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Top solar manufacturers in the world are Chinese, and among top Chinese brands there is always Trina Solar. What's the reason behind this company being so successful and continuously making the Top 5 of the largest solar companies? Let’s find out. We are going to take a close look at the Trina Solar product, evaluate its strong qualities and nitpick about every single weak point. Here comes our Trina Solar panels review.
Founded in 1997,
Around 20,000 employees
Top 5 solar manufacturer
in the world
21 world records in solar cell efficiency and production since 2011
Tier 1 Solar Manufacturer according to Bloomberg
in China, Thailand and Vietnam
Trina Solar is responsible for at least 21 world records in solar cell efficiency and production, according to the profile page of the company. The list of innovations that the company brought to the table include:
• Improvement on N-type cells. In 2019 Trina introduced the N-type i-TOPCon bifacial solar cell that has set a record of 23.22% conversion efficiency. N-type solar cells of Trina panels are less susceptible to Light Induced Degradation (LID) which occurs when the module is first exposed to the sun. As a result, TrinaSolar panels lose less output in the first year of service.
• Multi Busbars technology. Trina is a pioneer of the MBB technology. Traditional ribbon busbars somewhat shade a cell, so Trina engineers replaced ribbons with wires. This also allowed reducing the usage of expensive silver paste by 50-80% which lowered the costs of a module.
Bifacial modules give you 5-30% more production compared to monofacial panels
The Chinese brand offers modules for all kinds of applications, though there is a certain emphasis on powerful panels for commercial and industrial installations. Product line is diverse enough and there are even bifacial panels for sale. They are great for systems of a larger scope because they give you 5-30% more production for the same space as monofacial modules.
The efficiency of Trina Solar panels looks alright. It varies from 18% to 21%, with their best modules competing for highest efficiency numbers in the industry. Their latest panel Vertex is promised to have 21.6% maximum efficiency which is an impressive rate.
Trina solar panels prices are low for the industry, somewhere around JA Solar and LONGi Solar. The exact cost depends on the model, but it can vary from $0.4 to $0.8 per watt. Again, the emphasis of a company is on high-output modules, which partially explains low cost per watt.
12 year product warranty, up to 30 years for performance
The warranties for Trina Solar panels are nothing special. You get your standard 12-year product warranty and 25-year performance warranty. Bifacial modules get a 30-year output warranty. However, there has been an improvement in this regard lately. Vertex and Vertex S, the most modern models from Trina Solar, are promised to have a 15 year product warranty that can be extended to 25 years.
Degradation rate of Trina Solar panels is basically the same for all models: they lose 0.55% per year which gives you over 83.1% of rated power output in 25 years. It is slightly better than the average numbers of 0.7%–0.8% in the industry, but brands Q CELLS, Panasonic, REC do much better.
Apart from PV modules, Trina Solar produces solar trackers and batteries
When it comes to weather dependence, nothing really stands out with the Trina Solar panel. The coefficient with most panels is around -0.36%/°C which is completely standard for the industry; it’s not like Trina panels are going to be the best in hot conditions. Most of their panels can handle up to 5600 Pa positive load which is enough to survive most tornadoes and hurricanes of a small and medium scale.
Since we’ve already looked at product qualities, we may now list down stronger and weaker sides of Trina Solar panels. Let’s start with what’s good about them:
• High output modules. Most panels in the Trina Solar product line are more than 400W in power. Look at the Vertex model – have you ever seen a 600+W panel before?
• Extremely modern, highly efficient modules. Trina engineers move solar technologies forward and do not hesitate to implement innovations into their panels. As a result, Vertex is one of the most efficient panels on the market with a 21.6% energy conversion rate.
• Low price. Trina Solar panels fit even modest budgets and provide great payback, given their high power output.
A review would feel incomplete without a list of cons and points of concern about the Trina Solar product. Here they are:
• Emphasis on panels for systems of commercial and industrial scope. That’s not a disadvantage by any means, but if you are looking for modules for your home, choices are limited.
• Warranties of Trina Solar panels are just standard. However, a 15 year product warranty for the latest Vertex model with possible extension to 25 years looks very good.
• Trina Solar had a series of quality issues with panels that were manufactured between 2011 and 2014. Panels suffered from Potential Induced Degradation (PID), water ingress and backsheet degradation. After 2014 there haven't been any problems like this, but apparently this series of incidents is going to remain a stain on Trina Solar's reputation.
Time to move from specifications to the panels themselves. As usual, we asked our engineer to take a look at a few models and share his thoughts.
“Honey” is the most modern panel for residential installations in Trina Solar’s product line. It brings up to 345W power with up to 20.5% efficiency. Half-cut and multi busbar technologies serve to improve efficiency and lower the cost of a module. The panel is well protected from PID, salt, acid and ammonia and can withstand up to 5400 Pa positive load. Lower temperature coefficient is mentioned in the datasheet, but -0.36% is actually a pretty average number for the industry, so this is not the best panel for hot areas. Overall, it’s a solid, fairly standard and relatively inexpensive solar panel.
Vertex panel impresses just by the fact it exists: a 670W power output from one panel is not something you see every day. But here it is: Vertex provides 635-670W power output with up to 21.6% efficiency. It appears that the module isn’t quite ready for the market: all existing datasheets are marked as “preliminary'' so far. The manufacturer promises the lowest first year degradation ever (currently marked as 2% in the first year which is fairly standard), multi busbar technology, PID and microcracks protection and better return on investments.
Duomax Twin is bifacial panel which makes it a great choice for commercial-size installations where you want to squeeze as much production from the available space as possible. Back side gives up to 25% more production, depending on how well the surface reflects the light. That means that technically you get a 500+W panel if the rear side is working at full power. The panel comes with a 12-year product warranty and a 30-year performance warranty: after 30 years you end up with over 83% of rated power output.
A 132-cell half-cut BOB module is not from the latest updates of Trina Solar product line, but it is still a great panel for residential installations. Notice that it is slightly longer than a standard 120-cell panel: 72 inches instead of 65-66 inches. The power output range is 355W-380W with 20.6% maximum efficiency.
The panel is designed with aesthetics in mind and looks great on any roof. It is protected from PID, salt, acid and ammonia, withstands up to 5400 Pa positive load and shows higher shading tolerance. This model comes with a 25 year product workmanship warranty, which is not something you get with all Trina panels. Performance warranty is also there: you are guaranteed to have over 84% of rated output after 25 years.
Time to round up our Trina Solar panel review. What do we end up with? Let’s list the most important points about the brand and its product:
• Trina Solar is a Chinese brand.
• It consistently makes the Top 5 of the largest solar manufacturers.
• Trina Solar is famous for improvements on n-type solar cells and multi busbars technology.
• The brand has set numerous records in solar panels efficiency and production.
• There is an emphasis on high-output modules for projects of a large scope.
• Trina Solar seems to be really into bifacial modules. These can bring up to 30% more production for the same space.
• Energy conversion rate of Trina panels is above average: 18%-21%. The maximum efficiency of a Trina module is 21.6%, which is among the highest numbers on the market.
• Trina Solar panels are on the cheaper side of the market. The cost per watt usually doesn’t go over $0.8.
• Warranties are standard: 12 years for product and 25 years for performance (30 for bifacial). However, their latest Vertex module is going to have a 15-year product warranty with an optional extension to 25 years.
• Degradation rate is slightly better than average: 0.55% power loss per year. Panels usually retain over 83% of their initial output after 25 years.
• Weather resilience of Trina Solar seems like nothing special. 5600 Pa of maximum positive load is enough to handle most tornadoes and hurricanes of small and medium scale.
• The company had a series of quality issues between 2011 and 2014. Nothing too problematic has happened ever since.
• Trina Solar panels usually have a very good design.
Overall, Trina Solar looks like a great Chinese solar company — though it may seem a bit typical with their desire to make panels as cheap and efficient as possible. It is great to see their engineers move solar technologies forward and set records for production and conversion rate. Yeah, quality issues story is there, but it was almost 10 years ago, drop it already!
Today Trina Solar panels are modern, cheap, good-looking and productive; the company has all the reasons to be in the list of the world’s best solar manufacturers. On that note we end our 2022 Trina Solar panels review and will be back with more.
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Illustrations – Marina Fionova
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