Suntech isn’t some spring chicken in the Australian solar market. In fact, it’s more like a salty vet. To put a timeline to it, Suntech has been designing their panels since 2007, for residential, commercial, and utility-scale projects.
So, are Suntech panels a good choice for your home?
Before we find out the answer, here are some of the best aspects of Suntech solar panels that make them a popular choice.
- Their panels have a modest efficiency rating of around 18.4%
- Suntech solar panels come with an affordable price tag
- They are designed to withstand harsh Australian conditions.
- The brand focuses on product innovation
Suntech is a Chinese company founded by Dr. Zhengrong Shi in 2001. Interestingly, he studied at the University of NSW and obtained Australian citizenship.
Suntech emerged as the top solar panel manufacturer in the world in 2011. It operates in more than 100 countries around the globe. Besides, it was the first Asian company to be awarded the prestigious VDE Test Data Acceptance Program (TDAP) certificate.
However, in the following years, the brand passed through some economic turmoil and lost its market position to competitors. In 2014, Suntech was struggling to recover from bankruptcy and was acquired by Shunfeng International Clean Energy, or SFCE.
As per the present conditions, the brand is in a financially strong position. In Australia, Suntech operates from its Sydney office (some other great manufacturers and solar panel installers in Sydney as well).
While top solar panel efficiencies are hitting the 23% mark, Suntech panels come with an average efficiency of around 18%. Clearly, they are not trying to compete with the top brands in terms of panel efficiency.
Actually, the strength of Suntech lies in delivering quality at an affordable price. That said, the new series of panels from Suntech have higher module efficiency of more than 20%.
Below, we mention some of the pros and cons of Suntech solar panels.
- A Tier One panel manufacturer.
- Good performance under weak light
- Can withstand harsh environments
- High resistance to wind, snow, and hail
- Not the best efficiency rates
- Not the best choice for small roofs
- Past record of financial difficulties
While Suntech has not been able to keep up with the top solar manufacturers in the world, they have done well to recover from a financial crisis. They are still manufacturing around 3GW of panels per year and taking innovation seriously. The company also claims that at present, it has a solid financial footing with a net worth in excess of USD 450 million.
For installers who do not need premium quality, Suntech panels are a reliable option. Their panels are made as per the highest quality standards in line with ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and ISO17025. The excellent weather-resistant features and the ability to withstand wind, snow, and hail make it a good choice for Australian conditions.
In terms of warranty, Suntech is on par with the other brands in the Australian market. Admittedly, the company is truly looking to provide its customers with the right value. If you are looking for a budget option, they are definitely worth considering.
That said, solar panels are a long-term investment. So, the manufacturer’s financial position and brand reputation play an important role in the selection process. Long-term warranties are only valid when the brand is around to fulfill them. From that aspect, Suntech leaves a trace of doubt in our minds because of its past history.
Accounts In the Wild
While the general feedback about Suntech panels is positive, there aren’t exactly loads of customer reviews out there about their solar panels. However, a number of customers have compared Suntech panels with other brands in solar panel forums. Overall, they are considered to be a reliable and affordable option.
- From SolarReviews.com
It seems the customer was a first-time installer of solar panels and is satisfied with the performance from Suntech. Suntech mentions that their panels perform well in low light conditions, which is being supported by the customer.
- From CleanEnergyReviews.Info
In terms of reliability and overall sales figures, Jinko is ahead of Suntech in the Australian market. However, as mentioned by Marty, Suntech has been a stable performer in the past few years. So, if you are not bothered by the past history of the brand, Suntech panels offer good value.
- From Whirlpool.net.au
Here is another comparison between REC and Suntech panels. Both brands aim to provide customers with high-quality solar panels and offer great performance. Even though REC is considered among the top 10 solar brands in Australia, Suntech is not too far behind in terms of performance.
Performance Notes–How Does It Stack up Where It Matters?
Suntech is dedicated to technological innovation and delivering quality. In fact, the advanced cell design in the past few years has helped the brand to reduce the performance gap with its competitors.
With a high module conversion efficiency, Suntech solar panels are delivering higher efficiency than before. For example, the Suntech Ultra S Mini has a module efficiency of above 21%.
Suntech is offering three types of solar panels for Australian customers. These are the HIPower Series, the Ultra S Mini, and the Ultra V Mini. The Ultra V Mini series has the highest power outputs and best module efficiency.
By optimizing the structural design, Suntech has reduced panel weight. Likewise, it has improved module efficiency by using multi-busbar technology. It also uses high-density cell interconnection to increase the energy density of the panels.
Admittedly, panel efficiency is one important aspect that most buyers consider when comparing brands. But the reality is, that is not the only consideration.
Keep in mind, high efficiency panels will cost you more. Unless your roof space is extremely limited or you are planning to build a tiny home or small kit home, do you really need the panels with the highest efficiency? Perhaps quality and pricing become more important. From that perspective, the panel efficiency offered by Suntech at affordable prices is probably more than good enough for the average buyer.
Panel durability is one area where Suntech scores high. The panel frames are made from anodized aluminium alloy that provides high durability. They are designed with low structural stress and high mechanical load capacity
Beyond that, Suntech junction boxes come with an IP68 rating to make them weatherproof. The panels are also designed to perform well in deserts and along the coastline.
Moreover, the panels can withstand heavy wind and snow loads and have been tested for high loads. The Ultra S Mini can withstand snow loads of up to 540 kg per square metre.
Suntech panels have a degradation rate of 2% in the 1st year. The rate drops to 0.55% per year from the second year. Considering that most panels degrade at a rate of 0.6–0.7% a year, the performance is good enough.
The warranty offered by Suntech varies based on the panel time. In general, most of their panels come with a 15-year product warranty and a 25-year linear performance warranty. This is in line with the other cost-effective panels in the Australian market.
Since Suntech has an Australian office, claiming warranties if needed will not be an issue.
As we have mentioned, Suntech solar panels are a great option for buyers looking for an affordable solar setup. Unless you are restricted by space, Suntech panels will offer a good return on your investment at lower costs.
For any homeowner who has a large roof, Suntech is an excellent choice. Beyond that, they are a tier one panel manufacturer with an excellent quality policy. So you get the right combination of reliability and value.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who makes Suntech solar panels?
Suntech panels are manufactured by Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. which has its headquarters in Wuxi, China.
Is Suntech a good brand?
Suntech is a reliable brand when it comes to affordable solar panels. Even though the brand has a poor financial history, it has made a strong comeback and offers good quality panels at an affable price.
Do Suntech solar panels work on cloudy days?
Solar panels work on cloudy days by absorbing indirect sunlight, even though the performance drops. Suntech mentions that its panels have excellent performance in weak light conditions, including cloudy days.
Other Product Alternatives
If you want to check out other options, here are a few of the top Solar panel brands worth considering.
Sunpower Maxeon is one of the top solar panel companies in the world and is the best choice when you are looking for top-notch quality. Sunpower solar cell technology offers unmatched reliability and their solar panels have the record for the highest efficiency. However, since these panels come with a hefty price tag, make sure that they are the right choice for you.
Jinko Solar Holding Co., Ltd. is a Chinese brand with a strong presence in the Australian market. Jinko has received plenty of awards for its high-quality solar panels that offer excellent reliability. Moreover, their panels also offer a great balance of price and performance. With its strong brand value, Jinko is a good choice when you want long-term product security.
The REC Group is based in Norway and has emerged as one of the pioneers in the solar industry. REC solar panels have excellent overall performance including high efficiency, low degradation rates, and innovative panel design. Besides, it is a well-established company that you can rely on for service and support. However, you need to pay top dollar for their products.
When it comes to panel quality and performance Suntech solar panels are as good as the other brands in the budget category. Despite its financial setback, the brand seemed to have made a recovery and is delivering the right value to customers all across the globe.
Even so, they aren’t the right choice for every customer; especially if you are seeking high efficiency and better brand value. In that case, there are plenty of high-quality solar panels in the Australian market to choose from.