You may have come across the Maxeon brand when looking for solar panels. In terms of specifications, warranty, and performance, Maxeon solar panels are among the best in the world. All of this, though, comes at a high price.
Maxeon ranked third in our rating of the top 10 solar panel manufacturers for 2023 due to its high-quality panels and dedication to an industry-leading 40-year warranty. Are Maxeon solar panels the best on the market? and does this imply that the high cost of Maxeon solar panels is justified? Continue reading to find out!
History Of Maxeon
Maxeon Solar Technologies is a leading global manufacturer of high-efficiency solar panels and systems. When SunPower divided into two independent public companies in 2020, Maxeon became the manufacturing company headquartered in Singapore, with additional operations in the United States, Europe, and Asia, and SunPower focusing on turnkey residential solar installations and services in North America. Outside of North America, many Maxeon products are still sold under the SunPower brand name.
TotalEnergies and Tianjin Zhonghuan Semiconductor Co., Ltd. currently possess the majority of Maxeon (TZS). The latter company made a significant investment when Maxeon was spun off from SunPower and now supplies Maxeon with a big portion of the raw materials used to manufacture its products.
This agreement assures that Maxeon solar panels are available for household installs in the United States. That’s a welcome difference from solar panels built in Asia, which can occasionally get detained in U.S. ports or face high tariffs, as well as pricing and availability variations.
Are Maxeon Solar Panels Reliable?
Credit Image: Maxeon
Maxeon solar panels are generally considered to be reliable and high-quality solar panels as they are widely used in residential, commercial, and utility-scale solar projects around the world.
The company offers a range of panel products for different applications, including its Maxeon 3, Maxeon 2, and Performance 3 series panels. Maxeon’s panels are known for their high efficiency and durability, with some models boasting efficiencies of up to 22.8%.
One reason for Maxeon’s reputation for reliability is its use of high-quality materials and manufacturing processes. Maxeon’s panels are made with SunPower’s Maxeon solar cells, which are designed to be more durable and efficient than conventional solar cells. The cells are also designed to withstand harsh weather conditions, including extreme temperatures, high winds, and heavy snow loads.
Maxeon also offers strong warranties on its solar panels, which can provide additional peace of mind for customers. For example, Maxeon’s residential solar panel systems come with a 40-year warranty, which covers both the panels and the inverter.
Of course, as with any product, there is always some risk of defects or failures with Maxeon solar panels. Maxeon’s interdigitated back contact (IBC) cells are not vulnerable to potential-induced or light-induced deterioration, which can be an issue for the industry’s PERC solar cells.
However, overall, Maxeon has a strong reputation for reliability, and its panels are widely regarded as a good choice for those looking to install solar panels in their homes or businesses.
What Makes Maxeon Solar Panels Special?
Maxeon’s technology is actually quite outdated by today’s standards. The solar cells utilized in Maxeon’s current products function so well because they were built correctly the first time around, according to patents first filed in 2003 and 2005.
Maxeon’s solar cells perform exceptionally well due to several factors, including high-quality silicon wafers, interdigitated back contacts, and strong cell connectors. Below is an illustration from Maxeon that demonstrates these factors in action:
A solar cell generates electricity when photons of light excite electrons in chemically altered silicon. After that, the electrons are routed through a circuit. Most solar modules use busbars, which are very thin wires put on top of the cells under the module’s front glass and soldered together to connect the cells in series.
Image Credit: Maxeon: Showing Maxeon Cells
The busbar technique of construction is the industry standard, and in nearly all cases, modules built this way work exceedingly well without breakdowns for decades. However, running busbars over the front surface of a solar cell creates a microscopic amount of shade, resulting in a minor decrease in power production. Also, when solar modules fail (which is exceedingly unusual), they tend to break down at the solder junctions between cells.
The circuit of Maxeon modules is made up of “fingers” of metal that link to the cell on the back side rather than the front. The digits mentioned in the name “interdigitated back contacts” are these metal fingers. Maxeon’s custom connections connect the rear contacts of each cell in series.
According to Maxeon, this method of building a solar module has four advantages:
- The cell’s strong metal backing makes it more resistant to microcracks and corrosion.
- The entire surface of the cell is exposed to the sun, with no wires running along it to cause output loss.
- The lack of soldered connections on top of the cell prevents hotspots from forming, which can cause cell damage.
- The thick connectors allow cells to expand and contract in response to temperature variations while remaining connected (unlike in ordinary modules, where expansion and contraction can strain soldered joints).
The result of all of these benefits is a more efficient, longer-lasting solar module not to sound like a Maxeon marketing copywriter, but what they say is basically true. That is why they can offer 40-year warranties on their products however; the question is whether the higher expense of Maxeon panels is worthwhile.
Are Maxeon’s Solar Panels Worthwhile?
The underlying question here is whether paying the extra 30 cents per watt for Maxeon solar panels is a reasonable deal if they claim to endure for 40 years and degrade slower than most other brands, therefore, the short answer is unequivocal yes.
Here are the details:
Maxeon’s solar panels are designed to be highly efficient and reliable, with a focus on performance in real-world conditions. The company’s panels use Sunpower solar cells, which are made with a unique metal wrap-through (MWT) technology that eliminates the need for front-side electrodes, increasing efficiency and reliability.
Therefore, the output of Maxeon panels is predicted to fall by 0.25% of the initial level per year for 40 years, compared to an industry average of -0.5% per year for 25 years.
In addition to its solar panels, Maxeon also offers complete solar systems for residential and commercial customers. These systems include the panels, inverters, and monitoring equipment needed to generate solar energy and manage energy use.
Maxeon’s systems are designed to be easy to install and use, with a focus on maximizing energy production and cost savings.
One of the key advantages of Maxeon’s solar panels and systems is their reliability. The company’s panels are designed to withstand a range of weather conditions, including high winds, heavy snow loads, and extreme temperatures.
Maxeon also offers strong warranties on its solar products and has a 40-year product warranty, compared to most other manufacturers’ 12 to 25-year warranties.
If you obtain that sort of performance out of these panels for years or perhaps decades longer than other brands’ panels, a $0.30/watt differential is a steal. If an installation sells you Maxeon panels for $1.00 per watt, the difference is significantly closer, but Maxeon modules should still deliver more excellent value than other brands even at that price.
Price And Where To buy?
There’s no getting around it: Maxeon solar panels are more expensive than practically every other product on the market. Expect to pay $0.20 to $0.30 more per watt for a solar installation using Maxeon modules than the industry average.
For instance, a typical 6-kW solar system costs $3 per watt, or $18,000 total, whereas a Maxeon installation may cost $3.30/W, or $19,800. If you purchase Maxeon solar panels from a SunPower dealer, you will also have access to SunPower monitoring and continuing customer service, but you should expect to pay a larger premium for these features.
Those who demand the best items in the world will have no doubt read the section on quality above and ask where they could acquire Maxeon solar panels. Fortunately, there are more locations to get them than ever before.
Greentech Renewables currently sells Maxeon 3 Series solar panels to installations in the United States, and SunPower dealers sell Maxeon 6 Series panels.
Currently Available Product Lines
Maxeon now has various product lines that include rigid and flexible solar panels. The company’s products can be used on everything from residential and commercial rooftops to RVs and utility-scale solar power plants.
Our primary concern with the residential solar market in the United States, as our readers will be most interested in Maxeon’s 3 Series and 6 Series models.
Sunpower Maxeon 3
Maxeon 3 Series all-black solar panels with 112 solar cells placed in an 8-by-14 grid are new for 2023. The absence of busbars and gridlines on the front of the modules, as well as the black back sheet, contribute to the modules’ streamlined appearance.
Maxeon 3 panels offer between 21.4% and 22.2% efficiency and can deliver between 405 and 420 watts under typical test settings, depending on the efficiency of the cells inside (STC). The industry standard for efficiency is between 20.5% and 21.5%, with only a few other organizations reaching 22% or higher today.
Greentech Renewables sells these all-black Maxeon 3 series modules to solar installations across the United States. Get quotes from solar firms in your area to find a Maxeon dealer.
SunPower Maxeon 6
Greentech Renewables distributes these all-black Maxeon 3 series modules to solar systems all around the country. Get quotations from solar companies in your area to locate a Maxeon dealer.
Likewise, selecting SunPower will almost certainly be more expensive than purchasing Maxeon modules from another installer.
Overall, Maxeon Solar Technologies is a leading player in the solar industry, known for its high-efficiency, reliable solar panels and systems. The company’s focus on innovation, quality, and customer satisfaction has helped it become a trusted brand for residential, commercial, and utility-scale solar projects around the world.