113417

Hire the best Solar Panel Expert and save up to 40%

How to get a good PV solar system installed?

Results 1 to 9 of 9
  1. #1
    Golden Member Watters's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Oz
    Posts
    566

    Default How to get a good PV solar system installed?

    Recently moved to Nowra, NSW, Australia.

    Due to bill shock I want to get a PV solar panel installation, probably a 4 kW system.

    I gather that German and Japanese panels are the best and that for inverter the good brands are SMA or Sunny Boy? There is also a Chinese company that makes inverters called Sami Power but I don't know how good they are?

    I have heard that PV panels can last 30 years but I have also heard that inverters don't last very long (5 years?). How does one prepare for inverter failure and what can be done about that?
    Also, is there any warning that an inverter is about to fail? It could be a long time without electricity while waiting for an inverter to be replaced? Also does a failed inverter create sparks or anything?

    Does anyone know of reputable installers in Nowra? Is there a way of finding out who the good installers are?

    Sorry for all the questions but this is a whole new area for me.

  2. #2
    Resigned SilentButDeadly's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Not here...
    Posts
    5,155

    Default

    You are making a fundamental error. PV only works effectively if you are already operating your house at the best possible energy efficiency with respect to electricity consumption. If you haven't done that first then you are throwing money away...
    Joined RF in 2006...Resigned in 2020.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    NSW
    Posts
    258

    Default How to get a good PV solar system installed?

    Do you have a 9 to 5 job or are you retired ?

  4. #4
    Golden Member Watters's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Oz
    Posts
    566

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Whitey180 View Post
    Do you have a 9 to 5 job or are you retired ?
    I don't work but equally I am not old enough yet to be entitled to a pension. We use most of our electricity at night but also use some during the day.

  5. #5
    Golden Member Watters's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Oz
    Posts
    566

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SilentButDeadly View Post
    PV only works effectively if you are already operating your house at the best possible energy efficiency with respect to electricity consumption. If you haven't done that first then you are throwing money away...
    How would I do that? We do use a fair bit of electricity in winter by using a radiant bar heater and electric blankets for a few hours at night. However, the house is old with wood single glazed window frames.
    Other than installing double-glazing windows, and foam filling the wall cavities I am not sure how I could further reduce electricity consumption. We already use water restrictors on the shower, LED lights etc.

    We recently bought the house. I think our water heater heats the water during off peak. I think that because the bill shows peak charges and also off-peak controlled load charges. There is also more than one power meter it seems for the house.

    I gather that PV solar systems are only worth it if using the electricity ourselves? Unfortunately, like a lot of people, we use most of our electricity at night. Is it viable to get batteries with a PV solar system to provide power during the night?

  6. #6
    Senior Stinkologist Sir Stinkalot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Parkside S.A.
    Age
    43
    Posts
    792

    Default How to get a good PV solar system installed?

    Hi Watters,

    Are you able to provide your usage patterns that would appear on your recent bills? It will help to estimate the appropriate size system for you. Bigger does not necessarily give you the best return on your investment.

    With the current feed in tariffs it is best to try and use what you generate. This is as simple as putting the dishwasher or washing machine on during the day so you don't have to buy the power as it costs more to buy than what you sell it for. Battery technology has been given a boost with the lower feed in tariffs as people are now more interested in spreading out their generation to include night usage. This is a real positive but as with solar 20 years ago it is still expensive, but will hopefully drop.

    The comment about saving energy as your first step is valid. There are many people looking at solar to lower their bills but there are simple changes they can make to their usage patterns that will lower the bill without the additional cost of solar. Think putting the washing on the line not the dryer, turning lights off when not in use etc.

    As for equipment you will get different responses from each user as they feel what they ended up with was the right choice. I went with the SMA inverter as I remember them being around 15+ years ago when I was studying at Uni. Whilst a little more expensive than some others I cannot see it needing to be replaced in 5 years. As for the panels, I went with Canadian Solar which are Chinese made, perhaps not the best but I would have put them in the average bracket.

    In the 18 months that I have had it installed the only trouble has been some water getting into an isolator switch, which was an installer issue not a product issue (they rectified without a problem). The SMA identified the problem and a quick search on Google allowed me to diagnose the problem before I rang them about the service.
    Licence to drill!

  7. #7
    1K Club Member Random Username's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Canberra
    Posts
    1,185

    Default

    If it's an old (before 90's) house, it would be most cost effective to insulate (or top up the insulation if it's thin) - R5 in the roof, 2.5 in the walls.

    Don't spend a cent on solar till you've done that. Good thick curtains, too, and draft seal entry doors. Retrofitting double glazing tends to be stupidly expensive, and it can be cheaper to simply replace the windows with new ones.

    A battery/inverter system to run the house at night will set you back in the region of $10-20,000 (see the Jaycar website for details of their systems).
    DIY electrical house wiring details suitable for Australia - http://goo.gl/9d33T (PDF file)

  8. #8
    Resigned SilentButDeadly's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Not here...
    Posts
    5,155

    Default Re: How to get a good PV solar system installed?

    Quote Originally Posted by Watters View Post
    How would I do that? We do use a fair bit of electricity in winter by using a radiant bar heater and electric blankets for a few hours at night.
    There are so many ways that it is beyond me to list them all but suffice to say that if you are planning on investing 15 grand on solar then plan on investing it elsewhere. Start by looking for a book called 'Warm House, Cool House' then do some learning...lots more learning. Then consider an energy audit...

    We have a house of three in a climate with a much wider temperature range than yours but a similar sort of house. We average about 8 kWh per day. Can you do that?
    Joined RF in 2006...Resigned in 2020.

  9. #9
    1K Club Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Adelaide
    Posts
    1,664

    Default

    The field of how to reduce energy is is a complex one with lots of options but I'll just comment on inverters for now.

    SMA is pretty much the "gold standard" when it comes to inverters. They're pretty much bullet proof really and should last a lot longer than 5 years (they'll extend the warranty all the way up to 20 years for a fee - that says it all really). As long as it's properly installed, nothing should go wrong with it and SMA has been making inverters for many years now.

    Location of inverter - main rule is that they don't like being cooked. Under the house (eg in the garage) is ideal since that's protected from extremes of temperature. But failing that, just make sure it's not on the northern side of the house out in the sun being cooked by the sun at the same time it is working hardest (most sun on the solar panels). Excessive heat kills all electronics and inverters are no exception.

    Efficiency. Don't be fooled into thinking that the most efficient inverter is automatically the "best" one. Efficiency and reliability are different things. Suffice to say I'd rather have a slightly less efficient but rock solid SMA or other quality product rather than a 5% more efficient unknown brand that blows up the day after the 12 month warranty expires. Even the worst inverter you can buy (from a major manufacturer) will be over 90% efficient so there's not much point worrying about a couple of % extra if it comes at the expense of quality.

    As for other brands, Aurora is pretty good too and a close second to SMA in my opinion. No doubt there are others that are OK, but none that I could confidently name. Fronius used to be good, not sure if they still are.

    For the panels I'm less fussy. A bit of quality difference between brands there is, but there are some perfectly decent Chinese brands around as well as others. The only notable ones that I'll mention are:

    Tindo (Australian made). I'm not saying they're necessarily the best, but they do seem to be a decent product and the only one made in Australia (factory is in SA).

    Canadian Solar - I only mention them as being misleading since there's nothing even remotely Canadian about them. It's a Chinese brand, made in China not Canada. The panels themselves seem to be OK, just don't be lead into thinking that you're buying something that isn't what it seems. Those panels are no more Canadian than Holden cars and the Eiffel tower. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with them, just that they're not from Canada despite what the name implies.

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 22nd Feb 2013, 04:52 PM
  2. House catches on fire and solar panels installed
    By barney118 in forum Solar Electrical Systems
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 14th Mar 2011, 08:47 PM
  3. Stand alone solar system for pool filter and solar heating pump
    By Poolsun in forum Solar Electrical Systems
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 9th Jan 2011, 10:57 AM
  4. Solar system sizing
    By Naf in forum Solar Electrical Systems
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 5th Oct 2010, 11:33 AM
  5. Looking for 12 volt solar system
    By autogenous in forum Solar Electrical Systems
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 17th Feb 2010, 12:30 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •