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A Review of REC Solar Panels

Solarkobo Score: 4.5/5

Manufacturer's Profile

The Renewable Energy Corporation is an Indian-owned international solar energy company with headquarters in Norway and an operational headquarters in Singapore with regional hubs in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. It was founded in 1996, in Oslo, Norway under the name Fornybar Energi AS and would produce its first silicon wafer in 1997. It became REC after merging with another company in 2000. In 2021, it was acquired from its original parent company, China Bluestar Group, by Reliance New Energy Solar, a part of the Indian conglomerate, Reliance Industries.


REC is fully vertically-integrated company meaning that it produces everything it uses in making its panels, from the silicon ingots, wafers, cells and complete module assembly, does not outsource any of its manufacturing processes and thus has complete control over the quality of all components.


REC prides itself on the rigorous testing it subjects its solar panels to before introducing them into the market, and the industry-leading warranty with which they cover their modules.


Technologies

Half-Cut Cells

REC was the first solar panel manufacture to introduce solar panels made with half-cut cells into the market in 2014. Since then, half-cut cells have quickly grown to become the industry standard.


N-Type Cells

REC is a global leader in solar cell technology innovation. It was the first solar panel manufacturer to develop half-cut cells using high-performance N-type silicon as opposed to the more common lower cost P-type mono or multi silicon wafers. This puts REC close to heavyweights, LG, Panasonic and SunPower who are some of the few other manufacturers to first use the high purity N-type silicon wafers.

Source: REC Group
PERT cells

REC has also incorporated PERT technology in the manufacture of their cells. PERT improves cell efficiency by fully passivating the back of the cell to increase absorption of light photons and generate more energy.


HJT

REC's Alpha Series was the first mass-produced solar panel featuring heterojunction (HJT) in a half-cut cell format. These cells are built on a high-purity N-type silicon base, with thin-film layers of amorphous silicon above and below the cell to improve efficiency. REC leads other brands in developing HJT and N-type monocrystalline cells even as the search for more efficient solar cell technologies continue.


Lead-Free

Because of its impact on the ecosystem especially as waste, the use of lead in solar panels is highly controversial. REC innovated on its newer 'Lead-Free' panels to improve sustainability and lower the environmental impact by eliminating lead from all the solar panels components, including cell interconnections and junction box.


Super-Strong Frame

REC has designed a new high-strength frame for its newer N-Peak and Alpha series panels. The frame which encases the cells includes two additional cross members to reinforce the entire frame structure. This improves the panel's maximum load-bearing capacity from 5400 Pa to 7000 Pa, which is well above the industry standard and makes these some of the strongest panels available.


Source: REC Group
Range of REC Solar Panels

REC makes solar panels for residential and commercial or utility-scale installations. It offers them to the public in three series.


REC N-Peak 2 Series

The N-Peak 2 Series superseded the N-Peak Series, REC's original panel offering in July 2021. Solar panels in this series are premium n-type monocrystalline panels made using REC’s half-cut cell technology. Panels in this range have maximum power ratings reaching up to 375W and industry-high efficiency ratings up to 20.3%. They are covered by a 20-year product warranty.


They feature a reinforced frame with extra support bracing across the rear of the panel.


REC Twinpeak 4 Series

REC's panels in this series have similar specifications to the N-Peak 2 but are made with p-type cell technology instead of the n-type. The p-type technology is slightly more affordable though more prone to light-induced degradation (LID). Twinpeak 4 modules will age a little faster than the N-Peak 2 counterparts. Nevertheless, its production is guaranteed by REC’s 25-year power output warranty.


Panels in this series are rated between 360W to 375W maximum power and up to 20.3% efficiency. REC offers Twinpeak P-type monocrystalline panels in the same 72-cell size for commercial and utility-scale applications.

REC Alpha Series

Released in 2019, they were the first solar panels with 16 microwires. They are made using advanced heterojunction (HJT) cells in a half-cut panel format to deliver up to 380W. Panels in this range have maximum power ratings reaching up to 410W and industry-high efficiency ratings up to 21.9% peak efficiency that places them very close to industry heavyweights, LG and Sunpower. They are covered by a 25-year industry-leading product warranty.


REC offers its advanced Alpha series HJT half-cut cell technology in a larger 72-cell format for commercial applications.


REC Alpha Pure-R Series

The Alpha Pure Series is REC's leading portfolio. Unveiled in May 2022, they are an upgrade on the Alpha Series. They increase power density by using gap-less cell technology and an additional row of cells to increase efficiency from 21.7% to 21.9%. They come with a new 132-cell format and are slightly taller than the Alpha series which are built on the standard 120-cell format.


They are Lead-Free and no toxic leakage can be expected after they are recycled.

REC Alpha Pure R

The REC Alpha Pure R is REC's latest release. It built on a completely new 80-cell format that makes it a wider and shorter panel and boosting efficiency to an impressive 22.3% with power output ratings increasing from 410W to a maximum of 430W. They are also Lead-free.

Warranty

REC initially offered a 10-year product warranty alongside the standard 25-year performance warranty but in 2019, it began offering a 20-year manufacturer’s product together with the standard 25 performance warranty on all TwinPeak and N-peak panels. If installed by a REC solar certified installer, the product warranty increases by an additional 5 years, for a total product warranty period of 25 years.


Words that best describes REC Solar panels:

Outstanding, Excellent, Advanced, Next-gen, Sophisticated, Premium, Reliable--but in comparison with the best-valued Chinese brands, rather pricey and above what can be considered the industry average.


In 2022, it became an India-owned company. Regardless, it is still described as a European or international company. REC Solar is not a Nigerian staple and is still not widely available. In pricing, a capital consideration for many buyers, it cannot compete with the Chinese brands that dominate the Nigerian and African markets and offer advanced panels at mid- and low-range pricing.


Solarkobo helps homeowners and businesses in Lagos and Nigeria design and install solar panels and inverter systems that meet their power needs and fits their budgets.

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