An expert review of Trina solar panels
Key Advantages of Trina Solar Panels
Trina solar panels have a lower cost and still offer tier 1 level performance. Due to their lower price and lower efficiency they're perfect in situations where money is limited but roof space is not.
While there are better modules out there, you can never go wrong with the all round performance of Trina solar panels.
Key Disadvantages of Trina Solar Panels
Trina solar panels have a lower efficiency and shorter product warranty compared to SunPower, LG and Panasonic. Trina also rely entirely on revenue from solar panels and silicon wafer sales, this leaves them vulnerable to rapid market changes and perhaps not being able to honor future warranties. This is not a problem for a brand like Panasonic who manufacture many other electronics.
Trina Solar Panels Summary
This Chinese solar panel manufacturer began producing solar modules in 1997. Although there was a lot of uncertainty in the solar market back then, they hung in there and eventually rose to the the top of this very competitive industry. In 2014, Trina Solar overtook Yingli Solar as the world’s largest solar manufacturer, although it has since slipped into second place behind Jinko Solar.
Besides panels, Trina Solar also produces solar cells, silicon ingots and silicon wafers. Manufacturing the ingredients for solar modules has allowed Trina Solar to essentially get a commision from several other panel manufacturers.
Factors used to rate solar panel brands and how Trina Solar Panels rank on each of these
We use the following factors to measure solar panels brands against each other
Trina Solar Panels Warranty
Trina offer a 10 year structural product warranty which is pretty standard, but not as long as some of the other tier 1 manufacturers.
Depending on the model, Trina Solar also provide a limited power output warranty for either 25 or 30 years. A limited power output warranty is a guarantee that the panel will produce a specific amount of its rated power over a certain amount of time.
Efficiency of Trina Solar Panels
The solar panel efficiency refers to the amount of sunlight that strikes the surface of the panel and is converted into electricity. Solar PV systems with a higher efficiency require less space to reach a desired power output. Trina Solar’s panels typically have an efficiency of 17.4%–19.9%, which is about average.
You can read more about the efficiency of solar panels and why it is not something on which we place great weight when ranking the overall attractiveness of one solar panel over another.
Power output of Trina solar panels
Solar Panels are rated at a particular wattage based on their power output at STC (standard test conditions) which involved 1000 watts of irradiation per square metre at a temperature of 25°C. (77°F).
However, real world conditions are much different to this. Generally speaking cells will operate at temperatures well above 25°C and panel output will typically fall as temperature rises.
The rate at which power output falls for each 1 degree increase in temperature is called the temperature coefficient. A better panel will have a lower temperature coefficient such that although its output will still fall as temperature increases it will fall at a lower rate.
The rating system of PTC (Photovoltaics for Utility Scale Applications Test Conditions) is an attempt developed by NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratories) to rate different panels at how much they will produce in real world temperatures.
The temperature coefficient of the Trina Solar ALLMAX 285W solar panels is a -0.41% fall in production per 1 degree increase in temperature. The lower this number the better as this means output falls less as temperature rises. Trina's temperature coefficient is not as good as the best panels on the market that offer a temp coefficient of as little as -0.29%.
How much do Trina solar panels cost?
Value or cost efficiency is a big factor since at the end of the day solar is a financial decision for most people rather than predominantly an environmental choice. In many parts of the US electricity costs are quite low and so solar systems that cost a more affordable $3 per watt fully installed are needed to give consumers the 6-10 year payback they need for solar panels to be attractive. As such we see it as a positive factor if solar panel brands have a relatively low cost of manufacture and a low selling price in the US.
The wholesale pricing of Trina solar panels has become quite low in the wake of a sudden decision by the Chinese government to cut their solar feed in tariff in the middle of 2016 and the module oversupply this left Trina and many other Chinese manufacturers overstocked.
This has been reflected in some excellent pricing being offered on residential Trina solar systems and we have seen quite a few offers for fully installed Trina solar systems as low as $2.80 per watt with a good quality SMA string inverter. Given that the 26% tax credit reduces this price even further we are talking an excellent payback for homeowners in most parts of the country.