Seraphim solar panels review. Are they a good brand?
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.
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About the company
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’s manufacturing locations
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’s solar panel models
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.
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.
Cost and availability
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.
See what local installers are charging for 6 kW solar systems
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.
Best Solar Panels and Inverters Brands of 2022
One of the most important parts of choosing solar equipment is having confidence that the manufacturer will be around in 25-30 years to honor their warranties. This is known as bankability.
While only 0.05% of solar panels fail, lost energy production is lost money, so it’s worth sticking with solar panel and inverter brands best known for their reliability.
To identify the best solar panel and inverter brands for bankability, we looked to homeowners like you, and which equipment they selected in 2022. After all, nothing says trust like buying thousands of dollars in product.
So, we analyzed every sale made on the solar.com marketplace in 2022 to identify the best brands of solar panels and inverters in 2022.
Best solar panel brands of 2022
The people have spoken. REC and Q Cells were clearly the preferred brand of solar panels in 2022 and were selected in nearly 75% of sales on the solar.com marketplace.
Panasonic was a distant third place with 9.3% market share, followed by 11 brands that were selected less than 5% of the time.
Now, there is something to be said about panel availability and supply chain disruptions in 2022. Simply put, installers weren’t always able to stock certain brands, which limited choices for consumers.
But, there’s also something to be said for being able to supply product in those conditions, which REC, Q Cells, and Panasonic were clearly able to do. Let’s take a look at the three best solar panel brands of 2022 to see what makes them stand out to homeowners and installers.
Founded in Norway in 1996, REC recently celebrated its 25th anniversary as a solar company. That’s especially impressive given solar panels weren’t put on roofs until 1973.
REC has four series of premium residential solar panels, all with 25-year performance warranties and 25-year product warranties (if installed by an REC Certified Solar Professional installer).
While REC solar panels are a premium and highly bankable product, they are also competitively priced, making them the clear top choice for consumers and the best solar panel brand of 2022.
Best solar inverter brands of 2022
Inverters are a crucial and often overlooked part of a home solar system. After all, solar panels produce DC electricity and your house runs on AC. Inverters are the forgotten middle-child that make the equation work.
Once again, the people have spoken. When it comes to the best inverter brands of 2022, Enphase and SolarEdge are the clear favorites. These two brands alone were selected for over 98% of solar projects in 2022.
Founded in California in 2006, Enphase is the clear leader in microinverter and performance monitoring technology. Unlike a single string inverter unit, microinverters are attached to each solar panel and convert electricity before it leaves the panel. Learn more about microinverters vs string inverters here.
Enphase microinverters were selected in over 75% of sales in the solar.com marketplace in 2022, and 75% of those were from the IQ8 series.
IQ8’s come with an industry-leading 25-year warranty and have proven to have a very low failure rate, making Enphase the best solar inverter brand of 2022.
Also founded in 2006, Israel SolarEdge is Enphase’s toughest competition for best solar inverter brand of 2022.
SolarEdge’s HD Wave Series string inverter is more cost effective for homeowners without shade issues. And by attaching optimizers to each panel it can work like a microinverter system to combat shading and monitor each panel individually.
With a 12-year warranty that’s extendable up to 25 years, SolarEdge was clearly the best brand for string inverters in 2022.
With an ever-growing population of 1.4 billion, China has serious energy needs. The country has embraced solar as part of its energy production mix. It has also rolled out several ambitious schemes and regulations to help encourage solar uptake.
One example of this is the Top Runner Programme. This is a government scheme that is designed to improve the efficiency of solar panels in the country. It works by setting standards for panel efficiency. It then mandates that a certain percentage of solar farm capacity built each year meets those standards. This ensures that new installations aren’t using old, inefficient technologies.
Other schemes also demonstrate China’s commitment to advanced solar technologies. This includes the introduction of the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) in 2019 which requires wholesale market companies to source a specific portion of their electricity from renewable sources. As well as plans to mandate Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) to increase solar capacity.
However, like many other countries (including the UK), China has phased out generous Feed in Tariffs (FiTs) which were used to incentivise solar energy production throughout the country.
The United States is the second largest producer of solar energy globally. The country has developed its own schemes and regulations to help grow solar capacity.
One important scheme is the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC). This scheme offers a 30 percent tax credit for any individual that installs a solar system on a residential property. Under a different section, it can also be applied to customer-sited commercial solar systems and large-scale solar farms.
Net Energy Metering (NEM) is similar to the UK’s Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). This scheme guarantees individuals who generate renewable energy (such as via solar panels on a rooftop) that they will be paid for any unused energy which is sold back to the grid.
Similar to China, the USA has also adopted a Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) approach, which mandates that a specific percentage of electricity utilities sold should come from renewable sources. The current goal percentage of the USA’s RPS differs from state to state.
Unlike many other global leaders in solar, Japan continues to operate a Feed in Tariff (FiT) across the country for those producing electricity from solar power. Although, as panels and equipment are much cheaper these days, systems will pay for themselves much more quickly. This scheme is different from the USA’s NEM and UK’s SEG as it pays participants for all energy produced, even if they use that electricity themselves.
Japan has also introduced a Non-Fossil Certificates scheme which targets non-trackable renewable energy that does not fall under the FiT umbrella.
Although Japan has not implemented a country-wide RPS like China and the USA, many local Japanese governments have introduced this approach to renewable energy usage mandates.
Germany is Europe’s leader when it comes to solar energy production, with its own set of schemes and regulations.
The Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) outlines Germany’s commitment to account for at least 80% of energy from renewable sources by 2030. It outlines the country’s ambitious targets for development and how they plan to reach those targets.
Unlike the UK’s Contracts for Difference (CfD) model, Germany offers energy companies a set price for power produced via renewable energy sources but does not expect the company to pay back the difference periodically if the market value is lower than the price paid.
Aren’t they all just double-glazing cowboys?
“There are still a fair amount of cowboys in the industry,” Sussex Solar’s Baxter says.
Word of mouth is your best bet.
Ask around on your local street WhatsApp forums. Or try Which? Trusted Traders.
Traditionally you would expect to obtain three different quotes before proceeding. But as Holland at The Solar Shed says: “I’m just too busy for [that].”
The early adopter who now runs a solar business
The former Guardian economics journalist Ashley Seager has been so inspired by the performance of his home solar panels – installed 15 years ago – that he now runs a solar business of his own.
Martin Lewis Offers Advice on Solar Panels | Good Morning Britain
In 2007 Seager installed a 3kW peak system (about four metres by three metres) on the roof of his Victorian home in south London. It has produced about 2,700 kW hours (kWh) a year – enough for more than 80% of his annual electricity needs – and 15 years later it is still going strong.
“The panels are supposed to degrade by about 0.5% a year but they have not. I’d estimate they have declined by no more than 0.25% a year,” he says.
“The newer panels are now more efficient. A 3kW roof system now needs less roof space than we needed back in 2007. You can now get a 4kW system in the space needed for a 3kW system years ago.”
Seager spent £8,500 on his panels, and they have more than repaid his investment. “Even before for electricity shot up we were getting a return of 10% to 15% per annum on the roof panels.”
THE BEST SOLAR PANELS IN 2022
Seager benefited from the government’s “feed-in tariffs” paid to early adopters, which are no longer available. He now thinks the government was overly generous: “They set the tariff so high, there was a massive return on the investment.”
However, the falling cost and higher efficiency of the panels since 2007, combined with today’s soaring electricity prices, mean that the financial equation for fitting solar panels still stacks up without any government subsidies.
His company, Sun4net, focuses on installing panels on commercial rooftop spaces. But, like everyone else in the industry, he warns of the difficulty in obtaining supplies.
“We are busier than ever but it continues a strong upward trend that we saw after Cop26 [the 2021 UN climate change conference]. The value of the projects has really gone through the roof, so to speak. But anyone in the domestic panels business who says they have much stock is not telling you the truth.”
He estimates that about 95% of all panels come from China. Its government heavily subsidised its solar PV industry, which helped bring down but also drove manufacturers in Europe and North America to the wall.
Now, as Europe wakes up to its overdependence on Russian gas, it is realising it has an even greater dependence on China to supply solar panels.
‘My aim is to be off-grid as much as possible in the summer’
Norfolk homeowner Stephen Beardmore says he has just spent £14,500 on a complete home solar system – including panels, battery, diverter and car charger.
He made the move not only because of recent electricity price rises but because “for me, it was always the right thing to do”.
Beardmore, who works for the Royal Air Force, says: “I’ve been thinking about it for the last two years. I have always been keen on technology and keen on renewables, long before Putin invaded Ukraine.”
Like many solar buyers, the biggest initial hurdle was finding a reputable supplier. “As soon as you start doing research, you get bombarded with ads on Instagram and It felt like I was walking into a dodgy car sales agency,” Beardmore says.
Friends recommended the Solar Shed in nearby King’s Lynn. “My aim is to be off-grid as much as possible in the summer. I agreed a 16-panel, 405W-per-panel system, with an 11kW battery. And I put a car charger in at the same time, even though I don’t have an electric car yet. For me, it’s about a change in lifestyle and the way you use power.”
As part of his research, he calculated his household’s overall electricity usage before the panels were installed, which added up to 4,300 kWh over 2021.
After the scaffolder came in, the whole thing only took two days
“They have only been up for six weeks but I’m completely happy with them. We have a Smart meter and I’m already down to 80p a day for electricity.”
Most of the panels are on a directly south-facing roof, with the rest on a west-facing roof.
Installation was done with limited disruption. “I only had to take one day off. After the scaffolder came in, the whole thing only took two days.”
As for the aesthetics of the panels, he says: “I don’t even notice them up there.”
The only hitch so far is that the battery is yet to arrive, although he expects it to come soon.
Would he recommend it? “In the current situation, if people don’t get the message about renewables now, they never will.”
This article was amended on 25 August 2022 to add further detail about the potential savings from solar panels, clarifying that the payback period will be different for every household, and that without a battery to store electricity, home consumption could only be 25 to 30% of the electricity produced.
This article was amended on 25 August 2022 to add further detail about the potential savings from solar panels, clarifying that the payback period will be different for every household, and that without a battery to store electricity, home consumption could only be 25% to 30% of the electricity produced.