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How do you recognize a quality panel?

Like any product, not all manufacturers' solar panels are equal. Some use the best quality materials and equipment to manufacture them and others do not.

Some manufacturers conduct extensive research and development into long term performance and have deep understanding of how the materials will behave and others do not. Some manufacturers have decades of experience in manufacturing electronic equipment, others might have only recently moved into solar.

It’s not easy to tell the differences simply by looking at a solar panel. The glass and frame is simply the box/packaging surrounding the components which make the real difference. The real quality of a solar panel like an LG panel is reflected inside the solar panels, in the composite of chemically treated glass, chemically treated silicon cells, various plastics, protective films, aluminium, sealants and interconnecting wiring.

Solar panels spend their entire life in the hot sun and cold rain, harsh environment for any material, let alone a composition of different materials bonded together. Under such conditions, materials can – and do – chemically change over time reacting with each other and creating new chemicals and compounds as they age. Their elasticity also changes over their life affecting the stresses and tensions they place on each other. Cheaper panels sometimes use cheaper input materials and may have not been on Australian roofs long enough to see how these materials survive the harsh Australian sun.

Solar manufacturers with a strong understanding of materials science, who invest heavily in research and development, are able to understand and predict how these external conditions are likely to affect the materials. Some, who have been manufacturing consumer goods for many years also have the benefit of hindsight and learning. Typically, manufacturers who understand these issues will have accreditation to ISO standards for manufacturing and will have advanced quality assurance processes and controls described on their promotional material. True quality assurance is about understanding what causes variation and controlling it through research, not just checking the final product and hoping to identify faults or defects.

LG is one of the best manufacturers of solar panels  based on decades of research into the manufacturing process. LG panels manufacturing video