Review: Astronergy 345W Solar Panels
Astronergy’s solar panels are among the most cost-effective on the market. In this review, we’ll cover pros & cons, pricing and specs of Astronergy’s 345W panel, as well as pick out some alternatives for those who prefer higher-efficiency, locally made options.
Astronergy’s 345W solar panels offer the best value on the market right now. If maximizing your budget is your primary goal, Astronergy’s pricing is among the most competitive of all Tier 1 solar panel manufacturers.
In this article, we’ll review the Astronergy 345W solar panel and go over its ideal use case. We’ll also cover some alternatives in case you prefer locally-made products, or need panels that are a little more efficient.
Astronergy 345W Panel – Price & Specs
Let’s start with a quick breakdown of some key specs for Astronergy’s 345-watt offering:
- Price: $242 (as of 1/2/20)
- Wattage: 345W
- Cost Per Watt: 70 cents/watt
- Efficiency: 18%
- Warranty: 25 years, backed by third party
Astronergy Solar Panels: The Pros
The main appeal of Astronergy panels is their low cost-per-watt. If you have plenty of space to build your system, Astronergy’s 345W panels are the most cost-effective option on the market. At 70 cents per watt, you won’t find a better value from any other Tier 1 manufacturer.
(“Tier 1” refers to a list published by Bloomberg that ranks solar panel manufacturers by financial stability, longevity and production volume. Companies on this list are mainstays of the solar industry.)
Astronergy 345W panels use polycrystalline cells, which are not the most efficient option available. For example, our Heliene 365W monocrystalline panel packs an extra 20 watts of production into the same frame size, which comes down to more efficient cell technology.
But higher efficiency often equates to higher cost-per-watt. While Astronergy’s panels are less efficient, they represent the best value around. Your array will take up more space, but the tradeoff is higher overall output per dollar spent.
Tier 1 solar panels are warrantied for 25 years. A lot can change in that time, and unfortunately, we’ve seen our fair share of solar panel manufacturers come and go due to the competitive nature of the manufacturing market.
When a manufacturer folds, customers can get stuck holding a useless warranty, because there’s no way to file a claim once the company goes bankrupt.
Astronergy offers protection against that scenario with a third-party backed warranty. Should Astronergy ever go out of business, the warranty is backed by a third-party reinsurance company called Munich RE.
Astronergy is also a part of the Chint Group, one of the largest electronics manufacturers in China. They were ranked the 4th largest company in China by Forbes in 2013. Their size and staying power offers an extra layer of protection for the warranty.
That kind of third-party backing is a nice bit of assurance that your system will be covered for the long haul.
Astronergy Solar Panels: The Cons
Astronergy is headquartered in China, with manufacturing plants in a variety of countries overseas. This is a drawback for our customers who prefer to invest in American-made products.
Locally-made panels cost a bit more than imported products due to higher wages and stricter manufacturing standards. But for many people, the extra costs are a fair tradeoff to stimulate the local economy and support job creation in the US.
If you’d prefer to buy American-made goods, we’d point you toward the Heliene line. At 80 cents per watt, you’ll pay a 10-15% premium to support American-made products.
The upside of the Heliene panels is that they come with higher wattage than Astronergy panels, making them a bit more efficient (which leads to our next point).
Most solar panels for residential use come in two standardized sizes: 60-cell and 72-cell. But these panels come in varying wattages, depending on the manufacturing process and the efficiency of the cell technology in use.
For example, Astronergy 345W panels are the same size as Heliene’s 365W panels. Both are 72 cells, but the Helienes employ more efficient cell technology.
Higher efficiency panels take up less space on your property, because you need to buy fewer panels to hit your energy production target. Astronergy’s 345W panels are on the low end of this efficiency scale, so make sure you have plenty of room to build.
There are also super high-efficiency panels from the likes of LG, but they tend to have a prohibitively high cost-per-watt compared to other options using more established technology. The table below shows the trade-off between panel efficiency and cost-per-watt.
Ideal Application For Astronergy Solar Panels
Astronergy solar panels are best suited for residential applications without any space limitations.
If you have plenty of room to build your system, there’s no real downside to choosing less efficient panels. Your array may take up 10-20% more space, but you will enjoy more production at a lower overall cost.
We would not recommend the Astronergy 345W panels for commercial installs. Commercial systems rarely offset 100% of a property’s energy needs, so the goal is often to squeeze as much production as possible out of the available space.
These builds are more concerned with maximizing wattage per square foot than sticking to the least expensive option, so efficient panels are a higher priority.
The same can be true for residential roof mount systems with space restrictions. If you have limited space to build, you may need to spring for higher-efficiency panels to fit an array that will offset 100% of your household energy usage.
In short: Astronergy makes the most cost-effective panels, but you need a bit more room to make them fit on your property.