get an electrician to help and an inspector to finish off
    the connection to grid if u go that way.
    Best results is 1kw for 1kw feedin or off grid.

  63. Hi Finn,

    Firstly, very informative blog and potentially saved me heartache with some dubious panels.

    I’ve received a quote from Solaray Solar for supply & install for an Enphase 250 5kWs for $7,250 with 19 x ReneSola Virtus II 250W Panels. The claim is output around 20kW/h as a daily averaged over the year The system can save us up to $500 off the quarterly power bills, so as a best case (using all of the solar power in the home as it is generated) the 5kW system can pay for itself in well under 3 years.

    What do you think as a ROI?

    The other question regarding the Enphase White Paper, if I were to use 310W JA panels with the Enphase 250 will I get more than the 20kWh/day?

    JA panels are rated higher (310W) than the ReneSola (250W) – will they output more than the 20kWh/d?

    • Finn Peacock says

      Due to losses ( http://www.solarquotes.com.au/blog/5-reasons-your-solar-system-power-is-lower-than-you-expected/ ) the panels will generally produce up to 80% of their rated output, except on exceptional days (where they have just been cleaned, it is super sunny but cold).

      So expect the 250W panels to typically peak at 200W in summer, and the 310 to peak at closer to 250W.

      And in winter the 310W panels will produce much more than the 250W ones with the 250W microinverter, meaning your year round production will be more consistent with the ‘oversized’ panels.

      So the 310W panels will give you more energy per day, yes and more consistent energy throughout the year.

  64. Matt Garrell says

    You did not have Phono Solar panels who produce under their parent company the SUMEC group listed in your top Chinese Panels. Can I ask why? I know of a company that offers CSUN at a lower price than their Phono panels because they say that Phono are the best panels available and have a partnership with ABB with thier Aurora inverters that gaurantees the minimum system loss of any system in the world. I find it interesting that their step down (CSUN) made your list but not their top of the line panels. Thoughts?

    • Finn Peacock says

      HI Matt,

      I agree – since I wrote this a couple of Years ago, Phono have emerged as a good Tier 1 player, and I actually consider CSUN as a good Tier 2 these days.

      I’ve updated the first list to include Phono.

      Best Regards,


  65. Terry Davis says

    Hi Finn
    Risen are a Tier 1 Bloomberg listed panel. They have also achieved 2nd ranking previously for performance under Photon International rankings.

    The CTO and COO from CNPV have moved to Risen. As such I believe there will be further improvements.
    Risen have offices in Australia.

  66. Geof Bagley says

    Hi Finn
    I was quoted $6000 for a 4Kw system comprising AMS sunyboy inverter and sapphire solar panels ss250P60 Gem series.The ‘quoter’ told me sapphiresolar panels are tier1 but I can find no evidence of this. He did say he could supply Trina panels for the same price
    Another quote was $5500 for a Delta inverter with Canadian solar panels (4Kw system)
    The third quote was $6500 for a 4KW system with enphase 250 inverter and canadian solar panels.
    I would appreciate your comments and advice

    • Finn Peacock says

      I wouldn’t say the Sapphire panels are Tier 1, but they are one of the few non-Tier 1 panels that look very good quality from what I’ve seen.

      Insisting on Tier 1 is just a way of reducing the risk of buying a dud panel in the absence of other info – and most people are not across which solar brands are good in the sea of junk out there! I would say Sapphire are one of the non-Tier-1 panels that are worth considering.

      Delta and Enphase are both excellent inverters. Canadian solar are good, Tier 1 panels.

  67. Andrew Lynch says

    Hi Finn,
    I am thinking of getting Solar through AGL. The panels are Hanwha Solar Panels and the inverter is Solis. Ive done some research, some positive and some negative stuff. Hanwha is chinese, are they any good?

    • Finn Peacock says

      Hanwha panels are Tier 1. But the really good Hanwha panels are the QCells which are a bit more expensive but worth it IMHO. Solis is a pretty obscure inverter brand. I’d prefer a better known brand like SMA or Fronius. AGL tend not to do site inspections which can lead to issues when the subcontractor rocks up to install it. On the plus side AGL should be around in the future to support you.

  68. Hi Finn,
    Did you receive a response from Canadian Solar as to why they do not appear on that Chinese list?
    Shouldn’t be any cause for alarm…. surely

    • Finn Peacock says

      No – I never got a reply. But Canadian Solar are one of the bigger Chinese solar manufacturers out there – I’d be comfortable using them.

  69. Can any body give me any idea about TTN or BlueSun Panels.

    i am about to import 2 system into Pakistan. any info would be helpful

  70. Nuwan Jayasekera says

    Hello there,

    If I have to choose between Jinko 260W JKM260PP-60 & Canadian Solar; Solar Panels for a 5kVA system with Franius 5 inverter , which panels would you recommend.



    • Finn Peacock says

      Tough one – they are both good T1 panels. Really hard to make the call. I’d probably toss a coin!

  71. dean bailey says

    I have 19 renasola panels that I installed ~2 1/2 years ago. 4 failed within 9 months. Renasola replaced those ok. Now about 18 months later, one of the warranty replacement panels failed. For me that’s about a 20% failure rate.

    • Finn Peacock says

      Ouch! How did they fail?

      • Bruce Whitfield says

        Like Finn…I’m very keen to hear about the failure mode, eg..insulation breakdown, cell interconnect failure, micro cracking etc.
        Having just come back from China, its clear that even the best automated module factories are still exposed to producing panels that are not 100% sealed into their frames. While the insertion of sealant into the frame is done by a robot..its possible that if the system is not very precisely( critically )adjusted to ensure that the sealant is sufficiently laid into the corners, there is a good chance that moisture will attack the laminate edge at this point. The problem being that with the fully automated assembly production..no one wants to spend extra time cleaning surplus sealant manually after production…so the result is that the robot pulls up just sort of the corner/end of the frame section.

  72. Esmail Attia says

    Hi Finn
    John Grimes of Australian Solar Council listed only 3 panels manufacturer in their Positive Quality web page
    The title of the page is How to choose a Quality Solar Panels

    Of course It does not surprise me that these manufacturer do subscribe to the web cost
    Of the 3 manufacturer Jinko , Opal Solar , Perlight solar only Jinko
    on your list
    My opinion is you only consider only the Chinese Solar Player
    BUT Your Reader might take your List as a Total
    and they will missed many better player such as SUN Power , LG , Benq , REC Wanaico, Q-Cell and others
    Please comment , Or Better still You have another list of non Chinese that can be trusted

    • Finn Peacock says

      Yes – that is only the Chinese panels. Agreed all those non-Chinese brands you mention are good.

      But I think the title of the post makes it clear I’m talking about Chinese panels?

  73. Hi finn are the csun270-60M tier one panels there made buy c sun I can’t seem to find any info other than california approved. Most reviews are favorable thanks bill

  74. David Maurer says

    In what tier would you currently place panels manufactured by Hareon Solar Technology Co., Ltd.? Do you know whether this company still manufactures panels for Panasonic using Panasonic’s brand name?

    Until 2008, Hareon Solar Technology Co., Ltd. was known as Jiangyin Hareon Technology Co., Ltd. Its stock presently trades on the Shanghai Stock Exchange and has since 2012.

    Thanks and regards,

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hareon was apparently put on Bloomberg’s tier one list in 2014. The company has had some major financial trouble since then, including a 930 megawatt deal fall through early this year, but I think they are generally still considered to be tier one.

  75. Hi Finn,

    Do you know much about ‘Broadview Solar’ poly panels or “Broadview New Energy Co, Ltd” I cant seem to find many reviews about them and not sure if this is because they are new or something to avoid?

    • Ronald Brakels says

      I’ve never heard of Broadview solar panels, Ian. Whatever they are, they are not tier one. I definitely recommend avoiding them. There is no point in going for an unknown quantity with the cost of tier one panels now so low.

  76. Colin Downing says

    Hi Fin, after much research have I think decided on one of the following 5 Kw systems 20 X Jinko or BYD Panels with a WIFI Solax 5 Kw Inverter need some help on the Panels there is a $100 difference in quotes with Jinko being the dearer which would you lean towards?

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Ronald here. Both Jinko and BYD are tier one panels, so they should both be reliable and you shouldn’t have problems with either. I don’t know a lot about BYD but I do know that Jinko is a decent panel, so personally I would lean towards Jinko. This is a little unfair on BYD because I don’t know they’re not just as good, but that’s just the way I roll. If BYD wants to convince me their panels are top notch, I will welcome the attempt.

      • Colin Downing says

        Hi Ronald

        Thanks for that if I added Hanwha to the mix which panel from them are the best as I believe there are several, the Installer has just said 260 Watts High Efficiency (Hanwa Poly-crystalline) do I ask him to be more specific?

        • Colin Downing says

          Should have also indicated the Installer is Victorian Solar Light who were referred to me by your Company I think, can you tell me if they are on your list as preferred Installers please.

          • Ronald Brakels says

            Colin, Victorian Solar Light is not on our list of installers.

          • Colin Downing says

            Hi Ronald well that is strange as after checking my emails found the following dated 11 January can send you the original email if you can give me an email address to send it too:-

            Australian Solar Quotes
            Great news Colin,

            Victorian Solar Light
            have made some time for you can expect a call within the next couple of days.

            From the team at

            Australian Solar Quotes Logo 13

            Have they been removed from your list recently?

          • Ronald Brakels says

            I see your problem. We are SolarQuotes. After Finn established SolarQuotes to provide people with quotes from installers that he had checked were doing reliable installations using dependable hardware so Australians could be confident of having a quality solar system installed, Australian Solar Quotes turned up. They don’t do what Finn does. I’m sure you can guess whose quotes I think will end up with you getting a reliable installation.

          • Colin Downing says

            Hi Ronald thanks for the clarification can I ask if Evergreen Solar Power are on your list of Installers here in Melbourne as am about to use them on the install of a 20 X Jinko 270 W Panel and Solax X1 Inverter but will wait until I have your reply that they are on your list.

          • Ronald Brakels says

            Evergreen solar are not on our list of installers. If you want quotes from installers that Finn has vetted personally, I suggest getting three quotes from us: https://www.solarquotes.com.au/

        • Ronald Brakels says

          Hanwha panels are reliable tier one panels that should give you no problems. They have a 12 year product warranty. While 12 year product warranties are gradually becoming the industry standard, at the moment it is better than average.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Oddly enough, I happen to have a genuine SunPower cell in my cupboard, where it’s not generating much electricity. I’ll just go and get it…

      Well, Krish, I can tell you that the cells they are selling on Aliexpress look exactly the same as the one I have.

      It is kind of fragile, but far less fragile than any other modern cell I’ve gotten my hands on and broken.

      Of course, as I have nine thumbs and one finger, I would much prefer to buy a panel than individual cells and try to wire them together myself.

  77. Peter Mortimer says

    Are Opal Solar, Mining Sunshine, panels Tier 1 or not? Their literature states ‘they are a premium Tier 1 product on the basis of the local support, independent quality control…and local technical support in Australia.’

    Opal Solaris supported through Solar Juice Pty Ltd, the leading supplier of PV products in the Australian market.

    Regards Peter

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Opal Solar panels are not tier one but they are produced by the tier one manufacturer Risen in China. They definitely appear to be durable and as far as reliability is concerned I would be fine with having them on my roof. I would prefer them over a number of tier one brands. I have written about them here:


      But, in my not at all humble opinion, claiming they are tier one on the made up reasons of “…local support, independent quality control…and local technical support in Australia.” is class A bullshit.

  78. Julian hubble says

    I’m primitive when understanding solar panels.ive just place a deposit on premium tier1 BYD 260 kw panels.i did so as the salesman said they were German and top quality.im in the process of having installed a 7 kw system from solar power nation.
    Does anyone know if these are good panels?
    Ta julian

    • Finn Peacock says

      BYD are Tier 1 panels – but fairly uncommon in Australia. They are not made in Germany.

      You should be looking at $7-$9k for a good 7kW system at the moment.

  79. What about Seraphim Solar panels? Should I be worried using seraphim because they are not on your list?

  80. Urs Brunner says

    Is there a new list in the meantime?

  81. Federico Iglesias Ferrara says

    AMERISOLAR is not in your list … and is one of the BEST brands on the market.

  82. Hi can you pls tell me about BYD panels (China)? Thanks

  83. Hi Ronald, I’ve had a couple of quotes done and the panels we’re looking at for one company are BYD, GCL and Eging and for the other company Seraphim. Any chance you could give me your opinion on which direction you’d go in pls?

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hello Brooke.

      BYD, GCL, and Edging are lower cost tier one panels and should be reliable. Personally, I think I’d prefer Seraphim to them, but none of them should have problems.

  84. Jeff Murray says

    Hi Noel

    What about Suntellite solar, are they reputable?


  85. Jeff Murray says

    Hi Noel

    What do you think of Zinc Bromine batteries and is there a quality small wind generator around to trickle feed a storage system overnight?


  86. Andrew Huntley says

    Hi Finn / Ronald,

    You REALLY need to update this list.

    Recent comments on this thread by the website operators (that’s you!) indicate that brands such as Seraphim, Eging, BYD and GCL are now considered by you to be Tier 1, reliable panels… yet the average punter who comes to your site looking for verification of a retailers claims will not read through thousands of comments to find this out.

    Our customers take one look at your list (from four years ago!!) and if the panels we are selling aren’t on there… well, the title of the piece is “If your Chinese solar panels are not on one of these lists, be careful!”

    This page is one of the first to appear whenever anyone googles “XXX brand solar panels review”.

    You have an obligation to keep your information current.

    Please update this page as it is creating the misleading impression that only 11 Chinese panel manufacturers (considered good in 2014) are producing quality products. I respectfully submit that this information is outdated.

  87. Gary Looney says

    I have designed very rugged LED lighting system with high thermal transfer and dispersion, nothing anybody else could not do. My skill is to apply a lifetime of horticulture into the application of new technology product research.

    Technology is for everyone with the want, will, or ability to apply.

    I have been asking Manufactures for their largest Plant Size Panels.
    Contact Manufacturers for product technical data and introduction.

    BYD Regional Director replies that the largest available panels are 310w, and you should buy from a retailer in Australia.
    I found a supplier of BYD 320w panels and mention this to BYD director, he replies I should only buy smaller panels from his retailer in Australia.

    Jinko Manager writes “You can obtain this in Adelaide ex works”,
    Then I am informed “2 cons of JK340mono will be arriving in Australia in Mid of Nov 2017.”

    I waited several months understanding the Jinko Manager had authority and made procurement arrangements for purchase!

    The Manger for Jinko replies: “We don’t have panels in our own control as they are all sold to the downstream distributors.”

    I am having a lot of trouble finding a Manufacturing Company with any integrity, you want to know the company generally supports research?

    The massive grid-tie contracts and market subsidies are effecting the way Company Managers think and operate.

    The good news, is such behavior by large companies has opened an opportunity for smaller companies.

    The risk is higher, but so is the opportunity.

    Hope everyone has a good Christmas.

    Gary Looney.

  88. Ian Cuthbertson says

    It seems that Renesola pulled out of solar panel manufacturing in 2016 or 2017. Now I can’t even even find a spare micro-inverter to replace one which has failed – not under the 25 year warranty or at any price!

  89. Haala Abu says

    Hi can you Please tell me about BYD panels (Pakistan)? Thanks

  90. Risen 280w panel vs Canadian Solar 285w panel?


    • Ronald Brakels says

      They are tier one panels and both should be reliable. The product warranty is the most important warranty to consider and it’s 10 years for the Canadian Solar panel and 12 years for Risen.

  91. Hi,
    What’s your opinion on suntellite solar panels? And are they tier 1 or a bargain tier 2?

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hi Daniel

      I don’t recall ever seeing Suntellite panels on a tier one list. This doesn’t mean they’re bad, they could be fine, but as I don’t have any information on their reliability I personally would get a panel that is on tier one lists or that I have information on that leads me to believe it is reliable.

  92. Bruce Whitfield says


    Can’t see LonGi panels on this list…they are currently #3 production wise along with Hanwaha Q cell at the moment in China

    • Ronald Brakels says

      I’m afraid that’s an old list. Longi is definitely a tier one panel and they certainly are being produced in large numbers. Around 6.5 gigawatts in 2017.

  93. David Harris says

    Is there a 2018/2019 update to this list.?

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hi David

      Our Solar 101 Guide contains an updated graphic displaying solar panels that should be reliable:


      If you are looking at a panel isn’t in the graphic you can let us know and we’ll tell you what we know about it. Some panel are good quality but rarely used in Australia, while others are shoddy and should definitely be avoided.

  94. Hi all can anyone suggest me which solar panel is best btw SUNTEC OR SEARPHIM as m going to install it tomorrow, plz suggest ☝️

  95. SRP300-6Mb seraphim or sunteck STP300s/20 (22panels) plz let me know which one is gud they both are mono perc
    , m confused in btw these two panels which is best with fronius symo 5 kw invertor system . Thanks ?

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Those are larger panels than are on our table but they are still very similar. The product warranties are the same with Suntech having 12 years and Seraphim 10. According to the datasheets I am looking at Suntech has positive tolerance while Seraphim doesn’t, so the Suntech’s wattage in practice may be one or two percent higher than the Seraphim panels. They are both 1,000 volt panels which is what you want for a residential installation. They should be equally suited for a Fronius Symo 5 kilowatt inverter. And Fronius inverters are good quality.

  96. Bruce Whitfield says

    I think you have over looked Longi modules in your list of manufacturers.

  97. Hi Experts, i had a look on Comparison board but the ones i have offering are these Zhongli Talesun Solar Model TP660M-310 and CSUN 305-60M, the same price, which one is good ?please give me some advise , thanks in advance.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hi. Neither of those panels are ones we recommend. You can see the ones we do recommend in our Solar 101 guide:


      While neither of those are low quality panels we don’t have the same degree of confidence in them we do in other panels that are at a similar price point. Additionally, neither Talesun or CSUN have an office in Australia so their importer will be responsible for their manufacturers warranties. CSUN claims they have an Australian office on their website but I have called their number several times and they have never answered.

  98. Hope to know Eging mono 310w a good solar panel or not. JINKO 310W n Risen 315w split cell?

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Eging are not low quality panels but not many are installed in Australia. They don’t have an office in Australia which means their importer is responsible for their product warranties. They aren’t among the panels we recommend which you can see displayed in a graphic in our Solar 101 guide:


      Jinko and Risen are panels we can recommend and both have offices in Australia. Jinko has a 10 year product warranty while Risen has 12 years.

  99. What about ZN Shine solar panels and SolaHart Solar panels please?

  100. Billie Yu says

    I got a quotation for csun, are they still not in tier 1 list?? Compare with znshine, which one you recommend or any recommendations?? Thanks in advance

  101. Hi Experts,

    I have the quotation $4700 for 24pcs x 275 w panels from Csun with 5.5 kw solax inverter. However Csun is not on your 101 guild recommend list. Do you think thats worth to pay $1200 extra updated to Jinko or Trina?? and between these two company, which one you recommend?


    • Ronald Brakels says

      We generally recommend going with the panels in our 101 Solar Guide as they are known quantities that appear well supported in Australia and have Australian offices. CSUN doesn’t have an Australian office. They have one listed on website but the phone numbers don’t work. Without an Australian office the importer of the panels will be responsible for the manufacturers warranties and it is difficult to know how long an importer will remain in business. So I would only go with CSUN if you are confident the lower price is worth the additional risk in case you need to make a warranty claim.

      A Solax is a lower cost inverter but is supported in Australia by the manufacturer.

  102. Hi, between Jinko and Trina with same price, which one you recommend?? I found they are pretty much the same from the compare table. Thanks

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hi Carley

      It’s very hard to draw a line between them. If I knew which exact panels you were comparing perhaps I could choose one over the other but for the most part they are very similar.

  103. Hi, I think I got offer for
    Trina the honey framed 60 cell module 275 W
    Jinko JKM 275 PP-60(plus) 275 W

    from Victoria, cheers 🙂

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hi Carley

      Looking at the datasheets for those two panels I see they stack up in the following ways:

      Warranties — same
      Efficiency — same (Only an issue if you have limited space on your roof.)
      Power tolerance — Trina (an almost insignificant advantage.)
      Temperature coefficient of Pmax — same
      NOCT — Trina is just barely ahead so may have a tiny advantage in the heat.

      I guess Trina is just ahead but it’s not really a significant advantage so it’s not likely to make any noticeable difference which one you choose.

  104. I was thinking about Arise 6.6kw put in they use CSUN panels ,what do you think.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      CSUN doesn’t have an Australian office which means the importer of the panels is responsible for their warranties. If Arise directly imports them and they go out of business you’ll have no warranty cover for the panels. For this reason I generally recommend going with a panel manufacturer with an office in Australia — or alternatively understanding there is a risk and being okay with it.

      Here is Arise Solar’s review page. I recommend looking at reviews from the last six months to get an up to date impression:


  105. Hussain Hamid says

    Hi, Is bluesun tier 1 manufacturer?

  106. Hi
    Are you aware of this company and if so ; What sort of reputation does it have ?FOSHAN SUNCHEES ENERGY TECHNOLOGY CO.,LTD
    Regards; Paul.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      They are one of many Chinese solar companies. I really don’t know anything about them or even if they make the solar panels they sell themselves. Their panels may be fine, but I don’t know. Personally, I say why take the risk on an unknown panel when ones we know are decent quality and reliable are available at low cost these days?

  107. Arnav Ray says

    Dear Finn,
    I was wondering if you had a similar list for solar panels made in India, Pakistan or Bangladesh?
    Many friends and colleagues ask me about it but I only know the brands I use and few other I had the chance to use or from researching on the net.
    What I lately get is precisely the question about Chinese solar panels that you very well analyzed.
    Thank you,

  108. Now going through the minefield of buying solar panels I’ve come across this article that had so much promise but delivers almost nothing and is just as ambiguous as the subject matter.

    You provide a list that ‘you think’ are tier 1.

    You provide no technical or specific information about what tier 1 or 3 actually is. And as for a list provided by Chinese officials… um, nope.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hi Blue Star

      Our Solar 101 Guide has an up to date graphic showing all the panels we recommend at the moment:


      These are the panels we know to be reliable and well supported and is based on what we hear from solar installers. Most of them are tier one which simply means large financial organizations are willing to lend money to solar farms using them.

  109. Dumping is only acted on if affecting local manufacturing.

  110. I fill in your form but it wont take my phone no 0240027820 bonnells bay nsw 2264

  111. Finn Peacock says

    Hi Noel,

    Not sure what happened there! Please can you send your name, email, phone and installation address to [email protected] and I’ll arrange those quotes for you.

    Best Regards,



  1. Are Tindo Solar Friends or Foes of Australian Solar? says:

    […] have asked the Australian Anti-Dumping Commission to investigate whether imported Chinese solar panels have been sold here at below cost. If the Commission rules that dumping has taken place it will […]

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