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The Good, the Bad and the downright Ugly of solar panels.


A lot of people won’t know this; DMS Energy have a couple of solar array test centres. The main one is on the roof at DMS Energy Headquarters at 56 Sheffield Road in Spreyton. We set this one up a few years ago and it best represents the products we sell today. The other is at Tasmazia & the Village of Lower Crackpot up at Staverton. This is one we have had running since 2011.

The ability to monitor individual panels is thanks to SolarEdge Technology. With the panel optimisers, we can see every detail of the panels’ performance in real time, over periods of time track any degradation or faults. We also have a lot of safety features with this system and the optimisers are warranted for 25 years. SolarEdge has been our go to system for over 10 years.

If you want a good day out with the kids, we recommend Tasmazia. As a place you can go and explore the mazes, scoff a plate full of pancakes or wander out coffee in hand to check out our solar test array. You can’t really miss it as it’s near the pirate ship in a fenced off area. The Tasmazia solar array test centre is about to get an upgrade with new panels soon as the 9 year old panels no longer represent what we have sold for a long time but the results of this long term field trial have been interesting none the less.

There are 4 different brands on display and 8 different models with 2 of each as it’s always good science to have a control. They’ve never been cleaned as far as I’m aware but they’re at steep angle so the rain does most of the work.

So, 9 years later how are they fairing? The answer is: mostly ‘very well’ but with a few exceptions.

The worst performing panel is the Solarfun 190 watt modules. They have gone a bit cloudy and their production is 15% less than the other 190 watt panels. In fact the the 170 watt panels have beaten them in yearly production.

The worst looking panel is the Sharp 185 watt panels as they have gone nearly white under the glass. Sharp used to be the industry pioneers but have left the Australian market years ago. Looking at these modules I can see why as they look terrible but it appears to be largely cosmetic as they are still pumping out the power. It’s not all bad news for Sharp though as the 220 watt poly panels on the test array are one of the best performers.

The Bosch and Astronergy panels are the best performers with barely any degradation after 9 years. Solarfun and one of the Sharp models the worst.

So that’s the old girls, what about the new panels?

On our roof at DMS Energy we have 7 brands and 13 models.

Mostly the South Korean LG’s and as expected they take the prizes for best performance. These haven’t been washed for a couple of years so they represent what we expect to see on our clients’ roofs. The best panel was the LG NeON-R 360 watt modules and thats been up for a few years and this same model panels comes in at 380 watts. The NeOn-R is the pinnacle of solar panels design. N type cells, very low degradation rates and perform well under lower light conditions. It was no surprise. The LG NeON2 panels which are the ones we sell the most of came out next best. These are an awesome panel with 99% of the advantages of the NeON-R without the price tag.

Then we had the Q.CELLS products. The South Korean 350 watt Q.Peak which is the flagship product from Q.CELLS was right up there with the LG NeON2. They are P type cells as opposed to the LG N type cells so do expect to see their performance drop off a bit quicker over time.

This is the interesting bit the Q.CELLS Q.Maxx 350 watt modules which are the Chinese entry level panel has popped out the gates with an almighty surge and these are beating the NeON2 panels. These are our cheapest panels and only have a 15 year product warranty; BUT the performance is blisteringly good for the price and all the entry systems we have installed with these have surprised us with how well they have went.

Worst performing panel is the Trina 300 watt PERC panels, this is going backwards in performance. It’s pretty bad. Worst looking panels is the Trina panel. The black frames are going some sort of metallic green and purple as the anodising is not happy. It’s not even 3 years old yet.

The SolarEdge modules are where they should be and the last few old 250 watt panels are still soldiering on with no real difference between them.

The bottom line and reasoning for all this testing is that we want to be confident in the products DMS Energy sends to market. All solar panels come with a fancy slick brochure but when exposed to the elements the wheat is quickly sorted from the chaff.

In simple terms: DMS Energy does the internal research with our products so you don’t have to. With all the products and promises with solar on the market it’s hard for the average mum and dad to discern a path through the guff. So if you’re looking for a solar system, the only question you need to ask to make sure you get a rock solid result: ‘is it a DMS Energy System?’.

Pop into our showroom to see the results yourself with our fully working displays. These panels we test are out only providing real word performance data we can share but they also keep our lights, computers and air conditioning going.

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