SunPower solar panel review

SunPower solar panel review - Updated March 2024

SunPower panels are 'Premium' priced solar panels.
At time of writing 6kW of SunPower panels were ten times as expensive, after subsidy, as 'standard' panels.
e.g. $540 for 6kW of JinKo 'N' types against $5,400 for 6kW of SunPower panels.

I'm sorry, but hand on heart, I can not justify that amount of difference to anyone.
I'm certainly not blaming SunPower for being too expensive.
I'm blaming the Chinese panels for being ridiculously cheap.

Q.Cells announced a few weeks ago that they were quitting Australia.
Unable to compete against the Chinese brands.
In 2022, LG did the same.

That leaves just SunPower and REC as the last remaining predominatently non Chinese brands.
Even Maxeon who make SunPower panels are about 30% Chinese owned.

When I talk with people who don't want to buy Chinese, I hear their frustration.

It's almost like they want me to confirm that Chinese panels are rubbish.
They aren't. They are well-made and have a very low chance of failure over their 25 year warranty.

Perhaps SunPower panels make more power than Chinese panels?
No again. kW for kW, they make the same power. Same 'N' type cells.

Well at least they LOOK better?
You can buy many of the Chinese panels in all-black too.

Surely the SunPower technology is better?
Yes, on that point I agree as long as we are talking about the Maxeon panels.
Their 'Performace' panels are Chinese made and run of the mill.
The tech and build quality of the SunPower Maxeons is fantastic.
Worth every cent to people who like top quality and don't care about how much it costs.

The grand scheme of things.
If you spend $5,000 more on your 6kW of SunPower Maxeon panels it will likely take an extra 3-4 years to pay off.
If you solar investment is for the next 25 years or more, then that might be ok.
The panels are highly unlikely to fail, but I worry about what happens if they do.

We're already seeing that LG replacement panels aren't available for warranty any more.
LG simply pay the customer some money for the failed panel.
But what do they then replace the failed panel with?
Premium panels are usually uniquely sized and have very different electrical specs to regular panels.
That's my worry about SunPower (and REC).

The ultimate irony is that 'cheap' standard Chinese panels are interchangeable.
If one brand disappears and there is a warranty claim we can source a panel from a different brand that matches.

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This review was written by Andrew MacKeith, Solar4Ever service manager since 2011.
Solar4Ever is located in Morley (Perth), WA 6062