Introducing the Hyundai SG Series. PERC Shingled panel. Model number HiE-S350SG
Hyundai Energy Solutions have recently released their new Shingled module, and it’s a cracker!
In this article we will look at all the pros and cons and give you a comprehensive overview of the new Shingled panel.
So, let’s start with why they are using the terminology “Shingled Module”.
Even for those with very basic solar knowledge, you will notice this panel does not look like most solar panels. This is due to the shingled cell layout.
The most commonly used solar panel these days look like the split cell panel in the image above. You will notice that each cell, has been cut into two halves. The reason manufacturers’ do this is, is so the electrical current passing through the solar panel is reduced. Why reduces the current? Well, a lower current means a lower temperature, which equals better efficiency and reliability. Simply put – heat and anything electronic or with an electric current do not go well together. That’s why we have fans to cool some appliances down. For many reasons, heat can cause inefficiencies and reliability problems.
So, a split cell panel, starts with a single cell, which is then cut in half – hence the name “split cell”. The Hyundai shingled module cuts the cell into 5 sections, therefore reducing current further, which will increase performance and reliability. With a very low current per cell, your solar panel will have less chance of suffering with hotspots, which damage the performance and can cause panels to stop working completely!
The 5 sections are then overlapped like a shingled roof structure, which also saves space and therefore makes the overall solar panel smaller, which improves the efficiency rating.
What’s with the adhesive strips?
Most solar panels use solder to run down the panel and carry electricity. This Hyundai module uses Electrically Conductive Adhesive (ECA), instead of solder. Why? Well, the theory is, that when metal expands and contracts in the heat, it causes unnecessary stress in the solar panel, which can lead to breakages in the solder, and therefore lead to a panel that does not carry current effectively.
When you consider the heat on an Aussie roof through those killer summer months, it makes sense that even with very minimal expansion and contraction, this can cause problems over time. The adhesive will not have this issue!
The adhesive will also increase load residence, as the ECA has more flexibility than a strip of solder. This is most important for areas with high levels of snow fall, so not something most of us have to worry about (thank goodness). However, it also improves the overall strength of the solar panel when exposed to high winds. This is important anywhere in the world, particularly in cyclone areas!
It looks cool, doesn’t it?
Granted, I spend all day every day looking at solar panels, so most consumers probably don’t care as much as I do about how these things look. However, you can’t argue that is looks pretty dam cool! For people who are focused on aesthetics, it is one of the nicest looking solar panels out there. There are quite a few “all-black” panels out there which have a black back sheet and frame and to be fair, they look awesome as well. But, due to increased heat retention in the panel, you lose a bit of efficiency going all-black. For me, the Hyundai SG panel ticks the aesthetics box, without having to go for an all-black panel. Hyundai do have an all-black version, which is not yet available in Australia, but when it arrives (possible early 2021) you will pay a bit more and get a slightly lower efficiency!
That’s all very nice, but how does it compare to other solar panels?
The short answer here is that it compares really, really well. There are pros and cons of all leading solar panel brands. When you look at the above points, there is some real value in the singled panel. Let’s take a look at some other stats.
Firstly, the efficiency is very high. This is a 350w panel, which if viewed purely as a power class, is not that impressive these days. Lots of solar panel manufacturers have 370w panels now, and some even slightly higher. You also have panels suited to commercial projects that are much larger physically, that are rated up to 450w. But aside from LG and SunPower, all of these are bigger than this Hyundai panel. And the efficiency rating of a solar panel is calculated by watts / metres squared.
You can see from the table above the dimensions of this panels are significantly smaller than most 350w – 370w panels. This means the Hyundai HiE-S350SG has an efficiency rating of 20.2%. To put that in perspective, the world’s most efficient solar panel is the SunPower Maxeon 3, at 22.6%. Consider the massive price difference here, and that 2.4% difference doesn’t sound very much! As we know, the efficiency of a solar panel is not everything, but it does show a sign of quality!
This panel also has a very low temperature coefficient rating. Why does that matter?
A solar panel is tested, and rated, at 25º C. For every degree over 25c the solar panel will degrade by whatever the temperature coefficiency rating is. For example, if the temperature on the solar panel was 40º C, that would be that be 15º C above testing conditions. So, this would mean the panel would lose 15 multiplied by whatever the efficiency rating was.
For the sake of easy maths, let’s assume the solar panel has a temperature coefficiency rating of 1%. This would mean the solar panel would be 15% less efficiency in 40º C heat, when compared to 25º C heat (because we are 15 degrees higher than test conditions, and the rating is 1%. So, 15 x 1 = 15% less efficient). So, this would mean you would lose 15% of your solar production when the temperature was 40º C on your roof.
Luckily for us, no solar panels have a temperature coefficienct rating as low a 1%. But, the lower the rating, the better the results will be long-term.
The Hyundai temperature coefficiency rating is only 0.34%. This is VERY low. Even when comparing to premium modules like LG and SunPower this is extremely impressive!
Don’t forget, your solar panels should have a 25-year lifespan, and they sit up on your roof in the hot sun all day every day. With a poor temperature coefficient rating, you will lose a significant amount of useable energy over the years. And, talking of lifespans…
What about warranties?
Hyundai have a market leading warranty here. They give a full 25-year product warranty, as well as the more standard 25-year performance warranty. Once again, you have to compare with really premium solar panels to get a comparable warranty. There is nothing anywhere near this price point, that offers a warranty as good as this.
No solar panel is perfect, and this panel is not either. And the best solar panel for you, may not be the best solar panel for your best mate. For a solar panel to tick every box is literally impossible, especially when you take cost into consideration. However, it really is difficult to find negatives in the actual makeup of this panel. The only downside with Hyundai Energy Solutions is they came into the market early on in Australia in 2001, and then left again in 2011. They have only recently come back into our market in 2018. Even though they still offered support during the time they were gone, it can be seen as a weakness as thy have not had a consistent presence. For the record, this does not bother me personally at all, especially when you look at the overall size of the Hyundai brand. I personally feel very comfortable with the long-term support they offer.
More recently in 2020, Hyundai have expanded their distribution network in Australia, and are seem to be here for the long -term.
These panels are also not a direct competitor for LG or SunPower, who is real life conditions will most likely produce more slightly energy than the HiE-S350SG. Once again though, the actual makeup of this panel is not far off the likes of LG or SunPower and you can expect to pay a lot less for their panels.
The only other downside is the lack of online presence and Australian testing. Because Hyundai left our market for quite a while, there is not as much data or information that is easily accessible, compared to better known brands. If you are going to base your decision on the ease of access to testing in Australia, and what online forums are saying, these may not be for you. If you can get passed this, you will find these panels offer extremely good value!
Let’s sum everything up.
To get to the point, Hyundai have created a really efficient panel, that look to have all the characteristics to be very reliable long-term.
Hyundai are also a very well-established brand, with a trading history that goes all the way back to the early 1940’s (more recently with Heavy Industries in the 1970’s), so they are most likely not going anywhere.
They are a separate division to the cars we all know, so you won’t be able to walk into Hyundai car showroom and ask for advice on your solar system, nor will they help with a warranty claim if you need one.
However, Hyundai were also ranked 94th in the world for most valuable brands by Forbes magazine in 2019. It doesn’t get much more reputable than that in this game!
If you are looking for a solar panel with a 25-year warranty that also has great technical makeup, but you don’t want to pay LG or SunPower money for them, this could be a dream panel for you.
For our original Hyundai review, including more information about the manufacturer, click here.