Note: Solar Choice is not a solar installer and has no financial or other incentive to promote any product brand over another.
Overview of Phono Solar – Company History
In 2018 Phono Solar rebranded in Australia to Sumec Phono Solar Australia to highlight their parent company Sumec Group. Sumec Group in turn is a subsidiary of the China National Machinery Industry Corporation (also known as Sinomach). Sinomach was founded in 1997 in Beijing and is a Chinese state owned enterprise.
Phono Solar was created in 2008 with a focus on manufacturing polycrystalline and subsequently monocrystalline solar panels. Their manufacturing facilities are located in Nanjing, China with a reported capacity of 1.6GW (Bloomberg) making them a smaller scale manufacturer.
From what Solar Choice can see across our database of solar installer offers, Phono Solar currently have a limited penetration into the Australian market. They are yet to lease a permanent office in Australia and currently have a very basic AU website (which looks surprisingly similar to Hyundai Solar’s Australian website). The warranty services in Australia are performed by Supply Partners who are the exclusive distributers of Phono Solar panels.
Read below our in-depth Phono Solar panels review.
|Phono Solar Panels|
|Bloomberg Tier 1 Ranking||Yes|
|PV Evolution Labs Top Performer||Yes|
|Office location in Australia||No|
What is a Bloomberg Tier 1 Solar Panel?
At the outset it is important to clarify that Bloomberg’s infamous tier 1 ranking does not measure 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.
Phono Solar 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.
Phono Solar was listed as a top performer for thermal cycling, LID+LETID and potential-induced degradation in the latest report.
See full list of PV Evolution Labs Top Performing Solar Panels
Why is office location in Australia Important?
Solar manufacturers having an Australian office is important for end-consumers so they have someone to contact domestically who can assist with warranty claims or product issues. Most established brands in Australia have set up an office with 2-10 staff servicing customers.
Your installer might say that they will look after everything if something goes wrong. Given we have seen so many solar installers go out of business in the last 10 years, it makes sense to pick a solar panel with proper Australian support staff.
Phono Solar has an office listed at a co-working space in Barangaroo Sydney and can be contacted on (02) 8114 4516. This co-working space run by ServCorp offers ‘virtual offices’ to provide the benefits of a prestigious address without committing to an office space.
How Much Do Phono 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 Phono 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|
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.
Phono Solar Panels – Points of Difference
There are many solar panels out there, what makes Phono solar panels stand out?
Strong R&D Background and Parent Company’s Support
Phono Solar is a subsidiary of Sumec Group, which is a Chinese state-owned company established in 1978. Sumec has a very long history and it is a Fortune 500 Global Company, involved in over 14 technology fields including equipment manufacturing, clean energy, autotruck and etc.
Through the support of SUMEC, Phono Solar have been able to steadily grow the annual production capacity to 3GW per year. Phono Solar are listed by Bloomberg as a tier 1 brand and some of their panels have been named by PV Evolution Labs as a top performer across several tests.
Phono Solar Panel Technologies
All the panels they currently sell in Australia are salt mist corrosion-resistant and suitable for installation in any location.
Currently, Phono offers two series of panels on the Australia market for residential solutions – Premium module and Twin Plus module series. At the time of updating this page (Dec 2020), they can produce panels with efficiencies of up to 20.58% (Twin Plus 450W).
The majority of Phono solar panels are approved by the Clean Energy Council (listed under the name of Phono Energy Solutions Co Ltd) for the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme – Australia’s home solar rebate program.
Twin Plus Series
The main residential-targetted solar panel in the Twin Plus Series (PS370M4-20/UH) offers an output of 370 watt and a maximum efficiency of 20.17%.
The panel features 120 half-cut monocrystalline silicon cells and makes up an overall dimension of 1.764m by 1.04m.
The modules feature a temperature co-efficient of -0.38%/°C which puts them slightly ahead of typical solar panels – suggesting the panels may perform well in Australia’s hotter regions.
The series also includes several 144 half-cut cell models which are better suited to commercial rooftop applications given their larger dimensions.
Diamond Dual Glass Series
The Diamond Dual Glass Series features Phono Solar’s leading technology including heat strengthened glass and N-type solar cells.
The bifacial solar panel is best suited for ground-mounted solar projects or tilt-frame designs so that light can be absorbed from both sides of the solar panel.
The more durable glass construction has led to Phono Solar increasing their warranty from 15-years on the Twin Plus series to 25-years on the Diamond Dual Glass Series. The performance warranty has also been extended to 30 years with the maximum efficiency rated at 21.25%.
Phono’s Warranty Offer for Australian Customers
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, while the performance warranty guarantees a minimum amount of output from the solar panel, which typically declines annually in line with the natural degradation of the silicon in the panel.
Most solar panels on the market have 10 to 12-year product warranty and 25-year performance warranty. In 2019, Phono increased their product warranty to 15 years along with 25-year performance warranty for their Twin Plus series and extended up to 25-years on the Diamond Dual Glass series.
Phono Solar are also offering an optional 5-year warranty extension for their 370W (PS370M4-20/UH) and 450W (PS450M4-24/TH) panels. The small print on the data sheet indicates that this warranty extension is limited to “hot spots and seal failure” and for residential customers only. There is no reference to this extension in their warranty document. In our opinion, I would not be putting any value on this extension.
Sumec Phono Solar’s warranty is serviced by Supply Partners who are their exclusive distributor in Australia and Phono Solar have no local staff or presence in the region. This is definitely a downside of selecting Phono Solar as you would be dealing with a 3rd party who would be liaising back to China in the event of a warranty claim.
Please read more on the latest warranty policy.
Pros and Cons of Phono Solar Panels
Phono Solar Panel Specifications (common modules)
|Phono Twin Plus 370W
| Phono Twin Plus 330W
|Cell Number||120 Cells||120 Cells|
|Nominal Power Voltage||34.2V||34.34V|
|Annual Power Degradation||0.7%||0.7%|
|Dimensions||1764mm × 1040mm × 35mm||1686mm × 1000mm × 35mm|
|Product Warranty||15 Years with optional extended warranty||15 Years with optional extended warranty|
|Operational Temperature Range||−40 °C to 85 °C||−40 °C to 85 °C|
So, Should I Buy Phono Solar Panels?
In general, we would consider Phono Solar’s panels to be a mid-range option that could be worth going for if offered at an attractive price.
There are some good signs in terms of quality with their panels featuring on DNV GL’s top performers list in 2018 and 2019, although the question has to be asked why they weren’t able to keep that rating for 2020.
The 15 year product warranty stands them ahead of most of their mid-range competitors. They are backed by Sumec Group and Sinomach leading Bloomberg to identifying them as a tier 1 bankable manufacturer. If your installer goes bust, you may have some issues claiming under this policy as their warranty services are completed by a distributer.
It would be great to see Phono Solar lease some office space in Australia and build a warranty claim process that end-consumers can easily use.
Example of a Phono Solar Project – Moama Anglican Grammar, NSW
- Year: 2019
- Type of Application: Commercial
- System Size: 275kW
- 275kW of Phono solar panels were installed in Moama Anglican Grammar School, offsetting the carbon emissions by around 284 tonnes annually
Read more product reviews from Solar Choice
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Reviews from Australians who have installed Phono Panels
no problems or issues as yet
I done a lot of research on these panels and all I can say is wow!! Their performance warranty and product warranty are the best I have seen! Definitely would recommend these panels.
Still not yet a month old, but already working way better then I expected
Too early to tell but all good so far