Solar Panels and Inverter- Budget Vs Premium Options

Hey guys
I'm looking into solar and it seems the default quote seems to be Jinko panels and a Sungrow Inverter for around 6k for a 6.6kw system (had 5 quotes in my area).
A few sparkies I know have told me go to for the better quality inverter (like fronius or solaredge).
I also know that higher quality solar panels can be had than Jinko, like REC or Hyundai.

Should I spend an extra $1000 for a Fronius?

I'm also debating whether to go 6.6kw system (covers 70% of our bill now but we will be having 1 more child and I'll be starting to work from home in 3 years), or a 9.9kw system, covering 108% of our bill.

Thanks for any insight guys :)


  • +1

    I would go bigger.

    I have a solax inverter which has been trouble free for 4 years or so. However, if I had my time again, would get a fronius etc. This is purely due to the accessories available, smartmeter, controlled load relay etc.

    • I'm reasonably happy with my Solax X1 Boost inverter as well. First one died completely after only 15 months but Solax went above and beyond in replacing the inverter for me, after my installer really couldn't be bothered making it even a semi-priority to get out to me to inspect it, confirm the fault and then organise the replacement through Solax. Solax offered to send their own Technician out (an employee - not a contractor) who attended, confirmed the fault and organised the replacement which arrived a couple days later. No issues with the replacement which has been in now for just on 2 years.

      You can put a smart monitor on a Solax too btw - very similar set up (goes into your meter box) to Fronius, Sungrow etc.

  • +1

    Go for best quality inverter you can afford. It's the lynchpin of the whole set up.

    Being able to monitor your usage in real time is an excellent extra feature you get with Fronius too. Makes it easier to maximise your savings especially if you don't get a great feed in tariff. It also alerts you to problems with your system early so you can get it fixed and not waste many months of not getting any return while it is broken since you didn't know.

    You'll make back that extra $1000 in like an extra year. Totally worth it.

    • +1

      I thought SolarEdge inverters had real time usage?

      • Oh didn't know that. Solaredge probably good too then

        • +3

          what is also good about solar edge, you can also get what you call optimisers, you get 1x per panel and lets you monitor each panels efficiency individually. if you have shading issues, the effected panels wont affect the entire string of panels like a conventional setup.

          optimisers also aren't as expensive as micro inverters. had experience with their customer service which is also very good

          • @Archi: The optimisers are standard with a SolarEdge inverter. However the only real-time readout you get is how much power the system is producing. To see real-time consumption requires the installation of a consumption meter.

          • @Archi: Do the optimisers work on all of their inverters, or just the Hybrid models?

            Also, any idea of the cost - presumably extra per panel?

            • @UncleRico: Also, does anyone know if any of the Optimisers are included in the purchase of an SolarEdge Inverter?

     suggests they are included, but I can't find any information to confirm this, including how many are included with each sized inverter.


              • +1

                @UncleRico: from memory they are an option.

                you can get solar edge inverter without optimisers,

                regarding pricing i think you'll need to shop around.

              • +1

                @UncleRico: If you've been quoted for a SolarEdge inverter as part of a system the price will include an optimiser on each panel. It's an integral part of the system and their inverters can not run without each panel having an optimiser.

    • +1

      Ahh someones been drinking the Fronius kool-aid…

      Paying the ~$1000 extra for a Fronius string inverter isn't going to yield a noticeable difference in generation or export, than a good budget inverter like a Sungrow (my top budget choice) or even a Solax (cheaper than the Sungrow). Join the Crap Solar Facebook group - there's an interesting post on there today and installers having enough dealing with Fronius and looking at recommending other options like the Sungrow.

      Personally I'm not a fan of Fronius as my Mum went through three Fronius IGs in only around 7 or so years. Fronius then refused to help further when the third one died.

      • +1

        Fronius has gone a long way since then and pretty much became the toyota of the inverter industry. But budget chinese one like sungrow and growatt is as good, it's only when you want to get some more data out of them to divert excess power to other circuit then you'll find the chinese has pretty bad API to deal with.

        • Somewhat true, depending on the brand of Chinese Inverter (ie Solax are much better than Growatt in terms of data accessibility across different platforms) but if you're really that obsessed about monitoring your panels, you'd just pay for Solar Analytics anyway…

    • +2

      Happy with my fronius. But who knows I might be drinking the koolaid too.

      • +1

        Kudos for seeing the humour. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Fronius are bad inverters - they are excellent. I'm just sick of seeing people blindly wanting to pay $1000 - $2000 more for a Fronius because they believe they will generate and export more power. It's just not how it works unfortunately. There are cheaper inverters around with a marginally better efficiency rating than the common current Fronius inverter models but again, it's insignificant.

        In my view - you're simply better off choosing good panels with a good budget inverter. Sungrow inverters are excellent for the price and have great warranty support to match (10 years now on the Sungrow Premium models). 10 years of a "full" warranty is better than the 5 years (all costs covered) +5 years (parts only) you get out of Fronius. Combine that with the fact that many people buy a Fronius and then don't stay in their house long enough before selling it, to cover the initial outlay for the inverter and panels. My Solax and Jinko 6.48kw system installed in 2018 paid itself off in only 21 months - yet I know people at the same time, who got a similar size Fronius and LG system which those in the know understand, wouldn't have paid itself due to the ultra high cost of the components.

  • +1

    I've got a sungrow with the consumption monitor extra using Solar Analytics and it's been great. Was going to go Fronius, but was worried about the noise from the fans as the inverter location is on bedroom wall - so chose sungrow as it had no fan cooling.

    So far so good, no issues at all

    • Same here, no issues. I find that the data on the Sungrow app seems to only be delayed between 5-15 mins which is good enough for me to see what I’m generating, using and feeding in.

  • Sungrow inverter is more than fine, tradies will always try to upsell you because they love slapping on a 20% margin or so on to parts, 20% on a $3000 Fronius inverter is more than what they would get on a $1400 Sungrow. Don’t discount a Growatt inverter, people love to poo poo them but can never tell you why other than that they are cheap, they are but they have a 10 year warranty, and ikea use growatt inverters in their advertised systems, can’t be that bad if ikea put their name behind them. Going from the Sungrow to the Fronius can very easily add at least another 12 months to the return on investment for solar to pay for itself. Call me selfish but I don’t particularly care or want my inverter to last 25-30 years, if I can get one for a quarter of the price and i get by on its warranty period of 10 years and then have to buy a new one again, at that point the price for a 5kw single phase 2 MPPT would be at least half of what it is today and an inverter can be replaced very easily.

    For your quotes show them the this offer from 18 x 370 Trina panels + mounting kit with a 5kw growatt inverter after adding GST comes to about $3800. A 6.6kw system will get you at least $3000 in STC rebates, call it $800 after parts. I’d start there with your quotes. An install of that size would take two guys a day generally assuming no surprises, anymore than $2000 for that labour is extortion.

  • Should I spend an extra $1000 for a Fronius?

    That would depend on the cost vs benefits on your setup.

    Cost in terms of how long till you break even again.

    Benefits in terms of how likely you avoid a replacement in the timeframe you live at the place…

  • Surprised there is no mention of Huawei hybrid inverter here.

    • I went with Huawei, mostly because it’s installed outside a bedroom so didn’t want the fan noise. No dramas and tech support is great

  • +1

    Make sure you are aware of the different warranties too (install, panels, inverter).
    Installer warranty important as no point getting 10 year warranty from a company that will fold in 6 months.
    Good warranty from established company might be worth paying a few extra hundred for as if anything goes wrong the call out fee and/or repairs could get expensive.

    I my opinion, long/medium term, it's better value going with a good installer that cares about it's customers and their brand and they will help you (at no cost or cost price) if anything goes wrong.

  • Thanks for your feedback everyone.
    It seems that my main decision will be between a sungrow or fronius/solaredge inverter.
    It sounds like tier 1 panels are much for muchness.

    We'll definately need a 10kw system as we have $550/quarter bills at the moment with kids on the way.

    I'd like to look at optimisers but $100ea for up to 28 panels is a bit ridiculous.

    • i dont what the standard pricing up in QLD would be but if i was looking at a medium tier system i would be paying something around the $500/ Kw installed

      • It's nearly double that to have a local mob do it here. 5-6l for 6.6kw
        9-10k for 10kw

        • wow…

          seen it advertised on TV down here a place called arise solar

          • @Archi: Yeab have a look at "crap solar" on Facebook and other reviews and see the reputation that arise has. Pretty abysmal.

            • @teacherer: i have solar already so i dont really pay attention to reviews as i'm not actively looking at solar systems..

              this is the MOB that i got mine from a few years ago

              • @Archi: Keen to use a local mob but I appreciate it Archi

            • @teacherer: They had their license removed in new last week for installing with no licensed contractor present.

        • If you're two hours north of Brisbane, can you please call All Coast Solar & Electrical? Bernie lives past Gympie but does jobs all the way down to Brisbane so he'd very likely be willing to do a job for you. He didn't do either of my two systems but I use him for my electrical work and he's fantastic. His prices for solar are pretty fair.

  • Sungrow > Fronius should only be around $600 difference. well worth it IMO.

    • The fella I had over this arvo said $800 diff which sounds decent. Cheapest quote so far at 8.8k for fronius

      • make sure you ask them to install a Fronius smart meter for you as well.

    • Depends on the mob - some will charge a much larger mark up on the Fronius as if someone knows what a Fronius is, then they are likely (in the eyes of the retailer/installer) be willing to pay significantly more than a "cheap Chinese inverter that will last 2 days and emit COVID-19 and 5G mind control waves".

      I got a second system installed in February - $800 more for Fronius over Sungrow Premium and this was from a non-rip off retailer.

  • I just had a 10.8kw system installed with a fronius inverter for just over 7k. north side of Brisbane. If you are located in Brisbane I can pass on the details of my installer.

    • Hey mate. Nah several hours north of brissy unfortunately. Did you go with the battery ready fronius?

      • Yes i did.

      • Try Sunlogics Australia, they may do an install for you up there.

  • OP: Do you know much about Solaredge? Solaredge are microinverters - basically there's a microinverter that connects to each panel. They are great for houses where shading on some panels may be an issue (as a standard string inverter will reduce output of ALL panels on the string, even if 1, 2, 3 etc panels only have the shade). Otherwise, they are very good for hurting your wallet and significantly increasing your payback period.

    In terms of panels - both my systems use Jinko panels. Long-term Australian presence/office (important if the retailer goes bust so you're not begging a distributor to help you) and tied with LG in terms of overall panel rating, on a Choice Test a couple years back.

    BTW - Enphase are better rated than Solaredge if you're after a microinverter and last time I checked, the cost was basically on par too.

  • Fronius inverters are manufactured with high level of accountability, sustainability and environmental awareness. You can monitor your products, climate, your solar modules’ performance, necessary grid parameters and values, to ensure the high output and safety of your PV system. Fronius generates energy for powering household appliances, heating, and air conditioning and for charging electric cars all by you. You can be self-sufficient even in a blackout because of its backup power feature.

  • I suggest "biggest system you can fit" and "get an inverter that can deal with a battery" - it's your roof real estate, STCs still exist to reduce your installation cost, a battery means you can throw off the electricity company yoke, and it's not rocket magic anymore. I ran the numbers every 2 years from 2009: in 2018 it became worthwhile for us.

    Our 9.45kW, $10k outlay (paid off over 24 months interest free) system was purchased from Origin in March 2019, the parts and labour were subbed out.
    The subbies did a great job ( installation, cleanup, explanations, recommendations, help for n00bs, J&D Solar ).

    Our bills went from $2700 annually (at 29c/kWh with 'the best' user discount package: electronic bills, pay on time for discount) to about $800 credit annually (25c/kWh FIT for 2y, now we're on 21c so that $3500 will become $3k). It's nearly paid itself off. We don't have a battery (yet). I know that is stupid big usage, but 11kW aircon and a trigger-happy family will do that.

    We had that whole "you can have this really low (7/15/16) c FIT" discussion with Origin at the end of our contract in March. When you have that discussion coming off your "sweetheart rate" ask to be put through to the "Saves" group (they gave us 21c FIT rather than 16c), thanks OzB.

    The differential between billing rate and FIT (and how much space you have) determines whether or not a battery (and what kind) is worthwhile. Lead-acid 24V truck batteries are cheap and cheerful, but you will need more space to keep them. The electricity retailer does not want you to have a battery (it keeps you dependent on them) unless they can withdraw energy from it at their discretion (free real estate for "their" batteries!). You can probably get a battery cheap/free if you're willing to let them take energy out on demand for a term.

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