Sunpower solar panels reviews

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About Sunpower, Solar Panels

Sunpower solar panels review

SunPower is an American firm that provides high quality, tier one solar panels - now being produced through its spinoff company Maxeon Solar Technologies - that are among the best available.

Sunpower Maxeon solar panels have the highest efficiency currently on the market, are likely to be the best at tolerating partial shade, and they have a 25 year replacement product warranty. In addition, SunPower panels are corrosion resistant which makes them suitable for installation anywhere in Australia.

SunPower have an Australian office in Melbourne.

Read All About It

I looked into SunPower panels in June 2016 and you can read what I wrote about them here.  I also wrote about how SunPower replaced some panels under their performance warranty in 2018 here.

Production Capacity And Output

At the start of 2018 SunPower's had 1.2 gigawatts of solar cell manufacturing capacity and 1.9 gigawatts of solar panel manufacturing capacity.

In 2019, the company shipped  2.5 GW of modules, representing 80% growth over 2018.

Current production capacity isn't clear, but was expected to be boosted significantly under Maxeon. In April 2021, Maxeon said it planned to use existing facilities to quickly ramp 1.8 GW of new capacity, followed by another 1.8GW at a new facility.

Manufacturing Locations

SunPower is as American as apple pie and so is majority owned by a French oil company. This makes sense because the French were eating apple pies long before Americans ever did.

SunPower's headquarters are in San Jose in California.  They abandoned manufacturing in the United States for a long time but then resumed at a plant they bought from SolarWorld Amercias in order to avoid Trump's solar panel tariffs. But in January 2021, SunPower announced it was closing its Hillsboro plant. This means Maxeon is now manufacturing all SunPower branded panels.

Maxeon has other manufacturing capacity in Malaysia, the Philippines, and Mexico.  They also entered into a joint venture to produce their P series panels in China.

Company History

SunPower was founded in 1985 by Richard Swanson. He's a great guy. He's huge in solar. He has all the best solar ideas. And his hands are at least average size.

Swanson is responsible for Swanson's Law, which states that for every doubling of production capability, the cost of solar panels fall by 20%. Despite ups and downs in prices, it's proven to be roughly accurate and I hope the effect will continue into the future.

As it has managed to stick around for 35 years so far, SunPower is one of the oldest solar panel manufacturers in existence.

However, in November 2019, SunPower announced it would spin off much of its solar panel manufacturing into a new company – Maxeon Solar Technologies. That process was completed in August 2020 and now the company's panels are marketed under the name "SunPower Maxeon".

SunPower Maxeon's 25 Year Replacement Product Warranty

SunPower Maxeon solar panels have a 25 year product warranty. This is far superior to the 10, 12 or 15 years still offered by most tier one panel manufactueres. This makes their product warranty and performance warranty the same length at 25 years each.

Maxeon's product warranty is a full replacement warranty. This means that if one of their panels fails, you won't just get a refund or a replacement SunPower panel, they will send someone out to replace it free of charge. Because replacing a solar panel can can more than the cost of a panel this is useful.  However, under Australian consumer law, when a product fails under warranty it is possible to claim compensation for damages and loss from reasonsonable forseeable expenses such as the cost of installation.  This means technically all solar panel warranties in Australia should be full replacement warranties.  But it is still good that Maxeon clearly states in their warranty they will replace faulty panels without charge.      

Panel Reliability

While this figure is now out of date, SunPower has  previously said their panel failure rate is only 1 in 37,000. Hopefully it's even better now, although I know some panels have been replaced under warranty.  Because the large majority of their panels were well under 25 years old at the this doesn't mean there is only a 1 in 37,000 chance of a panel failing during its 25 year warranty period, but it still suggests they are very reliable.

SunPower Maxeon Solar Panels Resist The Effects Of Heat

SunPower panels suffer considerably less decrease in efficiency due to the effects of heat than the average panels.  Their coefficiency of Pmax ranges from around is -0.29% to -0.37%/°C depending on the model, while the average is around -0.4%.  This is how much their output is decreased by for each degree celcisus the panel temperature is above 25 degrees.  Note that the temperature of panels in the sun can be much higher than the air temperature and can reach 65 degrees on hot days. 

SunPower Panels Tolerate Partial Shade Well

Partial shade can cause a major reduction in the performance of solar cells as one badly performing solar cell can drag down the performance of others, so just one bird poop can have a major effect. But SunPower used various technologies to minimise its impact, and that has continued under Maxeon manufacturing.

Note that if SunPower panels are connected to a string inverter the worst performing panel will still drag down the performance of other panels on the string. This problem can be overcome by using DC optimisers or by using microinverters instead of a string inverter.

SunPower Had Financial Difficulties

SunPower had been experiencing financial difficulties, posting significant losses in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

For the fiscal year 2019, SunPower's assets and liabilities were almost equal, which is not a good situation to be in.  Their financial position was hurt by falling solar panel prices and also President Trump's US solar tariffs -- despite SunPower winning an exemption

There was speculation that SunPower would go bankrupt, but the recent move to shift all solar panel manufacturing to Maxeon may play out well.

But even if I was certain SunPower wouldn't be around in the future to honour their warranties, I would still be fine with installing them on my roof because their high reliability means the chance of me needing their warranty should be extremely small.

Warranty claim procedure for orphaned Sunpower customers

If you have purchased Sunpower panels from a solar installer that has gone out of business, the responsibility for warranty claims falls to Sunpower or Maxeon, depending on the type of solar panel installed. They can be contacted on 1800 786 769, and will arrange for an installer in their network to diagnose and rectify any problems with the panels - with labor costs involved covered by the warranty.

My Recommendation

I would have no problem installing SunPower Maxeon panels on my roof, and this would be the case even if I expected SunPower or Maxeon to go bust and not be around to honour their warranties.

But while SunPower panels are very high quality, they do carry a hefty premium and so it will be necessary to decide if they are worth the extra expense.

Sunpower Solar Panel Reviews

Bought From: Solaire Connect Show additional information
Bought From: Alliance Solar Show additional information
Bought From: MC Electrical Show additional information
Bought From: SAE Group Pottsville - Tweed Show additional information
Bought From: Solargain ACT Show additional information
The look very nice with an all black face to the panel.
Bought From: SAE Group GC - Ipswich Corridor
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Bought From: SAE Group Yamba - Ballina Show additional information
The panels were 16 off Sunpower Maxeon 3400W panels 25/25 Year Warranty.
In a split array of 8 facing NNE 4 facing NNW and a further 4 panels on another part of the roof also facing NNW.
The invoice was tax Invoice NO. 16878 dated 23 December 2020
Bought From: MC Electrical
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Bought From: SAE Group Townsville Show additional information
Seem really good. No issues at all
Bought From: Bondi Solar Energy
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Bought From: Essential Energy Solutions Pty Ltd Show additional information
Bought From: Green Wiring Show additional information
I'm amazed with the performance of the panels in low light and partial shade.
Bought From: Lynergy
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Bought From: Smart Energy Answers Sydney Hills District Show additional information
Great we have a huge energy intake
1/4 our bill we receive now
Bought From: Iinergy
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Bought From: Solarblu Show additional information
They are black and total twenty on split roofs. Look good and unobtrusive.
Bought From: AG Solar Pty Ltd
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Look smart
Bought From: MC Electrical
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They are large but very neat with full black panels without the individual cell look.
Bought From: Natrix Solar
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Bought From: Natural Solar Show additional information
Bought From: SAE Group Brisbane East Show additional information
Bought From: SAE Group Townsville Show additional information
The panels look great sitting on our roof and the optimisers seem to play really nicely with the inverter.
Bought From: Venergy SA Metro
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Bought From: Goulburn Solar Show additional information
Bought From: Solargain ACT Show additional information
They look great - it's kind of a shame you can't really see them from the road!
Bought From: GEMEnergy Brisbane
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Bought From: Queensland Solar Power and Lighting Show additional information
We have installed 11kW (28 panels of Sunpower Maxeon 3). These replace an earlier 2kW system we bought in 2009, which will go to a country property. It was easier to install a new one than match different cell types and we needed a bigger and better inverter.

The solar panels are working perfectly and the grid connection was seamless, partly because they were replacing an existing system. The Solaredge inverter is giving us a lot of useful feedback on where we use electricity and when. The App works straight away once the system is on the grid.

The solar cells look great with a low profile. I think the extra cost for Sunpower will pay dividends in the long run.
Bought From: Linked Solar
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Panels look great being all black, no Buzz bars, have shingled cell design. Performing very well so far . 9 months since I stall
Bought From: 3 Phase Solar
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Bought From: Goulburn Solar Show additional information
Bought From: Goulburn Solar Show additional information
Bought From: Positive Energy Aust Show additional information
Bought From: AG Solar Pty Ltd Show additional information
Bought From: SAE Group Lismore - Casino Show additional information
Bought From: SEM Sunshine Coast Show additional information
Bought From: Infinite Energy WA Show additional information
Love the look of the panels. Working well
Bought From: Bondi Solar Energy
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Bought From: MC Electrical Show additional information
Best looking I’ve seen.
Very happy with output when the suns out.
Bought From: Fased Solar
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So far so good, performance has exceeded our expectations for winter
Bought From: Green Light Solar
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The panels appear to be high quality and have a 25 year warranty.
Bought From: 3 Phase Solar
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Installer broke a number of tiles during installation which were replaced with spare tiles I had on hand. Two other clients I recommended complained to me about the number of tiles broken by First Choice.
Bought From: First Choice Solar
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Bought From: Global Home Solutions Hunter Show additional information
Bought From: Essential Solar Western Suburbs Show additional information
There seem to be no problems. Judging by the fact that the inverter maxes out at 6 kw/h for a large part of each fine summer day, it would appear that the panels must be producing at something approaching their stated max capacity of 7.9 during those periods.
Bought From: SAE Group Brisbane South
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Bought From: Global Home Solutions Hunter Show additional information
look great!
Bought From: MC Electrical
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Bought From: MC Electrical Show additional information
Aesthetically look good and have a long warranty period with high levels of efficiency.
Bought From: Fased Solar
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Bought From: MC Electrical Show additional information

Sunpower has 71 solar panels in our database

Model Type Size PTC Performance Ratio Californian Approved
SPR-238E-WHT-D (72 Mono cells)Monocrystalline23821791.18Yes
SPR-245NE-WHT-D (72 Mono cells)Monocrystalline24522692.24Yes
SPR-245NE-WHT-U-240 ACPVMonocrystalline24522692.24Yes
SPR-310E-WHT-D (96 cells)Monocrystalline31028591.94Yes
SPR-318E-WHT-D (96 Mono cells)Monocrystalline31829392.14Yes
SPR-320NE-WHT-D (96 Mono cells)Monocrystalline32029592.19Yes
SPR-327NE-WHT-D (96 Mono cells)Monocrystalline32730192.05Yes
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