Who's #1 in the USA?
Hey everyone, Dale here with Pacific Sun Technologies. Today I want to talk about the top 3 solar panel manufactures in the united states currently, QCells, LG Solar, and Panasonic. But before I get to it, please be sure to subscribe to the channel and like this video if you find it helpful.
When you’re considering solar it can be easy to overlook such an important part of your purchase, especially if your salesperson focuses solely on kilowatt-hours, savings or monthly payment.
Because without solar panels you can’t harness sunlight and convert it into a usable form of energy, and if you end up with some random cheap panel well your investment just went to shit then.
You’d be surprised at how many different solar modules and manufactures are out there, and the prices range greatly.
I’m starting with QCells because they’re current ranked #1 in the united states for residential PV, with over 27% of the market share.
Now, we are a QCells Q.Partner and they are the #1 selling module for us too, but we’re just one company, to be ranked #1 nationwide with 27% market share, you must be doing something right and they are. QCells is a German engineered module, they were a German company too when they opened their doors in 1999.
They refer to their patented technology as Quantum Cells, and not the Quantum computing you’re thinking of, but a spinoff of P-E-R-C, or Passivated Emitter Rear Cell technology.
PERC allows for the passivation of a solar cells rear side, which involves installing a reflective layer designed to capture previously unused sunlight back into the cell where it can be converted into solar electricity. This Quantum technology supercharges ordinary solar cells and modules.
To achieve a rear reflection QCell applies a special nano coating to the rear surfaces of quantum cells that functions much like a typical household mirror. As rays of sunlight pass through the silicon cell they reflect back because of the special nano-coating and then get absorbed a second time.
This technology is commonly used between all top three manufactures, but they all do it in their own special way. Some other design advantages to QCell solar panels that sometimes gets over looked is their patented half-cell technology.
Just about every solar manufacture besides QCells has 60-cell solar panels, that means there are 60 squares of silicon, Qcell cut all the cells in half, to create a 120-cell solar panel.
They also increased the number of busbars used to allow electricity to flow through the cells from the industry standard of four to six. The combination of a half-cell and 6 busbar design results in a higher output of energy with greater efficiency.
Qcell also uses wire interconnection rather than flat ribbons because they found that it help reduces shading effects inside the modules and increased the power. When you look at the technology behind the QCells you’ll see an increase in performance of 13.5 percent in real world applications.
The best part about all this, is QCell is a Fortune 500 company with over 300 billion dollars in assets and resources making them a very stable company. And to top it off, they built a facility in Atlanta Georgia to manufacture their newest G6 modules here in the United States. They are committed to the renewable sector and provide customers with an amazing product at an affordable price.
Moving onto the second most popular solar panel in the united states, LG Solar. We are also an LG Solar preferred partner and they currently hold around 17% of the residential solar market and LG’s been a very popular choice in recent years for commercial applications.
LG Solar has two residential panels, the NeON 2 and the NeON R. These modules are both high efficiency and high wattage panels. Most customers looking at LG will be offered the NeON 2 as they tend to be a much more cost-effective option compared to the NeON R which is currently the most expensive solar panel in the industry.
But let’s get into the technology LG Solar panels use and have available. Both the NeON 2 and NeON R are a 60-cell panel that uses LG’s variation of PERC, which allows the solar cells to capture sunlight as it passes through the silicon and when then reflects the sunlight back into the cell from the back sheeting.
LG selects only the highest-grade silicon available on the market for both NeON panels. The NeON 2 is currently available at either 320-watts or 350-watts depending on your area while the NeON R is available at 365-watts or 370-watts, depending on availability. It’s rumored that by the end of 20-20 LG will be releasing a 400-watt NeON R.
I wish I had more to talk about regarding LG’s technology but to be honest they don’t disclose too much information about their modules compared to QCells and Panasonic, but LG does do some unique things compared other manufactures which helps them produce high wattage and high efficiency solar panels.
Speaking of efficiency both the NeON 2 and NeON R offer well nearly 22 percent efficiency. LG Solar panels are manufactured in various parts of the world from the US to Korea to Taiwan, but you won’t be worrying about quality control because LG has boasted that they’ve never had a solar panel warranty claim for performance issues and I believe it.
The modules we’ve installed for customer that requested LG Solar scream highest quality components. The last thing worth noting about LG and its solar technology, is I do feel you end up paying a slight premium for the LG name.
Before I start talking about Panasonic solar panels, I want to ask you to take a moment and click that subscribe button down below, and if you find this video helpful so far to click that like button too! Doing both those things lets me know you enjoy what we’re creating and if you’re someone that lives in our area, don’t wait to go solar, you can get a hassle-free quote from us by visiting our website, I provided a link in the description below.
Now, let’s talk Panasonic. The fourth most popular residential solar panel manufacture in the united states. And yes, I do know how to count, the thing is, as of this video, Panasonic has slipped from third to fourth place and now only holds 7% of the market.
Who might that company be that surpassed Panasonic? SunPower, I rival to many and a friend to very few. I’m not going to talk about SunPower, we have looked at carrying their modules, but decided it wasn’t in the best interest for us or our customers.
Getting back on topic, Panasonic and just like QCell and LG Solar we’re a preferred installer. It’s crazy to think that Panasonic is barely holding fourth place in the residential solar market, because I feel a lot of our customers ask about them because another company has pitched them. And while they are a very good panel, I don’t think they’re as good as LG or QCell and I’m going to get into that now.
Panasonic proprietary silicon is H-I-T or Hetero-junction solar cells. This technology wasn’t developed by Panasonic but by Sanyo Electronics nearly 40-years ago. In the early days at Sanyo, it was determined that the HIT technology was in-efficient and not cost effective. It wasn’t until Panasonic acquisition of Sanyo in the early 90’s that they were able to truly develop the technology.
Inside conventional silicon solar cells, one surface of the p-type silicon substrates is formed from an N-type diffusion layer, however because there are so many defects at the interface between the silicon substrate, the diffusion layer, and the electrode, some of the charge from the sunlight is lost, reducing conversion efficiency.
The hetero-junction solar cells contain N-tupe silicon substrate covered with high-quality non doped i-type amorphous silicon. This structure prevents the loss of electrical charge, resulting in high conversion efficiency.
Here’s an imagine to better see what I’m referring talking about. But in a nutshell this technology allows the module to have a higher efficiency and power output even during extreme temperatures.
In 2014, Panasonic was able to set the world record for the Highest efficiency from a silicon photovoltaic cell. This was out of the research and development department, but they were able to achieve 25.6 percent. This is something that really put Panasonic on the map as a solar panel manufacture, mind you, this isn’t the efficiency you’ll find from their current product line up. The current HIT N-340-watt panel has an efficiency of 20.3 percent. And while that’s high both LG’s NeON 2 and NeON R achieve more than that, and QCells G6 panels match it.
Panasonic tends to push on their high temperature co-efficiency ratings that help generate more solar power on extremely hot or cold days. And while this co-efficiency is something you should take into account, it shouldn’t be a selling point. I’ve done a previous video talking about co-efficiency between different panels and how the energy loss is marginal.
Now, I will admit that Panasonic has the best 25-year performance warranty at 90.76 percent. LG and QCell both offer 85 percent. What this means is that by year 25, your Panasonic HIT solar panels should be produce at least 90.76% of their originally spec’d power output. This is almost 6 percent more than LG and QCell.
Playing devil’s advocate here, I’ve seen a lot of companies offer crazy warranties and then leave the solar market. And I’m not talking about small companies, but multi-billion-dollar companies. BP Solar, Sharp Solar, GE, all these companies produced solar panels for many years offering amazing warranties for the technology at the time, and then one by one they left the industry and closed their solar sub-division.
So, having this industry leading warranty doesn’t mean they’ll be there the full 25-years, they may decide that the solar industry isn’t making them enough money and leave the industry. I mean Panasonic manufactures Tesla’s solar panels and provides the warranty on them as well.
Something I found interesting about that is we’ve seen Tesla modules make their way to the re-sell market for contractors like ourselves and they’re half the cost of a Panasonic panel, but yet they’re supposedly the exact same HIT panel just re-branded. This is the kind of stuff that makes me question the warranty and their pricing. Because we know how Tesla sometimes over-exaggerates and can blow smoke up your ass.
Besides this one gripe with Panasonic, it really is a great panel, is it a panel I’d pick over QCell or LG? Probably not, and I think most consumers are beginning to feel the same thus their slip to fourth place overall in the residential solar market. But if you live somewhere that has extreme temperatures, then this is a panel you’re going to want to at least consider.
Taking a quick second to compare these three panels side by side, you can see how close they are to one another in wattage, performance, warranties, cell efficiency, co-efficiency, and price.
I creating an overall rating of each module. The higher the number the better value that panel has. Since I’m showing two LG Solar Panels there rating is not against each other, but rather each LG Panel went against QCell and Panasonic. I awarded 1 point for each category. Wattage, efficiency, co-efficiency, performance warranty, and systems cost. This would give a total possible points earned of ten if a panel is able to win in each category against the other two competing panel.
Starting with QCell Q.PEAK DUO G6+ versus Panasonic V-B-H-N-340-S-A-17 versus LG Solar LG-350-N-1-C-V-5 or better known as the NeON 2 panel.
QCell earns two points for wattage
I decided since the max panel efficiency between these three specific panels was so close to award two points to each of these manufactures automatically.
Qcell ties with LG Solar for co-efficiency earning 1 point
Earns no points for performance warranty
And earns another two points for system cost.
Giving Qcell an overall rating of seven.
Next up Panasonic versus Qcell versus LG Solar Neon 2.
Panasonic earned no points for max wattage.
Earned an automatic two points for max efficiency.
Earned two points for panel co-efficiency
Earned two points for performance warranty.
And no points for system cost.
Panasonic was award an overall rating of six.
Moving onto the LG Solar NeON 2 panel versus Qcell and Panasonic.
LG earned one point in max wattage.
Earned an automatic two points for max efficiency.
Earned one point for co-efficiency tying with Qcell.
Earned one point for performance warranty.
And earned one point for system cost.
This gave LG Solar’s NeON 2 panel an overall rating of six.
And last is the LG Solar NeON R panel versus QCell and Panasonic.
The NeON R earned two points for max wattage.
Another two points for max efficiency.
One point for co-efficiency.
Two points for performance warranty.
And no points for system cost.
This gave the LG NeON R an overall rating of seven.
One thing that stands out the most is pricing between the three panels. Keep in mind I did my best to match the system sizes as close as possible, and all three options are using SolarEdge. Now, pricing is just an estimate and is going to vary depending on where you live, you’re particular home and situation, and of course the company you work with as module availability and pricing varies greatly. I’m just providing you with some figures for comparison purposes.
Now, that you have this knowledge maybe you’ll be able to make an informed decision on what panel is right for your home and budget. I think what we can all take away from this is that a more expensive panel isn’t necessarily better when compared side by side. And another thing you should be asking yourself is if paying more for a little more power at year 25 is worth it. I’d wager cost of solar panels will have come down in 25-years and saving that thousand or two thousand dollars now will actually pay off in the long run.
If you’re interested in receiving a quote for your home form Pacific Sun Technologies then visit us online using the link below. We’re happy to provide you with an estimate for your home with all four panels I just discussed. And don’t forget to subscribe to our channel, yeah, click that button down below, and click the little bell icon too so you’ll receive notifications on future videos.
We have a lot to talk about this year, and we want you to be a part of it because we’re in the business of building a renewable future with lasting relationships for you and families to come.
Thanks for watching, until next time.