As one of the top five solar panel suppliers in the world, Trina Solar has a solid reputation and vast global distribution network across 30 countries. Founded in 1997, Trina is a fully vertically integrated company and one of the oldest Chinese solar panel manufacturers. Over the last few decades, Trina’s strong focus on research and development has led some great achievements, including 18 solar PV world records in cell and panel efficiency.
Trina Solar is ranked as one of the top Tier 1 solar panel manufacturers by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Although, it should be noted that the Tier 1 ranking this is more a measure of a company’s financial stability, which is very important for large utility scale installations requiring long term project viability.
Like many of the large Chinese manufacturers, Trina Solar’s focus is on performance and value of money. Trina does not generally compete in the expensive, premium end of the market with the likes of LG (South Korea) and Sunpower (USA). However, Trina does offer some very high performance products including as the new N-type i-TOPCon panels, and advanced DuoMax Twin bifacial solar panels delivering an impressive 445W.
See how Trina solar panels compare to other popular panels in our complete Solar panel and PV technology review.
Variety of Solar Panels
Trina solar manufacture a large range of solar panels for residential, commercial and utility-scale installations, incorporating many of the latest cell technologies including multi-busbar PERC cells, large 210mm format third-cut cells, and more recently the high-density panel format and 210mm N-type TOPCon monocrystalline cells.
The most residential popular model in the Trina line-up is the Honey range of panels. The economical Honey panels are available in a range of sizes up to 350W. For larger commercial and utility-scale installations, Trina Solar offers a range of high voltage (1500V) larger format 72 or 144 half-cut cell panels in the TallMax and DuoMax bifacial range, with sizes up to 455W. Plus, Trina also produces specialised dual glass options with 30-year performance warranties.
New Vertex high-power 600W+ panels
2020 was the year for high-powered solar panels with Trina Solar leading the charge. The first of the new generation Vertex panels from Trina Solar was showcased early in 2020 and achieved an impressive 515.8W based on an independent test evaluation from TUV Reinland. This breakthrough was made after Trina began manufacturing the new Vertex panels on a small scale pilot line in March. A few months later at the SNEC PV Power Expo in China, Trina showcased an incredible 660W Vertex panel. Recently in March 2021, Trina launched the 670W Vertex panel with an impressive 21.6% efficiency making it one of the most efficient panels available for large utility-scale applications.
See the full Trina Solar Vertex specifications data sheet
The Vertex series feature Monocrystalline PERC cells with high-density, multi-busbar (MBB) interconnections to achieve efficiencies up to 21.3%. More notably, they are the first panels built on the new larger format 210mm cell size using the unique 1/3 cut cells (as opposed to the common half-cut cells). The high-power vertex panels are much larger in size coming in at 2.1 -2.3m high and 1.10-1.35m wide which is significantly larger than standard commercial size (2m x 1m) panels and is designed for use on utility-scale solar farms.
New Vertex S 400W+ panels
Trina Solar recently announced the new Vertex S range of panels with the S referring to the smaller size. Unlike the much larger Vertex panels, the lighter, more compact Vertex S panels are designed for residential and commercial rooftops. These high powered 380W to 405W panels utilise the same mono-PERC, MBB, high-density panel format to achieve an impressive maximum efficiency of 21.1% and peak power rating of 405W.
The most popular panels from Trina Solar are the Honey range of monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels. Offering a good combination of quality, performance and value for money, the latest release Honey M range have increased efficiency over the previous range through using new half-cut PERC cells incorporating 9 busbars (MBB). The new honey M range are available in sizes from 330W up to 350W, with the Honey M black (shown opposite) using a black backsheet for a sleek all-black look.
Efficiency has been boosted up to 20.5% on the latest 345W panel released in 2020, using the latest mono PERC, MBB cells.
See the full Trina Honey M plus specification sheet here
Advanced Solar PV Cell Technology
Trina’s product roadmap paves the way for number of new high efficiency cell technologies including a unique N-type i-TOPCon cell, multi-busbars or MBB cells, and advanced bifacial cells.
The focus on developing high efficiency N-type cells is becoming more common among the top Chinese manufacturers, although Trina seems to be at the forefront of this technology. Similar N-type panels have been available from premium manufacturers such as LG & Sunpower for a long time, although at a premium price. As Trina and other manufacturers increase production volume and investment in N-type cell technology, it will help drive down the price of these high efficiency panels.
Multi-Busbars - MBB
Trina were one for the first Chinese manufacturer’s to offer multi-busbar technology or MBB on the full range of new modules.
The reason for the transition to MBB is rather simple, to increase efficiency and reliability. One problem with the traditional flat ribbon busbars on the front of the cell is that they partially shade the cell, which reduces efficiency and performance. MBB technology is way to increase performance and efficiency by reducing the effects of shading from traditional ribbon busbars. Further benefits include, reduced cell temperature and in turn, reduced risk of hot spot formation in the rare event of a cell fracture.
MBB technology incorporates multiple small round wire busbars, and is similar to the premium LG Neon 2 panels which have been available for several years. Trina is now bringing this high efficiency innovation to the masses through high volume production and further cost reductions.
Bifacial Solar panels
Bifacial solar panels have been available for many years but are only now becoming popular as the cost to manufacture the high-performance PERC monocrystalline cells continues to decrease. Bifacial cells absorb light from both sides of the panel and in the right location and conditions can produce up to 30% more energy than traditional monofacial panels. Trina Solar has been at the forefront of bifacial cell technology and the new DuoMax Twin panels use a combination of PERC, half-cut, MBB, bifacial cells housed in a dual-glass panel. Bifacial panels perform best mounted on single-axis tracking systems mounted over light coloured surfaces such as sand or even snow.
Read more about the latest solar cell innovations including MBB, PERC and bifacial panels in the complete Solar Module Technology Review.
Quality and Performance
One of the world’s leading independent solar module testing and performance services PVEL (DNV-GL), a German based testing facility, produce the annual PV Module Reliability Scorecard Report. Over the last six years various Trina solar panels have consistently scored as a ‘Top performer’ among 20+ of the world’s leading solar brands tested. A top performer does not mean they are ranked as number 1 but among the highest performing module’s in the group with no severe degradation or failures.
PVEL is one of the world’s most reputable, independent solar PV testing organisations, thus the results provide a high level of confidence in the long term performance and reliability of Trina Solar modules for both large and small scale installations.
Past Quality Issues
Along with many other large manufacturers, Trina solar had a number of quality issues over the years. These have been mostly the result of backsheet degradation and failure leading to water ingress or PID issues. Fortunately this appears to be limited mostly to panels sold between 2011 and 2014, and related to an alternative backsheet or EVA material being used during manufacture. Recent panels do not seem to have any recorded issues, but this does not mean there will not be faults in the future. As with all large volume manufacturers, there is bound to be an occasional batch or small number of panels with issues.
Often, when it comes to quality issues, the big difference is how a manufacturer handles these problems and supports the installers and customers. As we explain in the next section, this is one area where Trina has really improved.
Warranty and Service
Trina solar offer a standard 12-year manufacturer’s product warranty (previously 10 years) which guards against defects for the first 12 years, plus a 25 year performance warranty to guarantee a minimum 83.1% power output rating after 25 years of use. The next generation Vertex and Vertex S panels will have a longer 15-year product warranty period with options to extend up to 25 years. Trina Solar has many support/service centres across the globe with the Australian service office based in Sydney.
Improved warranty support
Things have improved significantly since our last Trina solar review in 2018, with a much higher level of service and support in the event of a warranty claim or panel failure. Based on our previous Australian solar installer survey, Trina’s service and support was average in the event of a quality issue or claim, with mixed feedback of both positive and negative responses over the years. However, the latest feedback from solar professionals has elevated Trina to one of the top performers when it comes to supporting warranty claims, with a streamlined process and greatly improved customer service. See the Trina website for warranty claims.
Like many of the larger manufacturers, Trina Solar has begun focusing more on its supply chain in a bid to reduce waste and emissions through more efficient manufacturing processes and improved corporate responsibility. The well known SVTC scorecard gives Trina Solar an impressive 99 out of 100. This includes improved working conditions and “Takes responsibility for the environmental and health impacts of its products throughout their lifecycles, including adherence to a mandatory policy for responsible recycling.”
In January 2021 Trina Solar also received a dual “Environmental Product Declaration” (EPD) certification from the global independent safety science certification institute. The EPD certification is obtained for sustainable manufacture through tracking the environmental impact, raw materials, manufacturing, processing, transportation, and recycling.
Wrap up - Summary
Trina Solar is widely considered one of the best value manufacturers on the market offering reliable, high-quality solar panels. This reputation has been reinforced by the improved customer service, huge advancements in cell technology and increased efficiency and power output over recent years.
Overall, based on Trina Solar’s history, reputation, and high Tier 1 rating under the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) ranking system, you could virtually guarantee Trina will be around for a long time to support any quality or performance issues should they occur well into the future. With the launch of the new Vertex range of panels, Trina Solar has become an industry leader and advancing its range of panels more than most competing manufacturer's. Additionally, being one of the top 5 manufacturers globally and showing very good results in the PVEL independent testing program provides extra confidence Trina panels will perform well for many years.
Most Trina Solar Panels now have a standard 12 product warranty and 25-year performance warranty, with a longer 15-year product and 30-year performance warranty offered on the new generation bifacial and Vertex panels.