Choosing the right solar panel and paying the right price

A buyer’s guide to solar panels

By Maz Mirzakhani

Mechnical Engineer, SolarNova.

Choosing the right solar panel is as important as choosing the right solar company to design and install your new solar system. In this article, we will walk you through the difference of good and poor quality solar panels. In order to help you pick the right solar panel for your property, we have asked SolarNova’s highly experienced team of mechanical engineers, electrical engineers and environmental scientists to weigh in on the best performing and best value solar panels in the market.

It is important that solar buyers understand the difference between panels. There are significant differences in cost and quality of panels. Some panels are triple the cost, some will make great energy savings, some are much more productive per square metre, and some are more durable and resilient, performing well for decades.

Think of your solar panels as the heart of your solar system, generating power to offset your electricity bill. You need to consider the performance of a panel over its lifetime and warranty when evaluating panels and be sure to look for a durable solar panel that will withstand the harsh Australian climate on the roof.

Trust proven panels

The differences between solar panels comes down to performance, workmanship, the quality of the fabrication and also the reputation of the companies who fabricate them. At SolarNova, we have installed thousands of solar panels. We have seen which panels stand the test of time in Australia’s harsh climatic conditions and which companies stand by their warranties.

Q Cells

Q Cells is one of our top recommendations for quality and post sales service. Q Cells panels are German engineered and Korean made. After installing many thousands of Q Cells over the last few years, we have never had problems with underperformance regarding production.  The SolarNova team have never seen a panel failure due to faults. Q Cells are tough, we have had no incidences of Q Cells beaks, even after Sydney’s massive hail storms.

LG

LG match and marginally surpass Q Cells in quality, being slightly more costly. LG is a renowned brand that focuses on quality and efficiency. Most customers that opt for the LG branded panels go for the advanced technology and black frame for aesthetics.

Trina and Suntech

Some of our customers have a higher need for affordability and our recommended range  of panels in this category Suntech and Trina. There are many affordable panels in the market and many we would not recommend.

Beware of cheaper panels

We look at the whole solar system as an investment that will last for a minimum period of 15 years. Many of the cheaper panels will not stand the test of time. At SolarNova, we guarantee that our customers will enjoy the financial benefit of their solar system for years to come and we only recommend panels that meet that criteria. While the cheaper systems can  pay for themselves in around 2 to 3 year’s, their lifespan is 10 years shorter than quality panels.

Cheap systems also do not perform as well. SolarNova has received calls from households complaining that their 6kW system rarely produces more than 3kW power at their peak. Many of these cheaper systems are replaced by reliable systems at great cost to the household.

Cheaper systems fail to produce the power when you need it most, in winter and on cloudy days. An average quality 6.6kW system in the Sydney area should be producing up to 36kWh in the summer peak period based on the below chart –

As you can see in chart above a typical solar system in Sydney generates 3 times more power on a summer’s day compared to a winter’s day. If you installed a cheaper system, your bill is not going to reduce as much in winter due to decreased production during winter days.

A quality high performing panel reduces your bill throughout the year, even in winter time. A typical winter time saving can be significant if your average consumption is 24 kWh a day during winter. You will typically get 40 percent of your electricity bill covered by your solar system. A good quality panel will make all the difference in the daily production.

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