Seraphim solar panels review - Are they a good brand?
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If you’re looking to install solar panels on your home and wondering about the latest offerings from companies around the world, your installer may recommend Seraphim solar panels. The brand is relatively less popular in the USA than other countries, but its products can provide some excellent value with performance that matches better-known brands.
Seraphim, which is formally known as “Jiangsu Seraphim Solar System Co, Ltd”, is a relatively young solar panel manufacturer, first incorporated in Changzhou, China in 2011. The company is vertically integrated, meaning it manufactures both the solar panels (modules) that go on your roof, as well as the cells that go into those modules. Seraphim makes both mono- and polycrystalline solar cells and modules in factories around the world.
The company gained early notoriety based on some of its first solar panels, which passed a rigorous test of solar panel quality known as the “Thresher Test”. This result showed that Seraphim was capable of producing solar modules that met the highest standards for durability and quality materials.
In 2015, Seraphim was listed as a Tier 1 manufacturer by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), and the company now has a production capacity of 5.5 gigawatts per year across two continents.
Seraphim is truly a world-wide company. Image source: Seraphim
Seraphim has offices on six continents, with module manufacturing facilities in China, South Africa, and Vietnam. The most recent of these is the Vietnam manufacturing facility, which can produce 750 MW of solar panels per year. Across all its facilities, Seraphim can manufacture 5.5 GW of solar panels per year.
The story with Seraphim’s USA manufacturing plant is…there isn’t a Seraphim USA manufacturing plant. Or at least, there isn’t one anymore.
In 2015, a Texas-based company called “Seraphim Solar USA Manufacturing”, which claimed to have exclusive rights to manufacture, sell, and distribute Seraphim-branded products in the United States, announced its plans to open a 300 MW plant in Mississippi. By late 2018, the plant had the ability to produce 160 MW per year when they announced a temporary shutdown to expand production. However, as far as anyone can tell, production never resumed.
As of late 2018, lawsuits against Seraphim Solar USA Manufacturing began appearing, alleging breach of contract for failure to deliver promised products. In 2019, a Nevada-based company called Seraphim Solar Holdings (SSH) brought suit against the company on the grounds that SSH itself held exclusive right to the Seraphim name in the Americas.
It’s a whole big tangled ball of twine that’s probably best to forget about for now, considering the fact that the Chinese parent company Seraphim continues to operate without complications on several other continents. The panels are still very popular around the world, and U.S.-based solar installers do sell Seraphim panels that are manufactured in South Africa and other locations. So let’s get to talking about those.
Seraphim currently offers three lines of solar panels: the S2 series, which is ideal for home solar installations, and the S3 series and S4 series, which are meant for larger commercial and industrial installations.
All of the current Seraphim modules use high-efficiency half-cut monocrystalline PERC solar cells. That’s a lot of jargon in one sentence, so here it is straight: PERC stands for “Passivated Emitter and Rear Contact”, which is a solar cell technology that increases how much solar energy a cell can turn into electricity.
Next, rather than the typical square solar cells, Seraphim cuts its cells in half, which reduces the chance for cells to overheat and, in turn, improves cell performance. Finally, the company wires the panels into top and bottom halves, which means each half can output its full power even if the either half is fully covered in shade.
Learn more: What is half-cut solar cell technology?
In addition to its lines of standard solar modules, Seraphim also offers bifacial series versions of its S2, S3, and S4 lines. These modules are meant to be mounted on racks above the ground that have space underneath, so they can collect energy that is reflected off the surface they’re installed on. However, bifacial solar panels are typically not suited for residential solar installations. You can learn more about these types of solar panels here.
Compared to other brands on the market, Seraphim offers high-quality materials and industry-standard technology and performance. Its modules have efficiencies of between 18.8% and 20.6%, producing between 315 and 450 watts of power under full sun (depending on the number of cells included in the panel and how efficient each cell is).
As the temperature increases, Seraphim’s panels lose about 0.35% of their output for every degree above 25° C, which is in line with the industry standard.
Seraphim solar panels are priced in line with the market, which means you can expect to spend about $15,000 to $20,000 for a typical 6 kW solar system that uses Seraphim panels, based on the current cost of solar panels nationwide. It is important to note, however, that cost can change based on system size, your location, and the complexity of your roof.
As the map above shows, Seraphim has sales offices on all continents except Africa and Antarctica. The modules are quite popular in southeast Asia, and companies in Australia have been selling Seraphim modules for years with good results.
The brand is harder to come by in the United States, but we still see a couple hundred solar installations that use them every year, and as they prove their track record, we’re likely to see more solar installers offering them to customers as a good value option.
Seraphim is a bit ahead of the rest of the industry when it comes to its solar panel warranties.
Its Series S2 warranty provides assurance that nothing will go wrong with the materials and workmanship of its equipment for 15 years. Furthermore, the company offers a guarantee that the panels will produce at least 98% of their rated power during the first year and lose no more than 0.55% of their ability to produce power for the next 24 years, ending their warranty period with at least 84.8% of their original rated power output.
The 15-year product warranty is actually a bit better than the standard 12-year warranty offered by most Tier 1 solar brands, and the 25-year power output warranty is right in line with most of the industry, as well. It doesn’t match the warranty of the very best solar panels on the market from companies like LG and SunPower, but it also doesn’t match their price point, meaning Seraphim panels are still quite a good value compared to the top brands.
The only potential worry here is that Seraphim is not a publicly-traded company, and therefore it’s hard to know whether they’re profitable and ready to survive for the 25 years you’re likely to have their products bolted onto your roof.
Seraphim solar panels are high-quality panels that are often sold at a competitive price. They use modern technology like PERC and half-cut cells, their 25-year performance warranty numbers compare favorably with those from other Tier 1 solar panels from brands like Trina and Longi, and they should last a good long time.
We’d like to see the company go public and release some financial information about their sales and profitability before we can wholeheartedly stand behind their warranty, but even without that, the products speak for themselves when it comes to quality and performance.
If you’re looking to add solar power to your home and your installer offers Seraphim panels at a good price, they’re worth considering.