Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Avoid Sunpower due to their uncertain future?

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Avoid Sunpower due to their uncertain future?

    We're currently reviewing quotes for our new system. I am deciding between LG 285-S1C-G4 panels with SolarEdge 240V inverter with optimizers vs. Sunpower SPR-X21-335-WHT-C-AC panels with built in microinverters. Both at the same price per AC/W (3.50). Both with quite reputable companies in Southern California.
    Part of me thinks we should go with Sunpower since they're known to be the better panels and have the 25 year warranty, vs. 12 year on the LG. However, due to their financial instability, I fear that a 25 year warranty isn't worth much if they're not around. I also am a little concerned about the microinverters, just because they haven't been around as long.
    My question is, am I overthinking this? Is this a great price for Sunpower and should I jump on it and call it a day?
    I have little time to devote to research so I am trying to maximize any information that I can get and I appreciate any insights.

  • #2
    Hello neurogeek and welcome to Solar Panel Talk. In my opinion SunPower are no better or worse than other teir 1 solar panels. In my experience if you are going to have an issue with a panel it will surface in the first few months usually. If you have no shade issues and plenty of roof space to install the panels I would suggest a traditional string inverter. I would be asking for a quote on Canadian solar panels with a SMA inverter, but you will find opinions on different brands vary a lot.

    Comment


    • #3
      Forget the A.C. price/Watt. What's the D.C. price/Watt for the system? ( Total system price)/(# of panels * panel nameplate = S.T.C rating) ? Either way, that SP price seems too low compared to other SP pricing of ~ $4.35/nameplate (D.C.) Watt and up. SP's good stuff, just usually way overpriced for what you get. A deal too good to be true probably is (too good to be true). Also, unless I had a lot of shade, I'd skip the micros and go with a quality string inverter in the garage.

      As for being around in the future, who knows ? In fairness to SP, although they're not as big as LG, they are 60% owned by the French oil co. "Total". I suspect they'll be around for awhile. The local vendor you choose is probably way more important anyway. I'd be more concerned that any local vendor you choose has other sources of business to fall back on when the solar market has a downturn.

      One other thing: The LG 285's have been around for awhile. While there's nothing wrong with being a bit older, the older inventory in panels, like most everything else, ought to be trading at a discount. $3.35/Watt isn't a bad price for the newer LG -320's, etc, but maybe not so sharp a price for what may well be old merchandise.

      Do yourself a favor and download a slightly outdated but still useful copy of "Solar Power Your Home for Dummies" from the net, or spend ~ $20 - $25 on a newer hard copy. The time and money will be well spent. Then, after the read, peruse prior threads on this forum. I'd suggest you do those two things before you go further. Suit yourself, but It looks to me like you need education/experience.

      Welcome to the forum of few(er) illusions.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post
        Forget the A.C. price/Watt. What's the D.C. price/Watt for the system? ( Total system price)/(# of panels * panel nameplate = S.T.C rating) ? Either way, that SP price seems too low compared to other SP pricing of ~ $4.35/nameplate (D.C.) Watt and up. SP's good stuff, just usually way overpriced for what you get. A deal too good to be true probably is (too good to be true). Also, unless I had a lot of shade, I'd skip the micros and go with a quality string inverter in the garage.

        As for being around in the future, who knows ? In fairness to SP, although they're not as big as LG, they are 60% owned by the French oil co. "Total". I suspect they'll be around for awhile. The local vendor you choose is probably way more important anyway. I'd be more concerned that any local vendor you choose has other sources of business to fall back on when the solar market has a downturn.

        One other thing: The LG 285's have been around for awhile. While there's nothing wrong with being a bit older, the older inventory in panels, like most everything else, ought to be trading at a discount. $3.35/Watt isn't a bad price for the newer LG -320's, etc, but maybe not so sharp a price for what may well be old merchandise.

        Do yourself a favor and download a slightly outdated but still useful copy of "Solar Power Your Home for Dummies" from the net, or spend ~ $20 - $25 on a newer hard copy. The time and money will be well spent. Then, after the read, peruse prior threads on this forum. I'd suggest you do those two things before you go further. Suit yourself, but It looks to me like you need education/experience.

        Welcome to the forum of few(er) illusions.
        Thanks both of you for your advice. I mis-spoke. I have a contract in hand for 14 Sunpower SPR-X21-335-WHT-C-AC panels (total DC Size at 4.69kW) with built in microinverters for $16,357 before tax incentives which by my calculation comes out to $3.48/watt. The contractor is one of the Sunpower by xxxx vendors. I am assuming that they are legitimate. They have been around (before partnering exclusively with Sunpower) for 15 years and are well regarded in the community. The 25 year warranty is pretty comprehensive as compared to other quotes that I have received where the contracts were (presumably intentionally) vague. Thus, although I'm looking for the loop-hole (with respect to 'too good to be true'), I don't really see it.
        Is it really impossible to get this sort of deal?
        Thanks!

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by neurogeek View Post

          Thanks both of you for your advice. I mis-spoke. I have a contract in hand for 14 Sunpower SPR-X21-335-WHT-C-AC panels (total DC Size at 4.69kW) with built in microinverters for $16,357 before tax incentives which by my calculation comes out to $3.48/watt. The contractor is one of the Sunpower by xxxx vendors. I am assuming that they are legitimate. They have been around (before partnering exclusively with Sunpower) for 15 years and are well regarded in the community. The 25 year warranty is pretty comprehensive as compared to other quotes that I have received where the contracts were (presumably intentionally) vague. Thus, although I'm looking for the loop-hole (with respect to 'too good to be true'), I don't really see it.
          Is it really impossible to get this sort of deal?
          Thanks!
          If it's $3.48,and you feel like you've done due diligence and homework on vendor quality, There's not much to not like provided all the other terms/conditions are reasonable. Identify the vendor and folks on this forum will beat a path to their door for ~ $3.50/Watt on S.P. equipment. At that price, they'll put the competition and every other S.P. vendor in your area out of business.

          Comment


          • #6
            If that is the installed price, then that's not bad.

            Comment


            • #7
              All the more reason you have to choose your local installer right. If they're not around in 25 years, does the warranty matter?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by stellarbrooks View Post
                All the more reason you have to choose your local installer right. If they're not around in 25 years, does the warranty matter?
                Depends on whether service is needed or not. Panels seem to be reasonably failsafe after infant mortality issues.

                In the U.S. a significant portion of homeowners move w/in 7 yrs. or so anyway. I don't know what a distribution of occupant longevity in a location for PV equipped residences might be, but I suspect most folks will have moved before a warranty expires, maybe a few more might be around for a string inverter warranty expiration. Best warranty or chance of not needing it is due diligence by the owner from quotation and bid evaluation through installation and commissioning/PTO.

                Comment


                • #9
                  You would avoid them no matter what. Going bankrupt is just another nail in their coffin and another reason not to buy them. There is nothing special about SP, just more expensive than all others. That is why they are going down. They cannot compete.
                  MSEE, PE

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I read that only SunPower uses a copper sheet to act as a heatsink on their panels, which help to reduce their degradation rate. SunPower also makes n-type rather than p-type panels. LG also makes n-type panels but how many panels considered top tier are p-type?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by RiFl View Post
                      I read that only SunPower uses a copper sheet to act as a heatsink on their panels, which help to reduce their degradation rate. SunPower also makes n-type rather than p-type panels. LG also makes n-type panels but how many panels considered top tier are p-type?
                      So what ? You want top tier and less cost effective, or more cost effective and fit for purpose for longer than you'll probably own the system ?

                      Sunpower vs. other quality but less expensive panels is analogous to the idea that a $150k land yacht will get you to the grocery store and back no better than a Toyota.

                      Look, Sunpower is good stuff, but no more fit for purpose than other quality panels which cost a substantial $$ amount less. So, for more $$, Sunpower owners get little or nothing more in terms of long term value than bragging rights that those in the know get a chuckle out of.

                      Panels are a commodity these days, not a lifestyle. One reason Sunpower costs more is their advertising budget. That they are better or at least more determined than other PV outfits at hyping and hawking their product in ways those in the know can see through but the solar ignorant cannot is one reason why I owned their stock until ~ 2 yrs. ago. P.T. Barnum was right.
                      Last edited by J.P.M.; 06-20-2017, 01:00 AM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I read that only SunPower uses a copper sheet to act as a heatsink on their panels
                        Wow ! I had to go look that one up. Stop It.
                        Think about it for a minute, do SP panels have an array of heat fins somewhere ? No. So copper is not used as heat sink, It's used as a good electrical conductor. Most panels use aluminum metalization. Cheaper, but more internal loss than copper. Most good conventional panels have a 20 year warranty, SP is how many more years ? for how much more cost ?
                        https://us.sunpower.com/why-sunpower...ar-technology/

                        Powerfab top of pole PV mount (2) | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
                        || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
                        || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

                        solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
                        gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by RiFl View Post
                          I read that only SunPower uses a copper sheet to act as a heatsink on their panels, which help to reduce their degradation rate.
                          A thin sheet isn't going to have significant effect on the heat dissipation. What matters is increasing the surface area (fins) or
                          a more emissive coating. This while maintaining or increasing air flow. Bruce Roe

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Is it me, or does the pricing on the LG panels seem very high? And why only 285w LG panels? What is the DC STC size of the two systems? How many kWh per year are you seeking to offset? An LG or Panasonic solution with SolarEdge should be less than $3.50 per watt. How many panels are we talking about? Look at the LG Neon2's or the newer LG NeonR's (with a 25yr warranty) in the 320-350w range to compare with SP. On the other hand, that does seem like a really good price for SP.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post
                              Look, Sunpower is good stuff, but no more fit for purpose than other quality panels which cost a substantial $$ amount less.
                              There is one exception. If you are trying to hit a certain wattage output, but have limited roof space, the higher power density of SP or LG panels may be helpful.

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X