JA Solar panels review 2023: Most efficient among cheapest
- 19 Jan 2022
- 11 min
If you like your solar panels cheap and efficient, Chinese modules may be the ones you are looking for. However, there are so many Chinese brands – 8 out of Top 10 solar companies are Chinese! How do you choose between them? We got your back, let’s go over them together one by one. In this article we’ll take a look at one of the biggest Chinese brands – here’s a JA Solar panels review for you.
Founded in Shanghai in 2005
In the Top 5 of world’s largest solar companies
Shipments to 135 countries
$3 billion sales revenue per year
Tier 1 manufacturer according to Bloomberg
JA Solar panels: cheap, powerful, sturdy
30%-35% more production with bifacial panels
JA Solar is focused on monocrystalline PV modules – in fact, that’s all they sell. They can be standard monofacial panels, or more rare bifacial modules. The latter are great for utility-scale installations giving 30-35% more production for the same space.
20%-21% average efficiency
The efficiency of JA Solar panels usually hovers between 20% and 21%, which is above average on the market. JA Solar engineers implement most of the popular modern solar technologies, like half-cut cell construction, PERC cell technology and busbars.
$0.55–$0.65 per Watt
When it comes to price, JA Solar is on the cheaper side of the market. The price per watt is somewhere between $0.55–$0.65. You could say that JA Solar prices match the ones of Trina Solar, slightly cheaper than Canadian Solar, but a bit more expensive than LONGi Solar. Lower LCOE (levelized cost of electricity) is mentioned in the description of every JA Solar panel. You could say that JA Solar panels may be the most efficient ones among cheaper PV modules.
JA Solar panels can survive a category 5 hurricane
Most panels of JA Solar have good mechanical loading tolerance. Their modules are made to withstand 5400 Pa of front load which is comparable to 210 mph wind. For example, it can live through category 5 hurricane Michael that visited Florida a while ago — its wind speed is around 160 mph. Better shading tolerance is also often mentioned with them: each panel has 3 bypass diodes which decrease the energy losses of a module due to inactivity of some cells.
More than 80% output even in 30 years
Generally, JA Solar issues a 12 year warranty for the product and 25 year warranty for performance of their panels. You can expect from their panel to retain over 90% of its output after 10 years and around 83% of the rated output in 25 years. However, for more models, like a bifacial JAM72D20/MB panel, there is a performance warranty extension from 25 years to 30. Bifacial panels of JA Solar also have better degradation rates of only 0.45% power output loss per year.
JA solar: pros and cons
To see what’s different between JA Solar and other manufacturers, let’s list the strong and weak sides of their product. Let’s start with advantages:
• Cheaper panels. The prices of JA Solar are definitely lower than panels of most competitors.
• Good efficiency. The 20%-21% energy conversion rate that JA Solar brings to the table certainly isn’t bad, especially for the price range that their product is in. Most popular solar technologies, like PERC cells and busbars, are there, so it certainly improves the performance and quality of a panel.
• Resilience. JA Solar panels show good resistance to harsh weather and natural disasters, with most panels being capable to withstand 5400 Pa front load.
While aren’t any immediate cons that stand out, let’s just mention a few points of concern:
• Bleak design. Ja Solar wouldn’t be described as flashy. They look absolutely normal, but there is nothing special about their design.
• Standard warranties. Degradation rates aren’t too bad either, but again some other brands, like Q CELLS, might have outdone them in that regard. 12 years is a long time for product warranty, but other manufacturers, like Panasonic, offer more. Again, panels of these manufacturers are much more expensive though.
• Shallow product line. Some JA Solar panels reviews mention the lack of diversity in the product line of JA Solar — the company is focused solely on monocrystalline PV modules. While they are fine by themselves and bifacial modules are certainly a nice addition, there are no polycrystalline and thin-film panels to speak of.
JA solar panels overview: home and business
We have asked our engineer to share his opinion on three different JA models for different purposes: for residential, business and big-scale installations. This is how he feels about them.
JAM60S10/MR – Great choice for your home
First, we have a 120 half-cell 340W JA Solar panel – a good choice for a residential system. This monocrystalline module displays 20.2% efficiency. The model shows better performance in high temperatures and lower risk of hot spots due to implementation of busbars and half-cells. The module shows good wind and snow load resistance, withstanding 5400 Pa of frontal pressure which is equal to 210 mph wind. Half-cut cell design and three bypass diodes provide a solid shading tolerance. The design of the panel looks quite nice. These panels cost around $120–$140 which is a very low price.
JAM72S30/MR – Means business
Here’s another model by JA Solar – this time it’s a 144 cell 550W panel, great for commercity and utility-scale installations. It was one of the most powerful panels on the market in the first half of 2020. The module shows impressive 21.3% efficiency. Three bypass diodes decrease the impact of shading. The panel withstands 5400 PA of front load. Busbars and half-cut cells improve the longevity of a panel and flow of current flow inside a panel. The model generally received favorable reviews from customers on the Internet. You could find them at $230–$260 price.
JAM72D20/MB – Two sides are better than one
Finally, let’s have a look at a bifacial solar module by JA Solar – a 144-cell 465W panel. Bifacial modules are generally used in installations of a bigger scale, but you can install them at home as well. Rear side captures sun just as the front side does, which results in 30-35% more production. This particular model reaches 20.9% efficiency. It also displays a better degradation rate: a panel loses only 0.45% of its output per year. JA Solar offers to extend their standard 25 year warranty to a 30-year linear performance warranty, claiming that by the end of year 30 you’ll end up with 85% of initial power output.
JAM54-S31-390MR — For any application
This model is fit for any kind of solar project. JA Solar 390W panels are a good choice for building a home system or a small commercial installation. The panel’s efficiency reaches 20%. It’s all-black and won’t compromise the look of your home or office. JA panel withstands harsh weather well, and half-cut cell design increases shading tolerance. The panel comes with a 12-year product warranty and a 25-year output warranty.
Keep the purpose in mind when choosing a JA solar panel
JA Solar has panels for the whole range of purposes. For example, if you want to buy a panel for your home, then 300W-350W modules are more than enough. When you are looking to build a huge system for your business, it makes sense to go for 400+ W panels.
The questions below should help you approach the task of choosing the panel more carefully:
Q.: What number of cells should I go for?
A.: The answer comes down to how much space you have. For home systems 60-cell panels are recommended – they are easier to fit on the roof. For flat roof or a ground installation where space is not an issue, 72 or 96-cell can be a better choice. Keep in mind that a 120-cell panel is usually the same size as a 60-cell one, because of half-cut cell technology.
Q.: Does design matter or do I just want the production?
A.: Not every panel is made to look flashy and the look might not be the overall strength of JA Solar panels. If you have to impress a passer-by with how your panels complement your house or office building, you might be better off looking for another brand.
Q.: What’s the weather like in my area? Do I want better wind endurance or it doesn’t really matter?
A.: Some models are sturdier than others and withstand harsh weather conditions and natural disasters better. Durability is the strong side of JA Solar production – usually they withstand 5400 Pa pressure which is equivalent to 210 mph wind.
Q.: What about the shading – how are they going to deal with it?
A.: Pick panels with at least 3 bypass diodes and half-cut cell design for good shading tolerance. Bypass diodes split panels into independent sectors. When cells in one sector are shaded, at least they don’t drag down the performance of cells in other sectors. Half-cut cell design makes two halves of a panel independent from one another.
Q.: For how long can I rely on these panels? What is their output going to look like in 25? 30 years?
A.: Solar panels last for over 25 years. JA Solar modules retain over 80% of their production after this time – there is a performance warranty to ensure that. For some models of JA Solar there is an extension available that prolongs the performance warranty from 25 years to 30.
A1SolarStore recommends JA Solar 405W 144 Cell
Here’s our own choice from the JA Solar product line! This 144 cell panel is best suited for commercial installations. The design is pretty generic, but again it is made to provide lots of power, not to look good. The module reaches a 20.2% energy conversion rate. There are lots of innovations implemented here: half-cut cells improve the durability of the module, busbars ensure the better flow of electricity inside and PERC technology allows to increase the efficiency while keeping the production costs low. So far our customers haven't been disappointed with this JA Solar panel.
Our verdict: JA Solar is a fine brand
Our JA solar panels complete review of 2023 comes to an end. Let’s summarize everything we’ve covered so far by listing several focal points.
• JA Solar is a Chinese brand specializing in monocrystalline solar panels.
• Their panels are relatively cheap. The prices are comparable to Trina Solar, LONGi Solar and Canadian Solar.
• The average efficiency is 20%-21% which puts JA panels among the most efficient in this price range.
• Panels are very durable and offer good shading tolerance.
• Warranties are standard, the design is average.
• JA Solar offers panels up to 550W in wattage and even has bifacial modules for sale. That makes this brand particularly appealing to customers that are looking to build solar installations of a larger scope.
JA solar panels are a fine, middle-of-the-road choice. While we aren’t ready to give the manufacturer a huge praise, there is nothing wrong with its product.
Illustrations – Marina Fionova
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