Solar Panels and Inverters

Best solar panels? We put them to the test.



            % Gain

  at 25 Oct 2015

German engineering
Phone Home...brilliant
Originally German
World No.3
China's No.1
Commercial favourite
Norway / Singaporean
Chinese No.5
Popular Chinese
+ 8.92%
GY Group
Excellent low cost panel
The Rest
11 other popular panels
-7% to + 2% (av 0%)

About this panel comparison here

For a more detailed review of all these panels click the blue link above

Solar Panel Summary
Q.Cells are German engineered with typical German attention to detail. Wind tested to 7,000PA (that's a 1 in 500 year Cyclone event) and a world record breaking 19.5% cell efficiency rate achieved during a test at the Fraunhofer Institute, and a 12 year defect warranty that even includes salt damage and a very generous linear 25 year performance warranty, these panels not only perform the best, but they are built like tanks too.

ET are one of the best Tier 1 companies who guarantee that 100% of the panels we buy from them are
made in their own factory, not sub-contracted off elsewhere as so many others do. Stellar performance on the test roof and equally good on our customer's rooftops.

Canadian Solar are a year 'newer' to our test roof so their excellent performance needs to be taken in context. Despite their name, Canadian Solar are a Chinese company, who have excelled in large solar projects around the World. We hear that Bunnings have specified only Canadian Solar for their 100kW installations around the country. No reason why you wouldn't put them on your roof at home too.

Solarone are owned by Hanwha (who also own Q.Cells). It would seem that some Q.Cells magic is working it's way into this panel as it's performance has always been right up there.

Suntech are also a new addition to the roof, so again, the performance is perhaps a little higher than what it will eventually settle down to be. One of the early Chinese solar companies (2001) they have built a great reputation for making a top quality panel. Recent years have been hard on Suntech financially, but there are signs that a turn around is not far away.

Yingli Panda has to be probably the funniest name for a solar panel, but it obviously works, because Yingli are the World's largest manufacturer. They are also losing truckloads of money, but as the test results show, it's a fine panel.

Schott are a German company who were making solar panels back in the 1980's, most of which are still going strong. Rumour has it that Skylab stayed in orbit powered by Schott panels. However, like most of Europe's manufacturers, they couldn't withstand the onslaught of Chinese panels and a couple of years ago sold their Poly and Mono business to a Chinese company. The panels are still the same as they ever were. Fantastic.

REC originally Norwegian, now made in Singapore. If you ask us for a quote on REC panels we'll instantly know exactly who you've been talking to already as two companies pretty much have exclusive distribution (or to be more accurate, get such a low price that we can't compete). We'll offer you Q.Cells, ET or one of the other panels above them on the test roof instead.

Jinko. Pretty much all the panels on the roof are Bloomberg New Energy Finance listed 'Tier 1' panels and Jinko are no exception. Slightly cheaper panel than the rest (except GY).

Renesola are new to our test roof as well (that's Suntech, Canadian and Renesola that were added March 2015). Chinese company that used to be a cell manufacturer for other solar companies who have now gone out on their own.

GY don't really belong on this roof of Tier 1 panels, but got there by virtue of being the 'best of the rest'. The original test we did was of average, cheaper panels of which there are hundreds of similar brands. About $25 per panel cheaper than a top panel like ET these days, they were about $70 a panel cheaper only a year or two ago. Made sense back then to buy the cheaper panel, but doesn't make sense any more.

Other notables not on the test roof

GCL. What do Yingli, Canadian Solar, JA Solar, CSUN, Suntech, SolarOne, Hareon, Trina all have in common ? Tier 1, sure, GCL wafers and cells, sure. GCL are the No.1 silicon and wafer manufacturer in the World and the No.3 module manufacturer. Highly efficient (275W panel in the same size frame as a 250W panel) they are a 25 year old company with an impressive track record, coming to Australia for the first time (we think) in 2016. If the price is right after the usual 'opening' specials have washed through, will be very hard to ignore. Are also intoducing a 5.6kW (useable) battery pack for $4,000 integrated with a couple of Hybrid inverters. That's very cheap.

SolarWorld are made in Germany. Yes, a genuine German made panel from a German company that was saved from financial collapse by a middle eastern solar company and has miraculously returned to profit. How they do that when everyone else in Europe is swimming in red ink is a stroke of genius. Good panels high price.

Conergy make one of their panels in Germany but almost all of what is sold in Australia is Chinese made

LG Their NeON module is a highly efficient (The 300W panel takes up the same roof space as most other panels 250W module, and similar in efficiency to the Q.Cells 280W mono panel). Performance is as yet undocumented as they haven't put a panel up for testing by the Choice magazine for solar, Photon International or given us one to put on our test roof. Is this a fear of being found to be anything less than the best? Come on LG, man up.


20 years ago an IT manager would have been fired if they bought anything other than an IBM computer.
A what? IBM were the nuts, and SMA have been held in the same high esteem for years. German made, 20% of the World market, the marketing AND the product have held up against a bombardment of competition.
Behind the scenes, $400 million of losses in the past two years, redundancies and re-structures, expensive mistakes like buying a cheap Chinese solar brand to get a foothold in China. If you are a pessimist, you might not expect SMA to be around in 15 years time, but your inverter might well be. They're awesome.
They are also smart enough to realise that WIFI is hit and miss and stuck with a cabled solution. Run a cable once, and change internet providers as often as you like, it won't matter.


Since 1997 Sungrow have grown rapidly and became World No.2 behind SMA in 2014.
Showing their impeccable impartiality , German Photon mag voted them better than SMA in 2012.
Their new range of products (Crystal range) is a leap ahead in technology. The inverters are half the size and weight of the old models, and even more efficient. WIFI included. Spend $150 for 10 year warranty and it's still 40% less than SMA. Ticks ALL the boxes including MASSIVE piggy bank of profits which is good for you if you think about it. In October 2015 they released a 5kW Hybrid that charges batteries. It's a very VERY smart piece of equipment. Costs $1000 more than their equivalent 5kW non battery charging inverter which only means that you can get a top quality 5kW Hybrid for the same price as an SMA regular.


Massive improvement in quality this formerly cheap brand is now winning awards and a AA rating from Photon magazine. Integration with the new GCL battery system is going to make this inverter top of the shopping list in 2016/2017 at least. Pricing used to be cheap, but the new range, and far superior quality build and featureset has also put the price up. Excellent range of residential and commercial inverters.


Several hundred thousand JFY inverters have been installed across Australia and their performance and reliability have been acceptable for a low cost inverter. No WIFI (tried and failed) and an average feature set compared to the latest offerings from others make JFY are inverter of the past. Service centre has moved from Perth to Sydney so that advantage has gone too.

ABB PowerOne

ABB used to be branded Aurora and then PowerOne, but recently bought by global giant ABB. Italian made.

Very nice product and priced in the middle range. Somehow we keep selling something else, but this brand is World No.3 but somehow lacks the sizzle of other brands.


Good quality inverters from Austrian manufacturer.

In the same price bracket as SMA, Fronius have finally cleared out a pretty ordinary range of products and now run with the SYMO and PRIMO ranges of inverters. Inexplicably, the Primo inverters have a very noisy fan so don't install one near any living areas. (We thought the days of noisy inverters were behind us but obviously not). The 5kW 3 phase SYMO Fronius inverter is the best in class, and includes a very good WIFI option.

Fonius and SolarEdge are the two preferred brands for battery manufacturer Tesla.

Warranty is currently 5 years full parts and labour, then another 5 years parts only.


Bosch are one of the most familar German brands. Their panels were simply awesome but they stopped making them a few years ago after suffering huge losses. The new inverter range is very good indeed and will give SMA and Fronius a serious challenge for someone looking for a European made inverter.


Ultra cheap brand, used to be called Eversolar before German SMA bought into them to try and get a stronger foothold in the biggest solar market in the World by far...China. Massive losses so far. When you buy a brand in this price bracket you have to be a realist. It's got a 5 years warranty and it isn't designed with components that will last too much longer than that. However, ideal if your investment in solar is about five years before you move house.


In 2003 Taiwan electronics and telecoms giant Delta bought German Ascom. So started Delta Energy Systems GMBH and the whole Delta inverters are German thing. 15 years on, the new RPI Delta range, fully made in a 33,000 employee Chinese factory. has its German roots to thank for many of its components, but it's far removed from any current German engineering. Good bits. Very low start up and maintain voltage (100V) means a bit more power early mornings and late afternoons, and less panels to achieve startup (4 should be enough). If you want WIFI this probably is not the brand for you unless you have deep pockets. (and if your pockets ARE deep, you wouldn't be looking at this brand in the first place)


Popular, low cost inverter (if there is such a thing). We actually really like this inverter, but service and support to WA is becoming too slow. Whilst faults are in the reasonable 1 to 2% zone, when there is a faulty one, we have often had to wait a month to get a replacement to a customer.


Best of the traditional micro inverters if you have shading problems or lose sleep worrying about

high DC voltages running through conduit in your roof during the day.


What you should really buy if you want max power, safety and flexibilty from your solar. Micros on

steroids. Why is this at the bottom of the list, when it's the best? In the USA they are the No.2 inverter

brand but here in Oz, they are nowhere. No idea why, speaking as techs and sparkies, it's the best, and

safest of them all but of course, it's expensive (about the same as Enphase or SMA with a similar 25 year


The Others

Not above? Hmmm. We get offers daily from all of them but why would you save $50 and buy an unknown?

Have you watched our two minute videos? (Click the blue links below)

1. How Solar Works
2. Choosing a Solar Panel

3. Solar Inverters

Inverter Technology
Whilst panels are so simple with no moving parts and almost never fail, inverters by contrast are expensive and work hard all day long and are packed with electronic components and software.

There are four different types of inverter technology.

1. String Inverters
2. Hybrid string inverters with battery storage
3. Micro Inverters
4. DC optimers and associated inverters

1. String Inverters

The solar panels are connected in series in a 'string' of up to 15 panels.

Inverters are either 'single tracking or dual tracking' . A dual tracking inverter is needed for installations where panels are facing in different directions (e.g. North and West) unless the number of panels on each orientation is identical (e.g. 10 panels North and 10 panels West is fine on a single tracker but 11 and 9 is not).

Most solar installations use string inverters. As they work in series, when any panel in the string is shaded then the voltage and therefore performance of the whole string is reduced until the shade has gone.

(see below for effect of shade)


2. Hybrid String Inverters with Battery Storage
You can't just connect batteries to a regular inverter. We have written a whole web page on this subject. Click here.

3. Micro Inverters connected to every solar panel

It costs about $100 extra per panel to have a micro inverter compared to most string inverters. The advantages of micros are fourfold compared to string inverters.
Each panel is a law unto itself so shading of one panel doesn't have any negative effect on an unshaded panel.

You can point the panels any which way you like too, North, West, East, it makes no difference.
The DC to AC conversion is done on the roof so the maximum voltage running through the solar conduit is 240V, not potentially 600V with a string inverter.
You don't need to find space for a large box to put on the wall.

Popular brands are Enphase (excellent for Perth heat), APS , Solarbridge and Aurora

We sell Enphase micros as well as the ET 250W with Solarbridge Pantheon II micro factory fitted.

Even better than a micro?...see next choice.

4 .DC Optimsers and associated inverter

Similar extra cost as micros, you get a 'micro' on each panel but you also get a central inverter that does the DC to AC conversion. Same advantages as micros for shade and roof orientations.

It's actually the safest (1 volt per panel open circuit), and most efficient solution with excellent WiFi  and smartphone reporting and a 25 year warranty. SolarEdge have this section of the market won hook line and sinker. Want the best of the best? This is it.

Download SolarEdge product overview
Download SolarEdge reporting software overview is the web site for Good Day Mate Pty Ltd trading as SOLAR4EVER Company registered in WA on 26th October 2008 (A.C.N.133884938)

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