LG has a long history in solar photovoltaics beginning over 30 years ago when they first began research into silicon crystalline cells. The next 20 years of research and development laid a solid foundation before LG started large scale PV module manufacturing in 2009 at their facility in Gumi, South Korea. LG solar is a subsidiary of massive LG Corporation, the South Korean multinational company with over 220,000 employees globally and total revenue in the tens of billions.
After over a decade of PV module manufacturing, LG is now onto the 6th generation panels and produce over 2GW of panels per year. As a Tier 1 manufacturer holding numerous awards, ultra-efficient cell technology and offering an industry-leading warranty, there are only a few solar companies who can compete at this level of quality, service and reliability.
In Australia and North America, although more expensive than the competition, LG panels are very popular and highly rated by customers and solar installers alike as they not only look impressive with the high gloss black anodised aluminium frames, but the construction quality, detail and finish are of the highest standard.
LG Panel and PV Cell Technology
While most manufacturers produce a range of monocrystalline panels based on the more common, lower cost, P-type silicon cells, LG mostly manufactures panels using monocrystalline N-type cells which have higher efficiency and much lower degradation over the life of the panel. However, to be more competitive, LG Energy recently introduced a cost-effective range of panels called ‘Mono X Plus’ built on the lower cost P-type monocrystalline cells.
The latest generation Neon 2 modules have firmly established LG as the leaders in multi-wire cell technology with 12 round wire busbars and the unique finger design being incorporated into all Neon 2 and Neon 2 bifacial modules. The N-type ‘Cello’ cells look impressive and improve performance and conversion efficiency. Read more about Cello technology in the PV cell technology review article.
LG solar panel efficiency
Mono X Plus efficiency - up to 19.8% at 370W
Neon 2 efficiency - up to 21.4% at max 370W
Neon R efficiency - up to 22.0% at max 380W
Neon R - IBC cells
LG along with SunPower are the two major manufacturers producing high-performance IBC or Interdigitated Back Contact N-type cells. The LG Neon R IBC cells use 30 busbars integrated into the rear side of the cell. This means there are no visible busbars on the front of the cell and in turn no cell shading. This unique design uses high purity N-type doped silicon and has extremely low degradation, lower electrical resistance, improved high-temperature performance and enables the Neon R modules to achieve an impressive 22.0% efficiency (380W).
LG Residential solar Panels
Mono X Plus - 365W to 370W
To increase efficiency and performance, most of the solar industry shifted away from the traditional 60 cell panel layout to the now common half-cut 120 cell format. In a bid to be more competitive against the huge Chineses manufacturers, LG introduced the Mono X Plus range in mid-2020 available in 365W to 370W power ratings. These new panels use the more cost-effective P-type silicon cells and are made in China to the stringent LG quality standards. They specify roughly the same performance and efficiency levels of the 370W half-cut cell panels offered by the leading Chinese manufacturers Trina Solar, Jinko and Longi solar, but offer an improved performance warranty of 87.9% retained power after 25 years. How LG is able to achieve a higher performance warranty is unknown, but it is likely to do with the cell manufacture and stick quality control measures, including LID (light induced degradation) and LeTiD elimination. It will be interesting to see how these panels perform going forward.
Neon 2 - 355W to 370W
The new generation Neon 2 range of panels from LG, introduced in mid-2020, boosted the power rating from 355W to 370W by using larger size silicon wafers to cover more of the panel surface area and in turn, reduce the amount of exposed white back-sheet material resulting in higher efficiency.
All Neon 2 panels utilise high-grade N-type monocrystalline silicon cells built using the sophisticated multi-wire 'Cello' technology in a standard 60 cell format. With an impressive 25-year product warranty on top of the 25-year performance warranty, the Neon 2 range are some of the most efficiency and highest performance panels available. Read more about Cello cells in our PV cell technology article.
See full details and specification sheet here - LG Neon 2 365W to 370W panels
Neon R - 370W to 380W
The Neon R is the flagship of the LG range. With a maximum module efficiency of 22.0%, the Neon R panels can generate up to an impressive 380W from a panel only slightly larger than a standard 60 cell panel. As explained above, this performance is due to the high-grade IBC N-type cells used. Naturally, the Neon R panels also come at a premium price, being around 45% more expensive than more common mono P-type panels. However, with the higher price comes ultra-high build quality, long life, low light performance, high efficiency and extremely low degradation over the life of the panel with a g
Note the 370W modules are currently only available in Europe and North America. LG are also working on further technology advancements to increase efficiency and boost the Neon R module power up to 380W by late 2019.
LG Commercial and Bifacial Modules
LG also manufactures a range of large format (72 cell) solar modules for large-scale commercial applications using the same advanced cello multi-wire technology, as well as dual-sided bifacial modules which can increase power output by up to an additional 27%. See more about bifacial technology here.
Panel strength and durability
LG has engineered extremely strong double-wall aluminium frames on all modules which are rated well above average with an impressive 5,400 Pa rating on the front side and 4000 Pa on the rear side for wind loading, this is close to double the industry standard 2400 Pa wind rating.
The Neon 2 modules recently underwent static load testing by SECAust Engineering consultants in Darwin Australia and were able to withstand an incredible 10,000 Pa load without failure, see report here. The extremely high strength and stiffness of the Neon 2 would allow the LG modules to be mounted in any high wind load regions around the world. The Neon R however has an even stronger aluminium frame profile with a screwed fastener corner design shown below.
The LG modules are rated to the highest level of corrosion resistance and can be installed in coastal locations with high levels of salt mist (maximum severity of 6), in addition to ammonia resistance.
Quality and Performance
To ensure no cells with defects or micro-cracks get through LG use two EL flash tests during production both before and after lamination. The high grade N-type cells used by LG have exceptional long term performance in regards to low light induced degradation (LID). LID is a common problem as all solar cells reduce output over time with the average power loss being 3% in the first year and approximately 0.8% per year after resulting in an average of 80-82% original rated capacity after 25 years. However LG cells warrants a much lower rate of degradation which improves overall performance and increased energy generation with a claimed 86-88% rated capacity remaining after 25 years.
To ensure reliability and long term performance LG perform strict quality control and testing throughout the manufacturing process with the LG test laboratory certified by the 4 major testing laboratories VDE, UL, TUV Rheinland and Intertek. The latest 2018 results from independent testing organisation DNV GL rated the LG Mono X as as a 'top performer' in the annual 'PV Module Reliability Scorecard Report'.
Warranty and service
LG is one of only six manufacturers offering both a 25-year product and performance warranty - on the Neon 2 and Neon R panels. SunPower and Panasonic are a few of the other manufacturers to offer a 25-year product & performance warranty while the majority of manufacturers provide a 12-15 year product warranty period and 25-year performance warranty.
The LG performance warranty is well above the industry average with a minimum 90.08% retained capacity after 25 years on the Neon 2 range, and an impressive 90.8% on the Neon R range. To offer this kind of warranty shows the high level of confidence LG holds in its products and highlights the long-life performance and low degradation of high-grade N-type silicon cells.
LG Product Warranty
Mono X Plus - 15 years
LG Neon 2 - 25 years
LG Neon R - 25 years
LG Performance Warranty
Mono X Plus - 25 years to 87.9%
LG Neon 2 - 25 years to 90.08%
LG Neon R - 25 years to 90.8%
The care taken is also highlighted in the way LG distribute and ship panels around the world with all modules stacked and secured with tough plastic moulded corner sections for secure transportation. This is important as many in the industry know that loading or stress placed on modules during transportation can result in micro-cracking and cell failure which usually does not become evident until a few years after installation. With strong company support, extremely low warranty claims and a very good reputation for service, LG solar modules are certainly one of the best choices available.
To reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing, in 2015 LG installed over 11,000 panels on a massive 3.2MW rooftop solar array on its solar panel manufacturing facility in South Korea. In total, LG has now installed over 18MW of solar across its factories in Korea.
LG Electronics has been nominated multiple times by Corporate Knights as one of the top 100 most sustainable corporations and have stated they are committed to continuously improving sustainability, reducing emissions and moving closer to a circular economy. However, LG only rate as ‘above average’ on the Solar Scorecard so some more work can be done. See the full LG sustainability report here.
It could be argued that simply by only manufacturing high grade longer-lasting solar panels, LG is in effect more sustainable than many other manufacturers who have had panels fail only a few years after installation. As faulty panels require replacement this essentially uses double the resources.
Like most things, premium equipment comes at a premium price. LG panels do cost more than the competition with the Neon 2 coming in at around 25% more than standard mono modules but you get a lot more for your money. Solar is a long term investment, so it is necessary to take into account performance and degradation rates over the life of the system.
Based on LG's solid history of reliability we have little doubt after 10-15 years LG's N-type Neon 2 and Neon R panels would be noticeably outperforming most other lower-cost panels on the market. Even a seemingly small amount of 6% higher power output adds up to a significant amount of additional energy when totalled over an annual period. With several large panel manufacturers facing financial difficulties, considering the size and history of LG corporation there is little doubt LG will also be around to back up any potential warranty claims in the future.