Canadian Solar, founded in 2001 by Dr Shawn Qu, has grown to become one of the world’s leading solar panel manufacturers with roughly 14,000 employees and over 500 researchers and engineers. The company based in Guelph, Canada, is currently ranked as the fifth-largest solar panel manufacturer by volume with over 8.5GW of solar panels produced in 2019 and regarded as one of the ‘most bankable’ manufacturers according to BloombergNEF.
The early story of Canadian Solar is rather unique. Dr Qu, who is an engineer and physicist, had a vision to help power the world using solar after working on a simple, low-cost solar lighting system for rural areas in China. He first started a small renewables company and won a contract from Volkswagen to supply solar chargers which were used to keep the batteries charged when new vehicles were stored in parking lots for long periods of time. From here, the company slowly grew into a leading manufacturer of renewable power systems. Read the full story of the founder and the company history.
Canadian Solar, which we should reiterate is a Canadian company, has manufacturing plants in both Asia and the America’s, and produces a wide variety of cost-effective solar panels for residential, commercial and utility-scale solar systems. The company also has a dedicated team that designs, constructs, and operates large, utility-scale solar farms around the world.
Range of Solar panels
Canadian Solar produces solar panels designed for residential, commercial and utility-scale applications which are competitively priced and have a good reputation for quality and reliability. Along with most other large volume manufactures, Canadian Solar has transitioned to using higher efficiency mono PERC half-cut cells in almost all new generation panels. The Canadian made HiDM module is the one exception that uses a unique shinged mono PERC cell configuration.
The most popular panels from Canadian Solar are the Ku and HiKu range which are available in both polycrstalline and monocrystalline varieties. The power ratings are available from 295W to 335W for the Ku, and 325W to 375W for the HiKu. The high power ratings are achieved through the use of cast mono-crystalline PERC half-cut cells with either 5 busbars or multi-busbars (MBB) to obtain a maximum efficiency of 20.3%.
The unique Canadian made HiDM series of panels use mono PERC shingled cells in a vertical format which has several benefits including improved shade tolerance, reduced risk of micro-cracks, and increases efficiency up to 20.5%
Ku poly - 295W to 330W
Ku mono - 315W to 335W
HiKu poly - 325W to 365W
HiKu mono - 350W to 375W
HiDM mono shingled - 320W to 345W
Commercial and Utility Panels
Much like the residential range, the most popular commercial panels from Canadian Solar are the Ku and HiKu series which are also available in both polycrstalline and monocrystalline varieties. However, the larger format commercial panels are much more powerful and available in a wider range of cell configurations and power rating up to an impressive 545W.
The standard HiKu series use common poly or mono PERC half-cut cells, while the new HiKu5 and HiKu6 series uses mono and poly MBB cells in a more efficient zero-gap cell configuration to reach a maximum efficiency of 21.3%.
Ku poly 144-cell - 355W to 395W
Ku mono 144-cell - 380W to 400W
HiKu poly 144-cell - 395W to 440W
HiKu mono 144-cell - 425W to 455W
HiDM5 mono shingled - 390W to 405W
HiKu5 mono 156-cell - 475W to 500W
HiKu6 mono 156-cell - 525W to 545W
HiKu7 mono 132-cell - 640W to 665W - NEW
High Power 600W+ Panels
Like many of the big-name manufacturers, Canadian Solar has joined the race in developing larger format, high-power solar panels for utility-scale solar farms. The most powerful panel announced from Canadian Solar is the impressive HiKu7 range which has a maximum power rating of 665W and peak efficiency of 21.4% by utilising a number of technologies including large 210mm half-cut PERC cells with multi busbars. The bifacial BiHiKu7 series will also be available in 2021 with a maximum front-side power rating of 655W.
Warranty & Service
Canadian Solar has a large service network with six major customer service and support centers around the world including North America, Germany, Japan, Australia, Brazil and China. Like most panel manufacturers, Canadian Solar offer a 12-year product warranty and 25-year performance warranty as standard on most new models, and a longer 30-year performance warranty on all bifacial panels.
The performance warranty for the full range of monocrystalline panels has improved with the new mono PERC helf-cut cells. The warranty states that the panels will have no more than a 2% drop in the first year, and an average 0.55% annual power decline per year over the remaining 24 years. This equates to a final output power rating of no less than 84.8% after 25 years of use.
However, the HiDM series come with a longer 15-year product warranty period. Although, the performance warranty details specify a slightly lower guaranteed output of 83.1% after 25 years, which is possibly due to the unique shingle cell configuration.
The warranty document for the Ku and HiKu range of panels can be downloaded here
The warranty document for the bifacial panels can be downloaded here
Canadian Solar panels are generally very well regarded among consumers and solar professionals and considered great value for money. As the fifth-largest solar panel manufacturer in the world, Canadian solar is high volume producer offering a wide range of panels which typically compete directly with Trina Solar and Jinko Solar on price, performance and reliability. Although, unlike the aforementioned brands, they do not currently produce panels using N-type cells. The latest HiKu series is the most popular panel which uses the latest mono PERC MBB cells to boost efficiency levels well above 20%.
Canadian Solar offer a standard 12 year manufacturers warranty period on most models, and a 25-year performance warranty with generally good service and support in the event of a warranty claim.