SolarWorld launches bifacial solar panels in US

solar world

A SolarWorld worker in the USA inspects a bifacial solar panel. Pic: SolarWorld

German and US based manufacturer of top quality solar panels, Solar World AG launched their new bifacial solar modules in late 2015 at the industry trade show Solar Power International. However it was this month’s announcement of the first rollout of the new SolarWorld solar panels in the United States that has set tongues wagging. [Read more…]

Bottom Line: Wind and Solar Are Cheaper

The European Commission has published a thorough study regarding the different types of energy their cost. The result? The cheapest sources of energy come from solar and wind power.

While many argue that coal is cheap and government support for renewable energy is costly, fossil fuels have again been shown to cost more in the long term when taking into account health impacts, climate change, and resource depletion. While many state that those costs shouldn’t count since they are not within the realm of direct cost, it is hardly illogical to include them in the research for the overall cost, unless your vision only extends to the next election!

With that said, there are many variables at play both in the use of energy and variables in energy standards from country to country. For a more in-depth look, click here.

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Note: this post was written in 2014 and is out-of-date.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: [Read more…]

Trina Solar Panel Review Shows Great Performance in Hot Aussie Conditions

trina solar logo and checksheet

The latest Trina solar panel review ticks a lot of boxes

Thinking of putting Trina solar panels on your roof? Then finding a review that you can trust is critical. After all, unless you are an uber solar geek like me you probably have never heard of the Trina brand before (they are one of the biggest solar panel manufacturers on the planet by the way).

Reliable, honest solar panel reviews are very hard to come by. Why? Firstly because properly testing a solar panel takes at least a year – so that you get all the seasons. Secondly it takes a big investment in carefully calibrated measurement hardware. [Read more…]

Understanding Solar Panel Specifications Part #2: Power, Tolerance & Efficiency

In Part #1 I went into great detail about why the “Max Power” quoted on your solar panel specification sheet and the real max power you will actually get from that panel are very different numbers. I showed you how to calculate a more accurate max power by using some little known temperature specs.

In this post I’ll go through the other important numbers that you should look at when comparing solar panels.

[Read more…]

How To Read A Solar Panel Specification: Part #1 Power & Temperature Specs

Magnifying the NOCT on a solar panel specification

Discover how to read a solar panel specification

Does a solar panel specification with “Max Power” rated at, say 190W, really produce a maximum power of 190W when it is on your roof in the blazing sun?

Short Answer: Not on your nellie!

The max power rating (in Watts) that your solar panels are rated at is the figure that everyone quotes when talking about “panel size”. If the installer or salesperson talks aout a “190W or 250W panel” they are talking about the “max power” rating of the panels. This rating is based on the power output measured from that panel under “Standard Test Conditions” (STC) that, unfortunately, are a long way from “Real World Operating Conditions”.

[Read more…]

BP Solar Panels come last in 2010 German Solar Panel Test


A recent solar panel test by German outfit “The TEC Institute for Technical Innovations” which put 15 Solar Panels under identical conditions for a month had some surprising results.

The test measured the power output of the following brands of solar panels:

  • CSI CS 5A 180 M
  • ULICA 180 (34) D-UL 800
  • Jiangyin Jetion JT 175 (35)
  • ANTARIS AS M 175 AI 1
  • SolarGate SG 2200
  • Yunnan Tianda TD 175 M5
  • 180 Sharp NU-180 E1
  • aleo S16
  • asola 185W/48
  • CSI CS6P-230P
  • Kyocera KC 175 GHT-2
  • Sym. Energy SE-M231
  • bpSolar 3210 N

Here are the results:

(click  here for full size image)

Basically the lesser known (and cheaper) brands like Ulica and the funny sounding Jiangyin Jetion produced more power in the test than the better known and generally more expensive brands such as Sharp, Kyocera and BP Solar in over their 1 month under the German Sun.

Of course your panels have to keep producing power over 25 or more years and the test doesn’t help measure the longevity of the panels, but the results are pretty interesting nonetheless.

German magazine tests 10 solar panels

In September 2006, respected solar power magazine, Photon International, bolted 10 different solar panel manufacturers panels to a test rig in Germany and measured the performance of those panels over 12 months.

The panels they tested were:

  • Photwatt
  • Solarworld
  • Shell Solar
  • BP Solar
  • Solar Fabrik
  • Isofoton
  • Kyocera
  • Sunways
  • Sanyo
  • Sharp

The results of the testing were that the difference in power produced across all the solar panel brands was 9.85%.

The results are shown here:

Solar Panel test

From Photon International Magazine September 2007

As you can see Photwatt panels came top.

Interestingly the Sanyo panels which many vendors claim are the “best of the best”, came second last. Apparently Sanyo’s excuse was that the magazine were supplied with defective panels, oh and the dog ate their homework too I imagine.

The well known brand “Sharp” came a surprising last place.

Of course this test was 3 years ago. I imagine that the losers of this test have upped their game in recent years. The latest issue of the magazine has some more recent results in it as soon as it arrives in the mail from sunny Germany, I’ll let you know the latest winners.

Wouldn’t it be great to put the top 10 most popular Australia panels through a similar test (including the many ‘own-brand’ panels). Let me know if you think that is a good idea in the comments. If I get enough interest I may organise such a test myself. Watch this space…

Get the latest solar, battery and EV charger news straight to your inbox every Tuesday