High-performance Vs Entry Level: Is It Worth Paying More?

How Do I Know What’s High Quality and What’s Not?

There’s huge variation in the quality of solar power systems in Australia, so it makes sense to know what to look for when buying a system.

The trick is to buy equipment (panels and inverter) that’s made by major companies that have been manufacturing solar panel components and inverters for at least 10 years.

The general rule of thumb is ‘you get what you pay for’.

There are some incredibly cheap systems available, but be mindful that what’s far more important than the upfront cost is the amount of electricity your system will generate over its lifetime – and as a result, how much it will save you. You’re better off paying a bit more for a high-performance system, than not paying enough for an inferior one

More than 90% of solar panels these days are made in China. SunTech, Risen, Trina and Jinko are reputable Chinese brands, but many others are best avoided.

The Energy Experts’ preferred panels are the LG NeON2 moduleswhich have been independently ranked by CHOICE magazine as the most efficient solar panels in Australia.

LG Neon Solar Panels

High-performance panels produce around 20% more electricity and take up approx. 20% less roof space than conventional panels. If you start thinking of your roof space as an asset, it’s easy to see why high-output panels make sense.

LG panels perform better in shady/low light/cloudy/rainy conditions, as well as in cold/frosty and hot/humid conditions (not to mention beautiful, sunny days). They’re also more durable, they degrade slower and come with a longer warranty than conventional panels. The 25 year performance and product warranty includes both the labour and/or transport for replacement panels.

If you’re thinking battery storage, then panel efficiency and performance is critical. More power; less space. Smart :-)

Take a look at the LG Beginners Guide to Solar to get a good understanding of the importance of high performance panels.

You don’t want to cover your roof with inefficient panels. You’ll want to give yourself space to grow with electric cars soon to become mainstream and most households preparing for battery storage systems. Your roof real estate is now more important than ever before.

The Energy Experts is proud to be an LG Dealer.

LG NeON2 320W Solar Panel

Your Inverter

Your inverter is one of the most important components of your solar power system. As far as brands go, it’s best to buy European or Israeli technology. These have been independently proven to be the most efficient and reliable inverters on the market.

There are 3 types of inverter technology:

  1. String. eg. Fronius or SMA
  2. DC Optimiser. eg. SolarEdge
  3. Micro inverter. eg. Enphase

There are some really reliable string inverters available. eg. Fronius and SMA, but there’s one main downside of this technology: if a panel is underperforming due to shade, leaf litter, bird poo or panel failure … all the other panels it’s connected to will produce at the lowest-performing panel’s output (a bit like the impact of one light going out in a string of Christmas lights).

For this and other reasons, we tend to steer people towards DC Optimiser technology, which does a similar job to micro inverter technology (they both allow for individual panel performance). The main difference is that micro-inverter technology is AC-coupled (there’s one less energy conversion/loss) and DC Optimiser technology is DC-coupled (there’s an additional energy conversion that takes place: AC -> DC -> AC, which means there’s a slight loss in the amount of energy converted), but we believe DC Optimiser technology has enough positives to outweigh this small negative. eg. it’s more efficient, comes with a much longer warranty and is compatible with a broader range of batteries. Best of all, if one panel’s performance is down, it doesn’t affect the rest of the system. And if there’s ever a fault, you’ll pick up on it right away.

There are heaps of other perks associated with optimized inverter technology. Check out this blog we wrote recently if you want to learn more.

SolarEdge DC Optimiser

SolarEdge DC Optimiser

Fronius Inverter

Fronius Inverter

SMA Inverter

SMA Inverter

Enphase Micro-Inverter

Enphase Micro-inverter

Who Should I Choose To Install My System?

Just as important as the quality of the components you choose is the quality of the installation, as many corners can be cut by unscrupulous installers.

We recommend having your solar panel system installed by a company that’s been installing solar panels for at least 5 years, is accredited with the Clean Energy Council and consistently receives good (independent) reviews on solar comparison websites.

Clean Energy Council Accredited Installer

Cost/Government Rebates

How Much Does Solar Cost?

This very much depends on the size and type of system you buy. We can help you choose the most effective solar power system for your requirements.

Your usage System size Can save you GOLD
Small user
4kW system $400/qtr * $4,300 $6,400 3 – 4.4  years *
Medium user
6.6kW system $650/qtr * $5,100 $8,400 2 – 3.4 years *
Large user
10kW system $1,000/qtr * $7,900 $11,600 2 – 3.2 years *

Pricing is after government rebate (STCs) has been deducted. Additional charges may apply (double storey, tiled roof, split array, tilt frames, kliplok roof clamps, and battery storage). * Assumes you use 100% of your solar energy.

Gold System: SunTech monocrystalline half-cut 330W panels; ABB inverter
Platinum system: LG NeON2 monocrystalline 360W panels; Fronius inverter

Small User $250-$400/qtr
System size 4kW system
Can save you $400/qtr*
GOLD system $4,300
PLATINUM system $6,400
Payback 3 – 4.4 years*
Medium User $400-$600/qtr
System size 6.6kW system
Can save you $650/qtr*
GOLD system $5,100
PLATINUM system $8,400
Payback 2 – 3.4 years*
Large User $600-$800/qtr
System size 10kW system
Can save you $1,000/qtr*
GOLD system $7,900
PLATINUM system $11,600
Payback 2 – 3.2 years*

Pricing is after government rebate (STCs) has been deducted. Additional charges may apply (double storey, tiled roof, split array, tilt frames, kliplok roof clamps and battery storage). * Assumes you use 100% of your solar energy.

Gold system: SunTech monocrystalline half-cut 330W panels; ABB inverter
Platinum system: LG NeON2 monocrystalline 360W panels; Fronius inverter

Do Solar Panels Save Money?

Yes – solar panels can be one of the best investments you ever make helping you save serious money and adding value to your property.

Investing in solar energy makes sense if you buy good quality equipment that’s designed to last. We’d encourage you to consider more than just the upfront cost. You also want to look at how much energy your system will produce and therefore how much money it will save you.

This is where The Energy Experts can guide you in choosing the right solar panels for your home.

Low Interest Green Loan

Don’t think you can afford a solar panel system? You can with a Low Interest Green Loan and you may even be cash positive from Day 1.

Return On Investment

Solar Panels ROI - Return on Investment

For high quality panels/inverter, you’ll find that the Return On Investment (ROI) is as little as 3 years. For premium solar equipment, the ROI is closer to 4 years, although high-end systems will save you more money over the longer term due to their higher performance and slower rate of degradation.

Are There Still Rebates Available?

Solar Panels ROI - Return on Investment

Yes. The Federal government is still making a generous contribution towards the cost of systems – around 30% of the overall cost – around $3,450 for a 6.6kW system.

How Solar Panels Work

How Does A Solar Power System Work?

A solar panel system uses light to generate electricity which you can then use to power your home. Here is how it happens:

• The sun’s light (photons) is absorbed by the solar panel

• The silicon and conductors in the panel convert the light into Direct Current (DC) electricity which then flows to the inverter.

• The inverter converts the Direct Current (DC) into Alternate Current (AC) which you can use in your home or business.

• Any additional electricity that’s not used by your home or business is then fed back into the grid (if you have battery storage, you can send your additional electricity to your battery bank and draw down on this at night when your panels aren’t producing electricity).

• When you need more power than your solar system can produce, you draw this from the grid.

Solar House Diagram

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Solar Power System

The Energy Experts can give you all the tips and tricks to getting the most out of your solar power system. For example, using your most electricity-hungry appliances during daylight hours can have a dramatic effect on your electricity bill.

Even if you’re not home during the day, with a delay start function, washing machines, dishwashers, clothes dryers, air-conditioners, pools and spas can be programmed to run at the time that your panels are producing the most power.

Do Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days?

Solar panels still work on low-light, overcast, cloudy days.

They just don’t produce as much electricity as they do on bright, sunny days.

Where possible, follow the sun and use heavy-duty appliances on bright sunny days.

Do I Get Paid for the Electricity My System Produces?

Yes. You get paid for any surplus power that your system produces. Depending on which energy provider you’re with, you can expect to be paid between 10-16c/kWh for your surplus energy that you don’t use at the time of generation (if you install solar with a battery, you can get paid as much as 25c/kWh).

What makes the most sense is to use the bulk of your free solar power during the day. Or get a battery storage system, so you feed any surplus solar power to your battery bank to draw down on at night when your panels aren’t working.


Currently, battery storage systems cost anywhere from $9,700-$13,500 for 6.5kWh – 14kWh of storage. Our preferred brands of Lithium-ion battery storage are LG Chem and Tesla Powerwall 2 .

From the copious research that we have done to-date, we believe the most reliable and efficient brands of lead acid batteries for off-grid or stand-alone systems are Selectronic and Ecoult.

For more information on battery storage systems, take a look at our battery storage page.

Tesla PowerWall
Tesla PowerWall

Solar Panel Quotes

The Energy Experts takes the hard work out of installing solar. Our consultative approach means we understand your current and future needs and properly size and professionally install high-output systems that are guaranteed to outperform and outlast conventional equipment – be that solar power, battery storage, solar hot water and solar pool heating systems. We’re proud to be LG’s preferred local Dealer.

Although our home base is in the Illawarra, we have reputable and experienced installation teams in the Illawarra, Southern Highlands, Shoalhaven, NSW South Coast and Sutherland Shire.

The Energy Experts - Caro and Wes

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