s the popularity of solar power continues to grow, many people are looking for affordable options to help them make the switch to sustainable energy. While there are many well-known brands in the market, Suntech may not be one of them. Despite this, the company remains a reliable and cost-effective option for those prioritizing affordability over high-end features. In this article, we'll take a closer look at Suntech solar panel options and explore why they may be the right choice for you.
Suntech, once the biggest PV panel manufacturer in the world, has had an interesting and tumultuous history. It was founded by an Australian citizen, Shi Zhengrong, who moved to China and started the company in 2001. By 2011, it was the largest manufacturer globally, shipping 2.4GW of photovoltaic modules.
However, the company's fortunes took a turn for the worse when the company was conned out of hundreds of millions of euros, declared bankrupt, and defaulted on $541 million in US bonds. Suntech was eventually restructured and acquired by Shunfeng International Clean Energy Limited in 2014. Despite its difficulties, the manufacturer still produces roughly 3GW of panels yearly. However, it no longer holds a top spot in the industry, as other Chinese manufacturers like Jinko or Trina are producing significantly more.
Suntech solar panel offerings
The company currently has three product lines available: the Ultra X series, the Ultra V series, and the Ultra V Pro series. Let's explore each one in more detail.
Ultra X series
Ultra X modules, introduced in 2020, come in power ratings ranging from 580 to 600W and feature large format 210 mm silicon wafers with a module efficiency of up to 21.6%. The manufacturer utilized PERC monocrystalline cells and non-destructive cutting technology to create an optimal half-cell design, reducing current loss and minimizing the risk of hot spots. The modules also feature multi-busbar technology, which decreases resistance loss and improves reliability. Furthermore, high-density packaging technology enhances energy density of the modules.
Ultra V series
Ultra V modules have power ratings ranging from 530W to 555W and can achieve a conversion efficiency of up to 21.3%. Similar to the Ultra X series, they feature multi-busbar technology and a half-cut design, which enhances their reliability. However, the modules are lighter, weighing 27.5 kg, and have a transparent backsheet to reduce weight and have high light transmittance and excellent resistance to degradation.
For residential installation, the manufacturer also offers the Ultra V mini module - a compact panel designed to fit on rooftops with limited space. It has a power output range of 390-410 W and is less than 2m2 in size, measuring 1724 x 1134mm. This makes it easy to install and allows for maximum use of available roof space. The module comes in two color options - full-black or silver/black frame models - to cater to different customer preferences and has a sleek and modern appearance.
Despite its smaller size, the Ultra V mini module is highly durable, with a high mechanical load capacity of up to 3800 Pa negative pressure and 6000 Pa positive pressure. This ensures that it is reliable and able to withstand various environmental factors.
Ultra V Pro series
Ultra V Pro series consists of three modules: the Ultra V Pro mini with a capacity of 415-435 W, the Ultra V Pro with a capacity of 560-580 W, and the Ultra V Pro Plus with a total of 610-630 W. All three products utilize N-type silicon wafers and boast a cell efficiency of over 25.0%. Additionally, they exhibit zero-LID performance, resulting in a significant increase in module power. The modules also stand out for their low power temperature coefficient, which can be as low as -0.30%/°C.
Ultra V Pro modules also boast an impressive bifacial rate of 85%, with the backside generating up to 30% of the electricity by absorbing both the incident light from the positive side and reflected and scattered light from the backside. This is 15% higher than the bifacial rate of PERC modules.
The manufacturer's products are known for their affordable cost. In 2023, a Suntech solar panel can be bought in the US for as little as $0.7 to $0.9 per watt before factoring in installation expenses.
Evaluating pros & cons
Having explored the various Suntech offerings, it's now time to take a brief look at the key advantages and disadvantages of their products.
- Cost-effective: Suntech solar panels are a cost-effective option compared to other PV modules.
- Favorable warranty: The product warranty of 15 years, which is longer than the industry average at this price point.
- Good reputation: The company has a positive reputation among customers, with many positive reviews.
- Durable: Suntech modules are highly durable and can withstand harsh weather conditions like wind, snow, and hail.
- Efficiency: Suntech panels are not as efficient as other, more expensive options.
- Limited availability: These products may not be easily accessible in the US.
- Unsuitable for small roofs: Due to their size, Suntech modules may not be the best choice for small roofs.
- Limited residential range: Suntech offers a limited range of products for residential projects without premium options at the top end.
In summary, Suntech may have a brighter past than present, but the company has made a remarkable recovery, and its PV modules are modern and competitive. Although they lack unique designs and could have better efficiency, homeowners who do not require premium quality can rely on their panels, which are made to the highest quality standards and have excellent weather-resistant features. Despite its financial troubles, Suntech has achieved a stable position in the renewable energy market through its parent company, SCFE, and maintains a good reputation in the industry for producing reliable panels.