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Solar4Ever Pricing Guide- 2018

Solar Panels (Inverters and Installation further down)

We talk to so many people who are overly concerned with getting a 'good' panel. This infers that there are 'bad' panels. Whilst sweat shops and hand soldering was true once, todays panels are all made by the same, probably German, robots and are indistinquishable from each other. You pay a little more for a very well known brand name, and a lot more for features that improve efficiency (more on efficiency in a moment) but overall, all of the Tier 1 brands (30 of them) are exceptionally good quality..

 

The table below shows a cost per panel after deducting the rebate.

The rebate knocks off about $175 per panel ($149 for Victorian installations) which is why you can get a negative cost. The less well known brands use lower prices as a carrot, and some offer longer than standard warranties to further sweeten the deal, but the majority of the huge brands are identically priced. As the panel efficiency increases (more on that further down) the price rises quite sharply. Part of the reason for that higher cost is that the more space efficient panels are all monocrystalline cells which cost more to make than polycrystalline.

Brand Power

Price each after

STCs (rebate) *

Defect

Warranty (Years)

Power Warranty (Years to 80%+ of original output)

Amerisolar 275W - ($8) 12 30
Eging 265W -($6) 10 25
Talesun 275W $7 10 25
GCL 270W $10 10 25
Canadian 330W (72 cell) $17 10 25
JA 270W $17 10 25
Seraphim 275W $19 10 25
Canadian 275W $22 10 25
Canadian 285W $22 10 25
Jinko 270W $22 10 25
Longi 290W Mono $25 10 25
Longi 300W Mono $35 10 25
Q.Cells 270W $35 12 25
Seraphim 280W $47 12 25
Trina 295W $52 10 25
Q.Cells 300W Mono $64 12 25
LG Neon2 330W Mono $175 12 25
LG NeonR 360W Mono $329 25 25

* For Victoria add approx $26 per panel to the above panel prices due to a lower 'rebate'

Solar panel efficiency

All of these panels except Canadian Solar 330W are physically almost identically sized.
1.6m x 1m. So the LG NeonR, with an output of 360W is substantially more efficient than the 265W Eging. You have to install 25 Eging panels to make ~ 6.5kW of output against 18 of the LG panels, and that's what efficiency is all about.

When you read a brochure for a panel and see terms like PERC and extra busbars, and dual cell, dual glass reflective etc, they ALL refer to features that they have used to improve space efficiency...cramming more output into the same sized panel.

Our advice therefore is to ignore all the hyperbole about panels because 6.6kW of anything will make the same power as 6.6kW of anything else give or take a percent or two, it's just you might need fewer panels with one than the other.

Monocrystalline versus Polycrystalline. Yes, monos do perform fractionally better in the heat and typically produce 1-3% more power each year compared to an identically sized system using poly panels. They are also more space efficient as discussed above, and most of them look better (black cells in a black frame typically). Mono cells are more expensive to manufacture which is why monos are the more expensive panels. That extra output is nice, but don't give it more importance than its value. In almost all cases, people are buying systems that produce substantially more power than their homes can consume between 7am and 6pm (solar hours) so extra output is almost guaranteed to be exported back to the grid and worth not so much. If you want to know what any sized system will make month by month, try our calculator here.

Panel Comparison

Shade, warranty, efficiency etc

We discuss it here in much more detail.

Solar Inverters

A "battery ready" inverter is a hybrid inverter, capable of handling both the solar panels as well as the battery. You know its a hybrid because you can see the battery input terminals on the underneath of the inverter. If it's not a hybrid, the inverter can not connect batteries...ever. However, that doesn't mean that your house cannot connect solar batteries, it just means you have to buy and install another inverter/converter that handles the batteries.

We explain battery readiness in more detail here.

Australia's most popular solar inverters.
Note. The price shown is as part of a new system. If just buying the inverter as a replacement, add on ~$250 for installation.

All the inverters listed below are 5kW models and include WIFI reporting to smartphone/browser. Click the blue links for Reviews/Datasheets

Brand
Model
Hybrid
Phase
Price
Primo
No
Single
$2090
Symo !
No
Three
$2205
FusionHome
Yes
Single
$1750
D-NS
No
Single
$1120
StorEdge
Yes
Single
$4375 *
ESS
Yes
Single
$2420 #

* SolarEdge storage price includes 22 x P370 power optimisers
! There is also a hybrid version of Fronius Symo ($3590)
# This Sungrow model also has an additional 10A emergency circuit function

In the same price bracket as the Goodwe above are Sungrow, Zeversolar, Delta, Solax and Growatt and all are perfectly good inverters. Our preference leans more to Goodwe but any of these brands are fine. All of them, except Zeversolar provide some hybrid options in their range which you can read about on the review pages.

SMA have a similarly priced range to Fronius. They are all non hybrids as well.
Enphase manufacture an entirely different product, priced about the same as SolarEdge with inverters on the back of every panel and no central inverter.

Three phase

Most of Australia's energy companies allow you to connect a 5kW single phase inverter to a 3 phase home...in fact you can connect usually more than one giving you up to 15kW of inverter power (1 per phase). However, that's an expensive way of doing things compared to installing a three phase inverter, but it does allow you to have a hybrid. In WA the rules limit it to 3kW per phase maximum if using single phase inverters. So 3+2 or 3+3+3 is ok.

For those who scratch their heads trying to figure out how single phase inverters can be used successfully on 3 phase, please read this FAQ.

Power Optimisers

The main role of these $80 boxes connected to the back of a solar panel is to stop the lower current produced by a shaded panel from bringing down the much higher current of the rest of the string of up to 13 other panels it is connected to. We discuss this in detail here

SolarEdge require one of these to be fitted to EVERY panel, shaded or not, which is why the price for the SolarEdge inverter in the table above is so high. Huawei's optimisers can be selectively deployed where you need them, and Tigo optimisers can be fitted to panels running from any other brand of inverter.

 

Installation prices

Solar4Ever Electrical Contractor's Licence EC 13371

As a general rule of thumb a simple installation works out at about $130 a panel everywhere in Australia except Sydney where higher costs generally push it up to $160 a panel.

So, a regular 24 panel installation costs $3120 and $3720 in Sydney.

Included in that prices is all the rail and fixings on the roof, and all the DC, AC and Earth electrical cables, isolators, breakers etc. Most installations are done by two people, one of whom will be the CEC accredited solar electrician, the other a light-footed apprentice who will spend all day on a hot, possibly tin, roof. These guys are normally picking up the panels, rail and inverters from the warehouse at 7.00am and then driving through early morning traffic to get started as soon as possible. The first order of business is to meet YOU and discuss the panel and inverter location to make sure, before any work gets done, that everyone is happy with the design. Most jobs are finished within a day.

We gave an idea of pricing for a "simple" installation, but of course, many are anything but.

A double storey roof is not only hard to get the panels up to, but often, much harder to get the cables down from. Double storey installs are always at least $300 more expensive because they take much longer to do...and then there is the need for cherry pickers or scissor lifts, and even scaffolding on some double storey homes.

Each string of panels has two isolators, one on the roof, the other at the inverter and it's own DC cable run (in solar labelled conduit) between those points. So the more "strings", the higher the cost. If a string of panels has to be split up across different roof sections, this means more work and materials going into and out of the roof. Each splits adds $100.

Three phase installations cost $200 to $300 more, as do installs with multiple inverters at roughly the same additional cost per inverter as 3 phase.

Installing inverter smart meters to measure consumption typically costs $150 and connecting batteries with the required fuses, enclosures and label kits typically costs $400.

Putting all these price together

Obviously, you should ask us for an accurate quotation and not take anything here as gospel, but as an indication, here is a typical system costed out using the above ...

20 x Canadian Solar 330W panels at $17 after rebate = $340
Huawei 5kW hybrid inverter = $1750
Installation 20 x $130 = $2600

Total $4,690

Melbourne add $520 for lower rebate, Sydney add $600 for higher install.

 

Solar Batteries

AC Coupled batteries

(meaning they connect directly to your switchboard and don't care what inverter you have)

Enphase 1.2kWh inc wall mount bracket  $2360 each

SMA SunnyBoy Storage 2.5kWh   $1960 each

Batteries only that need to connect to a hybrid inverter or DC to DC coupler

LG Chem 6.5kWh  $4240

LG Chem 9.8kWh  $6700

LG Chem 9.8kWh  $6930 (High voltage version)

Samsung/Sungrow 4.8kWh  $4070

GCL 5.6kWh $3620

 


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