Best Solar Panel - LG or Sunpower? The Voltage problem

There’s been a long ongoing debate about the who is the world’s leading solar panel manufacturer between LG and SunPower. It’s been mainly focused on efficiency and I think most people agree SunPower wins with the X series and the latest Maxeon 3 panels boosting efficiency above 22%, while the flagship panel from LG, the Neon R cranks in close behind at 21.7%.

But what about other factors like cost, reliability and what’s more practical and easier to install? What I’m talking about is panel voltage. This is big issue in Australia with a 600V limit on domestic rooftop installs, and this is where I believe the LG Neon R wins. The LG is a 60 cell panel which operates at a much lower voltage than the SunPower panels (which are now at 104 cells! Up 8 cells from the previous 96 cell E and X series).

Check out the specs below:

SunPower - 104 cells = Voltage (Voc) = 75.6V
LG Neon R - 96 cells = Voltage (Voc) = 42.8V

Sunpower is almost double the Voc so when working out the maximum number of panels in a string we are looking at:

SunPower- strings of 7 panels for the Sunpower!
LG Neon R - strings of up to 13 panels for the LG!

The high voltage on the Sunpower panels can make it difficult to design an suitable array as most solar inverters have only 2 MPPT inputs, so 2 strings of 7 using the most powerful Maxeon 3 is only 5.6kW. There is always the option of parallel strings but with a max input current of 12A on many inverters, and a current rating on the Maxeons of 6.05A then this exceeds the current rating!

This begs the question - is the SunPower Maxeon 3 voltage too high to be practical!? :thinking:

LG Neon R
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SunPower
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It’s a good question Svarky. @dtbaker61 what are your thoughts and experience as a SunPower dealer?

why would higher voltage be a problem? It might change the stringing if you are using a string inverter, or selecting the correct micro-inverter in you go that route… but in general the higher voltage (and output) is a GOOD thing because you need fewer panels to get the same output which means lower current and less labor with fewer panels. That being said, I view the max3 400w module as a marketing mistake just so they can say they have the most output in a single panel.

In our Dealership however we do not promote use of the 400w panels because they carry an (unreasonable) premium in price/watt over their regular 96cell modules… they also are physically larger, which tends not to fit as well on residential installs. commercial installs don’t use them much because of the price… preferring the lower efficiency of the P-19 because of the lower price.

technically I would compare the Sunpower 365w with LG Neon R 370w… giving the edge to LG these days because of wholesale price gives a little better margin with very nearly identical specs. The LG Neon-2 340 is even better, with only SLIGHTLY lower efficiency and slightly higher degradation. The LG Neon-2 340w are my current favorite product for best margin to Installer and best long term value to homeowner.

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Hi @Markus_Lambert, keen for your thoughts one this. Has LG got any plans to introduce a 104 cell panel?

I have to agree with you the Neon 2’s are an all round winner.

Yes Micro’s are a good option but being limited to 600V on residential solar makes things much more difficult if you want longer strings or a larger 6.5kW system using the 104 or even 96 cell panels. It’s a frustrating and obsolete regulation that will hopefully be lifted to 1000V in the near future.

Although the issue might not be around for too much longer as SunPower’s next generation 'A series panels will use the larger format cells and most likely reduce cell count to 60 or 72 cells.

image

LG currently now at 345W for the NeON 2 and we are pushing factory to go to 350 pronto - that makes a lovely 6,650kw , Yes design wise LGs maybe a little easier , as we can place more in a string and at 17.1kg installers lover our panels - but both panel brands are a much better choice than the current 35c per watt "hope for the best " panel product coming in.

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Not that I am aware… … we stick with 60 cells and 72 cells …

Kind regards

Markus Lambert
General Manager Solar & Energy
LG Electronics Australia Pty Ltd | ABN 98 064 531 264
2 Wonderland Drive, Eastern Creek NSW 2766 Australia

You can not connect several panels to the Solar edge or tigo