Choosing Solar Panels – Your Ultimate Guide

Solar panels are a long term investment. So it’s important to do a bit of your own research before making your purchase.

Luckily, we’ve prepared an easy-to-follow guide including all the important info, tips and considerations to think about when choosing solar panels.

Solar Panel Shopping – What To Consider

Cost

Not all solar panels are equal.

Prices vary depending on size, brand reputation, quality of materials, durability, warranty and any certifications the panels might have.

Choosing solar panels on price alone isn’t always a great idea. Go for the biggest and the best panels, and they mightn’t be suitable for your roof space. Skimp on quality and you might not enjoy the quick payback period you anticipated.

Sticking to a budget is important, but always choose solar panels that best suit your living situation not based purely on bottom dollar.

Panel Materials

The three most popular solar panels in Australia are:

Monocrystalline – high efficiency and good heat tolerance characteristics. Often used in limited-space applications. These panels degrade very slowly and have been used for more than 50 years now.

Polycrystalline/Multicrystalline – now the most popular choice in residential installs. Features high quality silicon that can be used in any climate and perform well in remote area power systems.

Quasi-Monocrystalline – a hybrid panel, morphing the top characteristics of mono and polycrystalline panels.

Note: While choosing the right solar panel type has importance, the quality and reliability of the manufacturer is, and will always be, the most important consideration.

Durability, Quality and Warranty

A panel’s warranty is an important consideration when choosing solar panels. It can be an indicator of the manufacturer’s confidence in its products.

But remember, warranties will only be honoured for as long as the company operates. It’s another reason to select a well known brand of solar panel rather than an obscure low-cost option that may disappear overnight.

Can I buy panels from China?

Not all Chinese solar panel brands are cheap and nasty. On the contrary, some of the world’s largest and most dedicated solar energy brands are Chinese-owned.

However, it’s important to research when choosing solar panels from overseas. Some solar panels are named in a misleading way so that they appear to be European when in fact they’re being made in sub-standard Asian factories.

Tip: Always choose Tier 1 and 2 manufacturers.

choosing solar power

Size

The bigger the solar panel in Watts, the more it will cost. A 100 Watt panel will produce 100 Watt-hours of electricity every hour. So you can expect to pay double for a 200 Watt panel producing 200 Watt-hours of electricity every hour.

Tip: Use the back of your latest energy bill for a good idea of how much energy your household consumes.

The higher the wattage, the bigger your solar panels will be in physical size, too. Consult with your installer to ensure that the solar panels you choose will fit comfortably on your roof space.

Important Terms

Tolerance – the plus/minus wattage range of your panel. A positive tolerance rating means the panel has the potential to exceed its ‘nameplate’ wattage under standard testing conditions.

Australian Supported – not to be confused with Australian-made. Brands that have a local support system in Australia, including a physical office and Australian staff, are always preferred.

Temperature Co-efficient – while panels rely on sunlight, extreme heat can actually make panels less efficient. The lower the co-efficient rating percentage per degree Celsius, the better.

Conversion Efficiency – if two solar panels cost the same, but one has a higher conversion efficiency (or greater ability to convert sunlight into usable electricity); then that panel provides the better value for money.

Consult With Experts

Just like solar panel manufacturers, not all solar power retailers are created equally either. When researching which solar panels you should install on your home, make sure you talk to a reputable company. Look for a solar power retailer with physical national offices and ISO9001 certification at the bare minimum.

We hope that this guide has given you a better idea of what to look for when choosing solar panels. For further information, feel free to contact our solar power team!