Phono Solar panel review: cost, products, and warranties
Individual panel prices
Prices of DIY kits
Installed system prices
Phono Solar Technology Co., Ltd, is a solar photovoltaic panel manufacturing company that launched in 2007 in the Jiangsu Province of China. For over a decade, Phono Solar has worked to improve their technology and market share and has shipped over 7 gigawatts (GW) of solar modules globally.
Phono Solar's parent company, SUMEC Group, is a subsidiary of Fortune Global 500 company China National Machinery Industry Corporation (SINOMACH).
Aside from being affiliated with a large, state-owned company like SINOMACH, Phono Solar has received prestigious awards that help bolster the company's reliability. In 2014, Phono Solar was officially listed on Bloomberg's list of Tier 1 solar manufacturers, one of the highest distinctions for solar manufacturers.
But that's not the only distinction Phono Solar has received. In 2016, Phono was named one of PVEL's Top Performers, which means they passed rigorous third-party testing standards. Phono is still considered a Top Performer today.
Overall, you can expect a great solar panel system when you choose one of Phono Solar's six residential modules.
The total cost to install a Phono solar energy system is about $17,500 before incentives like the federal solar tax credit. This breaks down to about $2.50 per watt of solar installed.
The actual cost of installing Phono Solar panels will depend on the installer you chose and where you live. The price of Phono Solar panels is lower than the national average cost of solar of $3.00 per watt (as of September 2021).
Don't get us wrong - $17,500 sounds like a high price, and it is. But this is about a fraction of what you'll pay for a solar power system if you use other high-efficiency Tier 1 panels, like Sunpower and LG, that can cost well over $21,000.
The best way to find out how much solar panels will cost for you is by using our solar calculator, which will show you accurate solar savings estimates based on your electric bill.
Phono Solar manufactures residential and commercial solar modules with both monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar cells. Let's take a closer look at some of their solar panel product lines.
Learn more: Monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar panels
Phono Solar's TwinPlus M1 model. Image source: Phono Solar
Phono's TwinPlus Module series are made exclusively of monocrystalline solar cells. Monocrystalline solar cells are made of one singular crystal of silicon, making them highly efficient and uniform in color.
The TwinPlus series also uses half-cut solar cell technology. Half-cut solar cells are exactly what they sound like - solar cells cut in half. Smaller cells allow for the current flowing through the cell to be lower, and cuts down on resistive losses. Plus, the smaller cells have a smaller surface area so they are less likely to fracture under mechanical stress.
There are four different TwinPlus models, and each model comes in a variety of wattages.
TwinPlus 60-Cell Mono-M6
|435 - 455 W||20.09% - 21.02%|
TwinPlus 60-Cell Mono-M
|305 - 325 W||18.36% - 19.56%|
TwinPlus 60-Cell Mono-M1
|325 W - 345 W||19.28% - 20.46%|
TwinPlus 60-Cell Mono-M4
|360 W - 380 W||19.62% - 20.71%|
These modules are similar in that they all use half-cut monocrystalline solar cells. The variance in power output and efficiency is due to differences in the size of the solar cells, and how many busbars the panels use.
Both the TwinPlus Mono-M6 and the TwinPlus Mono-M4 use multiple busbars. Busbars wire solar cells together and carry the electricity the panel produces to the solar system's inverter. By adding more busbars, you decrease resistive losses, which increases the overall efficiency of the panel.
Phono Solar Twin Plus Pro 54-Cell Mono-M6. Image source: Phono Solar
Just like the TwinPlus modules, the TwinPlus Pro product line uses half-cut monocrystalline solar cells and multi-busbar technology to make highly efficient panels. The TwinPlus Pro modules come in different sizes than the regular TwinPlus modules, and are able to pack a lot of punch in a small area.
There are three different TwinPlus Pro models that come in a variety of wattages:
TwinPlus Pro 54-Cell Mono-M6
|395 W - 415 W||20.20% - 21.23%|
TwinPlus Pro 66-Cell Mono-M6
|485 W - 505 W||20.42% - 21.27%|
TwinPlus Pro 66-Cell Mono-M4
|400 W - 420 W||19.98% - 20.98%|
The TwinPlus Pro Modules offer very high power ratings that most residential homeowners probably don't need. However, if you have limited roof space available for installing solar panels, the TwinPlus Pro could be right for you.
Bifacial TwinPlus 60-Cell. Image source: Phono Solar
Phono Solar should be calling these the "TripletPlus" Modules, considering there are so many of them! Just like the other TwinPlus series, the bifacial version uses half-cut monocrystalline solar cells. What sets the Bifacial TwinPlus apart is in the name - it's bifacial.
Bifacial solar panels have the ability to generate electricity on the back of the panel as well as the front. The back of the panel won't be hit with direct sunlight, but it can pick up light reflected off of surfaces and produce a little extra electricity.
|Bifacial TwinPlus 60-Cell Mono||355 W - 370 W||19.48% - 20.30%|
Bifacial modules aren't practical for residential rooftop installations, as the back of the panel won't have access to reflected sunlight while it's flush against a roof. But, if you're looking into a residential ground-mounted system, the Bifacial TwinPlus Modules might work great for you.
Phono Solar Premium Plus-M Series. Image source: Phono Solar
Phono's Premium Plus Modules fall more in line with other residential solar panels we see on the market. They have power ratings that range from 300 watts to 340 watts, and they use regular monocrystalline solar cells, not half-cut ones.
That doesn't mean the Premium Plus modules don't use advanced technology. The Premium Plus modules use PERC cells, which are manufactured with an additional layer within the cell that increases the efficiency.
Learn more: PERC solar cells - are they the best choice?
There are two Premium Plus models that come in a variety of wattages:
Premium Plus 60-Cell Mono-M
|300 W - 320 W||18.44% - 19.67%|
Premium Plus 60-Cell Mono-M1
|320 W - 340 W||19.21% - 20.41%|
The main difference between the two Premium Plus modules is the size of the solar cells. The Mono-M1 has square-shaped solar cells that are slightly larger than those on the Mono-M, so they can produce more electricity. However, using these perfectly square-shaped solar cells creates more silicon waste in the manufacturing process.
Phono Solar Smart Module. Image source: Phono Solar
Phono Solar's Smart Modules have maximum power point tracking (MPPT) power optimizers on every panel. The device maximizes an individual panel's production to ensure that you are getting the most electricity out of your solar system, even in less-than-ideal conditions for solar.
The Smart Modules are designed to work exclusively with Solar Edge inverters.
You can choose between either monocrystalline Smart Modules or polycrystalline Smart Modules.
|Smart Module 60-Cell Mono-Solaredge||300 W - 310 W||18.44 % - 19.04%|
|Smart Module 60-Cell Mono-Tigo||305 W - 320 W||18.75% - 19.67%|
|Smart Module 60-Cell Poly-Solaredge||265 W - 275 W||16.29% - 16.90%|
|Smart Module 60-Cell Poly Maxim||265 W - 275 W||16.29% - 16.90%|
The Smart Modules are a great choice for homeowners who live in areas that follow National Electric Code (NEC) rapid shutdown requirements, as the built-in power optimizers can turn the system off at the module level in the event of a fire.
As you can see, the polycrystalline modules tend to have lower module efficiency and power ratings than monocrystalline panels, but they're slightly lower in price. The price difference between the two are almost negligible though, so few solar installers choose to carry polycrystalline panels.
Phono Solar monocrystalline Nova Module. Image source: Phono Solar
The Nova Module is another line of Phono panels that comes in both monocrystalline and polycrystalline versions. Both the mono and poly versions use PERC cell technology. The Nova Modules are the most basic run-of-the-mill panels Phono offers.
|Nova Module 60-Cell Mono||320 W - 335 W||19.67% - 20.59%|
|Nova Module 60-Cell Poly||305 W - 320 W||18.75% - 19.67%|
These panels have slightly lower wattage ratings than some other panels Phono offers, but the specifications listed in their datasheet still fall in line with solar industry standards.
Phono Solar offers two warranties: a 12-year product warranty and a 25-year performance warranty. The warranty start date is the date of delivery by Phono Solar to the buyer or 180 days after the production of the module, whichever comes first.
The product warranty ensures that Phono Solar's modules will be defect-free under normal application, installation, operation, and use. If it proves that there are defects in the first 12 years, Phono Solar will either repair or replace the panels at no charge.
Phono's product warranty is pretty similar to most other panels on the market. However, some manufacturers allow homeowners to register their panels with the company to extend the warranty from 12 years to 25. It would be nice if Phono offered something similar, but considering their Tier 1 status and DNV-GL ratings, they have a pretty solid manufacturing process, meaning, their products likely will not have defects.
The peak power warranty is what you really want to look at when you buy solar panels. Solar panels degrade as they age, meaning they can't produce as much power as they did when they were first installed. The peak power warranty gives you an idea of how the panels will operate the older they get.
The exact power warranty your panel qualifies for depends on the model number. For monocrystalline panels, the power rating at Standard Test Conditions (STC), which is just the power rating listed on the panel's datasheet, will decline between 2.0% and 3.0% after Year 1, depending on which solar panel model you have. After that, the power rating will decline between 0.55% and 0.7%, depending on the model.
For polycrystalline panels, the power rating will decline by no more than 2.5% in the first year. After that, the panels will degrade by no more than 0.7% annually. By Year 25, the panel should operate at no less than 80.7% of its original rated capacity at STC.
Phono Solar does offer panels with impressive specs, but their warranty seems to be their weak spot. Most solar panel manufacturers offer an annual degradation rate of about 0.5%. Phono's isn't that much higher, especially for models that qualify for the 0.55% degradation rate. But the 0.7% degradation rate is a bit higher than industry standards, and over time it can add up.
You want the lowest possible degradation rate, so your panels are operating as close as possible to their original power rating.
Phono Solar panels are a great choice for home solar panel systems. The company offers a variety of solar PV product lines that are bound to meet the needs of any homeowners. All of their monocrystalline panels have high-efficiency ratings, some reaching over 21%. And the best part is, you can get these high wattage, high-efficiency panels for less than some of the other leading brands.
However, there are some downsides to Phono Solar products. The company's warranty is a little lackluster. It's not terrible but it's definitely not the best we've seen, either. But because many of Phono's panels start with a high power rating, they'll still operate at a relatively high wattage even with a high degradation rate.
Overall, Phono Solar is a reliable company that utilizes a high-quality manufacturing process to produce Tier 1 solar panels at a decent price. Phono Solar panels can make a great addition to any home that wants to make the switch to clean, renewable energy.
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