“Made in China” 5 things you need to know

 

Buying Chinese-made flexible lightweight solar panels?

Did you know that there is only one brand of lightweight solar panel that has Australian Clean Energy Council accreditation and has International Electrotechnical Commission’s Certification IEC 61215 which defines the requirements for PV module long term outdoor operation?

 

Here are 5 things you may not know about products made in China…. and it’s not all bad!

 

1.    Many high profile brands are made in China

Apple outsources 98-100% of its manufacturing to China including the iPhone, iPod, iPad and MacBook.  It is a global affair however as component parts are sourced from the U.S., Japan, Germany, and South Korea.  Samsung and Sharp also utilise China manufacturing.

And then there's fashion.  The number of shoes made in China annually reaches 12.6 billion, taking up 63 per cent of the world's total. Its per-capita production stands at 10 pairs, about eight times the average of other parts of the world. Nike, Puma, Converse, Asics, Reebok and Adidas are mostly made in China with some shoes made in Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam.  Fashion brands such as Levi’s, Esprit, Tommy Hilfiger and Zara are all made in China. 

Other brands that have products made in China are Blaupunkt; Black & Decker; Braun; Bose and Bosch, Canon; Disney, Epson, GoPro, LG, Magnavox, Microsoft, Moulinex, Panasonic, Philips, Remington, Ryobi, Samsonite and Stanley.

 

2.    Many quality products are made in China

China makes about 70.6 per cent of global mobile phones and produced 286.2 million personal computers in 2014, accounting for 90.6 per cent of the world's total. The per-capita production was 40 times the average of other parts of the world.

Chinese manufacturer Lenovo purchased IBM in 2005 for $1.75 billion and has succeeded in becoming the fourth-largest seller of laptops in the world. In addition, Lenovo is one of the leading environmentally friendly computer companies, perhaps helping support its success. 

China produces 80% of world total of energy saving light globes and air conditioners.

Media coverage tends to focus more on Tesla and other American and European car manufacturers’ electric car ventures rather than Chinese car manufacturers.  However Beijing, a city of 20 million, is investing $1.3 billion to convert the city's 70,000 taxis to electric power.  More battery electric vehicles were sold in China in 2016 than in the US, Norway, Britain, France, Japan and Germany combined.

 

3.   80% of the world’s solar panels are made in China

Overall capacity is hitting 21.8 million kW annually.   

Rigid household solar panels are widespread across Australian roofs with great success and extremely low failure rates yet ‘made in China can still strike hesitation into purchaser’s minds.  Reputations and stigmas take a long time to subside stemming from flimsy toys to shrinking t-shirts.  

There are plenty of cheap flexible solar panels being made in China however there are a limited number of flexble solar panel manufacturers in China that are focussed on quality and use the latest technology materials and production processes.   

 

4.    There are many grades of solar panels made in China

There are many manufacturers of flexible solar panels in China and products have had mixed reviews.  Many grades of solar panels are produced with good and bad solar cells and good and bad encapsulation methods. 

Chinese manufacturers sell their panels through pro-active marketing campaigns and email cold-calling.  We constantly receive offers of ‘cheap’ panels.  This can be very tempting for sellers of solar panels as it means they can attract buyers with cheaper prices  and achieve a better profit margin.  The problem is that manufacturing issues are likely such as overlapping cells, damaged cells, inferior cells, sharp edges or inadequately sealed junction boxes allowing corrosion from moisture including sea water​​ on boats.

 

5.    Premium flexible solar panels are available from China - But you need to be very careful!

Solar 4 RVs only sells the 'eArche’ by Sunman brand of lightweight flexible solar panels.  Sunman is a trusted manufacturer is focussed on meeting expectations in Australia:

  • Dr Shi, who has a PhD from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) developed eArche after already having 60 patents in photovoltaic technology to his credit. 
  • ​Development of the new waterproof composite polymers and panel structure of eArche was accelerated by funding of $3.3M from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to achieve the same durability as conventional solar panels.

 eArche panels have a 10 year product warranty for building and 5 years for mobile applications.  The monocrystalline cells used have a 25 year performance guarantee.

 

How are eArche solar panels different from other Chinese made solar panels:

  • eArche (pronounced e-Ark) is the only lightweight solar panels approved for grid connect on buildings which means it has passed the same testing criteria as traditional solar panels.
  • The only lightweight solar panel with International Electrotechnical Commission’s certification IEC 61215 which defines the requirements for PV module long term outdoor operation.  
  • ​Hail tested with ice stones of 35mm diameter and 200g mass at 39.5m per sec​
  • Rated 2400 pascals for wind and 2400 pascals for load
  • Glass fibre-reinforced composite polymers similar to aircraft windows yet very thin (2mm) and lightweight (175W frameless is 2.6kg)
  • The only lightweight solar panel with Clean Energy Council (CEC) Accreditation (SMA and SMD Series).  The Clean Energy Council (CEC) maintains the database and website listing of AS/NZS 5033-compliant photovoltaic (PV) modules for grid-connected commercial and residential applications.

 

In Summary

We supply hundreds of businesses and government departments as well as the public so it is critical for us to maintain our reputation as a trusted supplier that focusses on quality. 

We have over six years experience in selling lightweight solar panels and our engineer researches and tests products prior to approving them for addition to our product range.

 

Read our guide: Facts you MUST know before buying flexible solar panels

China statistics from https://www.productfrom.com/products/CN/0/0/1