Chinese solar components

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Chinese solar components

Postby MichaelB » Tue Oct 27, 2009 7:22 am

I grew up in the 70's when Japan was becoming a force to be reckoned with in terms of manufacturing.

At the beginning of the "invasion", Japanese products didn't have much of a reputation here in Australia and they were often referred to as "Jap crap".

How times have changed and rightly so as the Japanese crank out some excellent products, including solar power gear.

We're seeing the same sort of xenophobic vibe now regarding Chinese products - including solar power components and to be honest, some of it is justified.

Energy Matters sells solar panels, inverters and other equipment manufactured all over the world - and yes, some Chinese.

Before I started working for Energy Matters, I bought a Suntech solar panel (China) from the company. While I have nothing to compare it to as it's the only panel I've ever owned, I've been pretty impressed with it given the hell I give it.

For starters, I have a mobile setup, so the panel is "ground mounted" and I mean the bottom end of the panel sits on directly the ground. Sometimes the ground isn't quite even, so there's often some flexing in the panel.

I accidentally drilled a hole through the back of the panel, right through a cell and to the glass (long story).

It's been in sub-zero conditions right through to 48.5C.

It's been sandblasted so many times by strong winds.

It once flipped onto its glass face on rocky ground.

I walked into a steel dropper while carrying it, glass face first.

.. and so far as I can tell, even after all that - it's still working perfectly, there's hardly any scratches on the glass and the couple of small scratches present are very light.

This isn't an ad for Suntech as such, it's just an example that there are *good* Chinese brands out there that produce components that not only operate well in Australia's harsh environment, but are robust enough to withstand the punishment that idiots like me dish out. I do assume that after the drilling incident I have voided my warranty though :lol:

What some people don't realise is that increasingly, goods from a company that we may associate with Australia, the USA, Japan etc. are actually produced in China or the components sourced in China and assembled elsewhere.

What is important is the oversight and quality control over what is coming off the production line. This is one of the reasons that all Chinese goods are certainly not created equal.

This morning I had 3 emails in my inbox from Chinese companies that I've never heard of, touting their solar panels. Would I buy from them? Heck no. They might be as cheap as chips, but they have no history, no track record, nothing to substantiate their claims.

Caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) always applies, but what I'm suggesting is - don't disregard Chinese products outright, as you could be missing out on a top quality component at a sensible price.
Michael B.
Energy Matters Forum Team (Please note: I am not a solar tech or installer)

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