When we started installing solar in Perth in early 2011, the quality of products was very hit and miss. Back then we sold German made SMA inverters as the quality option, and Growatt inverters as the cheaper alternative. Growatt and SMA are still around to support their warranties, and we were very lucky with our choices, because at least 90% of those early inverter and panel manufacturers, and the companies that sold and installed them here in Perth, have gone out of business. Today the solar industry has access to much better quality products. Everyone has learned from the early mistakes and knows how to build a decent inverter, although we can see from the reporting data, all online these days, that all the cheaper inverters aren't well designed to cope with very hot Perth days. They overheat and lose efficiency. However, we only get about twenty really hot days a year in Perth when it makes a significant difference between a cheap or a quality inverter. Budget inverters from Chinese brands like Kehua, Solis, SolaX, Sofar, Goodwe, Sungrow, Delta and Growatt are still $600 to $1,000 cheaper than the quality brands. Nothing has changed in that regard in the past ten years, and all of these cheaper inverters are made well enough to last ten years, and you will usually get a manufacturer warranty guaranteeing that. When you spend more for quality on brands like Fronius, SMA, Enphase, Huawei and SolarEdge you don't necessarily get any extra features or a longer warranty, but you do get a product that's well supported, and better designed for Australia's hot climate. They look better too and are designed for twenty years and more. Most people ask for a 'battery-ready inverter' and that's where the sales reps selling the cheap stuff usually bend the truth. If you check the inputs on the underside of any of these cheaper inverters you won't see any inputs to plug in a battery. To get a good quality battery inverter you need to spend at least $600 more. Huawei home inverters are all battery inverters, so are SolarEdge, but surprisingly some of the top brands like SMA don't as yet have a solar+battery inverter. Solar panels these days are great. Across the board, we haven't installed a single panel that has failed in the past six years. So whilst some degree of caution is required with inverters, especially over the long haul and with battery support, it's not very important what panels you choose. Astronergy, Leapton, Seraphim, CSUN, and Ulica are the favourite panels for the heavily advertised 'budget systems' as they work out a few hundred dollars cheaper than the big names like Canadian, JinKo, Longi, Trina, and several thousand dollars less than the manufacturers who sell premium panels like Q.Cells, LG, REC and Maxeon. We are often asked, "Should I worry about these cheaper panels?" and the answer is "maybe" if you are concerned about them still working in twenty years time, but "not at all" if your goal is a quick payback over ten years. Basic system packages for a 5kW inverter and 6.6kW of panels start at about $2,500, with most being advertised at $3,000. The products will be fine for ten years, the installation quality will be poor. It has to be poor, because the only way to sell a solar install at $2,500 is to have the installation teams do two jobs a day instead of the usual one. We often read glowing reviews about these companies saying "The installers were really nice and friendly and really fast. They got to my house at 7.30am and were finished by 10am" and the hilarious thing is that they genuinely think that a fast installation is a good one. Solar is high voltage electricity, passing from one panel to the next, through junction boxes, isolators, roofs, wall cavities and into your switchboard. Every single connection needs to be terminated correctly and tested. The layout of solar panels on the roof should be done by an accredited solar designer, with a view to avoiding any shade on the roof from TV antennas, AC units, trees, etc. In order to qualify for the generous Government subsidy, the installer is required to have done that, but its clear that on most of these jobs, the accredited solar designer is a contractor signing off from the comfort of their office. It takes time to do it right. 'Smashing out' a system by 10am is all about putting panels where it's easiest for the installer, not best for the customer. That's really the only downside of our much more mature solar industry. The panels and inverters are so much better, but the installation quality is so much worse. We have regulators who are meant to inspect jobs, check installers accreditation, and even the truth of what is advertised (e.g. like 50% off... Was $5,998, now $2,999 nonsense). Whilst it appears that the inspectors are asleep at the wheel, the reality is that there are already over 2 MILLION solar installs on homes in Australia to check, with about 500 a day new ones being installed and the statistics show that the majority of those new installs are carried out by these budget operators using the cheapest sub-contractors who always claim 'only in-house' installs. One big Australian solar company even sells their solar from a call centre in India because the sales reps are cheaper there. The good news is that there are still good, experienced, ethical solar installers like us still around, and whilst we won't be trying to do $2,500 6.6kW systems unless your roof is an absolute breeze, we can easily match those $3,000 prices.