PV+Test is an independent test for modules, conducted by TÜV Rheinland and Solarpraxis AG.

 

The "Best of" list

Modules that do not survive their guaranteed 20-year lifetime are a nightmare for customers and installers alike. However, PV+Test has been designed to help you choose your modules. The independent test not only assesses products based on performance criteria, but also in terms of durability, electrical safety, workmanship, the quality of documentation provided, warranty terms and ease of installation.
An industry council, put together by the engineering division at Solarpraxis AG, publisher of pv magazine, created the criteria for this comprehensive assessment. The meetings were open to all manufacturers, test labs and other interested solar experts.

Panel manufacturers paid for these comprehensive, and hence expensive, tests. Nonetheless, they remain independent. The accredited TÜV Rheinland test lab performed the measurements without any input from the manufacturers, who were only allowed to decide whether their name would be published alongside their scores. If not, their scores were nonetheless included, anonymously, in the results. Understandably, manufacturers whose modules did not perform particularly well did not want to reveal their identity. Therefore, PV+Test is a "best of" list.

Customers can use the scoring system to see how the published results compare to the overall scores. TÜV Rheinland and Solarpraxis will continue to run the tests, and PV+Test will to continue to grow. As soon as a new panel passes the test, pv magazine will publish the scores.

If you are a manufacturer and wish to participate, please contact the test experts.

 

Test results

Scoring system

test standard   all excellent excellent (-) good (+) good good (-) satisfactory (+) satisfactory poor very poor
2013 PV+Test 2.0 4 1     1     1 1  
2011 PV+Test 1.0 19 1 3 6 5 1   2 1  
all   23 2 3 6 6 1   3 2  

Read previous test articles and find out more about PV+Test

More detailed test results, and extra information, are published in pv magazine and online. Click on the links below to see more:

Module evaluated as good, pv magazine 01/2014: In the latest round of testing, the polycrystalline module HSL60P6-PB-1-245 (HSL 60 Poly) from Hanwha SolarOne overcame the first hurdle of the PV+Test with the grade ‘good’. Among numerous other positive readings, it became immediately clear in the test laboratory that the module passed the more stringent aging tests, the PID test, and the thorough examination of its performance parameters.

How to avoid costly errors, pv magazine 12/2013: In the testing program for photovoltaic modules conducted by Solarpraxis AG and TÜV Rheinland, examiners repeatedly encounter serious quality defects; recently even among manufacturers where this would not be expected. Two modules therefore did not pass the stronger criteria of PV+Test 2.0.

Clear the ring for round two!, pv magazine 06/2013: PV+Test: Not only in the trade dispute does SolarWorld have to contend with Chinese manufacturers. In the new and more stringent module testing program from TÜV Rheinland and Solarpraxis, PV+Test 2.0, SolarWorld unwittingly entered into a direct quality comparison with a module producer from China – and clearly won.

Doubling down on quality, pv magazine 11/2012: Four more modules made by Chinese manufacturers have undergone the Solarpraxis/TÜV Rheinland module test. The manufacturer JS Solar has proven that China is capable of producing high quality modules. The other two manufacturers, however, underscore the fact that this is not always the case.

A new entry in the list of the best modules, pv magazine, 05/2012: For the first time ever, a Chinese manufacturer has decided to release the results of the TÜV Rheinland and Solarpraxis module test. The Jetion Solar JT235PCe module passed the most demanding testing regime with the score of “good+”.

Among the best, pv magazine, 04/12: IBC Solar has now subjected its products to the challenges of the testing program of TÜV Rheinland and Solarpraxis. The 240 watt monocrystalline module performed very well in the TÜV chambers.

New module on top, pv magazine 11/11: Two modules went through PV+Test in September. Solon Blue 230/07 now leads the list of holders of the TÜV Rheinland and Solarpraxis AG seal of quality, while the other clearly showed everything that could go wrong.

PV+Test article, pv magazine 02/11
Quality assurance: PV+Test is a new quality label to help customers navigate the module market. The first results are promising. Most of the modules that underwent the independent test fulfill the requirements. On the other hand, there are some clear differences in individual categories.

How PV+Test works
Glossary: PV+Test uses a wide range of measurement results and other module properties in its assessment. The assessment scheme shows what experts think makes up a good module.

Andreas Cox

Learning from the test

PV+Test: Module tests help you choose modules. On the one hand, manufacturers like that. On the other, they fear it. Andreas Cox, test engineer at TÜV Rheinland reports on the reactions.

Tested modules

SolarWorld Sunmodule Plus SW 245 poly

The Sunmodule Plus SW 245 poly, according to manufacturer SolarWorld AG, is suitable for all applications. It is available in the performance classes 240 to 255 Watts. The tested module type with 245 Watt nominal capacity is being produced since 2010. Until now, around 860,000 modules in this power class with a total capacity of about 211 MW have been sold largely in Europe, but also in the U.S., Asia, Australia, South America and other parts of the world, according to SolarWorld. For the U.S., the module is fitted with the appropriate frame.  The Sunmodule Plus SW poly is the most sold product type from SolarWorld: this being the reason why the company sent this module for the PV+Test. Additionally a standard module without further specifications was selected to allow the best possible comparison of results. The front of the module is fitted with a 4mm thick, unstructured, highly transparent, tempered solar glass. According to SolarWorld, it has been proved time and again to be PID-free, ammonia and salt-mist resistant and also suited for deserts. It has also been ensured via the "Power controlled" program by TÜV Rheinland, that the measured power of the module is correct and the quality remains steady over time.

Solon Blue 230/07

The Solon Blue 230/07 is a polycrystalline module. Besides the 230-watt power class tested, it is also available in power classes from 225 to 260 watts. It has a hollow frame, and the front glass consists of solar glass four millimeters thick. This, Solon says, makes the module very stable. The high quality of the module is quoted as justifying its slightly higher price. It is therefore vaunted as a typical module for residential buildings. The firm adds that project developers also install it frequently on large industrial roofs and, to some extent, in ground-mounted solar installations. This module has been available on the European market since April 2009. Since then, modules with a total output of approximately 200 megawatts have been produced. For the U.S. market, Solon offers a variant with a UL-certified junction box. The module has also held an MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) certificate for the British market since February 2010. Solon says this module is the company’s best-selling product. It is also obtainable in a monocrystalline version under the name Solon Black 230/07.

Schott Solar Schott Poly 290

The Schott Poly 290 has a nominal output of 290 watts and has been on sale since 2008. It consists of 80 polycrystalline cells and is the only module in the tests that not only has a glass pane on the front, but also on the back. Schott Solar says the two panes protect the module especially well from the weather and points out that glass is impenetrable to water, water vapor, acids, ammonia, oils and solvents; the panel is also suitable for areas with great snow and wind loads. The module is reportedly very durable, making it basically interesting for all market segments from residential to commercial and ground-mounted. Although the module is relatively heavy compared to modules with a much lighter rear foil, the Poly 290 is also installed on roofs. The manufacturer says that 50 megawatts of this panel have already been sold; it is the successor to the ASE 260, of which more than 100 megawatts were produced. In July 2010, Schott introduced a linear performance guarantee of 82.5 percent of nominal output in 30 years. In May, Schott Solar is launching a smaller version of the panel, the Poly 185.

Sharp NU-180E1

Sharp's monocrystalline module has a nominal output of 180 watts and has been on sale since 2007. The manufacturer says that 180 megawatts of this panel, which was designed for applications that require great output and can be used everywhere, have already been sold since. The surface of the cells is reportedly structured to increase module yield. Sharp uses tempered white glass. The development is based on 50 years of experience in the photovoltaic sector. The manufacturer also offers a 185 watt version of the module tested. Since the test was conducted, Sharp has made some minor changes to the module frame to make the panel a bit lighter (the new product number is NU-180E1H).

IBC Monosol 240 ET

IBC Solar’s Monosol 240 ET is available in five different performance classes; from 230 to 250 watts. The module contains 60 Bosch solar cells and is built for IBC Solar by Solarwatt in Dresden. IBC controls the quality of the modules according to its own standard through regular audits and quality control inspection. According to the manufacturer, the modules are ideally suited for use on single-family homes whose owners care about the good looks and efficient use of their roofs. They are also installed on commercial buildings and industrial roofs. The module has been on the market since 2007 and is now certified for all of the European markets. Since it began selling them, IBC says that it has sold some 300,000 units of this module type. Hollow chamber aluminum frames ensure the stability of the panels. Their resistance to ammonia and saltwater makes the modules well-suited for use in agricultural or coastal applications.

JS Solar JS230P

The JS Solar JS230P polycrystalline module contains 60 six-inch solar cells, and has been in production since 2007. Since then, JS Solar has manufactured some 800 megawatts of this type of module. The company has sold some 300 megawatts of the polycrystalline model under its own name and a further 500 megawatts as OEM products. JS Solar says that the JS230P displays very stable performance. The robust 50 millimetre frame offers extra stability in areas subject to high winds.

Mitsubishi Electric PV TD 185 MF5

Mitsubishi's polycrystalline module has been on sale since the second quarter of 2008; it has a nominal output of 185 watts. The manufacturer says that more than 100 megawatts of this module have already been installed. It is Mitsubishi's first model that can be used in all applications, unlike its modules for economical and design-oriented applications. The firm says it places great store on electrical safety, so the panel has dedicated sockets for each of the two connections, which are also cast in an inflammable material. A total of three bypass diodes are used. For mechanical stiffness, the module has a diagonal support on the back, to which a cross brace is attached to facilitate installation. The firm also says it pays attention to environmental impact during manufacturing; no lead is used for soldering, and the module complies with the EU's RoHS directive.

Jetion JT235PCe

Chinese manufacturer Jetion Solar offers the JT235PCe module in a standard series with nominal outputs ranging from 225 to 245 Watts. Special solutions are also available on request. According to the company, the module is used mostly in large-scale roof and ground-mounted projects, but it is also used in small systems. A hollow frame provides the necessary support for loads of up to 5,400 pascals. Condensation drains out of openings on the bottom of the module. According to Jetion, the 3.2 millimeter thick glass has low iron content, is highly transparent, anti-reflective, and coated to ensure very high yield. The Jetion module has been available on the European market since 2007. Since then, some 400 megawatts of modules have been sold under the Jetion brand name in Europe. The company is also an OEM manufacturer for other solar companies. Under other brand names the Jetion has produced modules with a total capacity of about one gigawatt. Since the end of 2011, the company has manufactured its “Italus” series modules for the Italian market. The Italus modules conform to the guidelines of the Conto Energia, which brings a ten percent higher feed-in tariff in Italy.

JS Solar JS190D

The JS190D has 72 five-inch monocrystalline cells and has been on the market since 2009. The module is offered in various performance classes, ranging from 185 to 205 watts-peak. By June 2012, JS Solar had sold a total of 1.1 gigawatts of this type of module, of which 400 megawatts were sold under its own brand and 700 megawatts were sold as OEM products to other module providers and distributed under other brand names.

Conergy PowerPlus 225P

Conergy’s PowerPlus 225P panel is a further development of a polycrystalline module that went on sale in 2007. The manufacturer says it is good for all segments from small and midsized homes (residential) to larger commercial buildings and utility-scale power plants. In addition, the module reportedly has especially good low-light performance and very good yield, because the structured solar glass does not reflect much light; in addition, the contacts in the socket are all soldered in a fully automated process to ensure good quality. Conergy says another advantage is that the module can be installed in the landscape or portrait mode to provide installers with more flexibility, and the module has also passed the German Agricultural Society's ammonia test, which is required for farms. Furthermore, the module has a plug connector that can be fixated with a twist. Some 250 megawatts of the module have reportedly already been installed.

Sovello SV-X-195

Sovello’s SV-X-195 has a nominal output of 195 watts and is reportedly useful in a large number of market segments, from small and midsize homes (residential) to larger commercial buildings, farm buildings, slanted roofs, flat roofs and ground-mounted arrays. It is the only module in the test with polycrystalline wafers made in the string-ribbon process. Here, silicon wafers are drawn out of the molten silicon between two wires so they have the right thickness and width from the outset. Sovello therefore does not have to saw its wafers as most of its competitors do, which reportedly reduces energy and silicon consumption by around 50 percent. As a result, energy payback – the time that a module needs to generate the amount of electricity used for its manufacture – is faster. Among the benefits the module offers, Sovello lists good performance under partial shading, because of the way the cells are switched. Under shading, yield is reportedly up to 10 percent greater than in modules with conventional switching, which increases the area efficiency for arrays that use stands, because the distance between the rows can be reduced. The firm also says that low-light performance is very good and that the solar glass' antireflective coating increases yield.

Perfect Solar PS 230-6P-TOP

Perfect Solar's 1.66 square meter module has a nominal output of 230 watts and has been on sale since the end of 2008. The manufacturer says eight to ten megawatts of the module, which can be installed on roofs or in ground-mounted arrays, have already been sold. The module reportedly has a "top nano" coating that mimics the lotus effect to keep the module clean and thereby ensure high yield. Perfect Solar guarantees that the module does not contain heavy metals and is therefore recyclable. The firm also says it is "made with German technology," meaning that a company in Taiwan handles panel production using machines and materials from Germany.

PV+Test homepage - All manufacturers are invited

On PV+Test’s website, you will find more information about the meetings of the industrial council and further details. All manufacturers are invited to take part in the tests. If you are a manufacturer and wish to participate, please contact the test experts.

TÜV Rheinland

Click here for an overview of TÜV's approach to the task, and the PV+Test results.