How To Choose The Best Solar Panels in NZ

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How To Choose The Best Solar Panels in NZ

The industry standard is that solar power companies will do the research for you, finding the best solar panel brands and models for your unique solar power system set up.  On this page we discuss the specifics of solar panels, giving full access to the finer details.

More useful pages:
Learn the solar basics
How a grid-connected solar power system works
Solar panel prices
How many solar panels do I need?
How to choose the best solar panel installer

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How to choose solar panels - simplified

  1. Find out the efficiency of the solar panels, this is normally between 15% - 21%. Remember, expensive panels often equal high efficiency, cheaper panels equal lower efficiency. Low efficiency doesn't mean low quality.
  2. Check the solar panels performance and product warranty, it should be around 25 years.
  3. Find out what tier the solar panels are. Tier-1 is considered the best, while Tier-3 is not as highly rated.

What Are The Best Solar Panel Brands In NZ?

In our view there is no one best solar panel, as different panels suit different people.  There are only subtle differences between the solar panels that are brought in by good NZ wholesales (we only work with the best). Be wary of no brand-name panels sold on online market places.

Below we have listed quality, Tier 1 solar panels commonly sold in New Zealand, alongside important specifications (specs), so you can judge what solar panels are the best.

Brand Model Power Efficiency Rating Performance Warranty Product Warranty Panel Technology Dimensions (LxWxD) Highlights
REC Alpha Pure R Series 420W 21.8% 25 25 half-cut  heterojunction cells 1730 x 1118 x 30 mm (1.93 m2) -Lead free
-Shade mitigation
-92% guaranteed output @ 25 years
REC TwinPeak 5 Black Series 400W 20.3% 25 25 1899 x 1040 x 30 mm (1.97 m2) -Aesthetically pleasing full-black design
-Dual-braced frame for improved strength
Canadian Solar Hiku 370W 20% 25 25 1765 X 1048 X 35 mm (1.85 m2) -Better shading tolerance
-Minimizes micro-crack impacts
Canadian Solar HiKu6 415W 21.3% 25 25 1722 ˣ 1134 ˣ 30 mm (1.95 m2) -Better shading tolerance
-Minimizes micro-crack impacts
Jinko Tiger N-Type
Mono-Facial All Black
415W 21.74% 30 25 1855×1029×30mm
(1.91 m2)
Jinko Tiger Neo N-type All Black 440 22.02% 30 25 1762x1134x30 mm
(1.99 m2)

-Durability against extreme environmental conditions
-Better light trapping and current collection to improve output
Jinko Tiger Neo N-Type All Black 475W 22.01% 30 25 1903×1134×30mm (2.16 m2)

-Better light trapping and current collection to improve module power output and reliability.

-High salt mist and ammonia resistance. 

Hyundai HiE-S400UF 400W 21.3% 25 25 1646×1140×35 mm (1.88 m2)

-Corrosion resistant

-M3+ PERC Shingled Technology provides high efficiency with better performance in low irradiation 

Risen Energy Risen RSM40-8-400MB/30 400W 21.1% 25 25 1754x1096x30 (1.92 m2) -Excellent performance under low solar radiation
-High resistance to induced voltage degradation (PID)
-Narrow positive power tolerance
Trina Vertex S Module All Black 390W 20.3% 25 25 1754×1096×30 mm (1.92 m2) -Designed with aesthetics in mind
-Thinner wires that appear all black at a distance
Trina Tallmax Monocrystalline Module 445W 20.4% 25 12 2102 ×1040× 35 mm (2.19 m2) -Better anti-shading performance and lower operating temperature
-Half-cut and MBB (Multi Busbar) technology
LONGi Hi-MO 4 370W 20.3% 25 12 1755x1038x35mm (1.82 m2) -Half-cut and MBB (Multi Busbar) technology
Qcells Q.TRON BLK M-G2+ SERIES 425W 21.8% 25 25 1722 mm × 1134 mm × 30 mm (1.92 m2)

-Excellent low-light and temperature behaviour 
-Achieved independent certification from institute TÜV Rheinland for “Quality Controlled PV”

Half-Cut Solar Cell Technology

Another solar panel decision you might come across is whether to install solar panels with whole cells or go with the newer half-cut solar cell technology.  The two main benefits of half-cut solar cells is that they are more efficient and better at handling shade, but this normally comes at a price.  Find out more about the benefits of half-cut solar technology here.

Half-Cut Solar Cell Technology

Solar Panel Efficiency

A highly efficient solar panel comes at a premium price; it's important to select the solar panel that is best suited to your budget, and electrical needs. The efficiency of most solar panels available in New Zealand range between 15% to 21%.

Efficiency rates calculate: how much of the sun's energy is being transformed into electricity as it makes contact with solar panels.  

For example, the Jinko Tiger Neo panels, which are 475W, have an efficiency of 22.01%.

High-efficiency solar panels are the preferred option; with higher efficiency, they produce more power per meter square. Therefore, you require less roof space for panels, and other marginal benefits such as less mounting gear, less labour installing etc.

Here is a list of all the solar panels available in New Zealand and the efficiency of each.

Warranties on Solar Panels

Most solar panel manufacturers have 25-30 year performance warranties, suggesting the manufacturer is confident that their solar panels will last 25 years, if not longer. Solar panels also have a manufacturer's warranty (or product warranty) which is normally 12 to 25 years.

It is important to know how to claim warranties. For instance, a solar installation company that a buyer has purchased solar panels from might not be in operation in 15 years time. If this was the case, the next point of contact could be the New Zealand wholesaler of the solar panels, or the manufacturers themselves. Know who to talk to in the future with regard to your solar panels, the professionals are always there to help.

black solar panels by the beach in auckland

Big Name Brands Vs. A Foreign Brand

Household brands are a rarity when shopping for solar panels. These unfamiliar brands should be considered! Always research solar panel brands. Some of the best solar panels are of Chinese origin. We advise you to google the brand you have been quoted for, followed by the word 'review'. You may not find many New Zealand based solar panel reviews, however many websites have dedicated review sections in Australia and beyond.

Some of the best brands on the market include; REC, Yingli, Canadian Solar, JinkoSolar, Trina Solar, Hyundai, QCells, Canadian Solar and LONGi.

Selecting Solar Panels By Tiers

The solar power industry grades solar panels via the tier system.

Tier 1 : Considered to be the best solar panels. Manufacturers are vertically integrated; they have control over the entire manufacturing process. They use high-grade silicon solar cells and are the best performing solar panels.

Tier 2 : These panels don't necessarily have substandard quality compared to Tier 1, but tier 2 manufacturers don't control the whole process. They spend less on research and design, but they often still feature the latest developments on design and construction.

Tier 3 : These manufacturers are the largest percentage in the market. Often tier 3 businesses only assemble parts, and source their products on the open market. These panels aren't recommended by My Solar Quotes.

Solar Panel Tier Rating System

Solar Panel Specifications

Want even more details of on solar panels? Ask solar installers for data sheets (if they haven't already sent them to you).  On these sheets you can find out the solar panels power tolerance, temperature co-efficient rating, dimensions and a lot of other technical specs. To learn how to read solar panel data sheets please click here.

BIPV (Building Integrated Photovoltaics)

BIPV solar panels replaces conventional building materials such as roof tiles, skylights and glass windows.

Only a limited number of BIPV panels are currently installed in New Zealand (due to the substantial cost).

BIPV panels examples: Tesla's solar roof tiles, glass on glass solar panels and transparent solar glass.

Click here to view what BIPV materials are available in New Zealand.

Zero Energy Home Auckland

The Zero Energy home in Auckland (pictured above) used solar tiles. Read more information here.

Solar Power Skylights

Above is an example of glass on glass solar panels a.k.a solar power skylights.