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Sunpower solar panels review

Overall Rating From 102 Reviews:

Sunpower solar panels review

Average Customer Rating:
( 4.49 / 5 )

Tier 1SunPower is an American company that produces high quality, tier one solar panels that are among the best available. Their panels have the highest efficiency currently on the market, they 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

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.  Their total panel production for 2018 is expected to be 1.5 gigawatts.

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 abandonned manufacturing in the United States for a long time but now own one solar panel manufacturing plant in the United States which they bought from US Solarworld in order to avoid Trump's solar panel tariffs. 

Currently SunPower has other manufacturing capacity in Malaysia, the Philippines, and Mexico.  They have 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 roughy accurate and I hope the effect will continue into the future.

As it has managed to stick around for over 33 years so far, SunPower is one of the oldest solar panel manufacturers in existence.

SunPower's 25 Year Replacement Product Warranty

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

SunPower's product warranty is a full replacement warranty. This means that if one of their panels fails, SunPower won't just give you a refund or a replacement, 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 SunPower clearly states in their warranty they will replace faulty panels without charge.      

Panel Reliability

While this figure is now out of date, SunPower has 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 X, E, And P Series

Sunpower produces three series of panels -- X, E and P.

X Series: The X21 panel is 345 watts and has an efficiency of 21.2%. The X22 is 360 watts and has an efficiency of 22.1%  This is the highest efficiency of any panel on the market at the time of writing in November 2018.

These panels are available in all black with slightly reduced efficiency and wattage. 

E Series:  These panels are similar to the X series but are 19.6% to 20.1% efficienct. 

P Series:  SunPower's P series panels are "shingle" solar panels made from narrow overlapping cells.  P18 and P19 panels are 18% and 19% efficient.  Note P17 panels are only for commercial use and their warranty doesn't cover residential installation.

SunPower Panels Resist The Effects Of Heat

The X series panels suffer considerably less decrease in efficiency due to the effects of heat than the average panels.  Their coefficiency of Pmax is -0.29% 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.  So when they are 65 degrees an aveage panel will have its output reduced by 16% compared to if it was at 25 degrees while a SunPower X series panel would only be reduced by 12%.

The E snd P series do better than average with a coefficient of Pmax of  -0.35% and -0.36% respectively.

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 X and E series panels can bypass individual cells that are performing poorly and so reduce the effects of partial shade better than any panel I am aware of.  The P series panels are also better at tolerating shade or dirt than standard panels, although they can't bypass individual cells.

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 Has Financial Difficulties

Unfortunately, SunPower is experiencing financial difficulties. Net loss in US dollars for each year from 2015 to 2017 were:

2015  $299 million

2016  $543 milion

2017 $1.092 billion  

.In Novermber 2018 SunPower's assets and liabilities are almost equal, which is not a good situation to be in.  Their financial position has been hurt by falling solar panel prices and also President Trump's US solar tariffs -- despite SunPower winning an exemption

There is speculation that SunPower will go bankrupt.  If it does it is possible it will be bought as an ongoing concern and its warranties will still be supported.  However, I have no way to guess how likely this. 

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.

SunPower's CEO Is Paid More Than You

Despite the company not doing well in recent years the CEO, Tom Werner, was paid $4,246,216 US in the 2017 US fiscal year.  This is 944 times the income of the median SunPower employee.  This means the median SunPower employee makes around $5,500 US a year which is even less than what the median person in Dalby makes.  

Limondale Solar Farm To Use SunPower Panels

In good news for SunPower the large 349 megawatt Limondale solar farm in NSW will use SunPower P19 solar panels.

My Recommendation

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

Their high efficiency of their X series panels makes them very useful for people who have limited space to install panels and combining them with microinverters or DC optimisers may be the most effective method available of coping with partial shade.

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.

Rating Comments Name State Postcode

Bought From: Absolute Energy Solutions Pty Ltd Review Date: 8 October 2018
Noel QLD 4165

Bought From: Green Sky Australia Review Date: 18 June 2018
Doug VIC 3770
Seem to operate in very low light conditions..have a modest 3.27kw system i.e. 10 E series panels...very pleased so far and Fronius Inverter an added bonus.
Bought From: Mildura Solar Review Date: 29 May 2018
Rod VIC 3496

Bought From: MC Electrical Review Date: 26 May 2018
Per QLD 4061

Bought From: Solar 1 Electrical Pty Ltd Review Date: 25 May 2018
Kevin VIC 3460
They look much better than most, they appear to be performing very well and it is nice to know that they have a good warranty. When we chose to go with these over the other panels that were recommended it was $4000 more. However that just added approx 12 months to the payback period but we will still recoup the cost.
Bought From: Goliath Solar and Electrical Review Date: 27 April 2018
Peter SA 5117
On a good day, I seem to produce around 85% of the total kW of the installed panels (1/3 of panels facing east and 2/3 of panels facing west). Last bill I got had a credit for the electricity charges, so I was quite happy about that. Not enough to also offset service to property charge and GST, but can't complain about a total monthly electricity bill of $13.38 (vs. around $210/mo before). Hoping that Sunpower panels will go the extra mile they boast about, as I paid a premium price and expect 'premium' performance from them over their lifetime.
Bought From: Space Solar Review Date: 4 April 2018
Ralph VIC 3147
Fantastic is a word of mythological proportions and too easily bandied about. Very Good is how I would rate our 10 Sunpower E series panels recently installed by Mildura Solar.
Bought From: Mildura Solar Review Date: 4 April 2018
Rod VIC 3496
Premium panel at the higher rating (although not the highest), so it cost a bit more per kWh, but are performing well.
Bought From: MC Electrical Review Date: 27 March 2018
Sly QLD 4055

Bought From: Absolute Energy Solutions Pty Ltd Review Date: 19 March 2018
Merendi QLD 4152
No issues with the panels since instillation.
Bought From: Helioenergy Review Date: 15 March 2018
Steve NSW 2036
I had 17 X 345w Sunpower mono crystal panels installed making a 5.8kw system
Bought From: Kdec Solar Review Date: 16 February 2018
Greg NSW 2642

Bought From: Infinite Energy Review Date: 11 February 2018
Tim WA 6159
Very pleased I spent more money to buy quality Sunpower solar panels. The performance of the panels has been really fantastic. Very, very pleased with them. Will likely add additional Sunpower panels in the future to take the system up to 15kw
Bought From: Green Sky Australia Review Date: 22 January 2018
Clarke VIC 3015

Bought From: Helioenergy Review Date: 19 January 2018
Ian NSW 2047
The setup is 15 panels, 325 W each on two roofs, facing mosrty North and some West. I plan to add more to the West group, it will allow air-conditioning on those hot simmer afternoons.
Bought From: EnviroGroup Review Date: 29 December 2017
Peter VIC 3136

Bought From: MC Electrical Review Date: 21 December 2017
Eric QLD 4305
I paid a bit more for what seemed to be best quality , so still hoping over time they perform
Bought From: Solar Smart Review Date: 13 December 2017
Kerry VIC 3942
Incredibly efficient panels and very lightweight for installation
Bought From: Energy Matters Review Date: 8 December 2017
Keith SA 5006

Bought From: Blue Mountains Solar Review Date: 3 December 2017
Renee NSW 2779
Marketed well. 25 years product warranty is impressive. However, after sales support could improve. Out of all my panels, half of them have scratch lines and a few of them have deep scratches. All these are under the surface layer (on the cells themselves). The rest of them exhibit some strange spot markings on random parts of the cells. This can only be caused by poor quality control at the manufacturing end. Warranty claim process has dragged on for months and I am still waiting on a satisfactory outcome.
Bought From: Glen Clark and Co Review Date: 4 October 2017
Anon VIC 3155

Bought From: MC Electrical Review Date: 22 September 2017
Jim QLD 4179

Bought From: Infinite Energy Review Date: 2 September 2017
Rosalie WA 6111

Bought From: Save Energy Pty Ltd Review Date: 11 August 2017
Chris WA 6284
Produced a continual amount of power even on really overcast cold days.
Bought From: Perth Solar Force Review Date: 9 August 2017
Barry WA 6260

Bought From: Blue Mountains Solar Review Date: 29 July 2017
Edward NSW 2782

Bought From: Australian Solar Designs Review Date: 19 July 2017
Mark NSW 2533

Bought From: Blue Mountains Solar Review Date: 13 July 2017
Marie Ann NSW 2790
No issues at all, good output.
Bought From: Cola Solar Review Date: 27 April 2017
Paul VIC 3350
Panels were fitted in a swift and thoroughly workmanlike manner and quite unobtrusive to the eye. Everything about the installation was neat, inverter included.
Bought From: EnviroGroup Review Date: 27 April 2017
Anon VIC 3350
I had a 5.23 kW system installed using 16 Sunpower panels which all fitted neatly on my north facing roof. I received two other quotes for a similar sized system, however they both required 20 panels which would have meant panels on a different part of the roof. The sunpower panels gave me the same output with less panels and they are performing exceptionally well, even on wet overcast days.
Bought From: MC Electrical Review Date: 19 April 2017
Graham QLD 4060

Bought From: Infinite Energy Review Date: 13 March 2017
Cheryle WA 6018

Bought From: Solar Wind Renewables Review Date: 10 March 2017
John NSW 2530
planned to produce 60kwh/day; currently doing better than that
Bought From: LG Energy Review Date: 23 February 2017
John NSW 2085

Bought From: ClimateCare Electrical Review Date: 7 January 2017
Paul QLD 4701

Bought From: Solargain Review Date: 2 December 2016
Dave NSW 2153

Bought From: MC Electrical Review Date: 28 November 2016
Richard QLD 4505

Bought From: Infinite Energy Review Date: 15 November 2016
John WA 6210
Very good so far and they look great.
Bought From: Solargain Review Date: 3 November 2016
Thomas WA 6006

Bought From: Cola Solar Review Date: 21 August 2016
Anon VIC 3556
I have 4 facing east, 8 facing north and 4 facing west - gives great production times.
Bought From: Blue Mountains Solar Review Date: 7 July 2016
John NSW 2785
Again these were top panels and expensive, but perform very well.
Bought From: Blue Mountains Solar Review Date: 4 May 2016
Gerard NSW 2782

Bought From: Mark Group Review Date: 7 March 2016
Anon VIC 3020

Bought From: Mark Group Review Date: 9 February 2016
Greg QLD 4074
Some stats: The solar panel size is 2.5 kW Peak power was 2.2 kWh during the summer it is about 10kWh per day and during the winter probably close to 2-3kWh
Bought From: Solar Sunwerx Review Date: 19 November 2015
Leo VIC 3201

Bought From: Mark Group Review Date: 9 September 2015
Alex NSW 2069

Bought From: Solargain Review Date: 20 August 2015
Scott VIC 3150

Bought From: Mark Group Review Date: 27 May 2015
John QLD 4160
Very Good
Bought From: Dunne Solar and Electrical Review Date: 4 December 2014
Marianne NSW 2230

Bought From: SolarMyHome Review Date: 10 October 2014
John VIC 3144
Very high quality panels @ 327 watts. Well worth the added cost.
Bought From: Cola Solar Review Date: 28 June 2014
John VIC 3280
327w Sunpower panels x 16 = 5.2 kWin total (theoretically – as not ideally positioned facing North) Routinely produces over 4.5kW during the day.
Bought From: Infinite Energy Review Date: 6 May 2014
Mal WA 6156

Bought From: NQ Solar Review Date: 11 April 2014
Carsten QLD 4879

Bought From: Adelaide Solar Systems Review Date: 5 April 2014
Anon SA 5061
We paid top dollar for these and have had a performance to match.
Bought From: Mark Group Review Date: 23 April 2012
Terry QLD 4060

Bought From: Mark Group Review Date: 16 April 2012
David VIC 3195

Bought From: Eco Kinetics Review Date: 22 March 2012
Grant QLD 4740

Bought From: AllSafe Review Date: 13 March 2012
Graham QLD 4671

Bought From: Solargain Review Date: 2 March 2012
Chris VIC 3159

Bought From: Mark Group Review Date: 28 February 2012
Greg NSW 2536
As my mum used to always say, "You get what you pay for". Avoid anything made in China as everything they make is crap!
Bought From: Planet Power Review Date: 6 February 2012
David WA 6027
185 kw pvc panels and I have 28 of them on my roof. One group are effected by the afternoon sun being blocked by trees.
Bought From: Mark Group Review Date: 30 January 2012
Raymond NSW 2229
Sunpower are exceptional quality. These panels are performing as good as the day they were installed. They are expensive (a potential drawback), however the panels are larger with the highest wattage so if you have limited roof space, this could be a viable option. If you're interested in a consistent performer in both output and efficiency, look no further.
Bought From: Mark Group Review Date: 2 November 2011
Dennis NSW 2219

Bought From: Mark Group Review Date: 23 October 2011
K VIC 3152

Bought From: Gruen Energy Review Date: 7 October 2011
Gwen VIC 3688

Bought From: Mark Group Review Date: 14 September 2011
Greg VIC 3156

Bought From: Mark Group Review Date: 17 August 2011
Glenn VIC 3071

Bought From: Mark Group Review Date: 22 July 2011
Justin VIC 3146
No problems
Bought From: Solar-Man Review Date: 26 June 2011
Peter SA 5168

Bought From: Mark Group Review Date: 24 June 2011
Kevin NSW 2317

Bought From: Mark Group Review Date: 22 June 2011
Wal NSW 2763

Bought From: Solar Switch Review Date: 21 June 2011
Juliana NSW 2154

Bought From: Solar E Pty Ltd Review Date: 4 June 2011
Justin WA 6101
Not setup the way i wanted,, the electrician did a poor install and I discovered 1 string was not even working.
Bought From: Exel Power Review Date: 14 May 2011
Steve VIC 3551
These 318w panels are probably the best on the market.
Bought From: FROGsolutions Review Date: 9 May 2011
David NSW 2560

Bought From: Camberwell Electrics Review Date: 5 May 2011
Elmar VIC 3440

Bought From: Mark Group Review Date: 12 April 2011
Harry NSW 2283
See above
Bought From: Solar Wholesalers Review Date: 4 April 2011
Craig SA 5068

Bought From: Solar-Man Review Date: 1 April 2011
Denis SA 5096
Very satisfied wth the performance of the panels
Bought From: Mark Group Review Date: 23 March 2011
Robyne NSW 2323

Bought From: Mark Group Review Date: 10 March 2011
Brian NSW 2770

Bought From: Adelaide Solar Systems Review Date: 19 February 2011
Rob SA 5162

Bought From: Cablelogic previously Renewable Logic Review Date: 3 February 2011
Charles WA 6062

Bought From: Mark Group Review Date: 2 December 2010
Andrew NSW 2074

Bought From: Mark Group Review Date: 25 November 2010
Chris NSW 2166

Bought From: Solar Switch Review Date: 12 November 2010
Ian NSW 2153
The Sunpower 210 Panels ( x 14) have been installed competently, neatly and securely and have been performing as I expected.
Bought From: Mark Group Review Date: 4 November 2010
Les NSW 2118
I would have loved to install 1 more panel! :)
Bought From: Mark Group Review Date: 28 October 2010
Carolyn NSW 2085

Bought From: Mark Group Review Date: 13 October 2010
Emil NSW 2151
I had to get Mark Group back to re position some panels to prevent shading. This was done free of charge and no hassle.
Bought From: Mark Group Review Date: 9 September 2010
Robert NSW 2154

Bought From: Mark Group Review Date: 28 August 2010
Dale NSW 2099

Bought From: Solar Switch Review Date: 7 July 2010
A NSW 2325
These panels seem to perform better than expectations, often generating 10 or more KWH on a sunny summer day from a 1.5kw system. The downside is that they were considerably more expensive than many other panels on the market.
Bought From: Camberwell Electrics Review Date: 6 July 2010
Dale VIC 3163

Bought From: GPE Electrical Review Date: 6 July 2010
Peter NSW 2714
Gave us the power ouput we needed given the limited space we had to work with.
Bought From: NQ Solar Review Date: 5 July 2010
Sebby QLD 4870

Bought From: NQ Solar Review Date: 18 June 2010
Ariel QLD 4814

Bought From: Solar Switch Review Date: 18 June 2010
Robert NSW 2566

Bought From: BlueSky Energy Review Date: 17 June 2010
Mahabub NSW 2770

Bought From: Solar Shop Review Date: 17 June 2010
Trevor WA 6210

Bought From: Solar Switch Review Date: 17 June 2010
Neal NSW 2540

Bought From: Todae Solar Residential (now discontinued) Review Date: 3 June 2010
Peter NSW 2064

Bought From: Solar-Man Review Date: 27 May 2010
Anon SA 5082

Sunpower has 71 solar panels in our database

Model Type Size PTC Performance Ratio Californian Approved
SPR-238E-WHT-D (72 Mono cells)Monocrystalline23821791.13Yes
SPR-245NE-WHT-D (72 Mono cells)Monocrystalline24522692.04Yes
SPR-245NE-WHT-U-240 ACPVMonocrystalline24522692.04Yes
SPR-310E-WHT-D (96 cells)Monocrystalline31028592.03Yes
SPR-318E-WHT-D (96 Mono cells)Monocrystalline31829392.11Yes
SPR-320NE-WHT-D (96 Mono cells)Monocrystalline32029592.13Yes
SPR-327NE-WHT-D (96 Mono cells)Monocrystalline32730192.17Yes
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