PowerWave Solar Panel Review: Is This Solar Panel Any Good?
Updated September 2020
Powerwave is now a well established solar panel brand in the Australian market. The company has been registered and in operation for over 18 years. The internet has limited information regarding the quality of Powerwaves solar panels, so this article will determine if they are worth all the fuss.
This review will attempt to uncover for consumers whether PowerWave is worth putting on your roof or not, what you should expect to pay for a PowerWave system, and what sort of similar products you should be comparing the PowerWave solar panel with.
Powerwave is currently 100% owned and operated here in Australia and has done so for 18 years. Its parent company, The Kingston Group, has been in operation for well over 35 years. Something important to consider when investing in a solar panel is the length of time that a company has been in operation, and who specifically is backing that company.
The fact that PowerWave has been in operation for such a long time and has experienced a steady growth over a long period, indicates that the company is exceptionally well run and will have a stable financial backing for the next 10-25 years (i.e the life of a solar panel).
Many of the cheaper Chinese solar panels suffer from unstable financial backing and combust within a few years of production – leaving you the consumer out of pocket if a warranty needs to be claimed.
PowerWave (The Kingston Group) employs 84 staff, at time of print, of which 34 have worked for the group for between 10 and 32 years.
It is obvious that PowerWave exhibits exceptional operational standards and is looking to build for the future.
All PowerWave products are underwritten by a liability policy through QBE Insurance to ensure total peace of mind. Oftentimes, many other solar panels do not have such protection, leaving the consumer stranded if the company dies.
Investing in a solar solution is a long term commitment and it appears that PowerWave is taking this seriously by implementing all of the necessary structures to ensure long term viability in the Australian solar market.
The Powerwave 330 Watt Twin Power – Mono PERC Split Cell
In the past, Powerwave had multiple versions of their product at different price points. They have since improved their manufacturing capacity and invested in heavily in new solar panel technologies. This has culminated in the delivery of it’s next generation Powerwave 330 Watt Twin Power – MONO PERC Split Cell model, which sits at the higher end of the quality spectrum relative to the other cheaper Chinese solar panels that are widely available in the market today.
The PowerWave 330 Watt Twin Power is the next generation of PowerWave solar panel. This is a relatively new addition to the Australian market, but already appears to be gaining momentum quickly among consumers.
Perhaps the biggest distinguishing feature of this panel is the the black powder-coated aluminium frame and a half cut cell design. This creates a sleek looking module that doesn’t represent the typical eyesore of silver framed and blue poly cell solar panels.
The PowerWave Twin Power appears to be modelled after higher quality solar panels. This is obvious when you see a module in person and notice the quality of the solders on the bus-bars, the genuine MC4 connections and the general quality of the build.
The Twin Power features a 15 year physical product warranty and a 25 year power guarantee. The majority of solar panels coming in from Chinese companies feature only a 10 year warranty. Having an extra two years is a major plus, in addition to the fact that the company is Australian and is more likely to be able to service the warranties.
Another important point to note in this regard and what gives Powerwave an advantage over most other products in the market is the fact that all warranties are held in Australia by the company that owns the product. This means you have a higher degree of certainty when it comes to full-filling a warranty claim should one be required in the future.
Testing Results: The Powerwave Twin Power Rivals Top Range Panels
Recently we put the Twin Power to the test to see just how good this Australian owned panel is. The results were surprising.
The first figure shows one of the following top of the range panels.
In order to make the test as scientific and fair as possible, we chose two installations that are facing dead north and have solar panels tilted at the same angle toward the sun. Inverters and cable run distances are the same. Both are located in the vicinity of one another.
Figure 2 – PowerWave Twin Power Output Results
It appears that the PowerWave Twin Power actually out-produced the other panel by over 4kWh! While this may seem like a small amount, multiplied over 10 years (the average life of a system), this amounts to 14,600 kWhrs. If we assume that this power was fed back to the grid at a rate of $0.11 / kWh, then the PowerWave Obsidian would generate an extra $1,606 over 10 years.
As with everything, this is one test and is by no means indicative of every circumstance. Certain things could skew the results in favour of Powerwave, such as a lucky batch of panels that have minimal to no defects. The other installation may also have had an unlucky batch of panels whereby the output is actually lower than what it should be.
The point of this test is not however to declare that the PowerWave Twin Power is the best panel in the world, but rather to show that the panel exhibits very similar output potential to other top of the range panels on the market that were listed above.
What Should You Be Paying?
If you’ve been quoted on a PowerWave system, first check and see if you’ve been quoted for an older version or the newer 330 Watt Twin Power module. Pricing will be quite different for the two as the Twin Power represents an upmarket solution. Pricing ranges vary based on company, location and inverter selection. Higher prices represent a system that includes an inverter such as a Fronius. All prices are cash prices
Indicative Pricing Range for Twin Power PowerWave Modules
3kw – $5,000 – $6,500
4kw – $6,000 – $7,000
5kw – $6,500 – $8,500
6kw – $6,700 – $9,500
6.6kw – $7,000 – $9,000
The Hidden Benefit of Going PowerWave
A special extra point needs to be made regarding dealing directly with an Australian company. Many solar panel manufacturers utilise distributors that import panels into Australia and then wholesale them out to solar retailers. This means that if the distributor goes bankrupt, you will then need to approach an overseas company for warranties.
According to PowerWave, they have real Australians working the phones in their warranty and support office located at 131 Millaroo Drive, Helensvale, Gold Coast Australia. Upon closer inspection, this address appears to be the location of TradeZone, a major electrical wholesaler with multiple locations country wide. It turns out that TradeZone is partly operated by the owners of PowerWave, thus it makes sense that PowerWave would operate out of the head TradeZone office.
If you are interested in calling PowerWave’s support line, they can be reached here +64 7 3062 8660
If you’re considering going for a quote with PowerWave solar panels, feel secure in your decision. PowerWave has been in operation for a long enough time period that a consumer should feel confident in their investment. Results using PowerWave should be excellent based on our initial testing. The caveat here is that the solar panel is installed correctly by a reputable installer, and paired with a high quality inverter that will stand the test of time.