Hanwha Q CELLS –  2018 Review

The largest solar cell producer in the world – Hanwha Q CELLS was formed after merging Hanwa
SolarOne and Hanwha Q CELLS in 2015. However, its predecessor under the name of Q CELLS
was already operational back in 1999. With more than 5.5 GW of solar modules shipped in
2017, Hanwha Q CELLS is among the most recognized brands in the solar PV industry today.
The company’s headquarters are located in Seoul, South Korea while its R&D department is
stationed in Germany.

Asian made, but European deisgn

Among Solar professionals Hanwha Q CELLS is considered to be the brand that combines the
two opposites – lower prices of PV modules made in Asia with the quality of European
modules. Hanwa prides itself on its heavy attention to quality assurance. Besides the initial
certification testing and testing according to VDE quality standards, the company
continuously performs an improved triple quality control process, every part of which is
overlook by German QM engineers. Additionally, the company has a built-in qualification and
testing process for all new materials that are to be implemented into the company’s
production. This has allowed the company’s Q.PRO G2 module to be recognised as the Best
Polycrystalline module in 2013 and 2014 (PYM test). The company has also been continuously
recognised as one of the most-popular and well-known brands in the PV field in Europe (Italy,
France, Germany) and Australia for several years and has obtained the “EUPD Research Top
Brand“ seal. Needless to say, a company of this size and market dominance carries enough
stability for its clients to be calm about the warranty service on their purchase. As a tier 1
company, Hanwa Q CELLS can offer products and services for all PV applications of all types
and all sizes – from cells and modules for residential rooftops, to utility-scale solar farm
development.
Most of the company’s modules are made using the Q.ANTUM cell technology that the
company prides itself on. The Q.ANTUM cells are based on PERC technology and according to
Hanwha Q CELLS they were created to allow the modules to perform exceptionally at real life
conditions – with low lighting levels and at various temperature levels. The technology proved
to be a step in the right direction for the company as the growing demand has allowed the
company to reach a 1 billion (5 GW) Q.ANTUM solar cell production milestone merely in 4
years.
Hanwha Q CELLS also claim to have drastically reduced the LID (light induced degradation) with
their Anti LID technology. For most modules this drawback means that during the first few
hours of exposure to sunlight after manufacturing the modules lose roughly 2% of their power
output.
As far as characteristics for choosing PV modules go, the module target properties will differ
depending on the installation type. On tight spaces, where energy density as well as aesthetics
are important – the most efficient, aesthetic looking and if possible care-free modules are
preferred. If installation area is not a problem, best efficiency is rarely the criteria for choosing
modules due to their higher price. Hanwha Q cells have plenty to choose for both type of
applications, although neither of the products are at the very peak of any given category. This
means that even though Hanwha can be proud of relatively high quality standards, their
product line does not include modules that would be considered to be the most efficient or
of the highest quality available on today’s market. On the opposite side Hanwha Q CELLS is also
not among the cheapest brands out there. However, what Hanwha can be surely proud of is
the price/quality ratio of their products. This is the reason behind their market dominance as
their products are perfectly suited for both masses – residential and utility scale.
For residential and similar applications Hanwha Q CELLS can offer its Q.PEAK and Q. PEAK DUO
product series, the name DUO refers to the use of 120 half-cut Q.ANTUM cells as well as a 6
bus bar circuitry. This particular product series offer a 300-330 Wp power output range with
module efficiency of 17.8 – 19.0 % respectively. The Q.PEAK series use regular 60 Q.ANTUM
cells with 4 bus bar circuitry design. The power output of this series varies from 285 to 305
Wp and 17.1-18.3 % of efficiency respectively. Both of the product series are made from
Monocrystalline cells, include a black anodised aluminium frame and have an all-black option.
For commercial and industrial application (e.g. large factory and warehouse roofs), Q CELLS
offers Q.PLUS BFR and Q.PRIME PV modules. The latter is made from 60 Q.ANTUM
Polycrystalline cells with a 4 bus bar circuitry design. The power output varies from 275 Wp
to 285 Wp and from 16.5% to 17.1% of efficiency. The module is designed to be universally
applicable, easy to handle and suitable for the masses, while still keeping the „high-efficiency“
tag. The Q.PRIME model is essentially a beefed up version of the previously mentioned model
that is made from Monocrystalline cells and includes a 6 bus bar circuitry design. The power
output of this particular model varies between 270 and 290 Wp with efficiency varying from
16.5% to 17.7%.

Commercial Solar installations using Q CELL Solar panels

For large solar installations, Hanwha Q CELLS offer 72 cell versions of the previously mentioned
Q.PLUS and Q.PRIME PV modules, thus increasing the power yield per module to 330-340 Wp
and 325-345 Wp respectively. While these modules are larger and therefore more expensive,
they are designed to drive down the LCOE (levelized cost of electricity) of a given installation
over the analysed period of time (usually warranty period of the PV system). Additionally, for
these types of installations Hanwha offers 60 cell and 72 cell versions of the Polycrystalline
based Q.POWER product line, offering output ranges from 260 Wp to 335 Wp depending on
the size and cell efficiency.
As far as durability and warranty goes, Hanwha Q CELLS offer a 12-year product warranty and
a 25-year linear performance guarantee with a power retainment varying from 81.5% to 85%
depending on the module choice. While only a year or two ago the market standard for
warranties was still 10 years, more and more brands are moving to 12 years, therefore this
feature will too soon lose its exclusivity.
That being said, the general reputation of Hanwha Q CELLS both among end customers and
distributors is that of a reliable, stable quality brand with a good customer service. Given that
the exceptional module performance under unfavourable lighting and climate conditions of
Q.ANTUM based modules will live up to the promise, Q CELLS might just be the reliable allround
option most customers are looking for.