The Myth About Chinese Solar Panels

Published: 18 October 2021

Customers are often hesitant to purchase China-made solar products due to myths about their quality. Let’s debunk those fears.

Around 80% of solar panels are made in China, and this includes most panels from leading brands like Canadian Solar and Q CELLS. They normally come with a 10-12 year warranty against manufacturing defects, and a 25-30 year power generation warranty. However, the misconception that Chinese products are cheap and of low quality still exists.

  • The Clean Energy Council has a list of approved solar panels and inverters. If you check their specifications you will find that most are manufactured in China, yet they qualify for the STC incentive from the Australian government.
  • State and territory incentive programs like Solar Victoria also have their approved product lists, and you will find many Chinese products listed.

Australia benefits from being close to China, since the shipping cost of solar components is relatively low. According to Freightos, a digital booking platform for international freight, shipping a completely filled 40’ container from China to the US is around four times more expensive than sending it to Australia.

Being close to China and having low import tariffs are among the factors that reduce the price of home solar systems in Australia. You can get a 6.6-kW solar power system for less than AU$6,000, while a US homeowner can expect to pay around US$15,000 after incentives for that same capacity (around AU$20,000, which is 3-4 times more expensive than in Australia).

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Do Chinese solar panels qualify for Australian incentives?

Regardless of where photovoltaic modules are produced, a solar installation must be completed by CEC Accredited Installers and Designers to qualify for the STC incentive. However, you must also use products from the CEC approved list, as mentioned above.

The following are some CEC approved solar brands with manufacturing operations in China, who are also among the brands we use at Nectr:

Solar PanelsSolar Inverters
Canadian Solar
Jinko Solar
Huawei FusionSolar

As you can see, many leading brands in the solar industry are fully or partially made in China, and their products are reliable and covered by solid warranties. When using quality brands and a professional installation, a home solar system is one of the safest investments available. 

Thanks to the abundant sunshine and the low cost of solar systems in Australia, a 3-5 year payback period is typical for residential installations.

  • This is excellent for a technology that comes with a 10-year warranty against manufacturing defects. By the time you recover the initial investment,  you will still have 5 or more years of warranty coverage.
  • The power production warranty of solar panels is even longer: 25-30 years when you purchase a high-quality brand.

How did china become the solar manufacturing leader

In great part, China has become the leading solar manufacturer due to internal demand. According to the 2021 capacity report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the world had 707,495 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity by the end of 2020, and China accounted for 253,834 MW. They produce 4 of every 5 solar panels, but they also have almost 36% of the world’s solar generation capacity.

By ramping up solar panel production to meet internal demand, China achieved economies of scale and very low manufacturing costs. As a result, many solar brands that are headquartered in other countries have relocated their production to China.

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