REC review

REC - Solar Panel Reviews

5.0

Based on 71 ratings

Finn's REC Panels Review & Verdict

Finn Peacock has been a Chartered Electrical Engineer since 1998, and is ex-CSIRO

Expensive but excellent. Low degradation, class-leading heatwave performance and mechanical robustness. If you want the best, buy REC Alpha panels. I put them on my family home and love them.

REC Panels: Pros & Cons

  • Excellent quality
  • First-world Singapore manufacture
  • Excellent product support
  • Great yield, efficiency & warranty
  • Strong panel frames with twin reinforcement bars across the panel
  • On Finn's roof
  • Visual defects showing up on REC Alpha pure modules (assured as not being detrimental to output)
  • Not cheap (but you get what you pay for)

About REC

REC is a manufacturer of high-quality solar panels. They make panels in Singapore using silicon produced in Norway and have an Australian office in Melbourne.

They sell three series of panels:

  1. TwinPeak 5
  2. Alpha Pure
  3. Alpha Pure-RX

Some characteristics shared by all of them are:

  • High efficiency
  • Strong frames
  • Above average hail resistance
  • A long product warranty of 20 or 25 years

On top of this, their two Alpha series panels also have:

  • Zero lead content
  • High resistance to efficiency loss from heat
  • Excellent performance warranties

REC panels are reliable and well-supported in Australia, so SolarQuotes has no problem recommending them. But be aware they're aimed at the premium end of the market and aren't the lowest-cost panels around.

Company History

Here's the company history in a numbered nutshell:

  1. Began in Norway.
  2. Built panel factory in Singapore.
  3. Ceased Norway panel production.
  4. Bought by Chinese chemical company.
  5. Sold to Indian oil conglomerate.
  6. Always making high quality panels.

Below is the company's history after being taken out of its nutshell and stretched out...

REC stands for Renewable Energy Corporation. But when founded in 1996 it was called Fornybar Energi, which is simply Norwegian for "renewable energy". It became REC in 2000 when it combined with two other companies.

REC used low-cost Norwegian hydroelectricity to produce monosilicon for solar cells and assembled solar panels in Norway. In 2010 REC completed their Singapore factory which was designed to lower labour and assembly costs. This must have worked because, within a few years, they shut down all Norwegian panel manufacturing.

In 2015 REC was bought by the Norwegian company Elkem and this company was owned by the giant Chinese chemical and animal feed company, Bluestar. In 2021 they sold REC to the giant Indian conglomerate, Reliance Industries. This is a collection of companies mostly involved in oil but with a desire to diversify.

The REC group still produces silicon in Norway but Singapore is the only place they manufacture panels. They still claim their headquarters are in Norway but don't even bother to put the address on their website. There's a Singapore address instead. This makes me think their Norwegian headquarters are just for show or possibly a place they send workers who pine for the fjords.

REC Production

REC claims to have produced a total of 13.4 gigawatts (GW) of panels between 1996 and the start of 2023. Around 1.4GW was produced in 2022. While that year's output represents around three million panels, that's only enough to make them a small manufacturer. In 2022 the world's largest solar company, Longi Solar, made around 34 times more.

Most of REC's production capacity is now for their Alpha panels. In 2022 they upgraded their capacity to produce up to 1.2GW of them per year.

Strong Frames

The frames of all REC panels are considerably stronger than usual. Instead of being a simple rectangle, REC has two cross bars providing extra strength. 

REC panels can withstand 713kg per square metre on the front, which is 30% more than usual. If the panel is flipped around and the weight applied to the back it can withstand 407kg per square metre -- 67% more than usual. But just because a panel can take a lot of weight doesn't mean it should. It's still not a good idea to walk on them, jump on them, herd elephants across them, and so on. One benefit of the extra strength is it reduces the amount they flex in the wind, which can gradually degrade a panel's performance

Hail Resistant

The common standard panels meet for hail resistance is the ability to resist impacts from hailstones that are 25mm across and weigh 7.53g. But REC panels are made to withstand being hit by hail that is 35mm across and weighs 20.7g.

While all solar panels are designed to resist normal hail, having REC panels or ones of similar toughness, will improve the odds of them surviving a severe hailstorm undamaged.

Half-Cut Solar Panels

REC was one of the early adopters of half-cut solar cells and all their panels use this technology. Because these panels have more cell strings, they suffer slightly lower losses from shade than standard panels. This REC whitepaper explains how it works for TwinPeak panels. This used to be an important selling point for REC, but half-cut panels are now common, so it's no longer the big deal it used to be.

Efficiency

While this isn't set in stone, panels with efficiencies over 20% are generally considered to be high efficiency. This means all REC panels are in this category, as the efficiencies of their three panel series are in the following ranges:

  • TwinPeak 5: 20.1% to 20.8%
  • Alpha Pure: 21.1% to 22.2%
  • Alpha Pure-RX: 21.6% to 22.6%

I'm writing this in September 2023 and at this time, the Alpha Pure-RX maximum efficiency of 22.6% comes close to the currently available solar panel maximum of 23%.

If you have plenty of room on your roof for the solar system you want to install, then panel efficiency usually isn't an important consideration. But if you are trying to fit as much solar capacity as possible into a limited area, then high-efficiency panels are very useful.

Panel Dimensions

REC's panel series have different dimensions with Alpha Pure-RX panels being the shortest and fattest:

  • TwinPeak 5: 1.9m by 1.04m
  • Alpha Pure: 1.82m by 1.02m
  • Alpha Pure-RX: 1.73m by 1.21m

Depending on what your roof is like, it may be possible to fit more panels of one size than another. While high efficiency is good for making the most of limited space, being able to fit more panels can be even better.

Heat Resistance

Heat reduces solar panel efficiency. This isn't a huge problem, losses aren't large and higher temperatures in summer are more than made up for by longer days. Despite this, the lower the losses, the better.

TwinPeak 5 heat efficiency loss is just a smidgen less than usual for decent quality panels these days. But, thanks to having heterojunction solar cells, REC Alpha heat resistance is the best of any panels I know.

The efficiency of TwinPeak 5 panels declines by 0.34% for each degree over 25°C. This means when they are at 45°C they'll only produce 93% as much power as they would at 25°C.

The efficiency of REC Alpha Pure and Alpha Pure-RX panels only drops by 0.24% per degree over 25°C. This results in them producing 95.2% as much power at 45°C as they would at 25°C. This heat resistance is excellent but may result in only roughly a 1% overall increase in output compared to typical panels. This may not seem like much, but every little bit helps.

Warranties

Solar panels come with two warranties:

  • Product warranties that cover faults and defects in materials and manufacture.
  • Performance warranties that promise panels will lose no more than a set quantity of capacity each year.

REC Product Warranties

All REC panels have a minimum product warranty of 20 years, but if the installer is REC approved it increases to 25 years. In Australia, most installers using REC panels are approved by them, so you're likely to get the full 25 years.

REC Performance Warranties

REC performance warranties last for 25 years, which is the usual length. They promise the panels will retain at least 98% of their original capacity in their first year. After this, the annual decline permitted depends on whether they are TwinPeak or Alpha Pure.

TwinPeak 5 panels are allowed to fall in efficiency by up to 0.5% each year after the first, so after 25 years they'll retain a minimum of 86% of original capacity. While this isn't bad, it's not exceptional for good quality panels these days.

All REC Alpha Pure panels are permitted to decline in capacity by up to 0.25% each year after the first. So after 25 years they'll be at a minimum of 92% of original capacity. This 0.25% decline in capacity is exceptionally good and one of the smallest of any performance warranty. The only one I know that matches it is for SunPower Maxeon panels -- although theirs lasts a much longer 40 years.

REC's ProTrust Warranty

REC says if one of their approved installers is used, in addition to having your product warranty increased from 20 years to 25 years, they'll also cover labour costs for 25 years for systems under 25kW. They call this their ProTrust warranty. This sounds good, but home solar here is automatically protected by Australian Consumer Guarantees.

It's good that REC says they will cover labour, but it's something they should do anyway in this country.

Making A Warranty Claim

If you have a problem with your REC panels while they're under warranty, the first person you should contact is your installer. They're the ones who took your money and they have an obligation to ensure you were provided with a properly working system. If your installer is no longer around, you can contact REC directly. Their number is:

REC Melbourne Office: 03 9020 2056

The good news is you are unlikely to have a problem. REC says only around 1 in 14,000 of their panels require a warranty claim. Because most panels they've made so far aren't that old, this isn't the same as saying the odds of needing to make a warranty claim over 25 years are only 1 in 14,000. Despite this, it's still a good figure. But note it is possible for companies to massage these figures to make them appear better than they are.

Financial Stability

If a panel has a long 25 year product warranty, that indicates it's likely to be very reliable. But if you do need to make a claim, long warranties are only useful if the manufacturer is still around. Unfortunately, no matter how financially sound they may seem now, 25 years is more than long enough for a company to make a mess of things and go bust. So there's no guarantee any company will still be around after a quarter of a century.

REC was considered to be in a financially sound position seven years ago, but I'm not sure how they are doing now. Looking at how happy installers and homeowners generally are with their panels, I'd expect REC to be around for a long time. Unfortunately, positively regarded companies can still suffer financial problems and go bankrupt.

The main obstacles to REC remaining viable are stiff competition from other manufacturers that have been improving their panel quality and declining panel prices. I'm not an accountant, so I'm not qualified to comment on their current financial status, but if you're interested, you can check out this 2022 REC financial statement.

Lead-Free Panels

All REC Alpha Pure panels are lead-free and comply with the Regulation of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive that requires every component to be under 0.1% lead. While this may make it sound like it's okay for a panel that weighs over 20kg to contain 20g of lead, that's not the way it works. Because solder is the only part of a solar panel that normally contains lead and REC uses lead-free solder, it effectively eliminates it from their Alpha panels.

In addition to getting lead out, REC panels contain no detectable levels of nine other hazardous substances covered by RoHS.

If you are worried about lead exposure, the good news is there's no realistic chance of it occurring from installing panels that aren't lead-free on your roof. This is because the lead solder is sealed inside the panel and even if it's broken, it will take a long time to leach out. But reducing the amount of lead in panels is still a good idea as it makes recycling easier and safer.

Norwegians Are A Bunch Of Kerf Recyclers

REC produces monosilicon ingots in Norway and also cuts them into wafers used to make solar cells. The cutting process resulted in the loss of around 30% of the monosilicon as a grey silicon sludge called kerf. In 2020, they upgraded their plant to capture and recycle it. Along with other measures, they reduced the total energy required to produce silicon wafers by 61%.

Energy Efficiency

Mainly through recycling kerf, REC was able to reduce the energy required to produce 1kg of monosilicon wafers from 132kWh down to 52kWh. (While not stated, I presume they mean 52kWh of electrical energy.)

Their Singapore factory has also reduced the energy used per KW of panels produced by 28% from 2020. They currently use 106kWh of energy to produce 1kW of panels and around 1.8% of this energy comes from solar panels on the factory roof.

Rapid Energy Payback

Roughly 0.7kg of silicon is required to make a solar panel. This means REC uses around 140kWh to produce 1kW of solar panels. For one of their panels to generate as much energy as REC used to make it would take under six weeks when installed on a typical Australian roof.

Their figures do not appear to include energy used to create silicon feedstock from quartz, transport, or energy used by companies that supply REC with materials and components. Despite these omissions, the amount of energy they use to produce monosilicon panels is still impressively low.

Installer Endorsement

REC solar panels are popular among Australian installers. In the SolarQuotes Installers' Choice Awards, REC ranked 3rd in 2021, 2nd in 2022 and 1st in 2023.

As far as I know, REC TwinPeak panels are not endorsed by David Lynch, director of the Twin Peaks TV series. But if I ever see him in an Adelaide food court, I'll be sure to ask.

My Recommendation

REC produces high quality, reliable solar panels and I would have no problem installing them on my roof. In fact, Finn already has them on his roof, where they work just fine. The company is currently listed on the SolarQuotes recommended solar panel brands chart.

Many other Australians seem to share our views based on the number, nature, and consistency of REC solar panel reviews and ratings below - feel free to add your own review if you're an Australian owner and have these modules installed.

REC has 23 solar panels in our database

Filter by:

Type of solar panel 
Wattage 
Panel Efficiency 
Approx. Cost/Watt 
Model number
Series
Wattage
Panel efficiency (%)
Approx Cost per Watt AUD Retail incl GST
Approx cost per panel AUD Retail incl GST
Panel technology
Country of manufacture
REC385AA Pure
Alpha Pure
385 W
20.8%
$0.65
$260
Monocrystalline Heterojunction
Singapore
REC390AA Pure
Alpha Pure
390 W
21.1%
$0.65
$260
Monocrystalline Heterojunction
Singapore
REC395AA Pure
Alpha Pure
395 W
21.4%
$0.65
$260
Monocrystalline Heterojunction
Singapore
REC400AA Pure
Alpha Pure
400 W
21.6%
$0.65
$260
Monocrystalline Heterojunction
Singapore
REC405AA Pure
Alpha Pure
405 W
21.9%
$0.65
$260
Monocrystalline Heterojunction
Singapore
REC410AA Pure
Alpha Pure
410 W
22.2%
$0.65
$260
Monocrystalline Heterojunction
Singapore
REC400AA Pure-R
Alpha Pure-R
400 W
20.7%
$0.66
$270
Monocrystalline Heterojunction
Singapore
REC410AA Pure-R
Alpha Pure-R
410 W
21.2%
$0.66
$270
Monocrystalline Heterojunction
Singapore
REC420AA Pure-R
Alpha Pure-R
420 W
21.8%
$0.66
$270
Monocrystalline Heterojunction
Singapore
REC430AA Pure-R
Alpha Pure-R
430 W
22.3%
$0.66
$270
Monocrystalline Heterojunction
Singapore
REC395TP5
TwinPeak 5
395 W
20.1%
$0.55
$220
Monocrystalline
Singapore
REC400TP5
TwinPeak 5
400 W
20.3%
$0.55
$220
Monocrystalline
Singapore
REC405TP5
TwinPeak 5
405 W
20.6%
$0.55
$220
Monocrystalline
Singapore
REC410TP5
TwinPeak 5
410 W
20.8%
$0.55
$220
Monocrystalline
Singapore
REC415TP5
TwinPeak 5
415 W
21.0%
$0.55
$220
Monocrystalline
Singapore
REC390TP5 Black
TwinPeak 5 Black
390 W
19.8%
$0.55
$220
Monocrystalline
Singapore
REC395TP5 Black
TwinPeak 5 Black
395 W
20.1%
$0.55
$220
Monocrystalline
Singapore
REC400TP5 Black
TwinPeak 5 Black
400 W
20.3%
$0.55
$220
Monocrystalline
Singapore
REC405TP5 Black
TwinPeak 5 Black
405 W
20.6%
$0.55
$220
Monocrystalline
Singapore
REC410TP5 Black
TwinPeak 5 Black
410 W
20.8%
$0.55
$220
Monocrystalline
Singapore
REC450AA Pure-RX
Alpha Pure-RX
450 W
21.6%
$0.85
$400
Monocrystalline Heterojunction
Singapore
REC460AA Pure-RX
Alpha Pure-RX
460 W
22.1%
$0.85
$400
Monocrystalline Heterojunction
Singapore
REC470AA Pure-RX
Alpha Pure-RX
470 W
22.6%
$0.85
$400
Monocrystalline Heterojunction
Singapore

 

REC Reviews (71)

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  • 5 star 69
  • 4 star 2
  • 3 star 0
  • 2 star 0
  • 1 star 0

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The power from the REC panels are performing well in winter sun and are already being clipped by the microinverters. The panels are rated at 420W but the older microinverters clip power is 315W. I am already losing power because of this issue.

Inverter Brand

Enphase

System Cost

More than $20,000

System Size

6.6kW

Installed By

The REC Alpha pure panels matched with the inverter have returned better than expected results so far, only time will tell if they live up to their reputation.

The all black finish also looks fantastic.

Inverter Brand

Fronius

System Cost

$10,000 to $12,500

System Size

8kW

Installed By

Wow! I was amazed that the panels were generating throughout the recent severe tropical cyclone and the days of torrential rain that followed. Enough power was generated to meet my needs and recharge my battery during the day. Under other weather conditions, my battery is usually recharged to 100% by 9 or 10 in the morning. I have been exporting to the grid daily.

Inverter Brand

Fronius

System Size

9kW

Installed By

Highly efficient panels that still produce is relatively low sung light. All black design and on an all-black frame make the panels blend in with the roof design and structure

Inverter Brand

Sungrow

System Cost

$15,000 to $20,000

System Size

20kW

Installed By

The REC panels look great as well as performing very effectively.

Inverter Brand

SolarEdge

System Size

10kW

Installed By

REC Alpha Pure-R series

Inverter Brand

Enphase

System Cost

$10,000 to $12,500

System Size

6.6kW

Installed By

I did a lot of research on solar panels and REC appeared to be the best quality panel. I'm glad I chose REC

Inverter Brand

SolarEdge

System Cost

$12,500 to $15,000

System Size

13kW

Installed By

Wet weather over Christmas break makes it hard to fully assess panel performance but it certainly looks as though the panels are performing well. The panels certainly look the good on the roof with the all black finish and slim profile.

Inverter Brand

Fronius

System Cost

$12,500 to $15,000

System Size

13kW

Installed By

I chose them as they were recommended by Greenwave as well as solarquotes.com.au

Inverter Brand

Victron Energy

System Size

6.6kW

Installed By

420W Alpha Pure - R

Inverter Brand

SolarEdge

System Cost

More than $20,000

System Size

7kW

Installed By

Inverter Brand

Fronius

System Cost

$15,000 to $20,000

System Size

13kW

Installed By

Inverter Brand

Fronius

System Cost

More than $20,000

System Size

13kW

Installed By

Inverter Brand

Fronius

System Cost

$6,000 to $8,000

System Size

6.6kW

Installed By

Look great and appear to be doing what they are meant to!

Inverter Brand

Fronius

System Cost

$15,000 to $20,000

System Size

13kW

Installed By

Inverter Brand

Fronius

System Cost

$10,000 to $12,500

System Size

13kW

Installed By

Slim & aesthetically pleasing
Stay relatively clean
Outstanding quality and performance
Outstanding warranty

Inverter Brand

Redback

System Cost

$8,000 to $10,000

System Size

7kW

Installed By

Inverter Brand

SolarEdge

System Cost

$15,000 to $20,000

System Size

10kW

Installed By

Inverter Brand

SolarEdge

System Cost

$12,500 to $15,000

System Size

6kW

Installed By

Inverter Brand

Fronius

System Cost

$15,000 to $20,000

System Size

13kW

Installed By

They look terrific when compared to other panels.

Inverter Brand

SolarEdge

System Cost

$15,000 to $20,000

System Size

10kW

Installed By

Early days, but great so far.

Inverter Brand

Fronius

System Cost

$6,000 to $8,000

System Size

6.6kW

Installed By

Very happy with these all black panels. Look great on the roof and appear to be working very efficiently, even at this early stage.

Inverter Brand

Enphase

System Cost

$10,000 to $12,500

System Size

7kW

Installed By

Inverter Brand

SolarEdge

System Cost

$15,000 to $20,000

System Size

13kW

Installed By

Performs well and does all my needs

Inverter Brand

Fronius

System Cost

$15,000 to $20,000

System Size

10kW

Installed By

Inverter Brand

Fronius

System Cost

$12,500 to $15,000

System Size

13kW

Installed By

Comforted by 25 year warranty of performance and work.

Inverter Brand

Sungrow

System Cost

More than $20,000

System Size

13kW

Installed By

Inverter Brand

Victron Energy

System Cost

More than $20,000

System Size

10kW

Installed By

Best quality

Inverter Brand

Enphase

System Size

13kW

Installed By

Inverter Brand

Fronius

System Cost

$6,000 to $8,000

System Size

6.6kW

Installed By

Inverter Brand

Sungrow

System Cost

$10,000 to $12,500

System Size

10kW

Installed By

Inverter Brand

SolarEdge

System Cost

More than $20,000

System Size

8kW

Installed By

An incentive was offered by Stored Solar for this review. Learn more here.

Inverter Brand

SolarEdge

System Cost

More than $20,000

System Size

13kW

Installed By

An incentive was offered by RenewCo Solar for this review. Learn more here.

Inverter Brand

SolarEdge

System Cost

More than $20,000

System Size

8kW

Installed By

System Cost

$12,500 to $15,000

System Size

13kW

Installed By

Inverter Brand

Fronius

System Cost

$15,000 to $20,000

System Size

10kW

Installed By

work a treat

Inverter Brand

Sungrow

System Cost

More than $20,000

System Size

more than 30kW

Installed By

System Cost

$8,000 to $10,000

System Size

13kW

Installed By

Inverter Brand

SolarEdge

System Cost

More than $20,000

System Size

10kW

Installed By

Love the all-black panels with black rails on the cream-coloured roof.

Inverter Brand

Fronius

System Size

13kW

Installed By

An incentive was offered by Stored Solar for this review. Learn more here.

Panels are working well since being installed - there have been no issues

Inverter Brand

SolarEdge

System Cost

More than $20,000

System Size

15kW

Installed By

Inverter Brand

SolarEdge

System Cost

More than $20,000

System Size

13kW

Installed By

The panel specs speak for themselves.

Inverter Brand

SolarEdge

System Cost

$12,500 to $15,000

System Size

8kW

Installed By

Inverter Brand

SolarEdge

System Cost

More than $20,000

System Size

10kW

Installed By

25 yr warranty

Inverter Brand

Fronius

System Cost

$8,000 to $10,000

System Size

6.6kW

Installed By

Inverter Brand

Solis

System Cost

$6,000 to $8,000

System Size

6.6kW

Installed By

Inverter Brand

SolarEdge

System Cost

More than $20,000

System Size

20kW

Installed By

Inverter Brand

SolarEdge

System Cost

$10,000 to $12,500

System Size

6.6kW

Installed By

Inverter Brand

SolarEdge

System Cost

$10,000 to $12,500

System Size

9kW

Installed By

Inverter Brand

SolarEdge

System Cost

$12,500 to $15,000

System Size

9kW

Installed By

An incentive was offered by Expert Electrical for this review. Learn more here.

Inverter Brand

Fronius

System Cost

$12,500 to $15,000

System Size

10kW

Installed By

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