REC Unveils Alpha Series Solar Panels – Up To 380 Watts

REC Alpha Series solar panels

Last week REC Group unveiled its much-hyped Alpha Series solar panels, which the company says includes the highest power 60-cell module in the world.

Describing the modules as a “beautiful solar panel with beast levels of power” REC says the Alpha Series will be available in up to 380 Watts in the standard Alpha Series or up to 375 Watts for the full black module range.

The solar panel features REC’s twin-panel design, half-cut heterojunction cells comprised of n-type mono wafers sandwiched between two layers of amorphous silicon, and advanced low temperature connection technology. A film with very thin wires is place on the cell, adding more contact points and creating a solderless bond that REC says also eliminates weak points caused by impact of conventional high temperature soldering.

REC Alpha Series Solar Panel Specs

The datasheet reveals the 380W Alpha Series panel measures 1721 x 1016 x 30mm and weighs in at 19.5kg. It offers a panel efficiency of 21.7% and a temperature coefficient of Pmax1 of -0.26 %/°C

Just as a comparison against another big-wattage high performance module, the LG Neon R 365W (60 cells, not half-cut) measures 1700 x 1016 x 40 mm, weighs 18.5kg and boasts 21.1% efficiency. The temperature coefficient of Pmax for this module is -0.30 %/°C.

So, REC’s 380W Alpha Series solar panel offers 15W more power, is just over 2cm longer, is 25% thinner, 1 kilogram heavier, offers a little better efficiency and has a better temperature coefficient based on the specs provided by the respective companies.

“The Alpha delivers the world’s best power density on a 60-cell module, a key consideration when space is tight – like on any rooftop,” claims REC.

The Alpha Series is accompanied by a 25-year product warranty where the installation is performed by a REC Solar Professional (of which there are quite a few in Australia), otherwise the product warranty is 20 years.

Of course, no solar panel unveil would be complete without a video with dramatic music and some irrelevant imagery, so here it is (it does have some interesting info in it):

“By offering such a high value solar panel, REC is again setting new trends, and creating a ‘win-win-win’ opportunity for REC, our partners and solar professionals, as well as home owners and business who want to make a difference for the next generations,” said CEO Steve O’Neil.

As to what the Alpha Series will cost and when/if it will be available in Australia, I have no idea at this point.

REC Group solar products have been available in Australia since 2010 and REC solar panel reviews from Australians who have the modules installed have generally been very good.

UPDATE May 24: REC has since commented that it has received orders from Australia, so the Alpha Series solar panels will be available here. The Alpha Series is scheduled to go into production in Q4 2019.

Footnotes

  1. The temperature coefficient of Pmax indicates how much power a solar panel loses for every °C that the panel (not the ambient air temperature) is hotter than 25°C
About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. Daniel Huppert says

    Hi Michael,

    I read an independent study recently about half cut cells. They looked at the side of the cell that was cut by lazers under a powerful microscope, and saw that the lazers leave molten silicon splashed at the edges, and there were big issues with micro cracks.

    I believe they then looked at an REC panel as a whole, and found big differences between individual cells, such that it looks like they don’t bother to sort the cells into their individual power outputs. The result was that due to a number of bad cells mixed in with the batch, every single half cut panel flash tested well below their rated output.

    The other issue they noticed was that due to this micro cracking where the cells had been cut in half, they expected more rapid degradation of the panels.

    So, I wouldn’t buy any half cut cell panel unless I know they had resolved these issues. I think people are going to eventually realise this whole half cut cell idea was a half baked idea so to speak.

    • Markus Lambert says

      Half cuts executed poorly are going to have issues in years to come. Executed well – no issue .. but due to cost pressures on manufacturers it will be interesting to see how it all pans out. Unfortunately customers will have to wait a few years before the real situation will become clear.

      • Jonathan says

        Do you know if this related to Q Cells Duo pannels as well? I’ve only read good things about them and was thinking of getting these but you’ve planted a seed of doubt in my head now….

  2. Daniel Huppert is a LG authorised dealer and Markus Lambert LG’s country manager both offering a convenient lopsided opinion.

    This independent study you mention, please share reference or all it looks like is an attempt by LG reps to conveniently muddy the waters.

    Don’t get me wrong LG panels are a great product but REC’s R&D, production processes and extensive testing is well above industry standard so this doesn’t align with this opinion by Daniel or Markus.

    And just to clear this up, I am an accredited REC Solar Proffessional
    representing a CEC Approved Retailer which has had first hand REC manufacturing plant tour of thier multi billion dollar facilty in Singapore.

  3. Sven in Thailand says

    A half cut solar panel equipped with the standard three diode connection box is a very bad idea. If only one string is shaded, the other cell string in parallel with the shaded one will still produce full power. The diode is not functioning correctly.
    A half cut cell panel have to have six diodes in the connection box, then the panel can be considered similar to two solar panels connected in parallel.
    To sort cells after performance is of course crucial, a chain is no better than its weakest link.

  4. Jonathan says

    Do you have any idea’s or comparisons between the new Rec’s and Q Cells panels that were announced as well? I was about to go ahead with the Q Cell panels for home soon but thought I might hold off for the new generation series they announced as it will allow better coverage on my roof and avoid a shaded area easier with the higher wattage (fewer panels needed)… interested in your comparison or any details you have on the new Q Cell G6 panels and when they might be available in Australia..etc..

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