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Solar4Ever Pricing Guide- 2018

Solar Panels (Inverters and Installation further down)

Each of these three things should give you an extra 5% of electricity each year...

1. Buy LG NeonR or SunPower X panels at $250 each after rebate
2. Install a DC optimiser onto ANY panel at a cost of about $80 each
3. Wash your panels once or twice over Summer

Forgetting no name panel brands, a typical mainstream polycrystalline or multicrystalline (poly) from the World's largest (Tier 1) brands; Canadian Solar, Jinko, Trina, ET Solar, REC, Talesun, GCL, JA Solar, Winaico etc costs between $185 and $230. Take off $175 per panel for the rebate (WA, QLD, SA, NSW) or $150 (VIC and TAS), and you end up paying between $10 and $55 a panel with the majority costing $25 each. The most expensive one is the worst performer in the heat which is proof positive that "you get what you pay for" isn't always true.

In Australia the ability to perform well as the thermometer goes up is very important. A solar panel works best when it's cold outside...5 deg C is perfect. Anything above that and the panel starts losing a bit of power. The mainstream poly panels aren't all the same. The best performer, Canadian Solar's 5 busbar Quintech loses 9.75% when it's a 30 deg C day, the worst, we'll spare their blushes here, loses 10.75%.

However, compare that to panels that are a bit better than the "mainstream", like REC's Twinpeak 2 which loses 9%, or Canadian Solar KuPower and LG Neon 2 (-9.25%) or LG Neon R (-7.5%) or the best of all, SunPower's X 360W (-7.25%). Look at the panel datasheet for Temperature Coefficient at PMax (or PMpp). If it shows, for instance -0.41% / deg C then on a 30 deg C day, that's 25 deg C above 'perfect' so the loss is 25 x 0.41 = 10.25%.

The REC TwinPeak 2 and Canadian Solar Kupower achieve their superior performance because they use split, or half-cell technology. The usual 60 cells are lasered in half, and the resulting 120 half cells are wired into 6 strings instead of the usual 3. This reduces resistance, which allows the panel to operate at a cooler temperature, and therefore loses less power. You pay about $35 a panel for a KuPower and $50 a panel for a REC Twin Peak 2 which, to us at least, doesn't seem much extra to pay for quite a bit better output than a regular panel over the next 30 years or so.

Longi, Q.Cells and Canadian are probably the best selling mainstream monocrystalline panels. These are made from a purer crystalline substance than the 'polys' and therefore cost a bit more to make. They are also black instead of blue, and operate a bit better in the heat but not as well as the half cell panels.

Longi and Canadian monos costs about $35 each, Q.Cells about $65.

For a bit over $100 a panel you can get the LG Neon 2 panel. It's not in the same league as the NeonR but is still very space efficient (330W), good in the heat (-9.25% on a 30 deg C day) and now comes with a stellar 25 year warranty compared to the usual 10 to 12 years.

If you add an $80 optimiser to any panel it will improve the system performance by adjusting the panel voltage up and down as clouds pass by, or shade from a tree/antenna etc catches a bit (or more than a bit) of a panel. Even just with clouds, and no other forms of shade, optimisers typically improve overall system output by 5% a year and if you have shade from a tree, roof, antenna, AC unit or stink pipe (flue) on just a single panel it will usually reduce output by 50-60% and also drag down the output of ALL the other panels on it's string by 50-60% too. Optimisers limit the losses to just the shaded panel and protect the rest of the unshaded string.

If it's a choice between an expensive panel or a cheaper panel fitted with an optimiser, take the optimiser route every single time.


Solar power production
Try our calculator here to see what power production is typically produced by unshaded mainstream 'poly' panels on any roof orientation in several Australian cities. If you have solar already, it's a great tool to use to check whether your system is making what it should be making.

Solar Inverters

Hybrid, or not hybrid, that is the question.
A regular inverter costs $1,200 with most brands also having hybrid models starting at $1,800.
The extra $600 is because the hybrid includes the hardware and software to run battery storage (DC Coupled).

If you choose to go the non hybrid path it doesn't mean you are forever locked out of battery storage.
Products like SMA Sunny Boy Storage (~$4,000 for the 5kW model) connect directly to the switchboard (AC Coupled), and using their own smart meter, can have as many as three high voltage batteies (e.g. LG Chem) connected.
It's an expensive way to do it, but it works beautifully!!

To further capitalise on the 'retro-fit' market with something like 2 million systems out there already in Australia alone that may need a retro-fit battery solution, brands like Goodwe have released some very innovative DC-DC converters and more affordable alternatives to the SMA described above. Closer to $2,000 for these products.

Inverter brands
There are far fewer inverter brands today than a few years ago, but what remains is very good indeed.
Fronius, SMA, SolarEdge, Goodwe, Sungrow, Zeversolar, ABB and Delta are pretty much it now.
It's hard to say in just a few words whether one is better than another. It's a horses for courses scenario.
e.g. SolarEdge and Huawei are superb for hybrid and optimiser requirements.

Installation prices

Solar4Ever Electrical Contractor's Licence EC 13371


Ball park install pricing...
Perth $100 a panel
Melbourne $130 a panel
Sydney $160 a panel
Add a few $100 for double storey, for three phase, for multiple roof splits.

Solar Batteries

For any battery system to work, you need to have the inverter/battery system smart meter. This measures your power use in real time and informs the inverter as to whether to store surplus solar power in the batteries, or release it for use in the house. These meters should not be confused with a non hybrid smart meter (e.g. Fronius) whose only purpose is to provide data about your consumption but is redundant when you install a battery system.
Meters typically costs between $150 and $400 and $150 to install in the switchboard and wire back to the inverter.

AC Coupled batteries

Enphase 1.2kWh inc wall mount bracket  $2560 each

SMA SunnyBoy Storage 2.5kWh   $2160

SMA SunnyBoy Storage 5kWh   $4060

Batteries only that need to connect to a hybrid inverter or DC to DC coupler

LG Chem 6.5kWh  $4440

LG Chem 9.8kWh  $6900

LG Chem 9.8kWh  $7100 (High voltage version)

Samsung/Sungrow 4.8kWh  $4270

GCL 5.6kWh $3820