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Solar PV – Is SunPower worth the extra money?

Bruce_Davis | Posted in General Questions on
After much research, it seems the top three solar PV brands are SunPower, LG & Panasonic.  I’ve eliminated the Panasonic as it does not have a labor warranty.  SunPower & LG both have full 25 year warranties.  It seems Sunpower X21-335w Black has some advantages over LG Neon 2 Black 320w in performance specs, but the actual benefits are hard to ascertain.  The upcoming LG Neon R Black would be more comparable in specs but is not yet in production.  The SunPower warranty is slightly better than LG’s.  Both would use Enphase iQ7 microinverters.
 
SunPower makes a big deal about the copper backing that makes it more resistant to microcracking.  Supposedly, the competition is vulnerable to any impacts, mishandling, etc. which can cause non-visible and/or undetectable damage to the cells.  The salesman had me demo both cells for breakage.  They both seemed to break pretty easily in my hands.  I ruined the demo.
 
The big difference is price.  A 12k system for SunPower is $48,000 vs $38,000 for LG.  After 30% tax credit, the difference is about $7,000.  Anybody have any advice on SunPower vs LG; is it worth the extra money?  Thanks.

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Replies

  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Bruce,
    In my experience, PV modules are incredibly durable. (I have a PV module from 1980 that still works fine. It is 38 years old.)

    These days, PV modules are commodity items. Most customers choose a brand based on price.

    I'm still a little wary of microinverters that are installed on the roof. I like my inverter to be wall-mounted on the ground floor, in a mechanical room -- somewhere where the inverter operation can be tested. If I were interested in buying a PV module that comes with a microinverter, I would pay close attention to the warranty.

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