As one of the largest solar panel suppliers in the world Trina Solar is well established with a solid reputation and global distribution network across 30 countries. Founded in 1997 Trina solar is one of the oldest Chinese solar panel manufacturers with a strong focus on research and development, having broken 18 solar PV world records in both efficiency and power output over the last 20 years.
Trina Solar is one of the founding members of the Silicon Module Super League (SMSL) and is generally regarded as one of the top Chinese based module manufacturers with a focus on cost-effective, reliable solar modules.
Trina Solar is ranked as one of the leading Tier 1 panel manufacturers by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, although this is really a measure of the financial stability of the company which is more important for large utility scale installations which require long term project viability.
Like many of the large Chinese manufacturers Trina Solar’s focus is both performance and value of money, so they generally do not compete in the expensive, premium end of the market with the likes of LG (Sth Korea) and Sunpower (USA). However Trina does offer some quality products such as the Trina Honey range of p-type multi-crystalline and mono-crystalline panels which are generally well regarded and trusted among Australian installers.
See how Trina solar panels compare to other popular panels in our complete Solar panel and PV technology review.
Wide Variety of Panels
Trina solar manufacture a very large range of solar modules for residential, commercial and utility scale installations incorporating many of the latest technologies including bifacial, half-cell, dual glass, PERC and of course the standard p-type mono-crystalline and multi-crystalline cells.
By far the most common and popular models in the line-up are the Honey range of panels which we describe below. These were first released back in 2012 and are now available in a range of sizes from 275W up to 315W. These modules are a good combination of quality, performance and value for money and are widely used by Australian installers for residential and commercial installations.
For larger commercial and utility scale installations Trina Solar offer a range of high voltage (1500V) oversize 72 cell modules in the TallMax range with sizes up to 365W, as well bifacial and dual glass options offering 30 year performance warranties.
Trina solar also offer integrated ‘smart panel’ solutions including a range of different optimisers from Tigo energy. These integrated solutions, like micro-inverters and other optimisers, enable individual panel monitoring, increased safety and greatly improve performance when shading is a problem.
Trina Honey M Plus
One of the most popular panels sold in Australia and around the world is the Honey M plus range of monocrystalline panels which offer a good combination of quality, performance and value for money. The latest Honey M plus range offer higher efficiency over the standard Honey panels using monocrystalline (Mono PERC)* cells and are available in sizes from 290 to 315W.
The efficiency has increased up to 19.2 on the latest 315W panel released in 2019 using the latest PERC cells with 5 busbars.
See the full Trina Honey M plus specification sheet here
Future Solar Cell Technology
Trina’s product roadmap paves the way for number of new high efficiency cell technologies including N-type IBC or Interdigitated Back Contact cells, which are much like the premium modules currently available from LG and Sunpower.
IBC cells have multiple busbars integrated into the back of the cell unlike standard cells which have visible ribbon busbars on the front of the cell. One problem with exposed busbars on the front of the cell is that it partially shades the cell which reduces efficiency and performance. MBB technology explained below is another way to reduce the effect of shading from traditional ribbon busbars.
Trina solar recently broke the n-type IBC monocrystalline cell efficiency record with an incredible 24.13% total-area cell efficiency in April 2018.
The focus on developing high efficiency IBC n-type cells is becoming more common among the SMSL members, although Trina seems to be at the forefront and leading developer of the this technology among the Chinese manufacturers. IBC technology has been available for some time from several other manufacturers such as LG and Sunpower although only at a premium price. As Trina and other SMSL members increase production volume and investment in developing IBC modules it will help drive down the price of these premium ultra-high efficiency, high performance modules.
Trina are also one of only a few Chinese manufacturer’s offering multi-busbar technology MBB on a range of modules, however at this stage they are only available as a special order.
MBB technology incorporates 12 small round wire busbars and is very similar to the premium LG Neon 2 panels which have been available for several years. It is expected that Trina will eventually bring this premium high efficiency innovation to the masses through high volume production and further cost reductions.
Read more about the latest solar cell innovations including MBB, PERC and bifacial panels ( refer to diagram below) in our complete Solar Module Technology Review.
Quality and Performance
One of the world’s leading independent solar module testing and performance services DNV GL, a German based testing facility, produce the annual PV Module Reliability Scorecard Report. Over the last few years various Trina solar panels have consistently scored as a ‘Top performer’ among 20+ of the world’s leading solar brands tested. A top performer does not mean they are ranked as number 1 but among the highest performing module’s in the group with no severe degradation or failures.
Since DNV GL is one of the world’s most reputable, independent solar PV testing organisations, this gives a high level or confidence to the long term performance and reliability of Trina Solar modules for both large and small scale installations.
This does not mean Trina solar has not had a few quality issues over the years, like many large volume manufacturers there is an occasional batch or small volume of modules with performance or quality issues. Trina had some issues with the first Honey panels but our specialists have not noted any issues in recent years. Often when it comes to quality issues the big difference is how a manufacturer handles these problems and supports the installers and customers.
Warranty and Service
Trina solar offer the industry standard 10 year manufacturer’s product warranty which guards against defects for the first 10 years, plus a 25 year performance warranty which is to retain 80% power output after 25 years of use.
Trina Solar has many support/service centers across the globe with the Australian service office based in Sydney.
Room for improvement
Based on our Australian solar installer survey and feedback from industry specialists, Trina’s service and support in the event of a quality issue or warranty claim is average as we have had some mixed feedback with both positive and negative responses over the years. There seems to be room for improvement in regards to the way Trina deals with warranty issues. Being a large, well established company Trina solar could improve this and in the longer term, if they are confident in the new cell technology, possibly look at offering a longer 12 or 15 year product warranty which would put them ahead of the other Chinese manufacturers.
Wrap up - Conclusion
Overall based on the Trina Solar's history, reputation, and very high Tier 1 rating under the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) ranking system you could almost guarantee that Trina will be around for a long time to support any quality or performance issues should they occur well into the future. Trina is improving and advancing their range of panels more than most other Chinese manufacturer's and being the second largest manufacture globally in 2017 gives extra confidence Trina panels will perform well for many years.
Most Trina Solar Panels have a standard 10 product warranty and a 25 year performance warranty, although a longer 30 year performance warranty is offered on the new generation bifacial and dual glass panels.
Trina Solar Batteries - TrinaBess
Trina Solar is one of the few panel manufacturers which has branched out into energy storage by offering a range of battery systems developed under the company name TrinaBESS or Trina Battery Energy Storage Systems. Trina TrinaBESS now offer a wide range of battery solutions for residential, commercial and utility scale energy storage systems.
The recently released PowerBox inverters and Powercube 2.0 battery residential systems are available in either DC or AC coupled options.