Overview of Hanwha Q CELLS solar panels

Hanwha is a one of the largest solar panel manufacturers in the world. Here’s an overview of their product lineup.

Hanwha QPeak G7

Hanwha is a South Korea-based company that purchased the German solar company Q Cells, forming Hanwha Q CELLS in 2015.

Since then, Hanwha has grown to be one of the largest solar panel manufacturers in the world. Their product lineup consists of premium solar panels that are popular in the US market.

In this article, we’ll take a close look at the company and its offerings.

Hanwha company overview

Headquarters Seoul, South Korea
Manufacturing Dalton, Georgia; China, Malaysia, South Korea
Other locations Germany (R&D)
Number of employees 8,500
Ticker symbol HQCL

New US-based Hanwha factory

On September 19, 2019 the company opened its first US-based factory in Dalton, Georgia, where it will manufacture its Q CELLS solar modules. Due to the current tarrifs on imported modules, its likely that most of the Q CELLS modules made in the new facility will be used to serve the US market.

The factory will ultimately have 1.7 gigawatts of annual output capacity, and is quickly ramping up its manufacturing and reportedly will be at full capacity soon.

If you’re interested in buying US-made solar products, you’ll want to know that the Dalton factory is manufacturing the Q.PEAK DUO BLK-G6 module. This is a brand new addition to the Hanwha line, and features half-cut monocrystalline cells with passivated emitter rear contact (PERC) technology. It’s an incremental improvement to the older G5 module, reportly delivering 5% higher output.

The Dalton factory currently employs 600 people, and is looking to hire at least 50 more.

Technology notes

If you read about the Q CELLS products, you’ll see a few technologies that Hanwha highlights:

  • Passivated emitter rear contact (PERC) cells
  • Half-cut cells
  • Busbars
  • Black panels

To help you understand what these mean, here’s a quick rundown:

PERC cells

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 that penetrates the cell back upward, giving the cell an opportunity to capture additional 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.ANTUM. All of its Q CELLS modules that aimed at the residential market include Q.ANTUM.

Half-cut cells

Solar panels perform best in full sun. One of the challenging scenarios for a panel is when it is only partly shaded. The unshaded cells can still generate electricity, but the shaded cells produce a much lower voltage, essentially causing them to act as a roadblock to electrons. This can kill the efficiency of a partly-shaded panel.

There are different ways that a solar panel can be designed to work around this problem, and one of these approaches is half-cut cells.

This is exactly what it sounds like: the solar cells 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, but at an additional cost. Also, more wiring and solder points potentially means a higher risk of panel failure. Regardless, several manufacturers are moving this direction. You can read more about this topic in our blog post about solar panels and shaded performance.

Busbars

Busbars are the fatter wires on the front of a solar cell. Increasing the number of busbars is one approach that manufacturers use to increase cell efficiency - more busbars results in lower electrical resistance and higher voltages.

Photo of a solar cell with the busbar wires highlighted

This does come with tradeoffs of higher manufacturing complexity and cost, but many manfacturers think its worth it including Hanwha, which is using a 6 busbar design in its latest products, including the Q.PEAK DUO-G5 and -G6 panels.

Black panels

Each of the Hanwha products includes an all-black option, which is achieved with the use of a black backsheet and black frame. This is purely for aesthetic reasons, and it does look great. If the roof where you plan to mount panels faces the street, this is an option that you might want to consider.

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 panels in the section on conventional alternatives to solar shingles in this blog post.

Hanwha product lineup

Here’s a list of the current products in the Hanwha Q CELLS lineup.

Q.PEAK DUO-G6 and DUO BLK-G6+

The Hanwha Q.PEAK DUO line is a premium monocrystalline solar panel designed to compete with other high efficiency modules on the market, such as the LG NeON 2 and the SunPower line.

The G6 series is the most recent version of the Q.PEAK DUO line. It comes in standard and all-black versions. In comparison to the older G5 version, the newer G6 adds 25 watts of additional power output. But most notably, the BLK-G6+ comes with a 25 year product warranty versus 12 years with the DUO-G6 and older G5 series.

As mentioned above, the new Dalton factory will be manufacturing the G6 series.

Q.PEAK DUO-G6: Key specifications

Power output (STC)340 - 355 watts
Efficiency (STC)19.0% - 19.8%
Power output (NMOT)254.5 - 265.7 watts
Silicon typeMonocrystalline
Snow/wind load5,400 Pa/4,000 Pa
Warranty25 year power (85%)
12 year product

Full datasheet

Hanwha Q Peak G6

Q.PEAK DUO BLK-G6+: Key specifications

Power output (STC)330 - 345 watts
Efficiency (STC)18.4% - 19.3%
Power output (NMOT)247 - 258.2 watts
Silicon typeMonocrystalline
Snow/wind load5,400 Pa/4,000 Pa
Warranty25 year power (85%)
25 year product

Full datasheet

Hanwha Q Peak G6 Black

Recommendation: if you’re going with the G6 series, you may as well opt for the BLK version. It looks a lot nicer, and the hit you take in efficiency is very small (10 watts). But even more important than that is the much better product warranty: 25 years versus 12 for the non-black version.

Q.PEAK DUO-G5 and DUO BLK-G5+

The G5 is the older version of the Q.PEAK DUO series. Because of that, there’s a good chance that you might be able to find a good deal on these panels.

It’s unknown right now if the Dalton factory will be manufacturing the G5 series, so it’s quite likely that these are manufacturered in Southeast Asia. A tip if you’re reading the datasheet: there’s a note on the datasheet that says “Engineered in Germany” but this is a reference to their R&D facility in Germany. As far as we know, there is no Hanwha module manufacturing in Germany.

Q.PEAK DUO-G5: Key specifications

Power output (STC)315 - 330 watts
Efficiency (STC)18.7% - 19.6%
Power output (NMOT)235.3 - 246.5 watts
Silicon typeMonocrystalline
Snow/wind load5,400 Pa/4,000 Pa
Warranty25 year power (85%)
12 year product

Full datasheet

Hanwha Q Peak Duo G5

Q.PEAK DUO BLK-G5: Key specifications

Power output (STC)300 - 320 watts
Efficiency (STC)17.8% - 19.0%
Power output (NMOT)224.1 - 239.1 watts
Silicon typeMonocrystalline
Snow/wind load5,400 Pa/4,000 Pa
Warranty25 year power (85%)
12 year product

Full datasheet

Hanwha Duo Black G5

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a US-made panel, as many people are, Hanwha’s G6 series is a great choice - especially the DUO BLK-G6+, which is both more aesthetically pleasing and comes with a substantially better warranty than other Hanwha panels.

It’s unclear from the product specifications why the black version of the G6 series has a much longer product warranty, since they list the same technologies and industry test standards. Regardless, it makes the DUO BLK-G6+ and competitive with the few other premium panels on the market that also offer 25 year products, which include SunPower and the LG NeON2 series.



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