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CHOICE Solar Panel Review

There are no recommendations. Is it because of a particular reason?

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If you are referring to solarquotes, you will see that all the panels and inverters are categorised as products ‘Finn would have on his roof’ and OK to go with from their viewpoint in the products overview. Some products not on his radar occasionally get referenced and he will reply to a question. Often those products are not what he considers tier 1, or are not mainstream offerings so have little evidence one way or another.

FWIW the brand positioning on his graphs (from entry to premium) reflect their positioning when the graphs are made / updated from time to time. The one on the web site is usually up to date whilst the ones on the videos are historic from the date of the video.

My pre-purchase research reinforces even the ‘affordable / entry’ panels shown appear to be solid choices and have 10 year parts warranties while the premium ones have 25 year parts and labour. Will the premium provide more energy over time? If one spends enough time reading and playing mind games with oneself probably not for similar configurations, but the products differentiate themselves through their warranties.

A lot of it becomes what one is comfortable paying for and one product is not necessarily better than another when both are highly credible. Choice’s test is limited; industry feedback is probably biased but also reflects products that installers are happy with over long periods. Another way to look at it as I have learnt is what is the tradeoff between products with say 96.5 and 96.9% efficiency when the former has a 12-25 year warranty and the latter a 10?

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I’ve just been around the loop and installed a 5kW PV system.
The general information on Choice when I was looking at quotes Aug/Sept was useful. The solar panel review was of limited value, firstly because the range of tier 1 panels available is 3 to 4 times broader than the test samples. As @TheBBG points out even looking at the sample test results, the variation in performance is quite small. The variation in pricing is significant, noting that we purchased a system with 20 panels, the price of which did not relate in any logical way to the single panel pricing in the review.

The Choice, Panel review and rest results were reassuring in that based on the sample used modern panels typically conform to the stated performance specs.

I’ve some other comments about the install, how we went getting quotes and the outcomes on a more appropriate topic. One of the Choice guides lead us to SolarQuotes.com which we accessed. Over all a very useful site and service. I have some observations or reservations on how the quote search functions which I can pass on if it is useful to others?

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Solar Analytics highly recommends Finn’s book The Good Solar Guide and all the content on Solarquotes.com.au. Finn and his team are thorough, discerning and allow a platform of honest feedback from real users.

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True, the technical content and supporting costings details are great.

Separate to the content I also made use of the three quotes option.
I’d be happy to discuss how effectively the quote seeking mechanism functions in a constructive way, on or off topic? You need more than an hour to research and decide which three businesses should provide quotes or have a default selection made for you. Happy to discuss in detail further off line if you would like to email me?

It is really about how to make a good choice on solar PV, more than what brand, type and version of panel to select. It took 2 electricians 12 hours each to do our install with 20 panels in two strings over two roofs. I also derated the total daily panel output to 80% when looking at the cost benefits to factor in some ignorance and our unusual roof.

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I’ve often wondered about the impact of solar panels on the quality of water collected from a roof on which they’re mounted, particularly when the panels are damaged.
https://reneweconomy.com.au/solar-panels-exposed-to-fire-pose-negligible-risk-to-health-environment-iea-61349/

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Before buying solar equipment, it may pay to check out the big name solar installers and suppliers going out of business. Otherwise you may be left high and dry (or in my case dripping wet when it rains).

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Ronald Brakels’ blog has a write up of the latest PV panel testing, and points out some quite serious failings of the testing with regards to the reporting of which panels are good

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It would have been good to know the results of all panel tests, rather than just the top performing ones…otherwise when one is out shopping for panels, they are likely to be told furphies by the sales people in relation to the performance and reliability of the panels they are pushing. Without the information, one would not know if the panels are acceptable (slightly less scoring than the top ones) or rubbish (bottom of the pile).

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Our solar panel review has been updated for 2019 (member content).

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Whilst walking past the TV my wife was watching the other day, I overheard the last part of an ad for some solar system at some “unbelivable” price.

It ended wih a hard sell message of “act now before the prices rise”.

Solar prices are going to go up? Yeah right. And I have this bridge for sale.

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I actually saw the start of the ad today.

it is Arise Solar or was that Price Rises Solar?

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No LG Neon2s with 25 year parts and labour warranties backed by LG Electronics? Or their competitor Sunpower with the same?

OK, people might not be buying them in droves because they cost more, but are they worth the extra dollars for any reason beside the warranties?

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A panel that costs twice as much for a few percent extra output isn’t worth it IMO, assuming similar performance warranty periods. Better off buying more of the less expensive panels to get a greater output.

More efficient panels allow more output from a given area of panels, which might be handy in the case of a small roof, but even then the economics might not stack up.

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Output wise it would be as you say, but if quality of manufacture is the issue then depending on the reliability buying more expensive panels may actually be more economically sound in the long run. You might know better than many others but are there some panels you need to avoid because of the reliability? I think I remember some news/current affairs programs talking about panels that have failed in very short time of use (way below their payback time).

How hard is it to test reliability in a test lab? I guess glass etc maybe easy to destruction test but what about weathering effects for panels that are meant to last many multiples of years eg 15 or 25, the solder the insulation, glues etc that would be used to create the panels. Can CHOICE even test for these effects in a manner that gives a reliable statistically outcome? I think it would be hard to guess who of panel manufacturers or retailers might still be be around in even 10 years so one could assert their ACL rights. Some I would guess you could have reasonable faith in but others would be high risk.

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I think the ads by various companies have always said this. It is because they are offering the “special price” before Govts remove any subsidies. Not sure where the subsidy programs are at the moment and maybe someone who follows this area closely may be able to advise where the various subsidy programs are at and when or if they may be removed or reduced??

The Federal Govt believe they will romp home regarding their Paris commitments so they may not be doing much in regard to keeping current (if any are in place) subsidies going.

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The RECS decline at the end of each calendar year until they reach zero in 2030.

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The ACCC has been pushing for the removal of credit for STCs for a while, as they say the industry doesn’t need them any more.

Whilst they certainly reduce the cost of PV systems, in reality they allow the big generators to keep burning coal and gas and not invest so much in renewable energy. Really they are little more than a licence to pollute for the fossil fuel power generation industry in order to meet their (rather weak IMO) commitments to reduce CO2 emissions.

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Hard to keep track of definitively, but going for well established brands and avoiding the very latest tech (PERC panels come to mind) is probably the best way to go. With new materials and processes being used in solar cell manufacture, sometimes modes of failure might not show up for some years- after the new tech panels have started appearing on the market. Well established companies often detect the problems earlier and modify their processes to fix the problem. El cheapo brands will be well behind.
Also well established brands are probably more likely to be around to honour any warranty issues.

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Another significant factor in panel election is the physical construction. Which panels are more resistant to impact damage, less likely to suffer UV and temperature degradation (physically, not electrically), and hermetically sealed for life?

All panels appear to be very similar in performance electrically when new.

It would seem that the only good reason for paying a premium for a panel is longevity at rated performance. Unfortunately that is not tested independently of the manufacturer?

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