Longi solar panel review
At GI Energy we can install any solar panel for your home or business. This means we are able to write honest reviews expressing our genuine opinion, without having to be biased due to holding stock of Longi solar panels, or any other solar panel! This article details the opinion of our Business Development Director, who has 12-years’ experience in the PV industry.
Warranty and tech support today: 7.5
Warranty and tech support long-term: 6
Value for money: 7
Total Rating: 6.9/10
In recent months we have seen a rapid increase in enquiries for Longi panels. Almost out of nowhere 1 in 3 new customers are either specifically asking for Longi panels, or at the very least asking our opinion of them. Rewind only 12-months and you would struggle to find a customer who had heard of them! So how has this happened? And is it a good thing for consumers?
Well, there are a few main boxes we always want to tick when assessing a solar panel:
- Who is the manufacturer and are they going to be able to help with long-term warranty support?
- How will the solar panel actually perform when its installed on my roof?
- How much will it cost me?
Who is the manufacturer?
So, let’s take a look at the manufacturer. Longi Solar are yet another massive Chinese solar manufacturer who boast impressive balance sheets and rapid growth. You can’t help but be impressed with the way some Chinese companies grow and generate immense profits. The business model of mass production at minimal cost might not please everyone, but you can’t argue with how effective it is! Longi shipped 7.394GW of solar cells and modules combined in 2019. To put that in perspective, a typical home solar system in 2019 was 6.6kW.
That means Longi shipped enough solar modules and cells to cater for 1,120,303 Australian home solar installs in 2019 alone. To put that another way, the sub 100kW category for solar installs in Australia, which is the home and small commercial market, installed 2.1GW of solar in 2019. So, Longi shipped enough cells and modules to cater for the entire Australian home and small commercial solar market… three and a half times over.
These numbers are clearly striking if you are impressed by the volume and revenue a solar manufacturer can generate. Longi themselves are obviously impressed by this type of thing as the first thing you see on their home website is how much revenue they make and how many solar panels they can produce (see below). A big pat on your own back there then Longi… well done 😉
When comparing the volume produced to the size of the Australian solar market, it really is quite daunting to imagine how their factories operate. When compared to other massive Chinese manufacturers though, they are still some way off the top of the tree with Jinko Solar shipping over double what Longi did in 2019.
So, they are a big manufacturer capable and producing lots of solar panels. Why haven’t we heard of them much prior to this year then? Firstly, Longi are a relatively new business that were originally formed in the year 2000. Compare that to Q Cells parent company and LG who have been trading since the 1950s or Sumec Phono Solar who have been trading since the 1970s and they are quite young really. But more to the point, the vast majority of the 7.3GW that was shipped in 2019 seems to have stayed in China. It is only very recently they have started taking export into places like Australia seriously. They have set up many distributors across the country and have generated a great deal of attention around the brand to get their name out there. They have clearly done a good job as well!
Are they going to look after my long-term warranty support?
A big company usually means a strong balance sheet and a bright future. Longi also do have an Australian website and office. The only downside here is that Longi Solar are nowhere near as diversified as some of the other popular solar panel brands available. What I mean by this is: They only manufacturer solar panels.
If you compare this to other manufacturers like LG, Phono, Q Cells, Hyundia or even BYD who all have multiple revenue streams from a wide range of industries and services, it makes Longi look slightly less favourable. What I am getting at here is: If the demand for solar panels globally drops significantly, and 100% of Longi revenue comes from solar panels, then you may question what happens to that big balance sheet.
To be clear, I am not suggesting Longi are financially unstable or even that they will be in the future. But the “solar boom” won’t last forever and eventually the global demand will drop. If you are a diversified business and solar panels only represent 10% of your revenue them this drop will most likely hit you a lot less than it would if solar panels represented 100% of your revenue. For this reason, we try to recommend risk diversified manufacturers for our projects where possible.
How will the solar panel actually perform when its installed on my roof?
Longi only produce monosilicon panels. Some manufacturers produce both mono and polysilicon panels, with mono being the more efficient and preferred choice. They make a range of solar panels with efficiency ranging from 17.4% – 20.3%. Please don’t think the efficiency of a solar panel is the most important factor when choosing a solar panel though. See most efficient solar panels for more information. There is nothing to suggest Longi won’t produce good energy once installed on our roof. Although they are not trying to compete with more premium brands.
Longi are clearly a volume-based manufacturer who are rapidly expanding and therefore their focus is on providing a mass market solution for a cheap price, and that’s exactly what they do! You can put Longi Solar in the same bracket as Jinko, JA Solar, Trina Solar, Risen Energy and GCL in the sense they are massive Chinese companies who manufacturer only solar panels…and lots of them (all of these manufacturers shipped 4.8GW or more in 2019)! The reason they are so popular right now is not necessarily because they are so good, its more so they are newer to the Australian market and really pushing for market share at the moment. We saw the same trend when GCL and Risen entered the Australian market a few years ago.
How much will they cost?
As per their Chinese counterparts mentioned above who dominate the global volume for solar panels, Longi will be very affordable. There is very little cost difference between Longi and any of the above-mentioned Chinese manufacturers. Long story short, you can save some more money and go with a smaller, newer Chinese manufacturer (not recommended). Or, you can spend a bit more and get a more premium solar panel. Longi sit among the other Chinese power players and the exact price you pay will be determined by who is pushing harder to move stock in Australia at the time you buy.
Longi leave us with a relatively neutral and uninspired feeling. There is nothing there that really shouts out “buy me” and there really isn’t meant to be. They offer a cost effective and decent solution without any frills or amazing features and benefits. And that’s exactly their goal – sell as many panels for as cheap as possible and take over as much market share as possible! There is nothing to suggest they won’t be around to help in the long-term, but we do prefer a manufacturer who is diversified so if the solar revenue eventually dries up, they have other legs to stand on. This can be found in lots of other brands.
So, if you are looking for a low price point product then Longi do offer a solution worth considering, as do Jinko, JA Solar, Trina, Risen and GCL. If you want something that offers a bit more security in the strength of a diversified manufacturer, or a more premium product that will deliver exceptional results, then Longi may not be for you.
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