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Best Solar Panels in Australia 2019 & New Solar Cell Innovations

Best Solar Panels in Australia 2019 & New Solar Cell Innovations

There are hundreds of different solar panel brands available for purchase on the Australian solar market making it difficult for the average consumer to make a choice when it comes to quality and performance. A well constructed solar power system with top quality components installed should continue delivering good output for at least 25 years. Listed below are some of the top rated solar panels for 2019 using the latest photovoltaic technology and innovative design.

In 2018 the installation of solar power systems in homes and businesses across Australia continued to increase with many home and business owners investing in the benefits of solar, this trend looks to maintain and grow in 2019. With so many choices of solar panel brands available on the Australian solar market making the right choice can be a difficult task for the average solar seeker. On this page, I have compiled a list of the top 10 solar panels in Australia using information from Australian Facebook solar power groups and by cross-referencing information from clean energy reviews published on some of the high rated solar power related websites including SolarQuotes.com.au, plus a lot of Googling.

Things to Consider when Buying Solar Panels

Listed below are some excellent points to consider when shopping for solar panels. Naturally, you want to get the best value for your dollars spent and hopefully many years of trouble-free solar energy production from the solar panels you choose.

Clean Energy Council Approved Solar Panels

The Clean Energy Council of Australia publishes a list of approved solar panels that meet the required Australian standards for use in solar power systems. The list can provide solar power system owners with some reassurance in the quality of work performed by their chosen solar panel installer and in the future reliability of their solar power system. Solar power systems installations that have components listed on the approved list are eligible for small-scale technology certificates (STCs).

Tier 1 solar panels, what is a Tier 1 solar panel?

The term “Tier 1” has become a term used by many solar sales reps to imply that the solar panels they are promoting are of the highest quality. The Tier 1 solar panel ranking system introduced by Bloomberg New Energy Finance Corporation has more to do with the financial stability of the solar panel manufacturer rather than the quality of each model of solar panel they produce.

Solar Panel Warranty

Solar panel warranty should be at the very least ten years for a manufacturers warranty, don't get the manufacturer's warranty confused with the so-called "performance guarantee", the performance guarantee doe not have much real value as there are too many variables that solar companies use to negate this guarantee.

Power Tolerance

The power tolerance of a solar panel is the measure of how much its power output can vary either side (+ or -) of its specified output figure. As an example, a solar panel with a stated output of 220W may have a power tolerance of -10% / +10% therefor the output will range from 198W to 242W.

Solar Panel Efficiency

One useful approach when evaluating price is the watts per dollar ratio; in other words, how much does it cost for each watt of solar electricity generated. For good quality solar panels, this cost can vary quite a bit ranging from around 60c up to $1.70 per watt.

The efficiency rating of a solar panel is the amount of the suns energy that gets converted into electricity relative to the surface area of the panel. If a solar panel were 100% efficient that would be incredible; however, at the moment, the average efficiency sits around 12 to 21%. What this means is the more efficient a panel is the less surface area, and in turn, roof space is required to generate the same amount of electricity.

Temperature Coefficient

While sunlight is a good friend of a solar panel heat is the enemy. As heat increases in solar cell material, power output decreases. The solar panel temperature coefficient is a measure of how much power output decreases for every degree of temperature increase. Most panels are in the range of -0.4% per °C to -0.5% per °C.

Performance Ratio

The performance ratio is an important specification to take note of as this is a good indication of how much power you can expect to get out of a panel. If a solar panel has a performance ratio of 90% and is a 250w panel in reality and taking into account, the temperature coefficient the output will be 225W. Try to stick with solar panels that have a performance ratio no lower than 90%.

Look and Aesthetics

Roof mounted solar panel are highly visible on your home if you care about how your home looks from the street then this may affect your choice of solar panel type. Thin film solar panels, for example, look sleek and smooth; however, they generally are less efficient than monocrystalline or polycrystalline panels so they will require more roof space.

Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline Solar Panels

There are two basic types of solar cell construction materials used in most modern solar panels: Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline. There is very little practical difference in performance between these types of panels unless you want to squeeze the maximum amount of energy from every square centimetre of roof space then Monocrystalline is the one to choose.

For a long time, those in the solar PV industry have debated the pros and cons of Polycrystalline and Monocrystalline solar panels. Monocrystalline solar cells are made from a single crystal ingot and are more efficient than Polycrystalline however they are more expensive to produce.

Monocrystalline Solar Cell
Monocrystalline Solar Cell.
Monocrystalline Solar Panel.
Monocrystalline Solar Panel.

Polycrystalline solar cells have become more popular in the last few years, these cells are made from a multifaceted crystalline material which is cheaper to produce but are a lower efficiency cell. Both Polycrystalline and Monocrystalline are reliable, but Monocrystalline cells are considered to be slightly superior however the difference is negligible.

Polycrystalline Solar Panel
Polycrystalline Solar Panel.
Polycrystalline Solar Cell.
Polycrystalline Solar Cell.

Top 10 Solar Panels in 2019

Listed below are the top 10 solar panels in random order according to the number of reviews and ratings posted on the SolarQuotes.com.au website on 18 March 2019. SolarQuotes.com.au is one of the most reliable and unbiased sources of clean energy reviews in Australia.

Based in China Jinko Solar is a tier 1 solar panel manufacturer and is likely the worlds largest solar panel producer. Jinko began operations in 2006 and since then have progressed from producing silicon ingots for the solar industry to gradually moving up the production chain to making solar panels. The Jinko Solar panels supplied to the Australian market are reliable and reasonably priced and come with a ten-year product warranty. At the time of writing this review March 2019, the current panel models listed on the Australian Jinko Solar website are the Eagle 60, Eagle 72, Eagle PERC 60, Eagle PERC 72, Jinko Eagle MX, Jinko Eagle SE and Eagle Dual 60 & 72. Jinko Solar has a network of authorised solar panel distributors in Australia these include Powerark Solar, Stonestar, MM Electrical, AC Solar Warehouse, Solargain, Go Solar Group, RFI Solar, Ideal Electrical, CNW Electrical, and Blue Sun Group.

Review by Ross:

Solar panels to the layman are solar panels...whilst i am getting a credit on my electricity account they would have to be considered as fantastic ...read more

General specifications for Jinko Solar panel models JKM270M-60, JKM275M-60, JKM280M-60, JKM285M-60 and JKM290M-60
Tier 1 solar panels Yes
Warranty period 10 years
Solar panel efficiency 16.50%-17.72%
Temperature coefficient (Pmax) -0.4%/°C
Panel construction Monocrystalline
Price per panel $232
Wattage 270-290W
Operating temperature -40°C – 85°C
Data sheet
Warranty statement
Customer reviews

Jinko Solar Australia
Suite 2A Level 2 152 Marsden St
Parramatta NSW 2150
1300 326 182

Canadian Solar

Canadian Solar Reviews

Canadian Solar is a tier 1 solar panel manufacturer founded in 2001 in Ontario Canada and have expanded their business to become a global player in the renewable energy market with business subsidiaries in 20 countries employing more than 12,000 people. Canadian Solar's manufacturing facilities are located in Canada, China, Brazil, and South East Asian countries. Most of the panels solar on the Australian market are produced in its China plant. The solar panel models currently listed on the Australian Canadian Solar website are HiKu, BiKu, HiDM, Ku, MaxPower, Standard, All-Black and Dymond.

Review by Brian:

I'm amzed at how little sunlight it takes to produce Power. Here in Townsville, we've just had 2 weeks of Monsoonal rain,( and flooding), and even when its raining, ( apart from the torrential downpours!), there is still some power coming in! Enough to run the fridge and a couple Fans - "free Power from the Sun"! Whats not to like about Solar? I did notice, on exceptionally hot days, there is a reduction of Power. I'm guessing the heat causes some loss? ...read more

General specifications for Caniadian Solar panel models CS6P-260, CS6P-265, CS6P-270.
Tier 1 solar panels Yes
Warranty period 10 Years
Solar panel efficiency 16.16% – 16.79%
Temperature coefficient (Pmax) -0.41%/°C
Panel construction Polycrystalline
Price per panel $194
Wattage 260-270W
Operating temperature -40°C – 85°C
Data sheet
Warranty statement
Customer reviews

Canadian Solar Australia
44 Stephenson St
Cremorne VIC 3121

Trina Solar is the worlds biggest tier 1 solar panel manufacturer and employs around 14,000 people. In late 2016 the company set a new record for solar panel efficiency, in 2017 Trina Solar shipped more than 30 GW of solar modules globally. Trina Solar was founded in 1997 and since then has grown to become a world leader in PV technology and manufacturing. The solar panel models currently listed on the Trina Solar Australia website are Honey, TALLMAX, and DUOMAX with multiple sub-variants of each, indeed there is an extensive range of models to choose. Authorised Australian based suppliers of Trina Solar products include Solar Juice, Sol Distribution, RFI, Solar + Solutions and Krannich.

Review by Terence:

No problems I could detect, all good. When covered in brown dust during the recent dust storm, their efficiency wasn't impaired, they delivered their full output as usual.... read more

General specifications for Trina Solar panel models TSM-PD05, TSM-PD05.08 and TSM-PD05.05.
Tier 1 solar panels Yes
Warranty period 10 years
Solar panel efficiency 15.9% – 17.1%
Temperature coefficient (Pmax) -0.41%/°C
Panel construction Polycrystalline
Price per panel $230
Wattage 270-280 W
Operating temperature -40°C – 85°C
Data sheet
Warranty statement
Customer reviews

Trina Solar Australia
Suite 44.05, Level 44, Governor Phillip Tower
1 Farrer Place
Sydney NSW 2000
1300 874 627

Hanwha Q-Cells

Hanwha Q-Cells Reviews

Hanwha Q Cells is a large solar panel manufacturing company with factories located in China, Korea and Malaysia. Q Cells are tier 1 solar panels sold in Australia with a 12-year product warranty. The current solar panel models listed on the Q Cells Australian website are Q.POWER, Q.PEAK DUO, Q.PEAK and Q.PLUS.

Review by Anon:

We had 6 new Q-Cells panels added to our existing 14 Tindo panels, all now with Enphase micro-inverters. All working well, and very happy not to have to scrap our existing good panels. ...read more

General specifications for Q Cells panel models Q.POWER-G5 260, Q.POWER-G5 265, Q.POWER-G5 270, Q.POWER-G5 275 and Q.POWER-G5 280.
Tier 1 solar panels Yes
Warranty period 12 years
Solar panel efficiency 15.9% – 17.1%
Temperature coefficient (Pmax) -0.40%/°C
Panel construction Polycrystalline
Price per panel $210
Wattage 260-280 W
Operating temperature -40°C – 85°C
Data sheet
Warranty statement
Customer reviews

Q Cells Australia
Suite 1 level 1/15 Blue St
North Sydney NSW 2060
02 9016 3033

LG Solar is a division of the well known global electrical appliance maker LG based in South Korea. LG produces high-quality tier 1 solar panels with a 25-year replacement warranty. The solar panels models displayed on the Australian LG Energy website are LG NeON® 2, LG NeON® 2 Black, LG NeON® R and LG NeON® 2.

Review by Dane:

They are high end solar panels (12 x LG 335 Neon 2 panels for a 4+ KW system). The cost caused much sucking in of breath at the time but after experiencing their performance I believe they are worth the extra. ...read more

General specifications for LG panel models LG325N1C-A5 and LG330N1C-A5.
Tier 1 solar panels Yes
Warranty period 25 years
Solar panel efficiency 19.0% – 19.6%
Temperature coefficient (Pmax) -0.37%/°C
Panel construction Monocrystalline
Price per panel $406
Wattage 325-335 W
Operating temperature -40°C – 90°C
Data sheet
Warranty statement
Customer reviews

LG Solar Australia
4/105 Freight St
Lytton QLD 4178
1800 042 568

Suntech is a Chinese solar panel company making tier 1 solar panels with a 25-year performance warranty and a 12-year product warranty.

Review by Leisa:

Just can’t wait for battery installation to upgrade the solar.... when price & technology improve . But prices, technology still rqr to improve..,there’s other alternatives to store my energy , need lower pricing and technological improvement My solar panels seem lot Be surviving well. ...read more

General specifications for Suntech STP Poly STP275-20/Wfw, STP270-20/Wfw and STP265-20/Wfw.
Tier 1 solar panels Yes
Warranty period 12 years
Solar panel efficiency 16.2% – 16.8%
Temperature coefficient (Pmax) -0.41%/°C
Panel construction Polycrystalline
Price per panel $204
Wattage 265-275 W
Operating temperature -40°C – 85°C
Data sheet
Warranty statement
Customer reviews

Suntech Australia
Suite 1203, Level 12, Tower 2
475 Victoria Ave
Chatswood NSW 2067
02 8188 2440

Renewable Energy Corporation aka REC is a Chinese owned tier 1 solar panel producer with its main production facility based in Singapore. REC panels have a 20 to 25-year product warranty and a 25-year performance warranty.

Review by Craig:

We have 19 x 350 panels installed which blend nicely with our Colorbond roof and unobtrusive. We have noticed a significant reduction with our power account. ...read more

General specifications for REC TwinPeak 2 solar panel models REC275TP2, REC280TP2, REC285TP2, REC290TP2, REC295TP2 and REC300TP2.
Tier 1 solar panels Yes
Warranty period 12 years
Solar panel efficiency 16.5% – 18.0%
Temperature coefficient (Pmax) -0.36%/°C
Panel construction Polycrystalline
Price per panel $257
Wattage 275-300 W
Operating temperature -40°C – 85°C
Data sheet
Warranty statement
Customer reviews

REC Solar Australia
17/31 Queen St
Melbourne VIC 3000
03 9020 2056

Sunpower is an American owned solar panel manufacturing company producing good quality tier 1 solar panels. Sunpower solar panels are in the top range of efficiency rating enhancing their ability to deal with shady conditions.

Review by Peter:

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. ...read more

General specifications for Sunpower E Series solar panel models SPR-E19-320 and SPR-E20-327.
Tier 1 solar panels Yes
Warranty period 25 years
Solar panel efficiency 19.9% – 20.4%
Temperature coefficient (Pmax) -0.35%/°C
Panel construction Monocrystalline
Price per panel $523
Wattage 320-337 W
Operating temperature -40°C – 85°C
Data sheet
Warranty statement
Customer reviews

Sunpower Australia
12/214 Bay St
Brighton VIC 3186
1800 786 769

Renesola is a Chinese solar panel manufacturer producing tier 1 solar panel for the global market, some of Renesola's other renewable energy products include LED lights, string and micro solar inverters and construction work on large scale solar farms and installations.

Review by Clare:

We are happy with them. We have a single storey property with all 16 panels facing north with uninterrupted sun access, therefore the perfect aspect. I have read that Samil is not the best inverter. We paid $4k for our system which is super-cheap and so far had no issues. ...read more

General specifications for Renesola Virtus II solar panel models.
Tier 1 solar panels Yes
Warranty period 25 years
Solar panel efficiency 15.06% - 15.98%
Temperature coefficient (Pmax) -0.40%/°C
Panel construction Polycrystalline
Price per panel NA
Wattage 245-260 W
Operating temperature -40°C – 85°C
Data sheet
Warranty statement
Customer reviews

ReneSola Australia Pty Ltd
51 Barry St
Bayswater VIC 3153
1300 700 788

Winaico is a manufacturer of tier 1 solar panels, the companies home base is in Taiwan and their Australian office is located in Sydney. Most of Winaico's solar panel models have a 25-year performance warranty and a 15-year product warranty. The solar panel models currently listed on the Australian WInaico website are WSP-MX PERC, WSP-MX, WST-M6 and WST-P6 PERC.

Review by Russel:

I’ve cleaned my panels every 6 months. So far so good. I have no means of checking panel efficiency but system reaches maximum production capability of 5.04 kW ...read more

General specifications for Winaico solar panel models WST-275P6.
Tier 1 solar panels yes
Warranty period 15 years
Solar panel efficiency 16.50%
Temperature coefficient (Pmax) 0.43%/°C
Panel construction Polycrystalline
Price per panel $232
Wattage 275 W
Operating temperature -40°C – 85°C
Data sheet
Warranty statement
Customer reviews

Winaico Australia
3/393 George St
Sydney NSW 2000
02 8091 2771

New Solar Cell Innovations and Solar Panel Technology

Passivated Emitter Rear Cell (PERC)

In recent times PERC solar cells have gained traction as the superior PV technology for many manufacturers of Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline solar panels. PERC is the acronym for 'Passivated Emitter Rear Cell' PERC solar cells have an additional layer on the rear designed to reflect photons that have passed through the cell back onto the cell increasing overall panel efficiency.

PERC Solar Cell Diagram

Qcells first introduced PERC solar cell technology in Multicrystalline solar cells. Since its introduction, PERC technology has continued to advance at a rapid pace with many solar panel manufacturers developing PERC cells. Mulitcrystalline PERC solar cells will probably be the most popular choice of solar panel over the next few years however with the rapid pace of solar industry R&D the future is hard to predict, any day something new and unforeseen could come along and make PERC cells look old fashioned.

Multiple Wire Busbars in Solar Panels

Busbars are thin wires that run through each solar cell conducting electrons through the solar module. Over the past five years, PV cells have become more efficient generating more current making it necessary for most solar panel manufacturers to upgrade from 3 busbars to 4 or 5 busbars. LG Solar has developed wire systems using up to 12 thin round busbars. The result is that the busbars can shade part of the cell reducing performance, so they need to be very carefully engineered. One advantage of this is that multiple busbars minimise resistance shortening the path electrons need to travel resulting in higher performance.

multi busbar solar cell

LG Solar has applied a unique system in their Neon 2 modules utilising 12 small wires in place of busbars, referred to as Cello which is an acronym for 'cell connection, electrically low loss, low stress and optical absorption enhancement'. Cello Multi-wire busbar technology reduces resistance and increases efficiency.

Trina Solar offers an optional thin round wire busbar cell named multi busbar (MBB). A significant advantage of MBB or Cello busbars is if cracking forms on a cell caused by external stress the possibility of this forming a hotspot is significantly reduced as the electrons have alternative busbars to flow through.

Split Solar Modules and Half Sized Solar Cells

Some solar panel manufacturers have begun using half-sized cells combined with a centrally mounted junction box splitting a solar panel into two with 50% of the capacity in each section. The effect is an increase in performance by lowering resistive losses within the busbars as each cell is half the size it produces half the current and as resistance is proportional to current, it reduces the total reduction. Additionally, a shorter distance to the centre of the solar panel from the top and bottom increases overall efficiency and can increase the power output of a similar capacity panel by up to 20W. Half-sized cells combined with a centrally mounted junction box can reduce the adverse effect of partial shading on total panel output.

REC TwinPeak Series

REC Solar's twin peak two split solar panels have been on the market for some time, many solar panel manufacturers are now supplying split solar panels, these include Canadian Solar, Trina Solar, JA Solar, Q-cells and Jinko Solar.

Bifacial Solar Panels

Bifacial solar panel technology has been around for a few years, as the price of Monocrystalline panels has decreased, Bifacial solar panels are becoming more common. Bifacial solar cells can absorb light from both sides giving a boost in power output if the conditions are right in some cases up to 30% more power can be produced compared to mono-facial solar panels. Bifacial solar panels have a layer of glass on both sides protecting and supporting the solar cells; this setup is more durable than the more commonly used plastic laminate system. Some manufacturers are now offering a 30-year performance warranty on all bifacial solar panel models.

bifacial solar panels

Bifacial solar panels were first used in ground-mounted solar arrays in particular situations that favoured the reflection of sunlight onto the underside of the panels like in snow for example. Even if the benefit is small in some cases why not go for it and squeeze every bit out of each panel as is possible. Some of the top-rated bifacial solar panels are produced by LG Solar, Trina Solar, Jinko Solar and Yingli Solar.

Dual Glass Solar Panels

Some solar panels are now made with glass on both sides, these are not bifacial solar panels and are referred to as glass-glass, dual glass or double glass solar panels. The idea behind this type of construction is to make each unit more durable as glass will outlast any plastic laminate. Some solar panel companies are offering 30-year performance warranty on glass-glass solar panels.

Glass Glass solar panel

The majority of glass-glass solar panels have no frames and require specialised mounting brackets and clamping systems. One advantage of having no structure around the border of the panels is cleaning, with no frames, water can flow of the panel with ease transporting any dust with it as it flows.

Most of the glass-glass solar panels are made by Jinko Solar, Longi Solar, Trina Solar, Yingli Solar and JA Solar.

Smart Solar Panels and DC Optimisers

Relatively new in solar panel technology are integrated power (DC) optimisers, these are small electronic devices that can detect and bypass shaded or poor performing cells that can reduce the output of a solar array. Tigo and SolarEdge have produced add-on power optimisers for a few years, in recent times some panel manufacturers are developing integrated optimisers within the junction box of the panel.

Jinko Solar's Eagle MX solar panels use Maxim Integrated optimiser chips. Maxim Integrated smart chips do more than add-on optimisers dividing the solar panel into three strings of cells enabling a panel to function at the optimum MPPT voltage even when shaded.

Solar DC optimizers

Solar Panel and Solar Cell Strength

Besides advancements in cell efficiency, new technologies are being developed to improve reliability and performance over the expected 25-year life of a solar panel. The roof of a home especially in the harsh Australian climate can be an extreme place for a delicate electronic device like a solar panel to survive. Significant variations in temperature and vibrations from strong winds can cause micro-cracks, hot spots and potential induced degradation resulting in reduced performance or complete failure.

Some panel manufacturers including Winaico and LG Solar have developed solid frames to cope with the harshest of environmental conditions.

High-Efficiency N-type Silicon Solar Cells

One of the most reliable and efficient technologies applied to solar panel design is the N-type Monocrystalline cell. In 2017 the P-type solar cell was the dominant player in the panel market with over 81% of panels using the P-type structure. As panel manufacturing costs come down and panel efficiency continues to increase its likely that N-type panels will become more popular in the future.

All the best performing solar panel manufacturers use N-type solar cells these include SunPower X series, LG Solar Neon R and Panasonic HiT.