Solar4Ever Products

Solar Panels


We install the following brands...

Brand
Made in...
Grade
Approx. cost  per panel
QCells (Hanwha QCells)
Germany, Poland, Malaysia
Premium
$320 **
Suntech
China
Premium
$300
Schott (Schott Solar Hareon)
China (previously Germany)
Premium
$295
REC
Singapore
Premium
$285
Trina
China
Premium
$275
Canadian Solar
China
Advanced
$265
Hanwha SolarOne
China
Advanced
$245 **
Yingli Panda Mono 270W
China
Advanced
$265 (270W panel)
GY Group
China
Advanced
$220 **
Simax
China
Standard
$200
Suntellite / ZA
China
Standard
$200

** Highly recommended.

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

1. How Solar Works
2. Choosing a Solar Panel

Don't panic....it's a solar panel, not a space craft.

There is an immense amount of BS written on internet forums and spoken by over eager solar sales reps about the merits of one solar panel over another. Yes, there are some small differences in features and quality, but by and large they are remarkably similar. Solar panels are a very simple design, with no moving parts.

The best panel, the worst panel.

There are about 1/2 a dozen top quality, premium brands of solar panel. Then another 20 or so really good quality mid range panels, and then over 1,000 standard panels. The difference in price is about $120 from top to bottom, per panel. Not much, until you realise that you need 20 panels for a decent size 5kW solar installation. Our opinion? Q.Cells are the best, closely followed by 'take your pick from' Sunpower, REC, Schott, ET and Kyocera. Mid range panels include Trina,Jinko,Yingli,LG,SolarWorld, GY,DAQO and then there's all the rest. The thing is, they are ALL good these days. There used to be dud panels, 'B' grade rejects, but not for years. All the so called 'rubbish' is mostly ending up in 3rd World countries where any solar power, especially if it's cheap, is a good thing.

Why pay more?
A Q.Cells panel will make about 5% more power than a regular panel. Brilliant in low light (which is why it is always a star performer in the German run Photon magazine test), it squeezes a few more photons out of the day. The Q.Cells panel costs you $120 more and makes about $5 a year more power. Worth it? Yes, of course so long as you are not moving house in the next 15 years...that's the market for premium panels.. and 15% seems to be about right on the money with our sales figures. 85% of people buy excellent cheaper panels like SolarOne and GY, and 15% buy premum panels like Q.Cells and Schott.

Warranty?
10 or 12 years defect warranty and 25 years performance warranty on a linear graph from year 1 to year 25 to 80 or 83% of original performance.

Reliability?

Seen any tradesmen in your community newspaper offering solar panel repairs?
Panels, even the cheap ones, are virtually indestructible. No moving parts, failures rates in the 1 in 5,000 range... you can worry about something else.

It's Perth not Germany

Whilst several of our panels score highly, even top, when Photon release their latest panel test results, we take it all with a heavy pinch of salt. It's absurb to say that a panel that wins a test in Germany, where they have five hours of twilight in Summer and pretty ordinary solar irradiation throughout the year, is going to be a winner in Perth which has double the solar irradiation, far more heat, and almost no twilight.

Solar Panel features
If all things are equal, then there has to be some mumbo jumbo on the sales brochure to get you to buy their product. ANTI-PID, Positive Power Sorting to + 5W, low negative temperature coefficient etc.
If you want to know what all these things mean, and what effect they have, then ask us and we'll email you a fact sheet, but if not, don't worry about it. All the features are perfectly valid, but in terms of power production, safety, or reliability they have a very minor benefit for a residential system here in Perth.

Here are some links.

Download GY Panel Specification Sheet

Download Schott Panel specifications / Download Schott '10 good reasons to buy Schott'

Download QCells specifications

Download Hanwha SolarOne Specifications
Download Suntech specifications

Inverters
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 three different types of inverter technology.

String Inverters
Micro Inverters
DC optimers and associated inverters

String Inverters
In Australia, string inverters are by far the most common. There are 30 or 40 different brands with the most popular being SMA, JFY, Growatt, Delta, Renesola, Schneider/Xantrex, Fronius, Samil Power/Solar River.
The panels are wired in 'strings' and then back to the inverter. The inverter does three jobs. It attempts to maximise the power produced by the inverters on each of it's 'trackers' (MPPT) and it converts the panel power (DC) to AC. It's third job is to provide you with data to see how much power you are making either on the LCD screen of the inverter or via Wireless and Wi-Fi products.

Whilst some string inverters are less expensive than others, there is really no way anyone could realistically call any of them cheap. For instance, the lowest cost 5kW inverter available is just under $700 (our cost), a very good mid-range one is $1400, and top of the range 3 phase German SMA is $2800.

Normally string inverter warranties are 5 years with the option to buy a factory warranty upgrade to 10 years or sometimes as much as 25 years.

Pros of string inverters...they are the cheapest of the three options, easy to install and service and in most cases very efficient and reliable.
Cons of string inverters...they handle shading of panels poorly, with the entire performance of a string (which might be 10 or more panels) being reduced even if one panel is temporarily shaded. They are also less flexible than DC optimisers for putting panels in different orientations and on bigger installations maximum string voltage sizes on the trackers can limit power and performance.

Micro Inverters
Each panel (or pair of panels) has it's own inverter connected to it. The DC panel power is converted to AC right there on the roof and the MPPT tracking is handled individually as well. The main benefit of micros, as with DC optimisers (the third inverter type) is that each panel is a law unto itself. If it's neighbour is in shade it won't make a difference to it. There are a few brands, but the main two sold here in Australia are APS and Enphase. APS are cheaper, but they shut down when they reach 65 degrees C whereas Enphase work up to 85 degrees C. Of course we don't get 65 degree days, but the ambient air temperature, plus the radiant heat from the roof and the panels, and the heat the micro makes itself doing it's work, means that 65 degrees is achieved on even a mid 30's temperature day. We don't sell APS, only Enphase for this reason.
The cost of a 5kW Enphase micro inverter system is just under $5000.

Pros of Micros...better handling of small amounts of irregular shade

Cons of Micros...expensive, not good in the heat, and can only work with specific panel types (e.g. not 72 cells)

DC Optimsers and associated inverter

There's an MPPT tracker on every panel, but there is also an inverter down at ground level. The only role for the inverter is conversion of DC to AC and provide reporting on performance. This is far and away a better way of doing things than micro inverters. More efficient (99.5%), scalable, much less heat production, more reliable and much better reporting. SolarEdge have the DC optimiser market won, hook line and sinker.

25 year warranty and fanastic reporting (even down to alerting you on your smartphone if an individual panel becomes shaded). Awesome stuff. Pricing for 5kW with 20 optimisers, inverter and reporting...$3900

Compare that to a 5kW 3 phase SMA string inverter at $2800 with a 5 year warranty. If you purchased the SMA 25 year warranty extension to level the playing field, they would work out the much the same cost.

Pros...cheaper and better than micros in every conceivable way we can think of.
Cons...still more expensive than string inverters.

Download SolarEdge product overview
Download SolarEdge reporting software overview

JFY, a popular string inverter brand have two excellent wireless and wifi reporting products. Click the image below for details...

 

Our favourite string inverters these days, are JFY and SMA, but the best inverter by far is SolarEdge.

We honestly never thought we would write that JFY were one of our favourite brands
after their bad start in 2011 in Australia, but JFY have made millions of inverters, and as far as Australia goes, have shipped between 1st Jan 2011 and February 24th 2014, 137,506 inverters to Australia, and received 1,745 back with faults. A failure rate of 1.27% overall, but just 0.8% over the past two years after a bad start in 2011. We always buy the 10 year factory warranty extension from JFY. That way, despite your chances of getting a dud are now very low, you are still totally safe in the knowledge that for the next ten years you have absolutely nothing to worry about. Really excellent WiFi and Wireless choices included as well and include one of only a handful of Western Poer approved 5kW three phase inverters . JFY ship directly from the factory to Fremantle port so the local support here (Canning Vale warehouse) is excellent. We love them now, and you will too.

SMA are the premium German brand. They have been making inverters since 1981, employing over 5,000 people. Offices in Australia too. Excellent in every way except price. 5 year warranty extendable to 25 years.
Huge range of products, the Sunnyboy brand name has become renowed for quality over the years.

Built in bluetooth for local or internet reporting, great on-screen stats and a failure rate of 0.25% this is the brand to buy if you want to get the best of the best. Prepare your wallet for an extra $1000 weight loss though.

The list of specifications and user guides for some of our inverters is a little further down the page.



Rail, fixings, Cable, Conduit and Labels
There are a huge amount of 'fixings' in solar, all of which have to be fully approved under a number of Australian Standards. The panels sit on aluminium rails and the rails are attached to your roof by either tile or tin "feet".

Read more...

Then there are two earth plates for every panel, grounding lugs, rail joiners, mid, and end clamps, special labelled heavy duty conduit, steel cable ties, clamps to attach the conduit to your roofm AC and DC isolators, and even specially designed label kits...and that before we even look at the hundreds of dollars worth of DC, AC, Earth and often 3 phase cable required for every job. Every single nut bolt and fixing must be installed exactly to Australian specifications and typically it all costs us over $1,000 for a simple $5kW installation. We use the popular 'Grace Solar' brand of rail and fixings and all our cable comes from the big Australian suppliers like MM Electrical and Lawrence and Hanson. We don't take any shortcuts with materials and safety.


 

     


Inverter Specifications

Manufacturer
Model
Trackers / Phases
Size (AC)
Specifications
User Guide
Ablerex Enersolis ES 3300 1 tracker, single phase
3.0 kW
N/A
Ablerex Enersolis ES 5000 2 trackers, single phase
5.0 kW
N/A
Delta Solivia 2.5 APG3 1 tracker, single phase 2.49 kW
Delta Solivia 3.0 APG3 1 tracker, single phase 3.17 kW
Delta Solivia 3.3 APG3 1 tracker, single phase 3.49 kW
Delta Solivia 5.0 APG3 1 tracker, single phase 4.99 kW
Growatt Sungold 1500 1 tracker, single phase 1.65 kW
Growatt 2500 HF 1 tracker, single phase 2.50 kW
Growatt Sungold 3000 1 tracker, single phase 3.00 kW
Growatt Sungold 5000 1 tracker, single phase 5.00 kW
Growatt 3600MTL 2 trackers, single phase 3.60 kW
Growatt 4200MTL 2 trackers, single phase 4.20 kW
Growatt 5000MTL 2 trackers, single phase 5.00 kW
JFY JSI-2500TL 1 tracker, single phase 2.49 kW
JFY JSI-3000TL 1 tracker, single phase 3.40 kW
JFY JSI-5000TL 1 tracker, single phase 5.00 kW
JFY SUNTWINS 3300TL 2 trackers, single phase 3.30 kW
JFY SUNTWINS 4000TL 2 trackers, single phase 4.00 kW
JFY SUNTWINS 5000TL 2 trackers, single phase 5.00 kW
JFY SUNTREE 5000TL 2 trackers, Three phase 5.00 kW
JFY SUNTREE 10000TL 2 trackers, Three phase 10.0 kW
SMA Sunny Boy 2500TL 1 tracker, single phase 2.5kW
SMA Sunny Boy 3000TL 1 tracker, single phase 3.0 kW
SMA SB3000TL-21 2 trackers, single phase 3.0kW
SMA SB4000TL-21 2 trackers, single phase 4.0kW
SMA SB5000TL-21 2 trackers, single phase 5.0kW
SMA TriPower 5000TL 2 trackers, Three phase 5.0kW
SMA TriPower 15000TL 2 trackers, Three phase 15kW

 

 

 
solar4ever.com.au 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)  Telephone (08) 6270 6326
42/44 Kings Park Road, West Perth WA 6005
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