How Hyundai Energy Solutions and Sumec Phono Solar Broke the Premium Price Barrier

Australia has traditionally had a segmented solar panel offering with many installation companies presenting a bronze/silver/gold approach to panels due to the large disparity in price to acquire Blue Chip solar modules.

In February 2020 the price difference to acquire a “25 year warranty club” premium module (Q CELL /REC etc) was approximately 35 percent versus the “Bloomberg Darlings” Tier 1 10-15 year warranty products (Jinko/Longi/Canadian etc). For the purpose of this article we will not discuss the “Bloomberg Rejects” as these are modules not worth consideration in the authors opinion.

During 2020 Sumec Phono, the only Chinese owned manufacturer considered Blue Chip, introduced a plus 5 year warranty option to their existing 15 year warranty. 

This made a compelling option introducing discussion about extended warranties with the consumer, bringing into focus the importance of REAL product warranty.

Fortune 500 owned Phono Solar challenged the traditional market segments introducing itself as the “entry level premium module” in Australia at an approximate 10% premium to the “Bloomberg Darlings” (10-15 year warranty) products and about 20 percent discount to the “25 year warranty club”.

Sumec Phono Solar started price pressure in the Australian market but it was Hyundai who got their technology recipe right during 2020 and landed the knockout blow on how the “25 year warranty club” would charge as price premiums moving forward.

Hyundai released in July a competitive priced 350 watt module that was followed in October by a 390/400 watt shingle module with p type cell technology.  

Hyundai released the shingle product for ONLY 20% MORE then the “Bloomberg Darlings” where the established ”25 year warranty club” were 35% more at product release, shaking the Australian premium panel hierarchy that existed for 7 years.

The actions of manufacturer’s Sumec Phono Solar and Hyundai have left Australians and Australian solar installers the best Christmas gift under the tree … 3 competitive “25 year warranty club” solar modules that have forced the reduction of the price premium with competitive manufacturers, making them now available for approximately 20% more than the “Bloomberg Darlings”!

Australia had 400+ CEC approved module manufacturers in 2013 to select from and today there are fewer than 100, highlighting the importance of buying quality and definitely avoiding the ‘Bloomberg Rejects’ segment of the market.

Credit must be attributed to Sumec Phono Solar and Hyundai for leading the break in the 7 year premium price barrier and making premium products more accessible to Australian installers and Australian consumers.

Glossary of the segments of the Australian Solar Panel Market;

Bloomberg Darling

  • Over 1.5GW manufacturing.
  • Regular on Bloomberg list for 5 plus years
  • Common wattage for volume solar modules

Bloomberg Rejects

  • Not represented on Bloomberg list
  • Under 1.5GW OR less then 5 years of representation

25 Year Warranty Club

  • Premium modules with 25 year warranty club from Reputable manufacturers
  • Typically also represented on Bloomberg Tier 1 list
  • Typically higher efficiency for volume modules
  • More expensive module to end customer.

Entry Level Premium

  • Modules that offer Product warranty between 15 – 25 years from quality
  • Reputable Manufacturer
  • Typically also represented on Bloomberg Tier 1 list 

Blue Chip Solar Panel

  • Diversified manufacturer (multi product/industry portfolio)
  • Been in business longer then product warranty
  •  >30bn in annual t/o
  • Proven capability of servicing warranties in Australia on diversified products