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Canadian Solar Panels: An Independent Review by Solar Choice

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Overview of Canadian Solar – Company History

Canadian Solar was founded in 2001 by Dr. Shawn Xiaohua Qu in Canada. Dr. Qu is still currently the Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Canadian Solar. In 2006 Canadian Solar was listed on the NASDAQ. Although most of their production is based in China, Canadian Solar has two manufacturing facilities in Ontario, Canada.

In March 2020 the Canadian Solar research and development team produced an n-type multi-crystalline silicon solar cell that tested at a world record 23.81% efficiency. Currently, the world’s most efficient residential solar panel is 22.6%.

Canadian Solar have the fifth largest solar panel manufacturing capacity in the world (according to Bloomberg NEF), and have an increasing Australian presence. They have 4 warehouses across Australia and employ 50 local staff to work across solar panel sales and service and their large-scale solar farm projects.

Key Panel Indicators

Canadian Solar Panel
Bloomberg Tier 1 Ranking Yes
PV Evolution Labs Top Performer No
Office location in Australia Yes

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.

Canadian Solar was listed as a tier 1 panel in the latest Bloomberg NEF report.

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.

Although in previous years Canadian Solar have listed as a top performer, in the latest 2021 report they are not mentioned.

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 we’ve seen many residential solar installers (including the large ones) go out of business well within the lifetime of the systems they are installing.

Canadian Solar’s Australian head office is located in Cremorne, Melbourne and they have warehouses in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. For warranty claims you can contact their head office on 03 8609 1844.

 

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How Much do Canadian 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 Canadian Solar Panels
  • Installation from a pre-vetted reputable installer from Solar Choice’s network
  • The STC rebate and GST
System Size Average Fully Installed Cost
6kW $6,293
8kW $8,185
10kW $9,413

Model Range Available in Australia

A vast range of solar panels listed on Canadian Solar’s Australian website are approved by the Clean Energy Council for the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, which is Australia’s home solar rebate program. Canadian Solar have different models directed at the residential, commercial and utility-scale market.

BiHiKu SeriesCanadian Solar Panel BiHiKu review

Mostly applicable in the utility-scale market or large-scale commercial ground-mount projects. These bificial panels enable light to be absorbed from the top and bottom of the panel increasing the energy yield by up to 30%. These panels are up to 585W and up to 2.4m in length, significantly larger in dimensions and output than a typical residential solar panel.

HiKu SeriesCanadian Solar Panel Hiku Series

The HiKu Canadian Solar panels are regularly used in rooftop commercial projects as they offer great module efficiency at a cost-effective price. These panels are typically seen at 330W at their most cost effective price point, but the modules in this series can go up to 440W. The module has been designed for easy and efficient installation on rooftops and is a popular choice among Australian residential and commercial installers.

All Black SeriesCanadian Solar All Black Series Review

The all black series creates an aesthetic appeal with a black frame and black back sheet. These panels are designed for residential homes and to provide a sleek look. Despite the dark colour of the panels, Canadian Solar’s modules still perform well in hot conditions with a low temperature coefficient (Pmax) of -0.36 % / °C.

 

These are the following models:

Canadian Solar 390-415W Datasheet

Canadian Solar 420-435W Datasheet

Canadian Solar 420-445W Datasheet

Canadian Solar 350-375W Datasheet

Canadian Solar 325-350W Datasheet

Canadian Solar 355-365W Datasheet

Canadian Solar 430-455W Datasheet

Canadian Solar 395-420 Datasheet

Canadian Solar 425-440W Datasheet

Canadian Solar 370-385W Datasheet

Canadian Solar 375-400W Datasheet

Canadian Solar 380-400W Datasheet

Canadian Solar 315-335W Datasheet

Canadian Solar 315-330W Datasheet

Canadian Solar 295-320W Datasheet

Canadian Solar 375-395W Datasheet

Canadian Solar 355-385W Datasheet

Canadian Solar 320-345W Datasheet

Canadian Solar 400-420W Datasheet

Canadian Solar 300-315W Datasheet

Canadian Solar 320-340W Datasheet

 

Canadian Solar’s Warranty Policies in Australia

Solar panels come with a product and performance warranty. The product warranty is designed to cover manufacturing faults in the panel that leads to damage or malfunction and is typically 10 years for most solar panel manufacturers. Canadian solar offer either 12 or 15 years a product warranty depending on which module you are looking at, which we would consider to be slightly ahead of the market’s expectations.

The performance warranty on a solar panel covers a minimum level of output of the solar panel based around a normal degradation rate for the panel. Most solar panels guarantee a maximum degradation rate of 2.5% in the first year and 0.7% a year thereafter until the 25th year leaving a remaining output of ~80% of its nameplate value. Canadian Solar’s warranty again varies by panel but is often slightly ahead of this standard. For example the commonly used HiKu series comes with a maximum degradation guarantee of 2% in the first year and 0.6% from year 2 to year 25 leaving a end value of 84.8% of the labelled power output.

Canadian Solar have Australian offices and we anticipate this to be one of the easier companies to claim warranty from even if your installer is no longer around. Canadian Solar have a different warranty policy and document for each solar panel series so make sure you look up the right document on their website that corresponds with your quote to see what you are being offered.

 

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Comparison of Canadian Solar Panels

BiHiKu Bifacial Mono Perc BiHiKu Bifacial Poly Perc HiKu Poly Perc
Cell Number 144 144 144
Cell Type Mono-crystalline Poly-crystalline Poly-crystalline
Power Output 420Wp 420Wp 425Wp
Nominal Power Voltage 39.9V 39.5V 39.7V
Power Density 187.98 W/m² 187.98 W/m² 192.38 W/m²
Panel Efficiency 18.8% 18.8% 19.2%
Annual Power Degradation 0.45% 0.45% 0.55%
Dimensions 2132 x 1048 x 30mm

(2.23m²)

 

2132 x 1048 x 30mm

(2.23m²)

 

2108 x 1048 x 40mm

(2.21m²)

 

Weight 28.4kg 28.4kg 24.9
Product Warranty 12 years 12 years 12 years
Performance Warranty 30 years 30 years 25 years
Operational Temperature Range -40°C to 85°C

 

-40°C to 85°C

 

-40°C to 85°C

 

Made in China, Thailand & Vietnam China, Thailand & Vietnam China, Thailand & Vietnam

Example of a Canadian Solar Commercial Solar Project

In 2016 Canadian Solar installed a photovoltaic system on the roof of the International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney) located in Darling Harbour. Which when installed was one of Australia’s largest panel arrays in a business district. Canadian Solar in conjunction with CSA Services constructed the solar system across the three sites, this installation featured state-of-the-art products and an innovative roof-top mounting structure. The system consists of 2,004 260W Canadian Solar modules and is estimated to generate around 545MWh of electricity annually.

International Convention Centre Sydney

 

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