Getting Solar - What and How

Hi Guys,

I live in one of the western Melbourne suburbs, with the electricity bills soaring through the roof , I was planning on getting solar, when I started digging in it seems something like rocket science, will be really grateful if you can help me with the below:

  • Which brand panels to get ?
  • Which brand of inverter is good ?
  • don't want to overboard with the capacity looking at my bills I am thinking 6.6Kwh Panels with 5.5 inverter , should I be doing it this way or get it as big as possible to maximise the backfeed to the grid ?
  • can there be scenarios where the grid or the power company can say that they are full and I won't be able to sell the electricity that panels produce? if yes what are the workarounds ?
  • is it always good to go with top end panels and inverter ?
  • what things to lookout for while considering a quote from a seller or installer ?
  • finally which are the recommended sellers & installers ?

Comments

  • +1 vote

    Checkout this video from SolarQuotes https://youtu.be/-ijFjDgHF4g

  • +3 votes

    Read lots of articles on solarquotes.com.au. When you feel like you understand it and you know what you need for your circumstances then ask for quotes through them.

    • +1 vote

      and use the calculator on that site too
      .

  • +5 votes

    -Lg
    -Fronius/solar edge if shade
    -Get solar to suit your house usage. 130% of your inverter size on panels is optimal.
    -Yes, but you will find that out and may only be able to export x kW, but pretty unlikely.
    -The inverter is most likely to go before panels, so get a good inverter above all else, fronius have a 10 year warranty on them, lgs 25 year performance warranty.
    -Make sure they've been in business a while, good reviews, and don't subby all their work out. Look for a team of dedicated solar installers.

    • +1 vote

      LG panels are great but cheaper panels are fine as well and have similar warranties, e.g. Jinko/Longi/Trina.

      Wouldn't skimp on the inverter (Fronius is the default pick) but a decent enough cheaper option is Sungrow.

      •  

        I've been very happy with my Growatt system - flawless, silent (no squealing/buzzing like a LOT of systems I've heard).

        Their newest offerings are top quality IMO.

        Their tech support is first class also - I found a number of issues with their website and app (showing incorrect data, incorrect labels etc) emailed them with the issues and AMAZINGLY got a reply 2 days later and they pushed a fix for ALL issues identified about 2 weeks later.

        Top notch IMO!

      •  

        I believe you'll find Fronius has halved their warranty to just 5 years now, which doesn't make a compelling case for paying a premium.

        • +1 vote

          Fronius is 5kw is like $2k - $2.5k, Growatt equivalent is around half the price. Last time the amount of hate when I suggested the $1k saved would get your a lot better inverter in 10 years was astronomical.

          •  

            @netjock: I have no idea. In general, any company that charges more for a "premium product" and won't back it up with a warranty, raises red flags about how premium it actually is. Especially when they do the same thing so reliability, longevity are the huge factors in product selection.

            •  

              @noyesmaybeok: You mean like Merc and BMW warranties vs Kia warranties.

              •  

                @netjock: Slightly different in that the product itself may be considered better, even if longevity is the same. Whereas inverters are more like tap washers - they either work or they don’t.

                Personally “premium” cars that are bog average brands in other countries and won’t back a 6 figure purchase for more than 3 years is a joke, nothing but marketing.

        •  

          I'd double check that. It's usually 5 years warranty and another 5 when you connect it to the internet for updates

        •  

          Not correct, its still 5 years parts and labor and 5 years more parts only and they now have the option to pay for 5 years parts extra taking it to 15

      •  

        True but also depends what you're after. If you have limited space and want to maximise it lg are the most efficient panel, you will get more production vs others. If room isn't an problem then sure

  • +1 vote

    Which brand of inverter is good ?

    Not sure about brands, but some types inverters are easier for adding a battery later.

    Should also look into how an EV charger would fit into your over all set up.

    should I be doing it this way or get it as big as possible to maximise the backfeed to the grid ?

    Feedback to the grid is a pretty poor return. Don't worry about the feed in tarrif.

    can there be scenarios where the grid or the power company can say that they are full and I won't be able to sell the electricity that panels produce?

    No - the crappy rate accounts for oversupply.

    what things to lookout for while considering a quote from a seller or installer ?

    Each installer probably has their own preferred brand of equipment they use. They probably get volume discounts for it and they're quote probably becomes quite expensive if you ask to use a specific brand.

    As for selecting an installer - make sure you do reference checks. Always a red flag, when they don't have previous customers that say good things about them.

  •  

    Anyone here have installer to recommend in VIC?

    •  

      Went with Pristine Solar, thought it was a good experience. They use contractors however had no issues and good communication.
      They talked me through a range of options, really easy and not pushy to make a decision. Answered all my questions regarding process, product and rebates etc
      They have some presence here on OzB, I just hit them up via PM

      •  

        Thanks! will get in touch with them!

      •  

        Thanks! will get in touch with them too!

  •  

    Maybe put Victoria in the subject as each state has different policy in relation to the rebate.

  •  

    ROI of batteries is too long. Better off waiting for tech to be cheaper.

    You might need to look at the T&C's for the feed in tariff rates. AGL has a few plans, the plan with the highest feed in tariffs has higher rates for electricity supply so you need to figure what works out better. Some companies are dodgy, a colleague told me that a company he looked into had something like 30c//kW feed in tariff rate but it was only up to $2 max per day then dropped to 6c/kW.

    •  

      Batteries will never pay with the existing tariffs/rules in Victoria. If they eventually allow the operators to remotely turn off the feed-in the Batteries will start to make sense. If you want 100% uptime then by all means splash for a battery set-up.

      • +1 vote

        Note that batteries won't supply charge normally if the grid is down. You have to pay extra for blackout protection

    •  

      Is this based on solarquotes that ozbargain loves so much?

      We had a total feedin of 30kW with our battery for Winter :) not to mention the 4kW idle usage from appliances was removed by battery (4x.40 daily).
      Our biggest power usage was our electric oven and setting the ducting to 19c for 3-4hr on very cold nights.
      Not to mention we wont have to pay for our next gas bill from .19 feedin from origin, as we still averaged around 20kW a day overall.

  •  

    panels: go with panels that has better warranty and dont kill the budget. e.g. lg panels are top of the line, but costs way too much.

    inverter: get the best your budget allows, no compromises here such as fronius

    companies: sorry can’t name the companies but go with company thats well established or installer that you personally know and trust. dont be pressured by the sales reps to make on the spot decisions. these cowboys are there to get your name on a contract and be done with it.

    with solar feed in tariffs being significantly reduced recently (20c to 12c… 🤬) your roi is going to be too far ahead, so keep that in mind when budgeting.

    get many quotes as you can.

  •  

    can there be scenarios where the grid or the power company can say that they are full and I won't be able to sell the electricity that panels produce? if yes what are the workarounds ?

    This was recently posted on ozbargin so I guess there are situations where solar export can be rejected

    •  

      In response to this OP question:
      * Your installer (on behalf of you) applies to connect and export solar to grid to the electricity distributor. So that's first check
      * Keep an ear out on what the AEMO decides to do when there are excess power feeding into the grid. A yes today maybe a no tomorrow.
      * Work around to export when they don't import? You don't export, and get a battery.

  • +3 votes

    My best advice is that a warranty is only as good as the installer of the system. That is a warranty may be of little use if the installer is no longer around.

    •  

      Yes, lifetime warranty is for the lifetime of the company, not the product :)

  •  

    Check out RACV Solar used to be Gippsland Solar. Quality company, not the cheapest but I want an installer who's still around if/when I have any issues. Also make sure you get the monitoring solution for grid usage your inverter manufacturer sells installed and conencted at the same time. Really good to see you grid and solar usage all in the same place. I have the Fronius Inverter and their "Smart meter" product which is completely separate to my Citpower smart-meter

  •  

    my question i really confused, do government still give support/cash back/etc when we installing ? for NSW ….

    •  

      yes they do.

  •  

    How about Ikea solar?

    •  

      They use Trina panels and Growatt inverters which are OK.

      The prices are competitive - a 6.6kw system is around $4200 in Sydney.

      There's a 5 year warranty extension available on the inverter and Ikea will probably be around still in 2030. I did a warranty claim with Origin Energy for an 8 year old inverter and it was a great experience. I was glad I paid extra and went with a long established company.

      Why not?

      •  

        Thanks for the information!

  •  

    Which brand panels to get ?

    Jinko, LG

    Which brand of inverter is good ?

    Fronius or SolarEdge

    don't want to overboard with the capacity looking at my bills I am thinking 6.6Kwh Panels with 5.5 inverter , should I be doing it this way or get it as big as possible to maximise the backfeed to the grid ?

    As big as you can get. 10kwof panels is probably the sweet spot upper limit. 6.6kw with a 5kw inverter is the minimum I'd want.

    can there be scenarios where the grid or the power company can say that they are full and I won't be able to sell the electricity that panels produce? if yes what are the workarounds ?

    They can before it's feeding in to the system but not once it's been approved.

    is it always good to go with top end panels and inverter ?

    It is best to go with top of the range but you'll pay for that. Mid-range is also acceptable if that's what you can afford. Don't buy the cheap stuff.

    what things to lookout for while considering a quote from a seller or installer ?

    Are they accredited (and to what level) with the clean energy council? How many years have they been in business? Do the use their own installers or contractors? Are they likely to be around during the inverter warranty period?

    finally which are the recommended sellers & installers ?
    solarquotes.com.au An awesome resource written for normal people.

  •  

    Do people recommend getting their roof tiles cleaned/sealed prior to solar instal? Or is this overkill?

    Unfortunately it appears that I can only fit a 3.3kw panel system on my roof.

    Thanks

    •  

      Nope, just added the panels.

      Why can you only fit 3.3kw of panels? Is this your estimate or the installers?

      The roof area of the place I'm researching at the moment (trying to decide on either 8 individual systems or 1 community system) is only 38sqm and we are aiming for ~5kw of panels with a 3.5-4kw inverter.

      My old place still runs a 9yo 1.5kw system and it still reduces the power bill (and paid for itself in <2 years).

      •  

        Installers estimate. Not a lot of roof space unfortunately. They said we can look at a 3.9kh panel with 4kw inverter. Does that work?

        •  

          No, that's dumb. You should aim for 30% (maximum legally allowed) more than the size of the inverter. If you only have room for 3.9kw panels then it should be paired with a 3kw inverter.

          https://www.solarquotes.com.au/blog/oversizing-solar-arrays/

          If your provider is under-panelling they are doing you a dis-service.

          On the GFs place we have ~6.4kw (12 East panels and 8 west) with a 5kw inverter. We've never seen over 4.7 kw and that is only momentary as you are working with a bell curve. Because of the E/W panel orientation we get 500watts+ from 06.00-17.00.

          The system on my old place was 1.5kw panels facing north / 1.5kw inverter. The best it ever does is 1.2kW.

          PM me your address. I'd love to see what constraints you are working against.

        •  

          Note that there are newer, higher efficiency panels that can supposedly pump out 440-450W per panel. How many panels can you fit on your roof?

          •  

            @bio: 12 X trina 330w

            •  

              @Duckie2hh: You can get 5.2kW by using 12x440W. I know that Trina, Jinko etc offer those new panels.

              • +1 vote

                @bio: Thanks for the advice 😊

  •  

    you mentioned Melbourne west, so if you live around Wyndham Vale and Point Cook area better do a research first to see if you'd be restricted to export back to the grid because there're quite a few case like that. If you're unfortunate enough then there will be extra cost and it will take a lot longer to recoup your investment.