Frequently asked questions
Our company, offerings and manufacturing process
Purchase, installation and use
Cost and Financing
Our company, offerings and manufacturing process
What is SolarWorld, and what do you make?
The SolarWorld group is one of the largest solar PV manufacturers in the world. We are vertically integrated throughout the solar value chain and our only business is Solar Photovoltaics.
SolarWorld AG has been in business since 1997, and in 2006 acquired the Camarillo, CA and Vancouver, WA factories from Shell Solar. SolarWorld’s Camarillo factory was the largest PV factory in the USA from 1975 to 2008 (when SolarWorld opened the new factory in Hillsboro, OR) and has operated under several well-respected names, including ARCO Solar, Siemens Solar, and Shell Solar. We are the largest and most experienced PV manufacturer in the US.
SolarWorld is vertically integrated from silicon to systems. We manufacture our own silicon ingots, wafers and cells as well as solar panels and factory designed systems. Our primary US product is the SolarWorld Sunmodule®, which we sell as modules or as part of residential Sunkits® or commercial systems.
Where are you located?
- In Hillsboro, Oregon, we grow silicon crystals, cut wafers and manufacture our high-quality solar PV cells.
- In Camarillo, California, we assemble cells into SolarWorld Sunmodule® brand solar panels.
- In Vancouver, Washington, we recycle left over silicon from manufacturing to be reused in crystal growing.
- SolarWorld AG European headquarters are in Bonn, Germany.
- SolarWorld AG also has several of factories in Freiberg, Germany along with logistics centers, research facilities and our SolarMaterials PV recycling subsidiary.
Who owns SolarWorld?
SolarWorld group is publicly held and traded on the Xetra and Frankfurt stock exchanges. See our investor relations page for more information.
Do you sell solar panels direct to the public?
No. But we can help you find a reseller or Sunkits® installer in your area. Please contact us for more information.
Do you sell solar modules direct to dealers?
We do not usually sell modules direct to dealers. We can refer you to a distributor in your area. Contact us.
Do you make thin-film solar panels?
No. We make monocrystalline panels in the US and polycrystalline panels in Europe.
Do you make Building Integrated PV (BIPV) solar products?
No. While SolarWorld does sell the EnergyRoof® product in Europe, we do not currently offer building integrated products in the US.
Do you make solar inverters?
No. But we resell for some of the best inverter manufacturers in the world, including SMA, PV Powered and Enphase.
Do you sell solar thermal systems?
Do you do training for solar installers?
Yes. Licensed electrical contractors can enroll in our Sunkits® factory training to become authorized Sunkits® installers. We also frequently present training classes at conferences and in conjunction with our distribution partners. Learn more about the SolarWorld Installer Program.
Do you have module supplies available? Lead times?
Like any manufactured product, availability varies based on timing and demand. Contact us for the latest information.
Are there any differences in the solar panels made by various companies? Are your solar panels better in any way?
Yes, the solar panels made by different companies vary significantly in quality and performance. There are also differences between the companies and their ability to support their products. SolarWorld has a 30+ year track record of confidently standing behind our solar panels. We are also one of the world’s largest and most sustainable manufacturers and have made substantial investments world-wide.
On a technical basis, SolarWorld solar panels have been independently shown to produce more kWh per kW than other major brand panels, which means you get more energy for your money, and a more valuable 25-year power guarantee.
Purchase, installation and use
How heavy are your panels?
Our Sunmodule 235 panels weigh approximately 48 lbs each, and can typically be mounted with less than 4 lb/sf roof loading.
How long do they last? Are they guaranteed?
Sunmodule solar panels are designed to last for more than 30 years and we guarantee the power output for the first 25 years of operation. 97% of power during the first year; and afterward, the power will not decrease by more than 0.7 percent of the rated power per year. So at year 3, the Sunmodule’s capacity is guaranteed to be at least 95.6% of the nameplate as opposed to the industry standard guarantee of 90%. And at year 20, it’s still at least 83% as opposed to the industry standard 80%. SolarWorld’s linear performance guarantee provides clear added value that you can take to the bank. View the details [PDF 172 KB].
Do these solar panels break easily?
No. SolarWorld Sunmodules are made from tempered, shatterproof glass and are designed to withstand up to 1” diameter hail strikes at over 50 mph as well as wind and snow loads up to 112 psf.
How many do I need for my house?
This depends on how large your energy bills are. Most residential installations are between 2 kW and 10 KW, the average installation size in CA is about 4 kW and provides between 40% and 60% of the household’s energy.
How much energy can it produce?
Energy production will vary based on the size of the system and its location. For the best estimate of what your home can produce, request a free solar consultation from a SolarWorld partner installer.
How much space does this require on a roof?
Solar panels are modular by nature, so your system can be sized to fit your roof as well as your electric bill. As a rule of thumb, each kW of PV will take up about 100 square feet of roof space.
Can I install a solar system myself?
While technically possible, we do not recommend that homeowners install their own systems. Most city and state building codes require a licensed electrician to connect the system to the grid and a trained solar installer can help to ensure that your system is well designed and qualifies for the maximum possible rebates and other incentives.
Do they work on cloudy / foggy/ rainy days?
Yes, you will get some power on cloudy days, but it will not be the maximum output.
Are these systems difficult to operate?
No. Once installed, solar PV systems are fully automatic.
What kind of maintenance is required?
You may wish to clean the solar panels if they become dirty, but no other regular maintenance is necessary.
Can you mount solar panels on the ground?
Yes. There are a variety of ways to ground mount solar PV systems. Consult a SolarWorld expert or local installer for more information.
Does it take more energy to manufacture these solar panels than they produce in their lifetime?
No. In a typical installation, a SolarWorld Sunmodule will provide “energy payback” (produce more energy than was required to manufacture it) within 1 to 3 years.
Can my city (or HOA, or neighbors) prohibit me from putting a solar panels on my roof?
This depends a lot on where you live. Many states, including California and Oregon, have passed laws that dissolve any HOA rules or CCRs on your deed that effectively prevent you from putting up a solar installation. See state-by-state incentives and regulations for your state. (www.DSIREUSA.org)
Do I need a city permit to install a solar panels on my house?
In most cases, yes. Your contractor/installer will usually take care of this for you.
Will the system provide me back-up power if the utility grid power goes out?
Typically, no. Most solar PV installations are grid connected and have no batteries to store energy or appropriate switches to legally operate while the grid is down. While battery banks and switchable inverters are available, these add to the cost of your system and batteries require significant maintenance.
What is the largest size system that I can buy?
The maximum size of system you can install will depend on the amount of appropriate roof and/or ground space available and how much you want to spend. Most of our installations are sized for optimum savings, rather than maximum size and most incentives will only cover up to the amount of electricity your home or business actually uses on an annualized basis.
Cost and Financing
How expensive is a solar installation?
The cost of a solar installation depends on many variables, including the application, the site characteristics and the available incentives. Generally, our solar PV systems are designed to provide a substantial net savings in energy costs over their lifetime.
How much money will it save me?
Actual savings varies based on system size, location, and your electric rate structure. A typical solar PV system is designed to reduce your energy bill by 30% to 60%.
What is the financial Pay-Back period for a solar PV system?
Actual payback varies depending on the system installed cost, location, size, and electrical rate structure. Typical payback periods are between 7 and 14 years for residential systems and 5 to 12 years for commercial systems.
Are there still any rebates to help pay for them?
Yes. See our incentives and rebates information for options available in your area.
Can you provide financing to help make these systems more affordable?
SolarWorld has financing partners for large commercial installations – our projects team will typically introduce you to the most appropriate for your location and application.
Most residential end-users can finance the system with a home equity loan of some form. Visit our financing page for more information
Are your solar panels cheaper, or more expensive, than others?
Rather than focus solely on price, SolarWorld seeks to provide the best value – i.e. the best performance for your money. SolarWorld solar panels are competitively priced, but more importantly, we design and distribute them to provide the best levelized energy cost in terms of dollars per kWh.