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Solar4Ever Pricing Guide- 2019

Solar Panels (Inverters and Installation further down)

 

Polycrystalline (Poly) panels from the major 'Tier 1 brands' like Canadian Solar, Jinko, Trina, ET, Talesun, Seraphim etc cost about $180 each for the 275W-285W models, so for the typical 6.5kW to 6.6kW system size it costs about $4,300 for the panels.

 

Monocrystalline (Monos) and the new heat and low light efficient half-cell polys are a bit more usually at an average $215 each or $4,700 for a 6.6kW system of 300W monos.

 

However as a 6.6kW system in Perth in 2019, earns 109 STCs and the price per STC at time of writing is $34, that equates to a discount of $3,700 on any 6.6kW system.

 

STCs are frequently referred to as 'the rebate' but that tends to give the impression that it is some form of a fixed value Government payment when in fact the price per STC changes daily according to supply and demand like any other stock, share or traded commodity. Solar companies buy these STCs from you (GST exempt) as an up-front discount, so your $4,300 of poly panels goes down to just $600 or $1,000 for 6.6kW of monos.

 

LG and SunPower panels are more than $3,500 for 6.6kW after rebate and Q.Cells Duo about $2,500. For that extra money you don't just get long warranties and good looks, you also get maximum space efficiency with 325-360W maximum outputs from the same roof area as a 275W poly panel.


A normal solar panel comes with a 10 year warranty, some have 12 years, a couple 15 years, but LG and SunPower provide 25 years. You would need to have a law degree to understand all the exclusions in the LG warranty agreement, but to us, the big thing is really, how important is warranty anyway?

 

We've been installing solar panels for ten years so some of our first jobs are just coming out of warranty now...but we aren't seeing failures at all. It's not a case of ignorance is bliss. We get inverter readings from almost all of our clients every three months and run reports on them. All is as it should be. Very slight deterioration in output each year (about 0.4% usually) but that is expected as all solar cells degrade naturally over their 40-50 year effective life span. Either we have been the luckiest solar company in Australia OR solar panels have got to be the most reliable product ever. They just sit there and do their job, no moving parts (apart from electrons whizzing around). None of those early panels we installed could remotely be called 'premium' or even Tier 1, and yet they are performing just fine. The riskiest time for any solar panel is the day it is installed. Some idiot installers walk across the panels they install and others don't clamp them down correctly. Both of these things can cause micro-cracks in the cells and shorten the life, but if installed and handled correctly as per manufacturer instructions, there isn't any reason why they won't keep on working for decades.

 

 

Conclusion
If you are a 'normal Aussie family' moving house every ten to fifteen years then it doesn't really make a lot of difference as to which panel you buy. If you buy 'regular' panels and a hybrid inverter (for batteries) then your payback time is likely to be about three years. Buying the premium stuff simply extends that payback period by a couple of years without any tangible advantage.

 

 

Solar inverters

Whilst most solar panels, thanks to STCs discounting the price, are cheap as chips, inverters are anything but. As with all the solar panels, the vast majority of solar inverters are manufactured in China. Even German SMA inverters are made in China now, with only Fronius still making inverters in Europe (Austria).

 

The most popular 'cheap' Chinese inverters cost about $1200 for a 5kW single phase model and it's $500 more again for a three phase model. That's not cheap at all is it?
Goodwe, Sungrow, Delta, Growatt and Zeversolar are the most popular of these brands.

 

There isn't much price difference between the single and three phase Fronius inverters with both costing around $2,200 and despite that price tag, you can't connect battery storage to them as they aren't 'hybrids' although there is a hybrid version of the 3 phase Fronius for an eye watering $3.600.

 

Hybrid inverters manage the solar panels AND the battery storage.

 

Single phase 5kW hybrids cost about $1,700 to $2,000 and three phase hybrids $2,500 to $3,000.

 

Some brands like Huawei have nothing but hybrids in their residential range, some brands currently have no hybrids while others like Goodwe and Sungrow have a mixture of hybrid and non hybrid.

 

2019 sees a lot of new inverters coming, most of them hybrids so, hopefully, more choice means lower prices.

 

Some inverters (SolarEdge and Enphase) require a box to be installed on every panel adding about $100 per panel to the cost. This box makes each panel work as a law unto itself instead of being part of a team as is the case with other inverters. The benefits of this are most apparent for installations where panels are needed on multiple roof orientations or where there is unavoidable shade, but they also appeal to those people who want to monitor the output of every panel. Huawei also provide these boxes (optimisers) on an 'as needs' basis rather than on every panel.

 

Almost every inverter these days provides reporting via WIFI to a web browser or smartphone, so the LCD screen on the inverter that used to provide all that daily data is fast becoming a relic of the past...which is a shame because having LCD screen AND WIFI is better than just one.

 

The typical inverter warranty is five years parts and labour. Many offer 10 years parts and five years labour and a couple offer the full 10 years parts and labour. FYI the labour element for replacing an inverter is about $200. Almost all of the inverter brands will sell you upgrades to extend your warranty and in most cases it is only about $100 to add 5 years to the warranty.


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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