Lightning Solar & Electrical

SunPower Solar Panels Review:
Truthfully, Are They Really The Best?

If you’re in the market for solar panels, then I’m pretty sure you would have heard of SunPower solar panels. They are one of the oldest solar panel manufacturers and are extremely popular in America, where they are known to be American made and manufactured. 

Now, over the past 10 or more years SunPower has become one of the biggest solar suppliers in Australia. The demand is huge, homeowners just cannot get enough of these all black solar panels. 

In the past few years, SunPower has become one of our top selling solar panels. This year, I think they will actually become our best seller… But it’s not for the reasons you would expect.

You see, SunPower did something amazing last year that has changed the solar industry forever. Seriously, this has made them become one of Australia’s most popular solar panels.

But honestly, are these solar panels actually any good?

SunPower seems to have gained the reputation of high-end solar panels, meaning they provide high quality products at a high cost… But is this really true?

Well, let’s find out. We are going to be taking a dive into this SunPower solar panels review to see if they are really worth your money or if you can get better value elsewhere.

Table Of Contents

SunPower Company History

SunPower was founded in 1985 by Dr Richard Swanson. This makes them one of the oldest running solar panel manufacturers in the world, along with being one of the first pioneers to bring solar panels into our everyday lives.

SunPower has worked with some huge corporations in the past including NASA. Landing contracts like these do suggest that SunPower provide the best products in the industry, or at least we would like to think so. 

For me, this stands out as quite important. Long standing companies suggest that they are doing something right. Bad business will put you out of business, so the fact that Sunpower is still going even after 36 years shows that their product must be high quality.

Sunpower's solar powered rover when they worked with nasa

What About SunPower's Company Ethics?

Ethically, SunPower seems to want to make the industry a better place for homeowners. It does look like they are trying to make solar more affordable for consumers and not just focusing on money as their main goal. 

It’s also worth noting a bit of extra information regarding Dr Richard Swanson. He was the person behind Swanson’s Law. This suggests that solar panel costs will fall 20% for every time that production capability is doubled. We’re certainly on the right track to affordable solar energy every single day… 

Do SunPower Have Offices In Australia?

SunPower has been operating in Australian since 2008 and has an office here for support and sales. 

SunPower Solar Panel Modules:

Maxeon 3

Until the Maxeon 5 came out, this was the light of the solar industry. It’s famously known for its record breaking solar panel efficiency coming in at a whopping 22.7%.

All in all, the SunPower Maxeon 3 is a fantastic solar panel. It’s built for performance and uses advanced technology to maximise the most from your solar system. SunPower created this unique 104 cell design to increase the power output and consumption efficiency.

However, the Maxeon 3 is a high end solar panel, and with that comes a heavy price tag. It’s too early to tell just yet, but maybe we will see the price slowly drop now that the Maxeon 5 has been released.

Specifications:

  • 400w power output 
  • Power Tolerance +5/0% +5/0% +5/0%
  • Panel Efficiency of 22.7%
  • Up to 35% more energy production 
  • 25 year product warranty
  • 25 year performance warranty 
  • 104 Monocrystalline Gen III cells 
  • All black, anti-reflective glass
SunPower maxeon 3 solar panels

Performance 3

The Performance 3 solar panels have given us quite a shock recently. As I mentioned before, SunPower did something that changed the industry for good….

They repriced their performance solar panel align with the costs of more affordable panels such as Longi or Jinko solar panels. Maybe in retaliation to Jinko bringing out their Tiger panels series…. They come with an affordable price tag, as well as 25 year product & performance warranties which puts pressure on SunPower.

What seriously impressed me was the way SunPower adapted with the industry, and with the times. There are still some solar panel manufacturers who haven’t budged on price, even though the other panels are now offering 25 year warranties which has stolen the main selling point (I’m not naming who, but I think we know… LG 😆😉).

Not SunPower! They’ve now started to shape the industry for the better. 

So, all in all, this has now got to be one of the best solar panels in the world right now. Simply because it’s high in efficiency, comes with a 25 year back warranty but, (at last) it’s AFFORDABLE!

Specifications:

  • 315-390w power output 
  • Power Tolerance +5/0% +5/0% +5/0%
  • Panel Efficiency of 19.9%
  • Up to 26% more energy production 
  • 25 year product warranty
  • 25 year performance warranty 
  • Monocrystalline PERC cells 
  • All black, anti-reflective glass

Maxeon 5

The Maxeon 5 is the newest of all of these modules. It arrived in Australia for consumers back in Feb of this year. So it’s only really a few months in. First impressions seem good. Another very reliable solar panel to enter the market. 

One important thing to notice is that SunPower seems to have partnered with Enphase to provide a solar panel with a micro inverter system. For those who are unsure what this is, it essentially allowed your solar panels to perform individually therefore removing the effects of shading. You can find out more on our Enphase page here

Long story short, you can look to get around 50% more energy from your system when choosing SunPower Maxeon 5 panels. For me, this is seriously impressive and definitely worth looking into. Again, SunPower has created a beast in the industry that’s going to smash other panels in performance. 

Similar to the Maxeon 3, these solar panels are high end technology. There is no doubt that they will provide you with excellent, long lasting performance. It will however, come at a cost. Both the panel and micro inverter come with a 25 years warranty.

Specifications:

  • 390-415w power output 
  • Power Tolerance +5/0% +5/0% +5/0%
  • Panel Efficiency of 22.2%
  • Up to 50% more energy production 
  • Enphase micro-inverter technology 
  • 25 year product warranty
  • 25 year performance warranty 
  • 25 year micro-inverter warranty 
  • 66 Monocrystalline Gen 5 cells 
  • All black, anti-reflective glass
sunpower maxeon 5 solar panels

Quick Overview: Maxeon 3 vs Performance 3 vs Maxeon 5

So, how do these solar panels compare with each other? 

Briefly, if you are looking at the more affordable side of things, I strongly recommend the performance 3 solar panel. It’s fantastic for all types of homeowners and with a specially designed system you can use these panels to maximise your energy output. 

If you’re looking for some more high-end I would probably suggest the Maxeon 5. By including the Enphase micro-inverter technology SunPower really is making the most out of the performance you can get from these solar panels. However, like I mentioned before it will come with a big price tag. 

Here is how I would compare them:

PRICE
EFFICIENCY 
PERFORMANCE

LOW

HIGH

Performance 3

Affordable Cost
19.9% Efficiency 
Good Performance

Maxeon 3

SunPower maxeon 3 solar panels

Mid-Range Cost
22.7% Efficiency 
Better Performance

Maxeon 5

sunpower maxeon 5 solar panels

High Cost
22.2% Efficiency 
Excellent Performance

How Efficient Are SunPower Solar Panels?

Well, this seems to be what they are most well known for. Everyone wants to have the most efficient solar panel on the market, and with SunPower, that’s exactly what you’re going to get. 

SunPower’s Maxeon 3 solar panel can reach up to 22.7% conversion efficiency. Right now, this is the best solar panel efficiency that you can buy on the market. 

Shortly following this is SunPower’s new Maxeon 5 module coming in at 22.2% conversion efficiency. With the use of its micro-inverters you will definitely be maximising the performance of your system with these. 

Lastly, SunPower’s performance module reaches up to 19.9% panel efficiency, which is pretty standard in the industry. However, I do want to stress that solar panel efficiency shouldn’t be your key buying point. I go into a lot of detail here explaining why solar panels efficiency won’t matter as much as you think.

Are SunPower Solar Panels The Best In The World?

Honestly, I think this is now down to more of a personal opinion. However, it’s more of an educated opinion based on my years of experience as a solar engineer…

From what I can see at the moment I would say that SunPower solar panels are one of the best panels in the world right now. All 3 modules dominate the area of industry that they are in (budget, mid-range and high-end).

But note, I’ve said one of the best. If you’re looking for an honest answer, every home is different. Therefore, every system is going to be different. There shouldn’t be a best or worst solar panel in the world, it should be focused more on your needs.

Sunpower might be really good for one home, but maybe Jinko is better for another? 

What I’m trying to say is that there are a lot of really good solar panels out there right now and you should choose whichever one suits your requirements best. This will maximise what you can get for your budget, and the amount of energy you can produce.

Awards For SunPower Panels

Honestly, solar batteries are the future. Given how far they have come in such a short space of time, you can certainly see why. They provide a huge number of benefits to both the owner and the environment. 

Not only this, but solar batteries are an investment. A very low risk investment as well. You are likely to make

It’s worth briefly noting that SunPower has won awards that are given for quality of products or company. The reason why I think this is so important is because it gives us insights into how good these panels are before we buy them.

It’s like a trust feature. For us as installers, if we are CEC accredited then it shows that we are fully trained in what we do. Similar to this, SunPower is recognised with awards for being excellent at what they are doing. 

Some of the famous awards that SunPower is recognised with are:

PVEL / DNV GL
Solar Panel Sustainability Award 
PV Magazine award 2019

sunpower awards for high quality solar panels

How Do They Compare Against LG, Jinko & Longi?

One obvious question is how do SunPower compare to other panels like LG, Jinko or Longi

I mean, to be honest… All of these solar panels are actually a fantastic option for your home. It only really matters when one becomes more useful, or fits better or can save you more money from the same size system etc. 

If we are just looking on paper, SunPower definitely seems to have the edge on performance but of course, it’s more expensive. Although, I must admit the performance 3 modules are affordable and now making a big scene in the industry…

The P3 you can get around the same price and Jinko and Longi (give or take) and SunPower still gives you the 25 year warranty. So I’d have to say this one is great.. .but again it all depends on your home and requirements. 

The SunPower Solar Panels Review:

Price 9/10

As mentioned before, the Performance 3 module is very affordable for most. This means that SunPower is adapting with the industry and market to provide more realistic solar panel prices. If not, they would just lose out on sales now that Jinko has its Tiger series with 25 year warranty.

Efficiency 10/10

SunPower is pretty much known for their extremely good solar panel efficiency. With all maxeon modules they are above 22% and the P3 is 19.9% panel efficiency. When you compare this to panels on the market you can see it’s much much higher. In fact I’d say most panels are around 20% efficient and the Maxeon is a whole 2% higher.

Warranty 10/10

Again, they offer the best solar panel warranty in the industry so SunPower will always get a 10/10. For a long time they have offered 25 year warranties to keep customers happy with a low risk investment. With their new modules, they have kept their warranty to 25 years for the micro-inverters.

Performance 10/10

In terms of performance, you can bet that you’re going to get the best in the industry with SunPower. Definitely, if you go for one of the Maxeon modules. The Maxeon 5 modules are incredible for performance and can generate up to 50% more energy compared to a normal system.

Conclusion:

Well, all in all SunPower is definitely one of the best solar panel suppliers in the world right now. I think what impresses me the most was their motive to make solar more affordable for everyone with their performance panel. 

This still comes with the full 25 year warranty but is much more affordable to most homeowners. It may be because they want to shape the industry for better, or because of the pressure put on by other solar panels. 

Either way it’s a great thing. You cannot go wrong with SunPower panels and I would highly recommend these. Even so much so that I have SunPower installed on my home! 😆

What are your thoughts on SunPower? Let me know in the comments below.

Share With Your Friends!

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn

Written By:

Luke Cove
Managing Director
Lightning Solar & Electrical

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *