Note: Solar Choice is not a solar installer and has no financial or other incentives to promote any product brand over another.
SUNMAN – Company History
Sunman Energy is a lightweight solar panel manufacturing company founded by Dr. Zhengrong Shi and a group of industry veterans in 2014. Dr. Shi is well known as the first solar billionaire in the world in 2006 through founding Suntech, a tier 1 solar panel manufacturer, and taking the business through an IPO.
Sunman’s solar panels are manufactured in Jiangsu, China. There are also 3 global offices located in China, Australia and Germany.
Sunman Energy launched in Australia in 2015 and they have an office in Sydney, providing the technology support and customer service for their local customers.
The distributor of Sunman solar panels in Australia is One Stop Warehouse.
|Sunman Solar Panels|
|Bloomberg Tier 1 Ranking||No|
|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.
Sunman solar panels are NOT listed on the latest Bloomber Tier 1 list.
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.
Sunman Solar Panels are not currently ranked on the PV Top Performers List (2021)
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 25-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.
Sunman’s website and warranty document refers to an office operated by Energus who are a solar installer and a subsidiary of Sunman.
How much do Sunman Solar Panels cost?
The below is an estimate of the wholesale cost of Sunman solar panels. Note this price is only available to distributors or solar installers, not to end-consumers.
The Sunman Solar Panels come at a significant premium to traditional glass solar panels, but have several advantages that may mean they are the best or only option for some projects.
|Solar Panel||Price per Watt|
|SMN-SMD295M Solar Panel||70c – 75c|
|SMN-SMD370M Solar Panel||73c – 77c|
|SMN-SMF430F Solar Panel||82c – 86c|
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Sunman Solar Panels – Points of Difference
There are many solar panels out there, what makes Sunman’s solar panels stand out?
Flexible and lightweight Solar Panels
One of the Sunman solar panel’s selling points is their low weight. Sunman is “glass-free panels”, as they are not using the tempered glass to cover the solar modules and with no aluminium frame, the weight could be 3 to 4 times lighter than the normal panels. The thinnest solar panel is only 2 mm (SMN-SMF430F).
Because of its lightweight, Sunman allows buildings with structural or roof constraints and limitations to install solar, such as glass roofs, and curved roof, it can also be utilised in some off-grid applications such as transportation. Below shows the Byron Bay Solar Train is making good use of the Sunman’s flexible attributes.
Project picture source: SUNMAN Website
Another significant difference is the installation method when installing the Sunman solar panels, the Sunman lightweight solar panels need to be” glued” on the roof or other object’s surface, thus Sunman does not need penetration and mounting on the surface, they use the silicon glue to stick their solar panels on the roof.
The benefit of this installation method is that it shortens the installation time and there are less limitations in regarding to roof types.
The video below shows how the Sunman solar panels were installed on the tin roof and TPO roof.
No penetration and mounting required
As per mentioned in the special installation method, Sunman does not need penetration and mounting during the solar panel’s installation. Thus, it can reduce the risks of rain leakage when mounting on the rooftop. Also, through this method, the solar panels could be used on the vertical surface and are suitable for BIPV projects, which could increase the solar applications for the building facades and sides.
Sunman’s Warranty 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 and is typically 10 years for most solar panel manufacturers. Sunman’s product warranty of 10 years for the 370 watt panel (SMN-SMD370M) and 12 years for the newer 430 watt panel (SMN-SMF430F).
Sunman’s product warranty states that one of the options for remedying an claim is to “refund a reasonable portion of the purchase price”. This is at Sunman’s discretion and no further information is provided to advise how a ‘reasonable portion’ would be determined. This is not commonly seen in solar panel warranty documents and presents some risk to customers.
The performance warranty guarantees a certain level of output for the lifetime of the panel – typically guaranteeing 80-82% of the nameplate output after 25 years. The only publicly available Sunman warranty document states that all of Sunman’s monocrystalline modules will guarantee a maximum of 97% degradation in the first year and a 0.7% maximum decrease for years 2 to 25 ending at 80.2% of the nameplate value.
The data sheet for Sunman’s latest 430W solar panel suggests that the power loss would be 2% in the first year and would only drop to 84.8% but we were unable to find a warranty document to verify this.
Sunman Solar Panel Technologies
Sunman currently has 90 solar panels approved by the Clean Energy Council in Australia under the name “Sunman (Zhenjiang) Company Limited”. This is a requirement to be eligible for the federal STC solar rebate.
The ultra-light solar panels is using the Sunman’s patented composite material instead of the conventional tempered glass cover, and with no frame on it, the weight could be lighter than 70%, the below 2 panels are currently being popularly sold in Australia:
eArc – SMN-SMD295M
The 295W solar panel was the first panel that Sunman have sold on the Australian market which has since been superseded by 2 newer models. The panel utilises 60 monocrystalline solar cells and is a similar height and width to conventional residential solar panels (1690×1019×5.6 mm). The 5.6mm thin panel with its lightweight construction weighs in at 5.6 kilograms making it about 3 to 4 times lighter than a traditional solar panel.
The main downfall of this panel is its low efficiency rating with a rated module efficiency of 17.1%. This has been improved in Sunman’s newest model mentioned below (eArc – SMN-SMF430M).
eArc – SMN-SMD370M
The SMD370M is the second generation model utilising full monocrystalline cells with a rated output of 370 watts. The dimension is 2031 x 1029 x 5.6 mm meaning it is larger than traditional residential solar panels and similar to the size of a commercial solar panel. The thickness of the solar panel notable small compared to traditional panels with an aluminium frame of around 30mm. With no aluminium frame or glass sheets the panel’s total weight is only 6.9 kg.
The panel’s rated maximum efficiency is 17.7% which is a little lower than leading traditional solar panels which usually offer between 20%-22%.
eArc – SMN-SMF430M
The SMN-SMF430M is the newest product Sunman have released in Australia. This solar panel features an improved maximum efficiency rating of up to 19.2% and utilises the more commonly adopted half-cut solar cell technology.
The dimension of the solar panel is similar to their older model (2054mm x 1093mm) however they have cut the thickness for this panel down to an impressive 2mm. The weight of this model is slightly heavier (7.3 kg), however the output of the panel has also increased from 370W to 430W.
The SMN-SMF430M also passed the same durability tests as conventional panels. The product warranty is 2 years longer than their older model (12 years) and the performance warranty is 25 years.
Pros and cons of Sunman solar panels
Sunman Solar Panel Specifications (common modules)
|eArc 370W Solar Panel SMD375M-6X12UW||eArc 430W Solar Panel SMF430F-12X12UW|
|Cell Number||72 (6 x 12) cells||144 half cell|
|Max Power Voltage||39.9V||42V|
|Annual Power Degradation||0.672%||0.528%|
|Dimensions||2031 x 1029 x 5.6 mm||2054 x 1093 x 2 mm|
|Weight||6.9 kg||7.3 kg|
|Product Warranty||10 Years||12 Years|
|Operational Temperature Range||-40°C to 85°C||-40°C to 85°C|
Example of Sunman Solar Project
The below image shows a 235kW solar system for Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney NSW using Sunman solar panels.
Project picture source: SUNMAN Website
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