What is Good Quality Solar?
Its the most commonly asked question people want the answer to!
The answer can be broken down into 4 parts:
- Good Quality Panels? Panel manufacturing is now a fairly mature business most those companies that offer good quality products have out lasted the shonky ones. A quick Google search of Top 10 solar panel manufacturers will produce a list from IHS or Bloomberg of reputable manufacturers. Although this list is not exhaustive it gives you a very good idea who is negotiating the solar minefield better than the rest. Why is important? Well every manufacturer offers a warranty and that warranty is in 2 parts; manufacture quality and output. If you want you warranties to mean anything, you want to know the manufacturer will be around to honour them won't you? If the company is listed on a stock exchange it must be viable because it has to divulge its financial records to its investors. This really weeds out the weak from the sustainable and is about the best indication you can get your panel manufacturer will be around for the duration. Under Australian Consumer Law, the importer may be deemed the manufacturer, can your supplier tell you who the importer is? If it is a long established reputable company or the manufacturer themselves, it is a fairer bet they will around to honour any warraty issues.
- Good Quality Inverters? This market is much less cluttered than the panel market. We believe in staying away from the Asian manufacturers because the failure rates we have seen have been much higher than the three big European manufacturers, ABB and SMA and Bosch. 95% of all the inverters we have provided have been from these manufacturers and the results speak for themselves, we have experienced failure rates of much less than 1%.
- Good Quality Electrical Components? Most people overlook this part of the system but it is very important from the installation perspective. There have been many recalls of solar DC isolators from poor quality asian manufacturers, the faults have led to equipment fires and headaches for consumers trying to get these dangerous components replaced when the importers have folded. We only use and recommend the Austrain made Benedict and Jager isolators, Italian made Solarflex heavy duty conduit/solar cable and German made Hensel weather proof switchgear enclosures.
- Good Quality Installer? Buy from a qualified Clean Energy Council accredited installer, not a sales company. Qualified solar installers will know much more about installing a good system than a sales representative! Every registered solar electrician has a photo licence and can have their installation work randomly inspected by the Clean Energy Regulator. Ask them for a copy of their last audit report, if they have nothing to hide they won't have a problem! If they haven't been inspected they probably don't have much experience, a proven track record of happy customers over many years is one of the best endorsements a solar installer can get. Use only local installers. In SA, every installer has to do a supplimentary course on structural stability run by the Australian Institute of Building Surveyors. You'll want to know the people who will be drilling, screwing, fixing and wiring expensive equipment onto your property, will do a great job and understand the effects local conditions have on an installation.
Our Solarcare division is often called in to repair other installers work, be it leaking roof tiles, dodgy wiring or faulty equipment, you don't want to have to pay for upgrades to faulty workmanship do you? Ask your installer if they have read the the installation instructions for the panels and mountings they are installing. Our experience has proved very few do! If they do not know how to install the components to maintain your manufacturers warranty do you think you warranty will be honoured? Unfortunately it is most unlikely, installers continue to, for example, drill holes (for isolators or cable support) in panel frames which, in every case, voids the manufacturers warranty. You will not find out until you need warranty support. If you want to know more common issues we find in installations and how to avoid them ask Jason!