QUICK TIP - Solar Power System: 10 Things You Should Know
#1 The three main components of a solar power system installation
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Solar power systems are comprised of:
The panels, which can either be polycrystalline or mono-crystalline.
It doesn’t matter if you get a mono or a poly panel. What is important if you buy a good brand that will last 25+ years installed on your roof.
There are good budget brands and good premium brands. But there are also ‘no-name’ panels that are re-badged junk, and are unlikely to last more than 3-5 years on an Australian roof. Avoid installing those modules at all costs.
You can choose to install a budget (think Kia), regular (think Toyota) or premium (think BMW) solar panel brand. You generally get what you pay for.
You probably don’t know a good panel brand from a lemon, and why should you? Here’s a handy cheat sheet of most of the popular solar panel brands in Australia, so you can see where they sit in the market.
The list is not exhaustive – if you’re not sure about a brand, ask me – but the following chart represents over 90% of what’s being quoted in 2020 in Australia (and is more or less a safe bet):
The second main component of a solar power system installation is the inverter, which can be either a string inverter (around the size of a briefcase) or micro-inverters, which are approximately the size of a paperback book.
A string inverter is installed on a wall and all the solar panels connect to it. A microinverter goes on the back of each solar panel.
There is also a third option, power optimisers, that are kind of a hybrid between the two.
The job of the inverter is to convert the DC electricity solar panels produce into 230V AC electricity, which is what everything in your home uses.
The inverter is the component most likely to fail in a solar power system installation in the first 10-15 years. This is because they work hard all day, and they do wear out.
So even if you are on a limited budget, I’d recommend considering a premium-end inverter.
Here’s a run-down of the popular inverter brands in Australia right now, and where they sit on in terms of price and quality (again – this list is not exhaustive, but any reputable installer has a 95% chance of quoting you one of the following brands):