Jinko Solar: reviewing the world’s biggest panel maker
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Are you trying to decide which brand of solar panels to get for your home? If so, there’a a good chance that Jinko solar panels is one of the brands being offered to you by solar installers.
That’s because Jinko Solar isn’t just any brand — they are, in fact, the largest solar panel manufacturer in the world!
Jinko Solar is also among the few major solar companies with production facilities here in the U.S., meaning they can bypass tariffs on solar imports and offer their panels at competitive prices.
But how do solar panels made by Jinko Solar compare to other solar panel brands? Are they a good choice for residential rooftop solar systems? I’ll answer both those questions, and more, as part of my comprehensive review of the Jinko solar panel brands.
Note: Jinko Solar is sometimes referred to as simply ‘Jinko.’ In this article, we’ll be using ‘Jinko Solar’ to refer to the company, and ‘Jinko solar panels’ to refer to their modules.
As a foreign manufacturer specializing solely in solar products, Jinko Solar does not have the same brand recognition as compared to top rivals such as U.S.-founded SunPower, or major conglomerates Panasonic and LG.
Jinko Solar is, however, a giant in the solar sector, and has accumulated an impressive number of awards over the years. Here are some key facts and figures about the company:
Jinko Solar is a manufacturer of solar photovoltaic (PV) products including solar panels (aka PV modules), solar cells, and solar wafers. The company was founded in 2006 in China and is headquartered in Shanghai. The company has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) since 2010, with the ticker symbol JKS. Their American website is jinkosolar.us
World’s largest solar panel producer
Jinko Solar is currently the world’s biggest solar manufacturer, shipping the largest number of solar modules globally each year since 2016. The company produced over 14 GW of solar panels in 2019 (the most recent year for which full figures are available), outstripping its nearest competitors by a significant margin. As of 2021, the company has offices in over 20 countries.
The company does most of its global manufacturing in China, but it also has a factory in Malaysia and one here in the United States. It’s the factories in Malaysia and the U.S. that supply the solar panels that Jinko Solar sells here.
Jinko Solar has a 400MW manufacturing facility in Jacksonville, Florida, making it the 5th-largest solar manufacturer in the U.S. (as of 2019). It also has a full-service office located in San Francisco, CA.
Top ranking for reliability
Jinko Solar has been ranked as a top performer on the solar panel reliability scorecard by Berkeley-based PVEL. Jinko is one of just two brands (the other is Trina Solar) to win this honor every year from 2014 through 2020, which is a testament to the company’s consistently high manufacturing standards.
The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition issues an annual scorecard rating companies on environmental sustainability and social justice issues; Jinko Solar ranks number 1 with a perfect 100/100 score.
Jinko Solar panels perform highly based on most metrics and measures. Let’s take a look.
The SolarReviews expert panel has rated Jinko Solar the fourth-best (#4) solar panel brand in 2021. The experts highlighted the company’s massive size and strong financial position, as well as the brand’s excellent value proposition.
The only brands that rank higher in the solar industry are ‘premium’ brands LG, Panasonic, and SunPower - all of which boast industry-leading specs but also cost a fair bit more.
Jinko solar panels have a consumer review score of 4.6 out of 5.0 here on SolarReviews. This gives Jinko Solar the ninth-highest (#9) score among all solar panel brands.
This score is based on 110 reviews by consumers who’ve had Jinko solar panels installed on their roofs, so it provides a good reflection of consumers’ experiences with the brand.
A solar energy system that uses Jinko solar panels usually costs $2.25 – $2.50 per watt. That means a typical 6 kW system costs between $13,500 and $15,000 before incentives.
After applying the 26% federal tax credit, which is available through the end of 2022, the total installed cost for Jinko solar panels comes to between $9,990 and $11,100.
Based on its prices, Jinko Solar is generally considered as a ‘value’ offering among top-tier Tier 1 solar panels. Jinko solar panels generally cost roughly 25-50 cents less than ‘premium’ solar panels like SunPower, Panasonic, and LG solar panels, or about $1,500 to $3,000 less for a 6 kW system.
Jinko Solar has three main lines of solar panels, all named after animals: Eagle, Tiger, and Cheetah.
This is the main product line that Jinko Solar distributes in the United States. It includes the following models:
Jinko Solar currently offers its Eagle series of modules to the U.S. market.
This is a high-efficiency monocrystalline (mono) PERC panel. Solar panels built with PERC cells have an extra layer on the back of the solar cells, allowing more sunlight to be turned into electricity. PERC cells are more efficient than traditional cells.
The Eagle G2 is available in two options, a 310-330 watt 60-cell version for residential use and a version for commercial/industrial use.
Our take: This is Jinko’s entry-level model. It's a good choice for homeowners who want a ‘value’ solar panel, i.e. a reliable solar panel at an affordable price.
This is a 385-405W 72-cell mono PERC module that is bifacial (can generate power from both sides) and uses half-cut cells for improved shade tolerance.
Our take: The Eagle G3 is only offered as a large, bifacial module; it requires a ground-mount or customized structure, and as such, is only suitable for certain commercial or industrial installations.
The Eagle G4 is the most advanced module in the Eagle line. It is a mono PERC panel with half-cells and includes “tilting ribbon” (TR) technology, which uses a special round busbar to pack more cells on a single panel. It's available in a 380-400W 66-cell version for residential use and two 455-475W 72-cell versions, one of them bifacial, for commercial and industrial use.
Our take: This is Jinko Solar’s high-performance offering. The 66-cell version is suitable for homeowners willing to pay more for superior performance while paying less than they would for a premium brand like SunPower.
These are Jinko Solar’s flagship lines of solar panels.
Jinko Solar first unveiled its “tilting ribbon” (TR) technology through the Tiger series, which allows solar panels to be more densely covered in solar cells. TR tech earned the Tiger series the Best Solar Panel of 2020 Award by pv-magazine. (Jinko Solar offers TR tech in the U.S. in the Eagle G4 module, as well).
Looking ahead, Jinko Solar recently announced the upcoming Tiger Pro series; it includes the enormous 610-watt N-type Tiger Pro SR module, set to be one of the biggest modules available commercially.
This is Jinko Solar’s budget line of solar panels that are sold overseas. There is a 345W 60-cell model for residential use and a 410 W 72-cell panel for commercial or industrial installations.
Until only a few years ago, Jinko solar panels were known for their affordability and reliability, but did not boast particularly impressive specs. This has changed over the last couple of years as Jinko Solar has spent large amounts in R&D so as to to move into the higher end of the market.
Jinko Solar now manufacturers high-efficiency solar cells that can compete with the top premium manufacturers.
The average panel efficiency of Jinko solar panels currently available on the market is 19.82%. They are the fourth-highest (#4) among all solar panel brands, only behind SunPower (21.65%), Suntech Power (20.34%), and LG Solar (20.19%).
Learn more: The most efficient solar panels in 2021
The most efficient solar panel currently offered by Jinko Solar is its Tiger Pro series with module efficiencies as high as 21.4%. However, it wasn’t clear if this product is available for shipment at the time of writing (Feb 2021).
The most efficient solar panel available in the U.S. right now is Jinko Solar’s Eagle G4, which has a maximum module efficiency of 21.16%.
For comparison, most Tier 1 panels in 2021 have module efficiencies of 17-20%, while the most efficient solar panel on the market is the A-Series by SunPower with a maximum efficiency of 22.7%
|Series||Max module efficiency|
|Solar panel||Product warranty||Power warranty||Year 25 power|
|Eagle G2||12 years||25 years||83.1%|
|Eagle G3||12 years||30 years||84.2%*|
|Eagle G4||12 years||25 years||84.8%|
|Tiger and Tiger Pro series||12 years||25-30 years||84.8%**|
|Cheetah series||12 years||25 years||83.1%***|
*30-year performance warranty figure is 81.55%
**Based on Tiger Pro 72HC 530-550W module
***Based Cheetah HC 60M 325-345W module
Jinko solar panels are an excellent brand. It’s very unlikely that you will be unhappy with them.
The massive size of the company and its continued growth means that it will almost certainly be around to honor any warranty claims that may arise over the life of the panels. Not that you’re likely to have any problems with Jinko solar panels, as they are recognized as one of the top companies when it comes to solar panel reliability.
There are of course, some downsides to Jinko Solar. When it comes to its warranties and panel specifications, the company lags behind its more premium rivals SunPower, LG, and Panasonic.
However, if you are looking for a reliable, high-quality brand with good specifications at a reasonable price point, then it’s hard to go wrong with Jinko solar panels.
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