Q Cells Solar Panels – Independent Review

Q CELLS solar panels

Overview of Hanwha Q Cells – Company History

Q-CELLS was founded in Germany in 1999 and has been producing solar silicon cells since 2001 and eventually mannufacturing solar panels in 2010. The company originally listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in 2005. In 2011, after a number of acquisitions and joint ventures, Q-CELLs posted significant losses and ultimatley filed for insolvency in 2012. Hanwha Group acquired the assets from the insolvent Q-CELLS and launched the brand Hanwha Q Cells late in 2012. Hanwha Group merged Hanwha Q Cells with another subsidiary,  Hanwha SolarOne, in 2014 and the merged company was listed on the NASDAQ between 2014 and 2019 and is now a private subsidiary of the Hanwha Group.

Hanwha Q Cells only uses solar cells of its own production to control the quality and meet their high standards, which is different from other manufacturers. Although panels were originally produced in Germany, manufacturing facilities have shifted to Malaysia, China, and South Korea. In 2019, Q Cells shipped 8.3GW of solar modules with its 9GW of the total volume of production.

Q Cells has served the Australian market since 2009 with its head office based in North Sydney and warehouses around the country, providing products and warranty support. In 2019, Q Cells modules reached about 12% market share in the residential and commercial rooftop segment of Australia.

Key Indicators

Q CELLS Solar Panels
Bloomberg Tier 1 RankingYes
PV Evolution Labs Top PerformerYes (3/4)
Office location in AustraliaYes

What is a Bloomberg Tier 1 Solar Panel?

Bloomberg’s infamous tier 1 ranking is NOT a measure of Solar Panel quality in any way. It is simply an indication of the bankability of the manufacturer based on publicly released information on the financial health of the company. This should give you an idea if the company is a large, well-known manufacturer.

Q Cells Solar Panels are in the Bloomberg Tier 1.

See full list of Bloomberg Tier 1 Solar Panels

What is PV Evolution Labs Top Performer?

PV Evolution Labs with support from DNV GL independently test solar panel reliability. The tests are voluntary, with solar panel manufacturers paying to participate in the testing. This testing process is internationally renowned and is an accurate reflection of the solar panel’s performance.

Q Cells Solar Panels are currently ranked in the PV Evolution Labs Top Performers across 3 of the 4 annual tests and have been since 2014.

See full list of PV Evolution Labs Top Performing Solar Panels

Why is office location in Australia Important?

Most solar panel manufacturers entering the Australian market first set up their distribution channels and worry about customer service later. This has led to many unhappy customers who are left trying to contact Chinese head offices to claim on their 10-year product warranty.

Relying on your solar installer is not always an option as since 2011 we’ve seen over 700 residential solar installers (including the large ones) go out of business well within the lifetime of the systems they are installing. 

Q Cells currently has an office located in North Sydney, NSW.

How much do Q Cells Solar Panels cost?

Based on Solar Choice’s database we have provided the below-average costs as an indicative guide. These prices include:

  • Full turnkey Solar System with Q Cells Solar Panels
  • Installation from a pre-vetted reputable installer from Solar Choice’s network
  • The STC rebate and GST
System SizeAverage Fully Installed Cost
10kW$12,047
8KW$9,532
6kW$6,968

 Important Note: Prices will vary depending on location, inverter brand and which installer is used

 

Compare quotes from up to 7 installers in your area now.

 

Q Cells Solar Panel Technologies

All the panels they currently sell in Australia are salt mist corrosion-resistant and suitable for installation in any location.
Currently, Q Cells offers a variety of panels in Australia, the most popular panels are from premium Q.Peak and Q.Maxx monocrystalline range, which can provide the best efficiency especially for those homeowners with limited roof space.

Q.MAXX series

The Q.MAXX  is Q Cells lower cost option which provides 120 half-cut cell solar panels up to 360W with a 12 year product warranty. This series uses the next generation Mono PERC half-cut solar cells with 12 busbars per cell, which increases the efficiency up to 20.1%. Additionally these black panels offer an aesthetically pleasing for homes with visible roof-space. The solar panels degrade at 0.54% after the first year which beats most of their peers (normally 0.7%) and it is guaranteed under their 25 year performance warranty.

Solar Panels available in Australia:

Q.MAXX  Mono 120 half cells 320-335W

Q.MAXX-G2 Mono 120 half cells 345-360W

Q.PEAK series

The latest Q.PEAK DUO is a step up in technical specifications from the Q.MAXX and also offers an industry leading 25 year performance warranty. They also utilise the Q Cells branded technology, Q.ANTUM DUO, which is aimed at increasing the power output of each cell through in-house developed innovations. Ultimately this technology delivers a high efficiency rating of up to 20.2% and a low degradation rate of 0.54% a year after the first year.

Solar Panels available in Australia:

Q.PEAK DUO-G5+ Mono 120 half cells 315-335W

Q.PEAK DUO-G6+ Mono 120 half cells 340-355W

Tested in Australian Conditions

Not only does Q Cells carry out rigorous testing in the lab, but also in the field. Q Cells is one of the only manufacturers to perform cyclone testing in Australia. Q Cells modules have been installed at The Desert Knowledge Australia Solar Centre (DKASC) since 2012, a facility for solar modules operating in the arid weather conditions of Alice Springs, and display the performance onto the internet for demonstration.

Q Cells efficiency

Solar panel efficiency is the ability of cells to convert solar energy into electricity. The higher the panel’s efficiency, the more power output generated by the solar panel. So a higher panel efficiency will be one of the main features to rate the quality. The efficiency of Q Cells modules will be depending on different types for each country. The available product line in Australia has the efficiency vary from  17.1% to 20.1%. Most of the popular panels have the efficiency of around 19% upwards, which reach to the level of the front line in the industry.

Comparison of Q Cells Solar Panel Specifications (common modules)

Q Cells Q.MAXX 330W

(2019-10_Rev02_AU)

Q Cells Q.PEAK DUO-G5+ 330W

(2019-09_Rev02_AU)

Q Cells Q.PEAK DUO-G6+ 350W

(2019-06_Rev01_AU)

Cell Number120 Half-cut Cells120 Half-cut Cells120 Half-cut Cells
Cell TypeMonocrystallineMonocrystallineMonocrystalline
Power Output330330350
Max Power Voltage34.14V33.98V34.07V
Panel Efficiency19.6%19.6%19.5%
Annual Power Degradation0.54%0.54%0.54%
Dimensions1685 × 1000 × 32 mm (1.68 m²)1685 × 1000 × 32 mm (1.68 m²)1740 × 1030 × 32 mm (1.79 m²)
Weight18.7kg18.7kg19.9kg
Warranty12 Years25 Years25 Years
Operational Temperature Range−40 °C to 85 °C−40 °C to 85 °C−40 °C to 85 °C
Made inChinaSouth KoreaSouth Korea

The Q Cells Q.Peak and Q.Maxx Series Have Different Warranty Terms

Q Cells provide an industry-standard 12-year product warranty and 25-year performance warranty. But on the new series G5+ and G6+ panels, the product warranty has been upgraded to 25 years, which equals the industry leaders in the market.

For the Q.Maxx and Q.Maxx-G2 panels, the summary of warranty terms and conditions:

12 years limited product Warranty: ‘For material defects or processing defects, Hot-Spot Protect and Anti PID Technology.’

25 years limited linear performance warranty: ‘At least 98 % of the nominal power within the first year. Thereafter, the decrease of the power output will not exceed 0.54 % p. a. Minimal nominal rated power after 25 years at least 85 %.’

For the Q.PEAK DUO-G5+ and Q.PEAK DUO-G6+ panels, the summary of warranty terms and conditions:

25 years limited product Warranty: ‘For material defects or processing defects, Hot-Spot Protect and Anti PID Technology.’

25 years limited linear performance warranty: ‘At least 98 % of the nominal power within the first year. Thereafter, the decrease of the power output will not exceed 0.54 % p. a. Minimal nominal rated power after 25 years at least 85 %.’

 

So, Should I Buy Q Cells Solar Panels?

The Q.PEAK series offers good value for solar buyers looking for a 25-year product warranty but don’t want to pay the premium for the top of the line solutions (like SunPower or LG). In our opinion at Solar Choice, Q Cells offer a good middle range between your standard tier 1 cost-effective brand and the expensive premium options.

Despite a chequered history, the Q Cells brand appears to be in financial stable territory with the backing of Bloomberg’s tier 1 rating, so there’s a good chance that you will be able to receive all the value of the 25-year product warranty, even if your solar installer closes up shop.

 

Example of a Q Cells Commercial Solar Project – Yalumba Winery, Barossa Valley

In 2016, 1.4 MWp Q Cells modules installed in the Yalumba Winery project, the largest commercial solar PV system installed at an Australian winery in South Australia, producing around 2000MWh output annually. It is expected to reduce the energy bill for the wine business by 20% each year.

Q CELLS Solar panels