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Solar4Ever Pricing Guide- 2018

Solar Panels (Inverters and Installation further down)


A typical 6.5kW installation of polycrystalline panels from the big Tier 1 brands like Canadian Solar, Jinko, Trina, ET, Talesun, REC, Winaico, JA, GCL, Phono, (and a dozen others) costs about $360 for the panels only, after deducting the STCs (aka 'the rebate').

Better panels than a standard polycrystalline model, such as the REC TwinPeak 2 (half-cell) 295W poly, Canadian Solar's and Q.Cells 300W monocrystalline panels are more efficient than a poly, and output a percent or two higher too as they handle the heat and low light better, but typically add $400 to $700 to the cost of the 6.5kW system.

If you buy premium Mono panels like LG, SunPower then your 6.5kW of panels currently costs you around $2,500 more than the mainstream polys.

If Turnbull's NEG is made law, then that same 6.5kW of ANY panels, polys, monos, premium will cost $4,800 more.

No-one is entirely sure yet whether the NEG plan is to instantly remove all the rebates on solar panels, or wind them down much faster so they are gone by 2021 instead of the original 2030. Adding nearly $5,000 to the cost of 6.5kW of solar panels will increase the payback period from a typical 2 to 5 years now (depending on what quality gear you buy) to more like 7 to 11 years, especially if power prices DO fall as a result of the NEG, and therefore making solar power less valuable.

It will also stop 'demand for solar' in its tracks for a year or two while people re-adjust to 2013 type pricing, and probably much smaller systems than the 'go as big as you can because panels are so cheap' mentality we have today. After a while, power prices will bounce back up, and solar will be in favour again, but in the mean-time, its a pretty sure bet that most of today's solar companies in Australia will have been forced to close up shop (or lounge room).

We might also be included in the purge, but we have other strings to our income bow, and don't actually NEED solar to survive, it's just, apart from the golf driving range we own, it's the most fun business we run.

Crystal ball gazing...
Solar4Ever came into being in 2011, after being a sole trader operation since 2008 when sales in WA were a few hundred systems a year, so we aren't even teenagers in this young industry, and yet we look like aged veterans compared to the hoards of solar "companies" that have sprung up over the past couple of years. Infants.
The majority we like to think of as part-time Uber drivers making a very easy $100 profit by selling at a price no genuine solar company can dream of matching. We 'proper' solar firms have overheads and provide a service before and after! The Uber driver solar newbies come and go, promise big, deliver small. No big news there. Whirlpool and Crap Solar Facebook is awash with their horror story installations. They will go quickly, but like as not, so will WE eventually. Consolidation from a lot of small companies into a small number of large ones is the way all industries go in time. All the Chinese giant panel manufacturers like Canadian, Jinko, Trina, GCL, Talesun, ET etc... there will be massive consolidation there too. If you want to buy the absolute safest, where it doesn't matter whether your local retailer has gone bust or not, there's a very strong argument to buy from giants who have a solar division, rather than it being their entire 'be all and end all' and who already have an Australian office for ALL their various products like Phones, TVs AND solar... Huawei, Delta and LG. It's a short list. You could add Q.Cells panels to that short list as they are owned by another giant, Hanwha, and SunPower as they are owned by French oil giant Total but neither Total or Hanwha have a strong product based presence in Australia.

 

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.
Hybrids have a direct battery storage connection built-in, non hybrids (the majority) don't.
Whilst everyone is in no doubt that finacially speaking, batteries economics don't make a lot of sense yet, planning ahead and getting a hybrid now, makes a lot of sense.

A regular Chinese made 5kW single phase inverter, (non hybrid), from the likes of Goodwe, Sungrow, Delta, Zeversolar, and Growatt costs between $1100 and $1500. They are all very good, AND very reliable (unlike the Chinese made inverters of a few years ago). Most include decent WIFI reporting and a couple of them have 10 year warranties. We have used them all and come out in favour of Goodwe and Delta. Goodwe is an overall better 'user experience' with great on-screen reporting and very detailed and reliable WIFI reporting. Delta aren't as good in that area as Goodwe, but they are a massive company (electrical and electronics) and the ONLY company currently offering a full 10 year parts AND labour warranty on their inverters in this price category.

Fronius inverters are most Australian solar installer's favourites. You pay nearly $1,000 more for them than those above and to the end user, you get very little more than a warm and fuzzy country of origin feeling, but they have a depth of programming options that allow installers to design systems that a regular inverter would struggle with. However, that's the exception rather than the rule. Most residential installs could be done by ANY inverter.

Huawei hybrid inverters (google "solar4ever huawei review") are priced a couple of hundred dollars below the Fronius Primo, but are of course, hybrids, where the Fronius currently is not (a hybrid version of the Fronius is coming next year..google "solar4ever fronius review"). Both Huawei and Fronius offer a 'smart meter' option which monitors your consumption and then shows your use and exports in the software. The difference though is that Huawei's smart meter serves the additional function of then using that information to manage battery power, whereas the Fronius is a nice toy that by all accounts is being replaced when the new hybrid comes out, with a new smart meter. No wonder some companies are giving them away for free to clear stocks.

SolarEdge are a fully optimised product. Whilst Huawei let you put their optimisers on as many or as few panels as you like to combat shade or add additional roof orientations, SolarEdge require an optimiser on every single panel. This adds to the cost unless you are the sort of person who WANTS every panel optimised so you can see individual panel output. If that's the case we often find SolarEdge coming in cheaper than a fully optimised Huawei with panel monitoring. Either way, SolarEdge cost $1000+ more than a Fronius string inverter. The SolarEdge HD Wave isn't a hybrid as such, but an extra $500 box on the wall (SESTI S4) interface lets you connect batteries. We have always really liked doing SolarEdge installations. They take a bit longer and we charge a bit more for them, but it's a toss up between them and Huawei as to who is best.

Enphase don't have a central inverter. In their case they have an optimiser AND a micro inverter attached to every panel, and then a communications device (Envoy) at ground level that sends you all the data you want. Many people swear by them but we have sworn AT them on several occasions over the years...too much to go wrong on the roof and harder to fix, so we no longer do them. No doubt things have improved as all of these things tend to do, but RF interference and quite a lot of faults turned us off permanently from Enphase and we don't see any reason to re-visit them now. They are definitely a product that requires a lot of experience to install properly. Perhaps we didn't know enough back then.

Three phase inverters are a much simpler solution. Right now, it's just Fronius Symo, very shortly (October/November 2018) Huawei release their three phase hybrid range. You can save about $400 with a 3 phase Goodwe, Sungrow etc, but until Huawei come out, we recommend Fronius Symo 3 phase inverters every time. If you want a hybrid...wait for the Huawei 3 phase model or do a 3kW + 2kW single phase Huawei combo (or 2.5 x 2 SolarEdge) if you can't wait.

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

 


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