Hanwha Q CELLS Q.PEAK DUO G10+ solar panels: 2022 review
The Korean manufacturer recently released the newest addition to its American-made Q.PEAK series. Here's how it compares to other top brands.
Hanwha Q CELLS is a South Korea-based company that purchased the German solar company Q Cells, forming Hanwha Q CELLS in 2015.
An affiliate of the large business conglomerate Hanwha Group, Hanwha Q CELLS has grown to be one of the largest solar panel manufacturers in the world. The newest product in their lineup is the recently released Q.PEAK DUO G10+ series.
Hanwha company overview
|Headquarters||Seoul, South Korea|
|Manufacturing||Dalton, Georgia; China, Malaysia, South Korea|
|Other locations||Germany (R&D)|
|Number of employees||8,500|
Korean company, but American-made solar panels
On September 19, 2019 the company opened its first US-based factory in Dalton, Georgia, where it manufactures Q CELLS solar modules.
The factory currently employs 700 people and produces 10,000 solar panels per day.
The United States currently imposes 30% tariffs on imported solar panels, so domestic manufacturing like this can give Hanwha a price advantage. Indeed, Q CELLS panels are often less expensive than comparable high-efficiency solar panels from other manufacturers.
Some of the technologies used in the G10+ series includes:
- Passivated emitter rear contact (PERC) cells
- Half-cut cells with zero gaps
- Black panels
To help you understand what these are, here’s a quick rundown:
PERC is a technology that adds additional layers to the rear of the solar cells, with the goal of improving efficiency. One layer is essentially a mirror that reflects light back into the cell, giving the cell a second opportunity to capture photons. Solar cells aren’t completely opaque, so this reflective layer is a way of making better use of the incoming light.
A second is a “dielectric passivation layer” which improves the movement of electrons (electricity) through the cell.
PERC is a technology that has been growing in popularity in the past few years as manufacturers compete to create more and more efficiency solar cells.
Hanwha’s brand new for its PERC technology is Q.UANTUM. All of its Q CELLS modules that aimed at the residential market include Q.UANTUM.
Gapless half-cut cells
Half-cut solar cells are exactly what it sounds like: standard solar cells that are cut in half. This means that instead of the typical 60 cells you find in a residential solar panel, you now have 120 half-cut cells. The half-cut cells are joined together with additional wiring, providing more pathways for electricity to flow around shaded cells.
The result is improved efficiency in the shade. Q CELLS takes this a step further by eliminating the spacing between the cells, increasing the useful density of the panel.
While half-cut cells adds some manufacturing complexity, it’s an increasingly popular technology that more manufacturers are adopting. You can read more about half-cut cells in this article.
All-black solar panels are achieved with the use of a black backsheet behind the solar cells and a black frame. This is done for aesthetic reasons because dark solar panels often look better on a dark roof than a solar panel that has a white backsheet and light colored frame. If the roof where you plan to mount panels faces the street, this is an option that you might want to consider.
The G10+ series is only available in the US as an all-black panel, so you get the “feature” automatically.
Going with a black panel does come with the tradeoff of slightly lower panel efficiency due to increased heat. You can learn more about black solar panels in our article on the topic.
Q CELLS product overview
All of the panels in the Q CELLS lineup have a product name of Q.PEAK DUO and a product number, with the G10+ series being the most recent.
This makes for awkward names like the Hanwha Q CELLS Q.PEAK DUO ML-G10+.
Here’s a detailed look at the G10 series:
Q CELLS Q.PEAK DUO BLK-G10+
This is the latest Q CELLS panel aimed at the residential and small business market. Available with a power rating up to 370 watts, this is the highest efficiency panel from the company.
For some reason, there only appears to be a G10+ panel - there isn’t one listed that is simply the G10.
It’s available in wattages from 350 watts to 370 watts, for a maximum efficiency of 20.6%.
|Power output (STC)||350 - 370 watts|
|Efficiency (STC)||19.5% - 20.6%|
|Power output (NMOT)||262 - 278 watts|
|Power temperature coefficient||–0.34%/°C|
|Snow/wind load||5,400 Pa/4,000 Pa|
|Warranty||25 year power (86%)|
25 year product
There a few things notable about this panel. The most obvious is the all-black design, which some homeowners prefer for installations where aesthetics are important. For some reason, Q CELLS offers the G10+ panel with a white backsheet in other countries, but the US website only lists the black panel. However, the black panel only generates 5 watts fewer than the white panel, so the difference is neglible.
Gapless cell spacing is the most recent development that has helped Q CELLS panels hit the 370 watt mark. Q CELLS has used gapless cell spacing since the G9 series, and the increased energy density has helped to push the panel efficiency above 20%.
Thermal performance is also good, with a fairly small 0.34% loss of efficiency for every 1°C increase in temperature.
Finally, the G10+ series comes with a 25 year product warranty, which is on par with just a handful of other companies such as LG, Panasonic, and Silfab. Up until the G8 series, Q CELLS offered only a 12 year warranty, but that was increased to 25 years since the introduction of the G9.
Q CELLS Q.PEAK DUO BLK-G10+/AC
This panel is the same as the standard G10+, except that it’s an “AC panel”. This means that it outputs AC power rather than the usual DC.
It’s not equipped with magical silcon cells that turn sunlight directly into AC electricity. Instead, it’s simply a G10+ that is factory-integrated with a microinverter.
Specifically, it uses the Enphase IQ7+, which is the most popular microinverter in the North American market. This Enphase model is now one generation older than latest IQ8 series that is just hitting the market now, so it lacks the latest feature of partial off-grid support without the need for a battery.
This is a rear view of the panel. You can see the microinverter attached at the top.
It would be functionally identical to purchase the panel and the inverter separately, so what’s the purpose of this product?
The main reasons for choosing an AC panel are a reduction in installation labor and a possible savings on the inverter because the solar panel company is acquiring them in large bulk quantities. You can learn more about AC panels in our article on the topic.
Q CELLS Q.PEAK DUO BLK ML-G10+
The ML-G10+ is the same panel at the standard G10+, except that it’s in the larger “commercial” size. The ML-G10+ is 74.0 inches long and weighs 48.5 pounds, while the standard G10+ is 67.6 inches long and 43.9 pounds.
With the additional surface area, the ML-G10+ is available in a higher wattage range of 385 to 405 watts, and a top end efficiency of 20.9%.
Unlike the smaller panel, the ML-G10+ is not available as an AC panel.
While this larger format is often aimed at the commercial and utility markets, there’s no reason why they can’t be used on homes. In fact, some installers do install larger “commercial” panels if it suits the dimensions of the roof and the customer’s power requirements better.
However, some installers prefer working with the smaller panels because the lower weight makes it easier for crews who have to hoist the equipment onto a rooftop using ladders. Larger panels sometimes are often close to or exceed the 50 pound limit that OSHA guidelines recommend as the lifting weight limit for one person.
Where does the Q.PEAK G10 series compare?
One of the important changes starting with the Q.PEAK G9 series is extending the product warranty to 25 years. While this is definitely an improvement, it’s not quite as good as other companies such as Solaria and LG that not only provide a 25 year warranty but cover the cost of installation labor as well. That said, the Q CELLS warranty is better than most other manufacturers, who provide as short as a 10 year product warranty.
As for panel efficiency, the current industry leaders are LG, SunPower, and REC Group. Compared to products from these companies, the latest Q CELLS product has improved from previous generations but still comes up a little short. While the G10+ matches the SunPower SPR-X22-370 in terms of wattage, the SunPower panel achieves this power output in a smaller size: the SunPower panel measures 61.3 x 41.2 inches versus the G10+ which is 67.6 x 41.1 inches.
Similarly, the LG 375Q1C-V5 hits 375 watts (5 watts higher than the G10+) and measures 66.9 x 40.0 inches, which is also smaller than the G10+.
Efficiency isn’t everything though. If limited space on your rooftop isn’t a concern, then it might not matter if your solar panel isn’t the most efficient one on the market.
It’s also an all-black panel: the version with the white backsheet doesn’t seem to be marketed for the United States.
Thermal performance might matter to you if live in a very hot climate. The temperature coefficient of the G10+ is -0.34/°C, which is good but falls behind the top panels from REC Group, SunPower, and LG which have thermal coefficients of -0.26%, -0.29%, and -0.30% respectively.
One area where Hanwha Q CELLS exceeds is third-party reliability testing. According to the latest report by PV Evolution Labs, Q CELLS has been rated a Top Performer for the past six years. This outperforms SunPower and LG, matches REC Group, and only lags industry leaders Jinko and Trina Solar.
Conclusions and recommendation
Overall, the latest product from Q CELLS is an excellent panel that compares favorably to other “premium” brands. If your installer offers a Q CELLS model that’s a generation or two older such as the G9 or G8 series, you can expect performance to be slightly worse but you might get a significantly better price too.
Third-party reliability testing from PVEL also suggests that Q CELLS could be a long term bargain: while solar panels in general have a very low failure rate, when you do have a failure, it’s annoying to have to get your system serviced.
Q CELLS is one of a small number of manufacturers that assemble their panels in the United States. (Even panels that are called “American-made” will contain some materials or components manufactured overseas.) It currently employs about 700 people at its factory in Dalton, Georgia. If supporting this industry is important to you, that might be a factor in your decision.
While the G10+ isn’t the top product in the industry for power performance, that might not matter to you. One of the best features of Q CELLS is potentially a lower price, as you can often find it at a price-per-watt that is better than other “premium” manufacturers. That could certainly outweigh any small shortfall in efficiency.