Chinese Sopray, Risen and ET solar panels come top in German testing.

chinese panels and a trophy

China win #1 solar panel for 2013 (although US firm Sunpower was robbed!)

Note: this post was written in 2014 and is out-of-date. To get my latest recommended solar panel brands please read my constantly updated Solar 101 Guide.

Hot off the German Press: industry bible Photon Magazine has announced the winners of its 2013 solar panel test. Basically, a bunch of Germans in white coats mount a gazillion solar panels in a field in Germany and measure their power output over 12 months.

At this point, I must point out that 3 separate Sunpower models would have won all of the top 3 spots, but they had to remove them from the table due to a testing machine malfunction…so it is by no means a totally fair test. But it is useful to see which brands perform well despite this rare cock up from our German friends.

So here here are the top 20 for 2013:

Rank Solar Panel Manufacturer Model Number Performance Ratio Type
1 Sopray Energy SR-190 94.0 Mono
2 Risen Energy SYP190S-M 93.8 Mono
3 ET Solar Industry ET-M660250WW 93.4 Mono
4 Hanwha Q-Cells Q.PRO-G2 235 93.3 Multi
5 Sonalis SL190TU-36M 93.3 Mono
6 Risen Energy SYP250M 93.1 Mono
7 CSG PVTech CSG240M2 93.1 Multi
8 Renesola JC245M-24/Bbv 93.1 Quasi-mono
9 Sopray Energy SR-156P-235 93.0 Multi
10 CSG PVTech CSG250S2 93.0 Mono
11 RealForce Power RF-240P60 92.8 Multi
12 Seraphim Solar System SRP-220-6PB 92.6 Multi
13 Jinko Solar JKM190M-72 92.6 Mono
14 Jinko Solar JKM275P 92.6 Multi
15 Siliken SLK60P6L 230Wp 92.4 Multi
16 ET Solar Industry ET-P660240 92.2 Multi
17 JA Solar Technology JAM6-60-250/SI 92.1 Mono
18 REC Premium 210 92.1 Multi
19 CSG PV Tech CSG180S1-35/36 92.1 Mono
20 Hareon Solar Technology HR-230P-18/Bb 92.1 Multi

“Well done China” is all I can say. You’ve taken the podium with the top 3 all made in the Peoples’ Republic!

So which of these brands should you consider buying?

Sopray and Risen panels are quite hard (but not impossible!) to find in Australia, however ET solar panels are not.

It is also good to see Q-Cells in the top 5 a few years after they were bought from the Germans by Hanwha. Many people feared that losing German control would spell a downward spiral in quality, but it seems Q-Cells are as good as ever.

Other panels making the top 20 that are readily available on these shores include Jinko Solar and REC.

The full results are available here.

About Finn Peacock

I'm a Chartered Electrical Engineer, Solar and Energy Efficiency nut, dad, and the founder and CEO of 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. Excellent article. Thanks. (Watch of/off confusion. It detracts from your otherwise very professional presentation!~ 🙂 )

  2. You should have included cost and conversion efficiency figures in your table which would havw presentedcomplete picture.

  3. Thanks Finn: y’can’t ever have enough information. (But the way you squawk about the American entry suggests to me you’re probably a Collingwood supporter!
    “We wuz robbed!”? indeed!
    Perhaps your next post could be about the unreliability of German metering equipment? 🙂

    It’s also good to see that interest in alternative energy technology has come so far that there’s less than a 2% difference in performance between the best and the worst on the list. (I’d suspect that most other reputable brands are not far off that benchmark.) I can remember when around 80% was considered pretty good ~ and the panels cost about 1500% more (per watt).

    I also note that the top two on the list were 190-watt panels, perhaps confirming my casual observation over time ~ posted on this blog some time ago ~ that all else being approximately equal smaller panels do better than larger ones. If you recall I could only attribute that to the idea that less-massive panels shed heat better than more-massive ones; and as we know heat can make a huge difference to output. Probably not that important these days since almost all panels are rated at large-ish wattages, and panels are so cheap that the simple solution to efficiency shortfalls is to bung up another panel or two. But worth keeping in mind.

  4. ps….Any thoughts on the possibility of circumventing the ‘anti-islanding’ function embedded in grid-connect inverters so that they can be used in a stand-alone function?
    I’d’ve thought that’d be child’s-play for a determined electrical engineer ~ and I’d be willing to finance (to some degree) such a venture. There’s going to be a huge demand for the concept not too far down the track, as governments/industry tamper with the subsidies/FITs etc. more and more..

    (Not forgetting the nearly 200,000 ~ in Oz, and probably millions globally ~ people fighting the installation of ‘Smart Meters’, many of whom would seriously consider a simple stand-alone alternative.)

  5. hi mate, just reading some stuff you wrote about trina honey panels. I had a 5kw aurora inverter and 24 x trina honeys installed in april last year for $9000. started at $12000 and worked them down to 9. my best day has been 43.2 kw. ive not checked for a bit but was regularly over 35kw a day. I live in north Queensland and have and am more than impressed with the results….just thought ide brag a little. thanks.

  6. After much deliberation and months of sifting and reading
    I am finally going with Renesola Virtus ii with Aurora or SMA inverter

    For many reasons they are local within 15km of home.
    they could not set up here with out succeeding elsewhere? No?
    it shows they take the aus market seriously and will support market expansion

    They are developing battery systems so I can go hybrid later
    with their gear which I always wanted to do 12 mths after a std grid install.

    I think that in itself shows their R&d is heading in the right direction?
    good to get the batteries and panels from the same people

    I might gets some batteries with the system as well

    They make their own wafers cells they are Tier 1

    Have I got it right – Finally

    I think I have

    Install 4.5kw 29th of March

    Might look at REC solar to compare prices
    I have looked at nearly every other option
    and there is plenty of good gear but I have to make a call

  7. et solar panels or ja what would u go thanks

  8. ?????????? There was a crowd in QLD about three months ago flogging (what were purported to be) “very slightly used” Sopray panels so cheap they even made ME suspicious!
    So I did some asking around, before I sent off any money, and apparently they were (are?) stamped Sopray panels, but absolute crap with which some installation company had been stuck.
    There were several major problems, not the least of which was yellow-discolouring (probably connected to some short-circuiting with a few months of installation.
    The panels were apparently so cheap because some number of people who’d had them installed refused to pay up: the panels had been repossessed and were being sold as “very slightly used”. But there must’ve been a shitload of them, because a larger installation company were touting them in Victoria.

    As with most things these days:- Never mind the quality: feel the warranty.

  9. ps. Speaking of which, there’s a ‘trading company’ currently flogging cheap panels/other stuff (out of a warehouse in Pakenham, Victoria) via ebay. I asked a few questions and was told all sorts of things ~ except the answers to the questions…and how it’d only hurt the first time. (Nobody has EVER treated me like a virgin before ~ even when I was one!
    Swapped several emails ~ because the price and location would’ve suited me ~ and the red flags went up ever more prolifically.

    Watch it.

  10. Is there a update and newer list of the above?

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