Q Cells Solar Panels: An Independent Review by Solar Choice

Q CELLS solar panels

Note: Solar Choice is not a solar installer and has no financial or other incentives to promote any product brand over another.

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 manufacturing solar panels in 2010. The company was originally listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in 2005. In 2011, after several acquisitions and joint ventures, Q-CELLs posted significant losses and ultimately 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 in its production to control the quality and meet its 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 2021, Q Cells shipped 12.4 GW 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 2022, Q Cells modules reached about 10.3% market share in the residential and commercial rooftop segment of Australia.

2024 Update: Q Cells have now exited the Australian Market

Key Indicators

 Q CELLS Solar Panels
Bloomberg Tier 1 RankingYes
PV Evolution Labs Top Performer (2024)Yes (3 out of 7 tests)
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 7 annual tests in 2024. (thermal cycling, damp heat and mechanical stress sequence)

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 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 Panels – Points of Difference

There are many solar panels out there, what makes Q Cells solar panels stand out?

Multiple Manufacturing Sites

Q Cells owns four manufacturing sites globally making their solar panels and batteries (South Korea, China, United States and Malaysia). As a result, there is less risk of country-specific market dynamics affecting their prices – as was observed in 2021 with the Chinese Energy Crisis affecting 90% of the solar panel market. Partly due to this diversification away from Chinese manufacturing, Q Cells solar panels have a high market share in the US (estimated at 24.1% in 2022).

Long history company and trusted products

Q Cells was founded in 1999 in Germany and has steadily grown its presence in the market over the last 20 years. Having been awarded certifications through most independent testing authorities including PV Evolution Labs and Bloomberg Tier 1, their panels have been trusted by large investment firms on many large-scale solar farm projects.

Independent Testing of Q Cells Solar Panels by PV Labs Australia

The ACT Government paid PV Labs Australia in 2023 to complete some independent testing of solar panels. They sampled 121 solar panels from 14 manufacturers by borrowing them from suppliers in the market.

The solar panels were tested via a visual inspection, STC power, electroluminescence, wet leakage and potential induced degradation. 

Q Cells’s solar panels did not perform well in this testing. Across the 2 rounds of tests the Q Cells panels consistently were the worst performing of the 14 brands. 

See the full report here.

Q Cells’s Warranty for Australian Customers

Q Cells was provided with an industry-standard 12-year product warranty and a 25-year performance warranty. But on the new series G9+ and G10+ 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-year 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-G9+ and Q.PEAK DUO-G10+ 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-year 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 %.’

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 the 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 Cell’s 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 efficiency by 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.

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. For residential use, the panel’s power ranges from 335W to 415W. For commercial use, the power is up to 580W.

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 is 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 depend on different types for each country. The available product line in Australia has an efficiency vary from  17.1% to 20.1%. Most of the popular panels have an efficiency of around 19% upwards, which reaches 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

Q Cells Solar Panels Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Listed as a top-performing solar panel by PV Evolution Labs
  • Tier 1 Solar Company by Bloomberg New Energy
  • Have an Australian Head-Office in Sydney

Cons

  • If you are looking for a more price-competitive solution, Q Cells will not be for you. High on the premium list
  • Q Cells went bankrupt in 2012 before being brought out by a large South Korean business conglomerate called The Hanwah Group

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

Q CELLS Solar panels

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Reviews from Australians who have installed Q-Cells Panels

Rated 4.81 from 52 reviews
13th June 2024
Gareth
-
5kW system
5.00

16th May 2024
Elliot
-
6kW system
5.00

Solar panels look excellent on the roof. We went with the black frame option which look very sleek and high quality. Output has been excellent so far.

17th April 2024
Jason
-
5kW system
5.00

14th February 2024
QLD - 4210
10-15kW system
5.00

2nd February 2024
NSW - 2303
6kW system
5.00

Quality panels working well - not issues

30th January 2024
Robert
-
5kW system
5.00

I chose Q-cells because they perform better than other cells at higher temperatures.

26th January 2024
VIC - 3818
6kW system
5.00

Extremely happy with output of system. Blends in with roof.

7th December 2023
Robert
TAS - 7330
6kW system
5.00

Very good performance even in overcast situation

20th November 2023
Thomas
QLD - 4160
6kW system
5.00

Hard to comment. no problems with it

19th November 2023
Raymond
QLD - 4390
10kW system
5.00

15th November 2023
John
SA - 5063
6kW system
5.00

Performing as expected. Very satisfied. No sign of any degradation

4th November 2023
Mark
-
10kW system
5.00

Top Brand

1st November 2023
John
WA - 6064
10kW system
5.00

Panels provide an aesthetically appealing look on the roof and I believe slightly more efficient than other brands

19th October 2023
David
NSW - 2526
6kW system
5.00

So far, they seem to working as per specification.

4th October 2023
Michael
ACT - 2913
10-15kW system
5.00

As good as their word

7th September 2023
Olivier
ACT - 2611
8kW system
5.00

Great performing, have been flawless so far (4+ years).

25th August 2023
A.
TAS - 7052
5kW system
1.00

Appears OK

22nd August 2023
Greg
NSW - 2773
4kW system
5.00

No issues to date.

7th August 2023
Sandy
-
15-20kW system
5.00

19th July 2023
Martin
VIC - 3126
4kW system
3.00

Suspect there are better panels available

10th July 2023
Jean
VIC - 3995
6kW system
5.00

2nd July 2023
David
WA - 6066
6kW system
5.00

They look good and seem to be working fine

1st July 2023
Joseph
NSW - 2097
4kW system
5.00

No comment - performing as expected

28th June 2023
R
-
1.5kW system
3.00

27th June 2023
Paul
TAS - 7277
7kW system
5.00

Panels were installed in September 2020, this latest installation was the addition of a battery and updated DC inverter.

25th June 2023
Mike
NSW - 2093
8kW system
5.00

7th June 2023
Gerard
NSW - 2290
10kW system
5.00

Not really, they work.

23rd May 2023
Lee
-
8kW system
5.00

These panels were highly recommended to us by Johna

17th May 2023
Luke
-
9kW system
5.00

N/A

3rd May 2023
Raymond
VIC - 3956
6kW system
4.00

Seem competitive in price, and quality.Also local access to distribution and good parts warranty.

26th April 2023
Peter
-
5kW system
4.00

No problems with the panels for the last 3.5 years. These appear to be working well in all conditions

23rd April 2023
Ian
NSW - 2317
5kW system
5.00

We chose Duo type to minimise effects of shading. So far, after 2 years, they are still performing like new, which is better than expected. 350W x 16 panels = 5.6 kW nominal. We chose 350W as it is the same as the microinverter rating. As they don't all face the same direction (10 panels face east, 6 face north - if we had the space we would have faced them all north) peak power is 4.8 kW in summer, 3.0 kW in winter. Energy on a clear sunny day is 35 kWh summer, 17 kWh winter.

1st April 2023
Jen
QLD - 4520
6kW system
5.00

31st January 2023
Kevin
QLD - 4179
6kW system
5.00

so far so good and the dark panel blends in well.

17th January 2023
Frank
VIC - 3782
8kW system
5.00

18th December 2022
Darren
-
10kW system
5.00

Great product. Works in low light conditions ,we are usually fully charged around 10am, 16 KW. Great warranty

15th December 2022
Ian
VIC - 3995
6kW system
5.00

13th December 2022
Bob
NSW - 2324
5kW system
5.00

Did some research and found these were one of the best brands in the market, they do perform well even in very cloudy conditions

18th November 2022
Christobel
-
8kW system
5.00

8th November 2022
Juliet
WA - 6019
5kW system
5.00

So far very efficient.

8th November 2022
Nigel
SA - 5072
10-15kW system
5.00

So far they are working well. It is early days though

30th August 2022
Leon
-
6kW system
5.00

30th July 2022
Mark
QLD - 4511
10-15kW system
5.00

See above.

22nd July 2022
John
-
6kW system
5.00

WORKING VERY WELL INSTALLED FEB 2021

28th June 2022
Mrs Rijntje
SA - 5162
6kW system
5.00

What my son researched is what we got

21st March 2022
Peter
-
6kW system
5.00

whilst yet to have an account, it appears the panels are operating correctly and efficiently

7th March 2022
Rob
-
5kW system
5.00

Appears to be a quality product and installed requested

26th February 2022
Jim
NSW - 2535
7kW system
5.00

Too early to say

24th November 2021
James
-
6kW system
5.00

Working well.

22nd September 2021
Daniel 3
TAS - 7018
7kW system
5.00

13th July 2021
Daniel
VIC - 3155
10-15kW system
5.00

panels have been working flawelessly for over 18 months

25th March 2021
Robert
VIC - 3984
6kW system
5.00