REC is one of the biggest solar manufacturers in the world and an absolute leader in their primary market – Europe. The company is actively expanding internationally, opening branches in the US, Australia, Asia and other parts of the world. The new Alpha series of solar panels made by REC turned out to be especially competitive. Was it due to appealing all-black design or is there more to REC solar panels than just looks?
REC solar panels for sale
About REC company
The company’s home is Norway, where it was founded in 1996. However, most of the manufacturing is done in Singapore. By the standards of the solar industry, the company has a rather long history. Since its inception, the group has produced a total of approximately 40 million PV modules, generated gigawatts of electricity and helped millions of people go solar.
Still, for the past few years REC has been improving their positions faster than ever before. In 2014, the company introduced an innovative design that was especially good in fighting shading issues. The principle was simple enough and consisted in dividing the panel in two separate submodules that could generate power independently. This way the one half wouldn’t be even minimally affected in case the oher was shaded.
REC was also among the first to adopt half-cut cell technology, employing two rectangular solar cells instead of a bigger square cell for the sake of improved efficiency and reduced power losses. In 2018 the brand confirmed its leading position by releasing the N-Peak series – solar panels made from the purer and more efficient N-type silicon, not the widespread P-type. This effectively put REC solar panels on the same level as the products of Panasonic, LG and a few other manufacturers who employ this technology.
Quality And Performance
REC Group is known for full vertical integration. It means they produce their own silicon, wafers, solar cells and other components. The assembly process is also under the company’s full control. This allows REC to achieve superior quality and greatly reduce supply chain and other risks.
According to the European brand, REC solar panels have the lowest rate of warranty claims among all the solar manufacturers. Such a statement is hard to prove, but the company certainly has one of the most rigorous quality control systems in the whole industry. And thanks to the vertical integration these high standards affect all stages of the solar manufacturing process.
Warranty And Service
The company backs its statements of superior reliability by lengthy product warranties. The buyers of newer series of REC solar panels, such as Alpha, enjoy a 20 year warranty period. Furthermore, there is a way to extend it by another 5 years, for example, by contracting an installer certified by REC. The conditions may change, but the most recent and reliable information can always be found on the company’s website
The performance warranty also deserves praise. It is a solid 25 year guarantee that caps the maximum capacity loss for the whole period at just 8% in case of the newest Alpha series. It means that after the first year, when the panel may degrade up to 2%, the annual efficiency decrease won’t surpass 0.25%. It is an excellent result by the industry standards.
What to look for when choosing a REC solar panel
Over the years, REC Group has released a few series of solar panels, so it might take you a while to look them all through and make up your mind. Below are a few important things that will make this task easier.
- Nameplate capacity. The bigger isn’t always better, but it is true that larger solar panels have higher efficiencies, and REC is no exception. Keep in mind, however, that this comes with extra weight and bulk. In the case of REC solar panels, however, this difference is less pronounced. The 400W Alpha, for instance, is only about 6 inches longer than the 290W TWINPEAK 2. They have approximately the same width, with the 400W model being 6.2 lbs heavier
- Performance in cloudy weather and partial shade. REC solar panels include models that deal especially well with shading and low-light conditions. REC was the first to approach this issue in such a radical way – by dividing a panel in two independent submodules in 2014. The invention proved effective, but since then the company has introduced a number of other more advanced technologies
- Price. Quite naturally, most people prefer affordable to pricey. When it comes to solar panels, the per-panel price doesn’t matter as much as the price per watt. The more expensive but higher wattage panels may turn out to be cheaper and more effective
- Adverse weather conditions. Almost without exception, solar panels can withstand very strong winds, snow and even hail without any damage whatsoever. Not all are made equal, though. To compare different models by strength, look at a panel’s allowed snow and wind loads. They are measured in Pa and can be found in the panel’s datasheet
Q: Does REC manufacture any of the panels in Europe?
A: REC Group operates a very advanced manufacturing facility in Singapore. The company does all the manufacturing there and does not own other plants elsewhere as of the time of writing.
Q: Is the N-Peak series the most advanced among REC solar panels?
A: The N-Peak series is both very efficient and reliable, but it is neither the most efficient nor the newest series released by REC. The maximum efficiency achieved by the Alpha models is 21.7%, while the N-Peak panels don’t go above 19.8%. The annual degradation of N-Peak panels is also double that of the Alpha series – 0.5% vs 0.25%. Judging from this perspective, the Alpha seems more advanced than the N-Peak series.
Q: Will REC honor its warranty? Do they have an office in the USA?
A: The warranty claims are very rare for REC. According to the company, only 300 panels are returned each year, with the total number of manufactured modules reaching 3 million. If you have the bad luck to buy one of those 300 panels, the company does indeed have an office in the USA and accepts warranty claims through their website. REC is a well-established brand and there are no known cases of it refusing to honor its obligations.