“Made in China” - Is it All Bad?

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

1.    Many high-end 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, Sharp, Bosch, LG, Bose and many others also utilise Chinese manufacturing.

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.


2.   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 flexible solar panel manufacturers in China that are focussed on quality and use the latest technology materials and production processes.   


3.    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 cracked cells, inadequately sealed junction boxes, low quality or outdated lamination materials and techniques.


Premium flexible solar panels are available from China

Sunman, the manufacturer of eArche (pronounced e-Ark), is a trusted manufacturer 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 been installed on the world’s first solar powered train in Byron Bay and 812 (235kW) panels have been installed onto the Sydney Maritime Museum’s Heritage Building which could not support heavy glass framed solar panels.  To date more than 1MW of eArche capacity has been installed in Australia.
  • 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.
  • eArche have the only lightweight solar panels approved for grid connect on buildings which means they have 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.


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