Sunpower is one of America’s oldest solar energy companies. The solar panels power NASA’s planes and racing cars, and the company’s solar panels produce more than 18 million MWh of electricity.
Today, Sunpower is mainly owned by the French oil and gas giant Total and is best known for its ultra-high efficiency solar panels, which today set the world record for the most efficient roof panels.
From 2020, this efficiency will be around 23%, compared to 18% for an average solar panel. But with such efficiency, the price is also higher.
editorial board: To ensure that the Sunpower panels are suitable for your home, we always recommend that you obtain additional information from solar panel experts at UnderstandSolarPower.com. They can help you find the best solar panel for your home quickly and easily.
Read on for a detailed look at Sunpower’s solar collectors and how they compare to the competition.
The source of the image: Solar energy
As solar energy for solar panels vs. 2020 contest
Solar versus Panasonic
Solar panels are the most efficient solar panels on the roof, but efficiency is not the only factor to take into account when using solar panels. It’s just as important:
- Durability: If the panels begin to decompose and die after only five years, does it really matter how effective they are?
- Warranty: Things happen, and it’s reassuring to know you have a choice.
- Presence: It may be the best solar panel in the world, but if it isn’t, does it matter? (We’re looking at you, Tesla tile)
- Occupational health: You may have a 25 year guarantee, the best in the industry, but if the company goes bankrupt, you have bad luck.
Let’s divide the Sunpower products into each of these categories. For more information on how Sunpower compares to other solar modules, we will compare the performance of Sunpower with two other solar module manufacturers: Ginko-Solar and Panasonic.
JinkoSolar is the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels and produces high quality standard solar panels with average yield and warranty. Like Sunpower, Panasonic is a premium brand that produces high-quality solar panels with long-term guarantees, but also suffers from high prices. Tesla uses Panasonic solar panels in its own solar panels.
Winner: Solar energy
The yield measures the amount of sunlight that a solar module can convert into usable electricity as a percentage of the total sunlight that reaches the module.
From mid-2009 Sunpower will produce the most efficient solar panels for households on the market, for competitors Panasonic, LG and REC Solar. Their best performing panels, the X-Series, have an efficiency of 22.8%.
The Pansonic HIT series, which Tesla uses for its own solar collectors, has an efficiency of 19.7%. Although standard panels are even more efficient, this is far from being a Sunpower. Although the difference of 3.1 percentage points may not seem that big, at this speed the Sunpower X-Series can generate almost 16% more power than Panasonic panels, which means that your investment in Sunpower will pay for itself faster because your installation pumps more power to each panel.
While the best JinkoSolar Eagle series of solar modules for home use have an efficiency of up to 20.08%, their high-performance Eagle series of solar modules for home use have an efficiency of only 16.2% to 17.4% (depending on the power). At the bottom of the spectrum this is about 30% less than the Sunpower X-series.
Of course, efficiency is only part of the equation when it comes to determining the cost of a solar system. In addition, there are the costs of the solar panels, which will be discussed later.
Winner: Solar energy
Solar panels have been installed on your roof for 25 years or more, so you need to know that they can withstand extreme heat (roofs can be up to 150F in summer!), strong winds, heavy rain, frozen ice and thick layers of snow.
All solar collectors must be able to withstand minimal wind and snow loads. In total, the solar panels can withstand 5,400 Pascal (the equivalent of 113 pounds per square foot) of snow and 2,400 Pa of wind. All this is an additional advantage, and there are many companies, including Sunpower, that spend time and money on this.
If Panasonic and JinkoSolar meet the minimum requirements, solar energy goes beyond that: The solar panels are resistant to 6000 Pa of snow and 3000 Pa of wind. That’s how statistics work:
- Solar energy: 6000 Pa snow load, 3000 Pa wind load, operating temperature -40 to +185°F, 1 degree at 52 mph
- Panasonic: 5400 Pa snow load, wind unknown, -40°F to 185°F operating temperature, 1 degree at 52 miles per hour
- JinkoSolar: 5400Pa snow load, 2400Pa wind load, operating temperature -40°F to 185°F, hail unknown
If you live in an area with extreme weather conditions – hail, heavy snowfall and blisters – you should consider installing solar panels that can better absorb these weather variations. Solar batteries do, but they’re also very expensive. Canadian Solar also produces panels that can withstand higher snow and wind loads at a much lower price. The company’s standard range withstands 6000 Pa of snow and 4000 Pa of wind – even better than Sunpower panels – and solar panel installers find a good balance between power and cost.
Winner: Solar energy
Without a doubt, Sunpower has some of the best – if not the best – warranties in the entire solar industry, beating other high-end products such as Panasonic. The guarantees on solar energy are long-term and prove that the company considers its solar cells to be the most sustainable on the market.
Solar panel manufacturers generally offer two guarantees: Product and manufacturing warranties.
The guarantees for products specified in are the same as for all other products. If something breaks or no longer works, the company repairs or replaces it. This is equivalent to the warranty of your car or smartphone. Most standard solar panels come with a 12 year warranty, although this can vary from 10 years for cheaper products to 25 years for high quality models.
Sunpower offers a 25 year warranty on solar panels. JinkoSolar offers a 12 year warranty on the product, while Panasonic also offers a 25 year warranty.
Theproduction guarantee is unique for solar collectors. They protect against long-term yield losses of solar panels. Product warranties almost always last 25 years, regardless of the manufacturer, but what exactly they guarantee varies. The best manufacturers offer a 25-year guarantee that the solar panels will produce 87% or more of their rated power (in other words, the power indicated on the back). As costs fall, so does this percentage. The cheaper end plates came with a guarantee of about 80%.
Sunpower guarantees that its solar panels will produce 92 percent of their yield in 25 years’ time. It is also one of the highest rates in the industry. Panasonic guarantees that its solar panels will produce 90.76% in 25 years, while JinkoSolar will offer an efficiency of 80.7% to 81.55% in 25 years, depending on the solar technology used.
Winner: JinkoSolar, Panasonic
In terms of sales, Sunpower distinguishes itself from other manufacturers of solar panels. Jinko and Panasonic solar batteries are available on the market free of charge. Even if you don’t know how to install them, you can buy solar panels from any company in an online store.
If you really want Jinko or Panasonic solar panels, any installer can just buy them from a reseller.
Solar energy is different. He doesn’t sell his solar panels to anyone. Instead, it only works with pre-approved installers and places its installation partners in a three-layer system:
- Authorized dealers must be trained and meet performance standards. This is the lowest level.
- Elite dealers are trained and meet higher performance standards.
- Major distributors are invited and act as local Sunpower representatives.
If you wish to install Sunpower panels, you must contact one of our pre-approved solar panel installers. This can be problematic because in some countries there are no pre-approved installers. If you live in California – the United States – you have an extensive network of Sunpower certified installers, but in other areas your pool of potential installers is extremely limited. In Denver, for example, where there is a lot of solar energy, there are only two Sunpower certified installers. This severely limits your pool of potential installers and can result in you paying more when competition becomes less intense.
As mentioned before, your solar panels will stay on your roof for 25 years or more. While the solar industry calmed down ten years ago from the Wild West, the time when solar energy companies went bankrupt is still a roller coaster ride left and right. Regardless of the manufacturer, you want to be sure that your solar panel company will last long enough to meet any warranty claims.
Although it is beyond the scope of this short article to assess a company’s health, we can quickly delve into the operation of the three business lines above by looking at the profit margin, or net income after expenses and taxes, of each company in relation to its income. Let’s make the comparison (figures for July 2019) :
- Solar energy: Net profit margin -46.65% -46.65
- Panasonic: Net profit margin 3.66%.
- JinkoSolar: Operating margin 1.68%.
By most standards, all these indicators will be considered weak, but Sunpower stands out as rather gloomy. With a profit of only -47%, Sunpower loses 47 cents for every dollar earned. In other words, there’s a hole in their boat – a big hole. For the first quarter of 2019, the net loss was $89.7 million.
Sunpower hopes to reverse its profitability as the solar industry grows, but compared to the other two panel manufacturers it has a much longer and more difficult path to take.
How much do Sunpower’s solar panels cost?
Remember when we said you couldn’t buy Sunpower solar panels online? Unfortunately, this throws away the key to estimating the cost of solar panels, as detailed cost information is simply not available for JinkoSolar or Panasonic.
We found that solar collectors are about twice as expensive as average solar collectors. NREL estimates that small local installers pay about $0.76 per watt for average solar panels, so solar panels can be assumed to cost about $1.50 perwatt.
It goes without saying that it’s at the top of the price list. We will compare the estimated price of the Sunpower panels with those of the Panasonic and JinkoSolar solar panels and determine how much you will spend to build a 6-kilowatt solar system.
- Medium quality panel: 0.76/W; $4,560 per 6 kW
- Solar energy: $1.52 per watt; $9,120 per 6 kW
- Panasonic: 1 12/watt; $6,720 for 6 kW
- JinksoSolar: $0.69 per watt; $4.140 for 6 kW
You will see that Panasonic is about forty cents cheaper than Sunpower, and JinkoSolar costs less than half the price of Sunpower. For an average solar installation of 6 kW, you pay a premium of about $4,500 for Sunpower panels.
Of course, solar collectors are only part of your installation costs. They have to buy the electrical wiring, the installation equipment and the inverters and pay for the work, the turnover, the profit, etc. If you add all this to the installation of medium-sized solar panels, the solar cells themselves only account for about 25% of the total cost of the installation.
For this price you will receive a total fee of approximately $17,940 for a 6 kW system. Assuming that all other installation costs remain the same, the Sunpower Solar Installation Premium payment increases to 41% and increases the total cost of the installation to $22,500.
Solar energy is a financial investment and you want to recoup your investment as quickly as possible. The return on investment depends on your location, but the extra $4,500 is likely to pay for itself in 4 to 8 years, depending on the amount of electricity your plant can produce and utility tariffs. Take it easy with a Sunpower warranty or not, it’s worth the huge bonus of your choice.
How to find the best solar panel for your house
Solar panels are indeed the best residential solar panels available on the market today. They are highly efficient, extremely durable and come with an excellent long-term warranty. However, they are also twice as expensive as conventional solar panels, which could be their downfall. Every dollar spent on the installation must be refunded as soon as possible. The more you spend in advance, the more you will have to recoup the costs by paying for the care you have avoided. Let’s look at the steps you need to take to find the best solar panels for your home:
1. Know your goals – Think about what you want from your solar panels before contacting installers. Do you want the fastest possible return on your investment? If this is the case, standard quality panels are probably the most useful. Do you need the longest and most comprehensive warranty you can find? If this is the case, you cannot exceed the Sunpower 25-year warranty. You want the thinnest, most aesthetic plates? Look out for all black panels, such as the Canadian All-Black Solar line and ZEP Solar’s elegant trackless mounting devices that allow you to place your panels closer to the roof.
If you know what you expect, you will speed up the entire sales process. However, don’t get too excited about a particular model until you have talked to the installer, who knows exactly the pros and cons of most panels available on the market.
2. Contact solar panel installers forrating – In most cases solar panel installers have two or three solar panels they want to install (usually one standard and one premium option). This is usually a good thing because the installers have already done the work for you by finding finished solar panels that offer the best balance between costs and possibilities. Different installers focus on different brands and models, so it is worthwhile to get competitive offers to compare equipment and costs.
During your first sales meetings, the installers will explain the various panels available and their advantages. If you want to install panels of a certain brand, it never hurts to ask your potential installers if they can order them. If they are conventional solar panels, this should not be a problem.
3. Comparison of solar module specifications – When comparing solar modules, efficiency is not everything. Cost and warranty are equally important factors to consider.
With so many different capacities of solar panels, it can be difficult to compare apples with apples where cost is the most important. Instead of focusing on the cost of perpanel, calculate the cost of each $/Watt panel (as in our comparison above), because you can then compare the cost of panels with different capacities. For example, you compare two plates of different sizes. A 320-watt panel costs $170, a 275-watt panel costs $140. Which one’s the best? If we look at the $/watt value, we see that a large panel costs $0.53/watt, while a small panel only costs $0.51/watt. In this case, the 275-watt panel is a more economical option, while all other conditions are equal.
It may seem like a good idea to spend more money on an ultra-high efficiency panel, but it rarely becomes financial. If your house has a very small roof that cannot contain many panels, you live in an area where the weather is very changeable, and you are not afraid to spend more money on solar panels, then solar panels can be a good option for you. However, standard quality panels have come a long way in the past ten years. They are durable, proven and cheap. Due to their lower efficiency, you will need to install more than Sunpower panels, but due to their lower costs, these standard panels generally mean that your investment will pay for itself faster, even if you need to install more.
Like the costs, the guarantees are very easy to compare, although it is important to remember that solar panels have two guarantees: the product guarantee and the manufacturing guarantee. The product guarantee ranges from 10 to 25 years, while the production guarantee generally guarantees that your panels will produce 80 to 87% of their production capacity in 25 years. What exactly is covered by the warranty depends on the quality of the panel. Like any electrical component, something can break down and with a good long-term guarantee you can save hundreds of euros in ten or fifteen years.
If you want to make an even more detailed comparison between the different models, you can also compare the temperature coefficient of each panel (a measure of the influence of temperature on the energy efficiency of solar panels) and the rate of degradation (the influence of wear on the efficiency over time). However, none of these models differ too much, so despite their importance, this is actually a secondary consideration. If you live in a very hot area with hot summers, ask your installer about these two factors to ensure that your panel can withstand the inevitable high temperatures and constant wear and tear.
4. Don’t forget that solar collectors are only part of the solar ecosystem– Of course you want your collectors to be as efficient as possible, but there are many other factors that can influence your efficiency. Your type of inverter, the roof-mounted panels and even the length of the cabling all have a direct influence on the total power of the grid.
The best installers in your area know where to install the solar panels on the roof and how to lay the wiring to maximize efficiency and reduce power loss. Of course, it is worth talking to several installers to eliminate one of the less reputable procedures. And don’t bother buying the most efficient solar panel. A well-designed solar system, if it contains quality components, can keep you out of the sun for years!
By evaluating electricity consumption, electricity rates and roof surface area, your installer can help you decide whether you want to install high-quality Sunpower solar panels or a standard quality module. The installation of solar panels is a financial solution, and standard quality panels at low cost ensure that you will earn back your investment in a very short time. But if you’re looking for the best components, Sunpower is right behind you.
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