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Detailed reviews and information of the best solar panels, inverters and batteries. Plus hybrid and off-grid solar system reviews and information articles on how solar and battery systems work.

Trina Solar - Panel and PV Technology Review

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Reviews and information of the best Solar panels and inverters from SMA, Fronius, SunPower, SolaX, Q Cells, Trina, Jinko, Selectronic, Tesla Powerwall, ABB. Plus hybrid inverters, battery sizing, Lithium-ion and lead-acid batteries, off-grid and on-grid power systems.

Trina Solar - Panel and PV Technology Review

Jason Svarc

Company History

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.

 The Trina Solar Bifacial DuoMax Twin module

The Trina Solar Bifacial DuoMax Twin module

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.

 

Wide Variety of Solar 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.

Trina Solar Module range 2.png

By far the most common and popular models in the line-up are the Honey range of panels which were first released back in 2012 and are now available in a range of sizes from 265W up to 305W. 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.

 Integrated Tigo optimisers are also available

Integrated Tigo optimisers are also available

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 Solar Product roadmap 2018.png

 

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 Solar MBB cell technology.jpg

Trina are also the only Chinese manufacturer to offer multi-busbar technology MBB on a range of modules in 2018, 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.

 Bifacial cell technology as used in Trina Solar's DuoMax Twin modules

Bifacial cell technology as used in Trina Solar's DuoMax Twin modules

 

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 of 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.

Large Trina Solar array.png
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 is above average, but we have had some mixed feedback with both positive and negative responses over the years, so it seems there is 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 possibly even offer a longer 12 or 15 year product warranty which would put them ahead of the other Chinese manufacturers.

Trina Solar Module Warranty.png

Overall based on the company’s history, reputation and very high 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.

Several Trina modules have a greater warranty period, as with most manufacturers of the bifacial and dual glass panels Trina offer a longer 30 year performance warranty on these new generation solar modules.

 

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.

TrinaBESS battery inverter system.png

The recently released PowerBox inverters and Powercube 2.0 battery residential systems are available in either DC or AC coupled options.

See the full Trinabess PowerBox and Powercube Review here