Residential Solar Panels – Free Power From the Sun. Why Not Use It?

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High-performance Solar 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 general rule of thumb is ‘you get what you pay for’.

There are some incredibly cheap systems available, but what’s more important than the upfront cost is the amount of electricity your system produces over its lifetime. ie. 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.

The Energy Experts’ preferred panels are the REC Alpha Pure 400W. Take a look at this short video to get an understanding of the importance of high-performance panels. They’re built to perform and built to last, meaning they produce more electricity and are more durable than conventional panels.

If you’re considering battery storage at some point, then panel performance is critical. To be able to fill your battery each day, no matter what the weather, you need to install panels that perform well in low light conditions, as well as in hot and cold conditions (not just on beautiful, sunny days).

For this reason, we recommend REC panels, which have not only proven to perform better in all weather conditions, they’re also more durable, they degrade slower and come with a much longer warranty than conventional panels.

The Energy Experts is proud to be the preferred local REC Partner. We’re also very pleased to be a signatory with the Clean Energy Council Approved Solar Retailer program, which gives you greater assurance you’re getting exactly what you paid for, as we meet significantly higher standards than standard solar companies.

LG Neon Solar Panels

A transcript of the video can be read here

Although they’re slightly dearer than conventional panels, REC panels are the way to go if you want higher performance, a more durable panel with a longer warranty and a panel that’s not made in China.

REC was established in 1996 in Norway. Since then, over 43 million REC panels have been installed around the globe. The modules are manufactured in both Norway and Singapore (400 million panels are manufactured each year; less than 400 are returned under warranty each year).

REC owns the full supply change from ingot manufacturing through to final production of panels.

The Alpha Pure range won the InterSolar Award in 2020 and has been a top performer in the PVEL Awards for 6 years in a row. The company has a presence in Melbourne, if ever you have any after sales servicing requirements. REC panels have been installed on the rooftops of ALDI, Amazon, Audi, BMW, CostCo, IKEA, Mercedes-Benz, Panasonic, Rolls-Royce, Shell and Tesla.

REC’s heterojunction technology that’s integrated into their panels means that there’s more solar generation when the sun is at its strongest. With a panel efficiency of 22.2%, they’re one of the most efficient panels in the world, meaning you generate more power from your roof due to higher power density. The frames are super strong with a high wind load rating of 4kpa (the panels come with additional stabiliser bars at the rear, which most panels don’t have). REC panels are tested to 3 times beyond normal industry standards. A 25 year parts and labour warranty is provided with REC.

At the end of 25 years, REC panels are guaranteed to still produce 92% of their original output. This is because N-type silicon that’s doped in phosphorus is used, which degrades considerably slower than conventional panels, which use P-type silicon. It has an excellent temperature coefficient of .26%, which is one of the best of any panel in the world. This means that for every degree above 25°, the panels only reduce in performance by .26%. Being all-black, they’re one of the more aesthetically-pleasing panels available.

Clean Energy Council Approved Solar Retailer
REC Preferred Partner

Your Inverter

Panels play an important role in the performance of a system, but the inverter is the most important component of all (it’s like the engine of the whole system). If you opt for SolarEdge, Fronius or SMA, you can’t go wrong. Take a look at some info here on the importance of buying a good quality inverter. This site compares the various brands. 

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 reduce to the lowest-performing panel’s output (a bit like the impact of one light going out in a string of Christmas lights).

For this reason and a raft of others, 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, so if one panel’s performance is down, it doesn’t affect the rest of the system). 

With SolarEdge, if there’s ever a fault, you’ll pick up on it right away. DC Optimiser technology is also more efficient, comes with a much longer warranty and is compatible with a broader range of batteries than micro-inverters. It’s also very easy to add an electric vehicle charger or battery storage, as well as connect to smart appliances, so they run when your solar power system is on, enabling you to get the best return on investment from your solar power system.

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

A transcript of the video can be read here

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.

We’re very particular with who works with us. We’ve developed a network of local, reliable, professional installers who know exactly what they’re doing. We engage hand-picked partners to do the installation. They’re highly experienced, fully accredited, and comprehensively insured. We offer a 5 year whole-of-system warranty as a Clean Energy Council Approved Solar Retailer. This means that if, in the first 5 years, your system isn’t performing as we forecast, we’ll assess it to find out why. We’ll also fix any issues and replace any defective parts – at our cost.

Clean Energy Council Accredited Installer

Cost/STCs

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 up to
GOLD
String
system
pricing
from:
GOLD
Optimised
system
pricing
from:
PREMIUM
Optimised
system
pricing
from:
Payback
Small user
($300-$500/qtr)
5kW system $500/qtr * $5,595 $6,500 $8,700 3-4 years*
Medium user
($400-$600/qtr)
6.6kW system $650/qtr * $6,500 $7,750 $10,330 3-4 years*
Large user
($600-$1000/qtr)
10kW system $1,000/qtr * $9,450 $10,750 $14,200 3-3.5 years*

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

Gold String System: Jinko 415W panels; SunGrow inverter
Gold Optimised System:
Jinko 415W panels; SolarEdge DC Optimisers, SolarEdge solar-only inverter
Premium system: LG NeON H+ 415W panels; SolarEdge DC Optimisers, SolarEdge hybrid (solar + battery) inverter

Small User $300-$500/qtr
System size 5kW system
Can save you
up to
$500/qtr*
GOLD
String system
pricing from:
$5,595
GOLD
Optimised system
pricing from:
$6,500
PREMIUM
Optimised system
pricing from:
$8,700
Payback 3-4 years*
Medium User $400-$600/qtr
System size 6.6kW system
Can save you up to $650/qtr*
GOLD
String system
pricing from:
$6,500
GOLD
Optimised system
pricing from:
$7,750
PREMIUM
Optimised system
pricing from:
$10,330
Payback 3-4 years*
Large User $600-$1,000/qtr
System size 10kW system
Can save you up to $1,000/qtr*
GOLD
String system
pricing from:
$9,450
GOLD
Optimised system
pricing from:
$10,750
PREMIUM
Optimised system
pricing from:
$14,200
Payback 3-3.5 years*

Pricing is after 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 String System: Jinko 415W panels; SunGrow inverter
Gold Optimised System: Jinko 415W panels; SolarEdge DC Optimisers, SolarEdge solar-only inverter

Premium system: LG NeON H+ 415W panels; SolarEdge DC Optimisers, SolarEdge hybrid (solar + battery) 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 STCs 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 $3,100 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 is then fed back into the grid (if you have battery storage, you can draw down on this at night when your panels aren’t working).

• 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

  1. buy high-performance components
  2. oversize your system a little to allow for low-light/overcast days
  3. where possible, self-consume your free solar power during the day, by running appliances when the sun is directly hitting your panels (by doing this, you’re not buying your energy from the grid). If you’re not home during the day, use a delay start function or a timer so your washing machine, dishwasher, clothes dryer, air-con, pool, spa, etc can run when your panels are producing the most power; and
  4. negotiate a decent Solar Feed-In Tariff with an energy retailer. We can guide you on which retailers have the best solar deals.

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 7-10c/kWh for the surplus energy that you don’t use at the time of production (if you install solar with a battery, you can get paid as much as 22c/kWh for your surplus solar energy).

Batteries

Currently, battery storage systems cost anywhere from $12,500-$17,900 supplied and installed for a efficient and reliable 10kWh – 14kWh of storage. Our preferred brands of lithium-ion batteries are SolarEdge and Tesla Powerwall 2.

From the exhaustive research we’ve done to-date, we believe the most reliable and efficient brands of lead acid battery inverters for off-grid or stand-alone systems are Selectronic and Ecoult in combo with BYD and PowerPlus.

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 make installing solar easy. We get a clear understanding of your current and future needs and properly size/professionally install a system that’s guaranteed to outperform and outlast conventional equipment. 

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

The Energy Experts - Caro and Wes

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