Astronergy Solar Panels: An Independent Review by Solar Choice

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Overview of Astronergy – Company History

Astronergy Solar is a fully owned subsidiary of Chint Group, which is a electrical power transmission and electricity distribution company in China. Chint Group is owned by billionaire Nan Cunhui and is reported by Forbes to be one largest privately owned companies in China

The solar panel manufacturing business, Astronergy Solar, was founded in 2006 and is based in Hangzhou. Astronergy also have an EPC capability domestically in the Chinese solar market. The business currently claims to have a manufacturing capacity of 3.5GW located in China, Thailand and Vietnam. Historically Astronergy Solar have been focused on commercial and solar farm projects with the predominant panel series being larger dimension panels with 72 cells.

After initial trial with a local distributor in Australia from 2009 to 2012, Astronergy Solar have have made a strong push to re-enter the Australian market in 2017 setting up relations with major solar product distribution agreements with Solar Juice, Powerark and Metal Manufacturers (which includes TLE Electrical, AWM Electrical, Haymans Electrical). Astronergy are increasing their share of the Australian market with a couple of large-scale solar farm projects, but currently have a limited penetration of the residential and commercial market.

Astronergy has signed a technical co-operation agreement with the UNSW.

 

Key Indicators

Astronergy Solar Panels
Bloomberg Tier 1 RankingYes
PV Evolution Labs Top PerformerYes (4/4)
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.

Astronergy 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.

Astronergy Solar Panels are currently ranked in the PV Evolution Labs Top Performers across all 4 annual tests released in June 2020.

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. 

Astronergy Solar established an office in Adelaide during 2019 to provide local support.

 

How much do Astronergy 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 Astronergy 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$9,000
8KW$7,000
6kW$5,500

 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.

 

 Astronergy’s Smart Factories Use AI to Detect Defects

The below video supplied by Astronergy shows a Solar Panel entering their unique automated process to detect defects within the solar cells. The cracks and impurities they identify can lead to hotspots and loss of production in the life of the panel. If a defect was identified, the Astronergy worker in below video would extract the panel from the production line.

Without the AI technology assisting this process, manufacturers might have a small quality control team looking through the panels to identify defects, potentially just identifying what is visible to the human eye.

Astronergy Solar Panel Technologies

All the panels they currently sell in Australia are salt mist corrosion-resistant and suitable for installation in any location.

Currently, Astronergy offers four series of panels being the AstroTwins, AstroSemi, AstroHalo, AstroNova. At the time of updating this page (Nov 2020), they can produce panels with efficiencies of up to 20.2% (AstroTwins Bifacial).

The majority of Astronergy solar panels are approved by the Clean Energy Council (listed under the parent company Chint Solar Zhejiang Co Ltd) for the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme – Australia’s home solar rebate program.

 

AstroTwins series

  • BAstronergy AstroTwins Solar Panel Seriesi-facial solar panel meaning it can absorb sunlight from the top and bottom of the solar panel, increasing the output by up to 30% (depending on what the light is reflected off)
  • The series has monocrystalline half cut solar cells which increases the power density and shade resilience
  • The front side has a 20.2% efficiency rate, and the back has a 14.2% efficiency rate for reflected light
  • Compared with the traditional white EVA plastic back-sheet, the AstroTwin series has glass on the front and back which increases the stability of the solar panel, and improves the UV degradation rate to 0.5% per year (0.7% a year is an industry standard)

Modules available in Australia:

 

AstroSemi series

  • Astronergy AstroSemi Full Black Solar Panel SeriesThe AstroSemi series is Astronergy best quality option for residential and commercial solar projects with 120 or 144 half cut solar cells in monocrystalline or polycrystalline options
  • Both HC and multiple 9BB technologies could reduce the shading effect and enable the panels to reach a efficiency of up to 20.7%
  • The AstroSemi also features a full black panel which is ideal for highly visible roofs and customers looking for an aesthetically pleasing solution

Modules available in Australia:

 

AstroHalo & AstroNova seriesAstronergy AstroHalo Solar Panel Series

  • Both Astronergy’s AstroNova and AstroHalo series have 60 and 72 solar cells modules and feature some of Astronergy older technology
  • The AstroNova series use polycrystalline cells with up to 18.3% efficiency, while the AstroHalo series feature monocrystalline solar cells with up to 19.2% efficiency
  • The AstroNova series also include PERC technology which was invented at UNSW
  • 5-busbar cells reduce the cell series resistance and internal stress, decreases the risk of mirco-crack and improves the module output

Modules available in Australia:

 

Astronergy’s Warranty Offering

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. In 2019 Astronergy increased their product warranty to 12-year and 25-year performance warranty for most of their solar panels. For all modules purchased from or before 31/12/2018, an industry-standard 10-year product warranty and 25-year performance warranty was offered.

Astronergy offers special 15-year product warranty (only applies to rooftop installation) for modules – CHSM60M-HC 325W/330W/335W/340W. Astronergy’s warranty is backed by a third-party reinsurance company which will continue to process claims if Astronergy out of business.

Please read more on the latest warranty explanation.

 

Comparison of Astronergy Solar Panel Specifications (common modules)

AstroSemi 370W

CHSM60M-HC

AstroNova 270W

CHSM6610P-270

AstroHalo 315W

CHSM6610M

Cell Number120 Cells Half-Cut60 Cells60 Cells
Cell TypeMonocrystallinePolycrystallineMonocrystalline
Power Output370270315
Nominal Power Voltage33.98V31.08V33.05V
Panel Efficiency20.0%16.5%19.2%
Annual Power Degradation0.55%0.7%0.7%
Dimensions1765 × 1048 × 35 mm1650 × 992 × 35 mm1650 × 992 × 35 mm
Weight20kg18.4kg18.4kg
Product Warranty 12 Years 12 Years 12 Years
Operational Temperature Range−40 °C to 85 °C−40 °C to 85 °C−40 °C to 85 °C
Made inChina/TurkeyChina/Vietnam/ThailandChina

So, Should I Buy Astronergy Solar Panels?

Astronergy Solar Panels do not have the track record in Australia that some of the bigger brands have and as a result can usually be obtained at more cost effective prices. With a new a smaller presence in Australia, it suggests that you may have more difficulty than other brands accessing warranty (if needed) into the future. That said, they are one of the few panel manufacturers to be named as a DNV GL Top Performer across all 4 of the testing procedures. Given they are also considered bankable for Solar Farm projects, our opinion is that Astronergy panels are a good fit for customers on a budget.

 

Example of an Astronergy Solar Project –the Goonumbla Solar Farm, NSW

  • Date: May 2020
  • Type of Application: Utility
  • System Size: 68.7MW

Astronergy Solar Panels installed at Goonumbla photovoltaic plant in New South Wales

Astronergy/Chint Solar has successfully commissioned the Goonumbla photovoltaic plant in New South Wales, built for Fotowatio Renewables Ventures (FRV) as part of a joint venture with the Spanish EPC contractor Gransolar (GRS). Astronergy supplied 269,235 high-efficiency solar modules as well as EPC services for the project. Astronergy and GRS are now about to commence grid connection tests, once the plant has been successfully registered with AEMO.

Located about 10km west of the city of Parkes and 280km northwest of Sydney, the Goonumbla plant has 69.75 MW installed capacity that will produce approximately 195,000 MWh energy each year, guaranteeing the energy supply for 45,000 homes in the state and simultaneously eliminating the annual emission of around 140,000 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.