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  1. #1
    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    Been getting some quotes in. AGL are a bit hefty but two cheap ones I got will give me a 4kW install for much less.
    Wondering about comments keeping in mind that there is a huge premium getting the best panels for little extra performance gain and also, I have no desire for battery backup for 2 reasons; 1- too expensive for a practical return on investment, 2 - I believe in a maintained grid supply.

    One system quote is for Canadian panels with a Goodwe dual Tracker Inverter
    The other is for Seraphim panels + Solis inverter
    Both can be optioned up with a Fronius inverter for $900 to $1000 more. That is insane and after checking the difference seems correct.

    I am very tempted to just go with the first one as I haven't seen anything bad about the Goodwe inverter and I think the Canadian brand panels are a touch better than the Seraphim ones, not sure!

    Also, for the $1000 inverter price difference, any out of warranty failure could be sorted with another cheap inverter for less than that.

    Interested in any comment as I would like to decide very quickly on this. BTW the quotes are around $3300.

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    Hi Phil,

    I couldn’t comment on the merits of brands mentioned, but as a general comment, I do wonder if there is some merit in purchasing a cheap system over an expensive system. It’s a bit like buying any technology - it’s unwise to try to future proof any technological purchase.

    The cheap/er system may not be as reliable, efficient or last as long as the expensive system, however, with the technology improving over time and the costs dropping, I can see some merit in buying a ‘good value’ system now and replacing it some time down the track when better systems are available. I suppose that it’ll all come down to working out the payback period and then adding some extras years as ‘profit’ to work out how long to keep a system.
    There is no middle ground between facts and fallacies - argumentum ad temperantiam

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    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    Yeah, it is my belief that the solar panels should be fine, and I shouldn't worry too much about the greatest point of failure - the inverter as this can be thrown and replaced for less cost than a better product....should it ever fail at all!

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    - Your system would be considered cheap generally. An 'average' system costs about $1 per watt so $4,000 for 4kW. Some would say it's too cheap... Does it include everything, e.g. do you need a meter or board upgrade?
    - How long did they say it would take, with how many guys working on it? This can reflect experience/expertise
    - Just as important as the products chosen is the quality and reliability of the installer. There are plenty of good ones, and there are plenty of mobs that you won't see for dust once you've paid up.
    - What product (not 'performance') warranties are on the panels and inverters?
    - There was a good rundown on 'solar' on The Checkout recently which is probably still on iView.
    - If you aren't sure if the products or installers are decent ones, have a look at solarquotes.com.au or similar sites for reviews, and request more quotes on those sites if you see the need
    - I'm a bit of a statistics and IoT freak these days, so I went with a system that can tell me grid-consumption, self-consumption and production stats all in the one place. I paid $1.12 per watt for my system (Nov'17)
    - If you are a 'set and forget' guy, the cheaper options are probably OK, but you may not know it's not working properly until you've lost a billing period of production...
    - Horses for courses, and there are certainly as many options as there are horses and race meetings!!

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    2K Club Member chrisp's Avatar
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    r3nov8or makes a good point about being able to verify that the system is working. If the system doesn’t come with any usable metering or monitoring, you could get one of these kWh meters installed in your switchboard between the inverter and mains - https://reductionrevolution.com.au/products/single-phase-electricity-sub-meter-45-amp

    It has the ‘flashing light’ too so you can also connect it up to a Watts Clever too - https://www.wattsclever.com.au/colle...energy-monitor so you can see the instantaneous production and hourly/daily/weekly/yearly statistics too.
    There is no middle ground between facts and fallacies - argumentum ad temperantiam

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    2K Club Member toooldforthis's Avatar
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    anecdotal only from neighbours who have been using solar for a while.
    fail point for them has been invertors, the panels have been fine.
    the cheaper systems are hooked up in a way that if one panel is in shade then the others aren't operating either - maybe systems are past that design failure now?

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    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    These inverters have wi-fi monitoring I am led to believe. Product review is favourable for Solarpowernation, will check Sunboost. Warranty is 5 years min. Supplier extends to 10 years if they are still around. 25 years on panels.

    Not that worried about warranty, those things aren't necessarily guaranteed. If a panel fails I should be able to bypass a bad panel and just have 250w less in the system. As I say, inverter could be considered throwaway if it fails.

    I did see checkout and still have it to watch again, I think.

  8. #8
    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toooldforthis View Post
    the cheaper systems are hooked up in a way that if one panel is in shade then the others aren't operating either - maybe systems are past that design failure now?
    Micro inverters solve that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by phild01 View Post
    These inverters have wi-fi monitoring I am led to believe...
    Capabilities vary wildly in this space

    Quote Originally Posted by phild01 View Post
    25 years on panels.
    This will be a 'performance' guarantee, which is pretty worthless.
    Check product guarantee.
    The Checkout spends time on this

    Quote Originally Posted by phild01 View Post
    If a panel fails I should be able to bypass a bad panel and just have 250w less in the system.
    This is not the case for your quoted inverters, which are string inverters and perform to the lowest operating panel, including shaded panels, per string (you will have just 1 or 2 strings.) Not sure about a completely failed panel but I suspect the same issue... Certainly micro-inverters will solve this, but your cost will be *a lot* higher for micros

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    Don't expect your panel company will be around in 5 yrs time as it is a moving feast with panels.

  11. #11
    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bros View Post
    Don't expect your panel company will be around in 5 yrs time as it is a moving feast with panels.
    I certainly don't. Any of these people will disappear and the only thing AGL has going for it. As I say, warranties aren't important to me for this reason. The AGL quote is more than $5000 so the difference is huge. The Canadian panels seem to be a good brand so not much else to go on I guess.

  12. #12
    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by r3nov8or View Post

    This is not the case for your quoted inverters, which are string inverters and perform to the lowest operating panel, including shaded panels, per string (you will have just 1 or 2 strings.) Not sure about a completely failed panel but I suspect the same issue... Certainly micro-inverters will solve this, but your cost will be *a lot* higher for micros
    Not sure we are on the same wavelength. If a panel fails, can't that panel be bypassed in the string? Of course you would need to physically do this.

  13. #13
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    Some of the cheap installs are not the equipment but how it is fitted. My neighbor got a cheap one and now the screws they used to fix the unistrut to the roof are so rusted they would be impossible to remove without special tools. The installer disappeared.

    They got a quote for replacement and it was around $1000.

    Have they looked at the install or just used Google earth for the house and have they looked at the switchboard to see if you need upgrading eg meter link?

  14. #14
    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    To the annoyance of the installer I plan to check the fittings before it gets installed. I would like to be on the roof overseeing too
    Personally I'd rather do it myself.

    I sent a pic of the meter to AGL and they could not see a problem doing it. Because I am with AGL they don't charge for the connection and meter install. All the installation is is just the panels and inverter ready for the supplier to connect.

    As for google earth, I have decided the best location and they also agree.

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    Quote Originally Posted by phild01 View Post
    Not sure we are on the same wavelength. If a panel fails, can't that panel be bypassed in the string? Of course you would need to physically do this.
    Ok, yes it can be done physically. Once you suspect something is not right, I guess they can test each panel and isolate the faulty one. They'd want to assess every panel while up they're

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    Quote Originally Posted by phild01 View Post
    The Canadian panels seem to be a good brand so not much else to go on I guess.
    Having done some research, you may have also found that Canadian is a favourite brand for fakes.

  17. #17
    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by r3nov8or View Post
    Having done some research, you may have also found that Canadian is a favourite brand for fakes.
    Share! Didn't see any of that come up.

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    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    Now you have me searching, so reference back in 2015 to fakes...interesting.

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    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    Okay, Canadian are very much aware of that ruse so I will see who I can contact to see if the fakes have been obliterated from the market. I notice the government is also concerned about paying STC's out on fake panels.

    Apparently there is an app where you can scan the barcode to find out if it is fake however that works.

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    Yep the main installation company supplied with the fakes was Greenbank. My mention of it was not so much that it's happening now (might be!), but more a subtle reminder of "if it sounds too good to be true...".

    Generally, Whirlpool's 'green tech' forum would be a great place to state your quotes and companies to get an opinion from some very experienced people

  21. #21
    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by r3nov8or View Post
    Yep the main installation company supplied with the fakes was Greenbank. My mention of it was not so much that it's happening now (might be!), but more a subtle reminder of "if it sounds too good to be true...".

    Generally, Whirlpool's 'green tech' forum would be a great place to state your quotes and companies to get an opinion from some very experienced people
    Has me concerned.
    I have looked on whirlpool but might have missed the one you mentioned...thanks for that.

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    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    Just spent forever on whirlpool reading up re your Green Tech link r3no. What a minefield, I only concerned myself with what may occur after an install. Seems I need to worry about what may happen beforehand.
    I will have a look at your 2nd link now....why is this so tiring#%!?

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    Yep, getting know 'solar' to the state of being comfortable with your choice is very tiring indeed.

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    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    Resigned myself to getting 3 quotes from solarquotes. AGL might end up with the gig.

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    An advantage of dual input inverters is you can split the array 50% East/west. While there is a slight reduction in yearly output this produces a flatter production curve throughout the day covering morning/afternoon usage better.
    Given the low rebates for export these days its often a better option than a north array that has the peak output in middle of day.

  27. #27
    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by doovalacky View Post
    An advantage of dual input inverters is you can split the array 50% East/west. While there is a slight reduction in yearly output this produces a flatter production curve throughout the day covering morning/afternoon usage better.
    Given the low rebates for export these days its often a better option than a north array that has the peak output in middle of day.
    Yes, I have just become aware of this too. My option was NW, but the dual will also let me use the NE side. Unfortunately trees block the rising sun.

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    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    Just thought of something. If my home is using more power than sunshine can provide, does the inverter totally switch to grid supply or is it smart enough to share grid with the sun?

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    Quote Originally Posted by phild01 View Post
    Just thought of something. If my home is using more power than sunshine can provide, does the inverter totally switch to grid supply or is it smart enough to share grid with the sun?
    There is no switching between grid and solar as such. The inverter simply pumps wherever it can in to the supply. If you use more than the PV is generating, the grid makes up the difference. If you use less, the excess goes up the grid.
    There is no middle ground between facts and fallacies - argumentum ad temperantiam

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    Quote Originally Posted by chrisp View Post
    There is no switching between grid and solar as such. The inverter simply pumps wherever it can in to the supply. If you use more than the PV is generating, the grid makes up the difference. If you use less, the excess goes up the grid.
    Good to know, the grid will rescue it, thanks.

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    It's not so much 'rescue', but your system is part of the grid itself. It will give (feed in/export) to the grid what it can (excess to household needs), and take (import) what it needs to run your home (e.g. higher demand, heavy cloud and night)

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    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    Just got a solarquotes recommendation 4kWh quote in for 15 CSun poly panels and a Sungrow 5kW inverter. I can upgrade to Trina poly for an extra $200. I guess you don't get 4kW inverters so is the 5kW type suitable or too high? Are the Trina panels worth going for?

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    Quote Originally Posted by doovalacky View Post
    An advantage of dual input inverters is you can split the array 50% East/west. While there is a slight reduction in yearly output this produces a flatter production curve throughout the day covering morning/afternoon usage better.
    Given the low rebates for export these days its often a better option than a north array that has the peak output in middle of day.
    Interesting. I'm away off getting panels but hadn't thought of this. My extension (should it ever happen) will give me a fairly flat roof, unobstructed by trees etc. I just assumed a northerly angle would be it...

    Anyone doing motorised directional panels? Not worth the cost/additional failure point?

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    Quote Originally Posted by phild01 View Post
    Just got a solarquotes recommendation 4kWh quote in for 15 CSun poly panels and a Sungrow 5kW inverter. I can upgrade to Trina poly for an extra $200. I guess you don't get 4kW inverters so is the 5kW type suitable or too high? Are the Trina panels worth going for?
    Never heard of CSun. Trina is well regarded.

    If you are paying for a 5kW inverter, go for about 6 - 6.6 kW of panels. The STC rebates are calculated on the panels only, so won't cost a lot more and you will get better value from the inverter. STC rebates apply when oversizing panels vs inverter up to 33%

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    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by r3nov8or View Post
    Never heard of CSun. Trina is well regarded.

    If you are paying for a 5kW inverter, go for about 6 - 6.6 kW of panels. The STC rebates are calculated on the panels only, so won't cost a lot more and you will get better value from the inverter. STC rebates apply when oversizing panels vs inverter up to 33%
    My roof space is limited and 15 panels is the max that can be grouped. So I take it that a 5kW inverter is not very efficient with 4kW of panels!
    Also looking at Longi panels.
    AGL has a connect limit of 5.1kW from what I have found.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigboboz View Post
    Anyone doing motorised directional panels? Not worth the cost/additional failure point?
    These days its not. Better off spending the extra on a couple more panels.

    Trina panels ave a decent rep. I had a couple on last house and never had issues.
    There is no issue with going the larger inverter as long as the voltage (Vmp rating) of the panels added together is sufficient to keep it in its operating range.
    If its the SG5KTL-D its DC input needs to stay between 260V to 480V and it has 2 inputs so generally 50% of the panels will be on each.

    Edit:
    AGL rules may be different but the connect limit is normally the inverter rated AC output. ie 6kW solar on a 5kW inverter should be OK

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by doovalacky View Post
    These days its not. Better off spending the extra on a couple more panels.

    Trina panels ave a decent rep. I had a couple on last house and never had issues.
    There is no issue with going the larger inverter as long as the voltage (Vmp rating) of the panels added together is sufficient to keep it in its operating range.
    If its the SG5KTL-D its DC input needs to stay between 260V to 480V and it has 2 inputs so generally 50% of the panels will be on each.

    Edit:
    AGL rules may be different but the connect limit is normally the inverter rated AC output. ie 6kW solar on a 5kW inverter should be OK
    Yes it's the SG5KTL-D. But by over rating the inverter I understand that in low light the inverter cuts out earlier than one that is closely matched.

    What concerned me about Trina is that they are poly not mono and their degradation doesn't seem to rate well, just meeting the standard.

    CSun or China Sun are a decent manufacturing outfit but don't think they are tier one in Australia.

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    Quote Originally Posted by phild01 View Post
    What concerned me ... is that they are poly not mono ...
    Put that particular consideration to bed

    https://www.solarquotes.com.au/panel...lycrystalline/

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    Quote Originally Posted by r3nov8or View Post
    Put that particular consideration to bed

    https://www.solarquotes.com.au/panel...lycrystalline/
    Yep, read a lot about poly being okay. They are cheap to make and do have a bit of a downside. In the past my preference has been mono.

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    Quote Originally Posted by phild01 View Post
    Yep, read a lot about poly being okay. They are cheap to make and do have a bit of a downside. In the past my preference has been mono.
    What's the downside?

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    Quote Originally Posted by r3nov8or View Post
    What's the downside?
    Not quite as efficient and slightly more degradation. But it seems newer types have closed the gap in this regard. Probably not worth worrying about.

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    Quote Originally Posted by r3nov8or View Post
    If you are paying for a 5kW inverter, go for about 6 - 6.6 kW of panels. The STC rebates are calculated on the panels only, so won't cost a lot more and you will get better value from the inverter. STC rebates apply when oversizing panels vs inverter up to 33%
    I was told by a solar installer he had a lot of callouts to inverters slightly smaller than the panels which would shut down in good winter days when panels were producing maximum output, don't know if it still applies.

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    That is where the difference between a good installer and the fly by nighters is.

    Lets take the Trina panels as an example. A quick look through the current range and the specs indicate Vmp ranges from 28 to 32V on the models I looked at.
    Those panels on the SG5KTL-D it needs a minimum of 9 on each input to keep it above minimum voltage. Ideally 12 would be at a better operating voltage.
    Unless there is another higher voltage Trina panel I did not see the only real option with 15 panels would to only use 1 of the inputs which means the array has to face the same direction and any shadow would affect it completely.

    Other panels can be as high as 60Vmp output which would work better on that inverter.
    Or select a better inverter such as the SMA 2-MPPT 5000w that has an input range from 175-500V.

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    Quote Originally Posted by doovalacky View Post
    Lets take the Trina panels as an example. A quick look through the current range and the specs indicate Vmp ranges from 28 to 32V on the models I looked at.
    Those panels on the SG5KTL-D it needs a minimum of 9 on each input to keep it above minimum voltage. Ideally 12 would be at a better operating voltage.
    Unless there is another higher voltage Trina panel I did not see the only real option with 15 panels would to only use 1 of the inputs which means the array has to face the same direction and any shadow would affect it completely.

    Other panels can be as high as 60Vmp output which would work better on that inverter.
    Or select a better inverter such as the SMA 2-MPPT 5000w that has an input range from 175-500V.
    This why I asked if 5kW inverters match badly with 4kW systems. $1000 extra for an inverter doesn't cut it.

    What is the Vmp?
    These are Trina Honey with a max Vmpp of 28.4V and a Voc of 35.4V
    The SG5KTL-D 6500W has a startup voltage of 120V, a max input voltace of 600V, and a nominal input volage of 360V; an MPP voltage range of 110-560 and a MPP voltage range for nominal power of 260-480V

    From all of this I would expect the inverter still working at any voltage above 110v. Nominal output 6500W occurs within the band of 260-480V!

    Quote Originally Posted by doovalacky View Post
    ..... and any shadow would affect it completely.
    .
    So when the whirly bird casts a shadow, the whole sytem shuts down!!??

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    If you are technically minded I would go with one of the ones where you can download the manual not spec sheet if you want to set and forget there are a lot on the market to choose from.

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    Goodwe have an inverter that suits better but not sure this supplier will supply it. 15 panels on a string would peak around 480V max. Surely a shadow here and there won't badly affect it. All panels can be mounted with the same orientation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by phild01 View Post
    Goodwe have an inverter that suits better but not sure this supplier will supply it. 15 panels on a string would peak around 480V max. Surely a shadow here and there won't badly affect it. All panels can be mounted with the same orientation.
    As mentioned early on, with your inverter type shadows will cause each panel to operate at the performance level of the worst performing panel. My installers avoided my heater flue for this reason. With the extra expense of micro-inverters or optimisers (the latter is specific to panel brand I think) this can be improved.

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    Yes while it shouldn't shut it down completely shadows do effect the output. Even an TV antenna can cause issues as various threads on whirlpool etc discuss.
    Think of it like a hose with a kink. With dual strings at least one should not be effected if there is any short term shading.

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    I would have thought a shaded panel would still allow the full voltage of the other panels to pass through but you are saying if one panel's voltage is reduced by 90% then the total output of all panels is reduced 90%.

    https://www.solarchoice.net.au/blog/...power-systems/
    "Many modern panels, however, come equipped with devices called bypass diodes which minimise the effects of partial shading by essentially enabling electricity to ‘flow around’ the shaded cell or cells."

    I realise the above is relevant to a single panel.

  50. #50
    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    I have got a deal for 18 Trina 275 panels and a 5K Sungrow inverter (read Sungrow have beaten SMA in performance).

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