Pretend I know nothing about solar panels

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RomeoVoid
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#1

and I'm not very technical...what should I know if I want to get panels?

Asking for a friend :wink:
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Seayork2002
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#2

From what I gather they last approx 10 years and it pays to have a decent quality inverter
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Feebi
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#3

Someone linked this on the old EB when I was looking at getting solar panels on my home. It's an independent site set up by an engineer.

https://www.solarquotes.com.au/panels/comparison/chart/

I used the companies they recommended to get quotes. I ended up going with a company who charged more than the bargain basement prices you see advertised on TV, but on the flipside have been in business a long time, they know their stuff and only sell quality products. I know a number of people who have had trouble a few years down the track with hail damage and having to attempt to contact an overseas manufacturer because the company they purchased the panels through had gone out of business.

If you live in SEQ I can let you know who I got to install my panels.

I have saved a lot of $ on my electricity bills. My only regret is that I got a 6.5kw system instead of the 10kw. I've been toying with ducted aircon and don't think my system produces enough electricity to cover the running costs during the day.

Also when I got mine the backup battery technology was new and I didn't think it was worth getting them - ie potential savings didn't cover the outlay. That may not be the case now, so would definitely be worth looking into if you can stretch your budget that far.

FWIW I paid about $7k for my system but that included a $4? k rebate from the Qld Government. That was a few years ago and it would have changed since then.
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LemonMyrtle
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#4

solar panels convert the suns rays into electricity. You can either:
1) use that electricity immediately
2) store it in a battery and use it later
3) sell it back to the grid.

Option 1 is your best return on investment, works well if youre home during the day and can do all your washing etc during the day when the panels are pumping out the electricity
Option 2 is not very profitable because batteries are still so expensive and they only last 5-10 years.
Option 3 is less and less appealing as the feed in tariffs are quite low. I think we pay 24 cents to buy our electricity, but only get 10 cents back when we feed back in.

We have option 1 and 2 and 3 going. We mostly use all the electricity generated as it is generated, there is always someone home. On the off chance we arent home, it charges our battery, and once the battery is full, it feeds into the grid. So we rarely feed into the grid, only if we go away for a weekend really. We dont have many panels, in summer they cover almost 50% of our electricity needs, in winter its almost nothing. We are in melbourne. We got the battery cheap, through a deal with our distributer, I am contractually not allowed to tell you how much we paid, but without the deal, the battery wouldnt have been worth it for us, not by a long shot, we rarely use it.

Another thing to think of is the panels need sun to work, lots of bright sun. Any nearby trees or buildings can reduce your generation hours significantly. So do clouds and dirt.
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RomeoVoid
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#5

Feebi wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 3:43 pm Someone linked this on the old EB when I was looking at getting solar panels on my home. It's an independent site set up by an engineer.

https://www.solarquotes.com.au/panels/comparison/chart/

I used the companies they recommended to get quotes. I ended up going with a company who charged more than the bargain basement prices you see advertised on TV, but on the flipside have been in business a long time, they know their stuff and only sell quality products. I know a number of people who have had trouble a few years down the track with hail damage and having to attempt to contact an overseas manufacturer because the company they purchased the panels through had gone out of business.

If you live in SEQ I can let you know who I got to install my panels.

I have saved a lot of $ on my electricity bills. My only regret is that I got a 6.5kw system instead of the 10kw. I've been toying with ducted aircon and don't think my system produces enough electricity to cover the running costs during the day.

Also when I got mine the backup battery technology was new and I didn't think it was worth getting them - ie potential savings didn't cover the outlay. That may not be the case now, so would definitely be worth looking into if you can stretch your budget that far.

FWIW I paid about $7k for my system but that included a $4? k rebate from the Qld Government. That was a few years ago and it would have changed since then.
I'm in Brisbane so I'd love to know who you used :)
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RomeoVoid
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#6

LemonMyrtle wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 3:52 pm solar panels convert the suns rays into electricity. You can either:
1) use that electricity immediately
2) store it in a battery and use it later
3) sell it back to the grid.

Option 1 is your best return on investment, works well if youre home during the day and can do all your washing etc during the day when the panels are pumping out the electricity
Option 2 is not very profitable because batteries are still so expensive and they only last 5-10 years.
Option 3 is less and less appealing as the feed in tariffs are quite low. I think we pay 24 cents to buy our electricity, but only get 10 cents back when we feed back in.

We have option 1 and 2 and 3 going. We mostly use all the electricity generated as it is generated, there is always someone home. On the off chance we arent home, it charges our battery, and once the battery is full, it feeds into the grid. So we rarely feed into the grid, only if we go away for a weekend really. We dont have many panels, in summer they cover almost 50% of our electricity needs, in winter its almost nothing. We are in melbourne. We got the battery cheap, through a deal with our distributer, I am contractually not allowed to tell you how much we paid, but without the deal, the battery wouldnt have been worth it for us, not by a long shot, we rarely use it.

Another thing to think of is the panels need sun to work, lots of bright sun. Any nearby trees or buildings can reduce your generation hours significantly. So do clouds and dirt.
Thank you LM, so battery is still not quite a viable option? Good to know. I'm home during the day, and DH works from home often so I think we can make it work for us during the day. We plan on putting our hot water system on a timer so it heats during the day (off solar) as well.
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Kiwi Bicycle
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#7

North facing roof side is best, east and west ok but you will only get half a days sun. You do need to clean them occassionally so either factor someone doing it or make sure you can safely do it yourself. Big trees can effect production as well.
The inverter does make a humming noise, so think where you would place this. Lucky our power board is in our garage, so the inverter is next to that. Don't put in next to a bedroom window for example.
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RomeoVoid
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#8

Kiwi Bicycle wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 4:08 pm North facing roof side is best, east and west ok but you will only get half a days sun. You do need to clean them occassionally so either factor someone doing it or make sure you can safely do it yourself. Big trees can effect production as well.
The inverter does make a humming noise, so think where you would place this. Lucky our power board is in our garage, so the inverter is next to that. Don't put in next to a bedroom window for example.
Does the inverter go under cover, like under a house, or is it in the garden? We've got lots of roof space facing everywhichway so that shouldn't be a problem.
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#9

RomeoVoid wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 4:13 pm
Kiwi Bicycle wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 4:08 pm North facing roof side is best, east and west ok but you will only get half a days sun. You do need to clean them occassionally so either factor someone doing it or make sure you can safely do it yourself. Big trees can effect production as well.
The inverter does make a humming noise, so think where you would place this. Lucky our power board is in our garage, so the inverter is next to that. Don't put in next to a bedroom window for example.
Does the inverter go under cover, like under a house, or is it in the garden? We've got lots of roof space facing everywhichway so that shouldn't be a problem.
It typically goes on the side of an exterior wall although I'd imagine inside a garage would be fine. It can't be in direct sunlight but it doesn't need to be out of the rain.
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Kiwi Bicycle
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#10

I think they can go outside as they are in a plastuc covering, but I would prefer them to be undercover and sheltered.
The inverter needs to be easily assessed in case of power cuts and manintence so is normally attached to a wall.
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BECZ
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#11

Our inverter is on the southern side of our house as that is where the meter box is anyway. Ours is still going strong almost 10 yrs on (touch wood) as is a friend’s, who’s inverter is also on the south side.
We both know of a few others who’ve had issues with their inverters within a few years and we do wonder if it is that all of those that we know of who have had issues, have their inverters much more exposed to direct sunlight. Same brands too..
My sisters for example, had issues just after 5 years (but still under warranty), her faces an easterly direction and as her house is two storey, it’s in full sun for long periods in summer as the eaves don’t help shade it from that height.
Ours is just around the corner from my youngest’s bedroom window and you can hear it at all until you literally walk around that side of the house. Mind you, we live on a busy road, so maybe I’m not very sensitive anymore, but I have literally tried to hear it and can’t. It’s actually very quiet, even standing right in front of it. The solar meter ticking over in the fuse box is actually louder.
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Feebi
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#12

RomeoVoid wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 4:03 pm
Feebi wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 3:43 pm Someone linked this on the old EB when I was looking at getting solar panels on my home. It's an independent site set up by an engineer.

https://www.solarquotes.com.au/panels/comparison/chart/

I used the companies they recommended to get quotes. I ended up going with a company who charged more than the bargain basement prices you see advertised on TV, but on the flipside have been in business a long time, they know their stuff and only sell quality products. I know a number of people who have had trouble a few years down the track with hail damage and having to attempt to contact an overseas manufacturer because the company they purchased the panels through had gone out of business.

If you live in SEQ I can let you know who I got to install my panels.

I have saved a lot of $ on my electricity bills. My only regret is that I got a 6.5kw system instead of the 10kw. I've been toying with ducted aircon and don't think my system produces enough electricity to cover the running costs during the day.

Also when I got mine the backup battery technology was new and I didn't think it was worth getting them - ie potential savings didn't cover the outlay. That may not be the case now, so would definitely be worth looking into if you can stretch your budget that far.

FWIW I paid about $7k for my system but that included a $4? k rebate from the Qld Government. That was a few years ago and it would have changed since then.
I'm in Brisbane so I'd love to know who you used :)
https://www.mcelectrical.com.au/
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Feebi
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#13

RomeoVoid wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 4:13 pm
Kiwi Bicycle wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 4:08 pm North facing roof side is best, east and west ok but you will only get half a days sun. You do need to clean them occassionally so either factor someone doing it or make sure you can safely do it yourself. Big trees can effect production as well.
The inverter does make a humming noise, so think where you would place this. Lucky our power board is in our garage, so the inverter is next to that. Don't put in next to a bedroom window for example.
Does the inverter go under cover, like under a house, or is it in the garden? We've got lots of roof space facing everywhichway so that shouldn't be a problem.
My inverter is under the house. I'm on a sloping block and the house is only partially build in under. The inverter is attached to a wall in the spot that's not built under. Actually I'm WFH right now and it is on the other side of the wall of my study. I haven't noticed any humming. From memory it is best to try and place it out of direct sunlight. My parents have their's on an east facing wall. They have a lot of trees in their yard and it is shady in that spot most if not all of the day.
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Feebi
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#14

RomeoVoid wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 4:07 pm
LemonMyrtle wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 3:52 pm solar panels convert the suns rays into electricity. You can either:
1) use that electricity immediately
2) store it in a battery and use it later
3) sell it back to the grid.

Option 1 is your best return on investment, works well if youre home during the day and can do all your washing etc during the day when the panels are pumping out the electricity
Option 2 is not very profitable because batteries are still so expensive and they only last 5-10 years.
Option 3 is less and less appealing as the feed in tariffs are quite low. I think we pay 24 cents to buy our electricity, but only get 10 cents back when we feed back in.

We have option 1 and 2 and 3 going. We mostly use all the electricity generated as it is generated, there is always someone home. On the off chance we arent home, it charges our battery, and once the battery is full, it feeds into the grid. So we rarely feed into the grid, only if we go away for a weekend really. We dont have many panels, in summer they cover almost 50% of our electricity needs, in winter its almost nothing. We are in melbourne. We got the battery cheap, through a deal with our distributer, I am contractually not allowed to tell you how much we paid, but without the deal, the battery wouldnt have been worth it for us, not by a long shot, we rarely use it.

Another thing to think of is the panels need sun to work, lots of bright sun. Any nearby trees or buildings can reduce your generation hours significantly. So do clouds and dirt.
Thank you LM, so battery is still not quite a viable option? Good to know. I'm home during the day, and DH works from home often so I think we can make it work for us during the day. We plan on putting our hot water system on a timer so it heats during the day (off solar) as well.
When I looked into the batteries, what turned me off was that batteries have a limited life span, no matter how good the quality is, or how well it is looked after, they will all eventually die eg like a car battery or mobile phone battery they have a limited number of recharges.

ie when you get a new battery it will recharge to 100%. The next time you recharge it, it will only recharge to say 99.9999%, then 99.9998% 99.9997% etc. After a number of years, the battery will have reached 50% capacity and then it is pretty well useless and needs to be replaced.

The prices may have dropped since then, but when looked into it a few years ago I was told I wasn't going to recoup the outlay and it wasn't worth it from a financial standpoint. I did um and ahh thinking about the environmental impacts of drawing less from the grid vs dumping the battery in landfill after x number of years. End of the day as a single parent and having to budget carefully, I opted out of the battery.
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#15

LemonMyrtle wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 3:52 pm We dont have many panels, in summer they cover almost 50% of our electricity needs, in winter its almost nothing.
What do you mean by this? That in winter you hardly get any electricity from the panels?
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#16

Lesley225 wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 8:15 pm
LemonMyrtle wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 3:52 pm We dont have many panels, in summer they cover almost 50% of our electricity needs, in winter its almost nothing.
What do you mean by this? That in winter you hardly get any electricity from the panels?
Yup. Not much sun in Melbourne in winter. The sun gets low, the low sun causes shadows from trees onto our panels too. And then there is the weather itself, lots of cloud. And cold temperatures make panels a little less efficient also.
Just looked up the data and the bureau of meteorology data says we get on average 24MJ/m2 in December but only 6.3 in June. That’s a quarter of potential solar power, winter to summer.
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#17

Solar panels actually perform better when it's cold, they perform worse when they get too hot.

Ours do fairly well even over winter in Tas, but they aren't shaded at all and are angled north.

The whirlpool forums have a green energy section - there are a lot of helpful people there, that's what I was reading when we were looking at getting solar panels.
Me 41, DH 41, DD1 10, DD2 6
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#18

We have all of our panels facing WNW. It actually works out well in summer as we get power from them until around 5pm (albeit reduced). Late afternoon/early evening is peak load for the grid as everyone gets home/finally turns on their airconditioning. We usually turn our airconditioning on for a quick blast from around 3pm, and then off once the sun is off the panels, and that's enough to keep the house pleasant in temperature all day.

Dishwasher/washing machine are on timer to turn on during the middle of the day (or just turned on when we're at home). I use the dryer only when the sun is on the panels - since I don't have good drying space outside, I can't just stick it all on the line like I would have previously. Anyone remember it being a 'good drying day' and your mum deciding to wash all the blankets and mattress protectors?

If we expand our array I'll put a couple on the front and get just enough to offset a bit of morning usage and get a bit more flexibility when we can use the power. On those really hot days I would then turn the airconditioning on a little earlier.

We decided against a battery - the battery technology probably needs another 5-10 years to be where it's going to be really performing well (think about the battery life of the first smartphones vs that now - no comparison in how much lighter and more efficient the batteries are these days). For the moment, the grid is our 'battery' - we push in when we have too much, take out when we need more. Of course, from a financial point of view we don't necessarily come out as far ahead as we would with a battery, but we've also saved the battery cost. There are also external costs to the power providers having everyone do this - lots of places they are having to managed over-voltages in local parts of their distribution network as everyone's panels are working simultaneously.
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#19

LemonMyrtle wrote: Mon Feb 22, 2021 8:37 pm Yup. Not much sun in Melbourne in winter. The sun gets low, the low sun causes shadows from trees onto our panels too. And then there is the weather itself, lots of cloud. And cold temperatures make panels a little less efficient also.
Just looked up the data and the bureau of meteorology data says we get on average 24MJ/m2 in December but only 6.3 in June. That’s a quarter of potential solar power, winter to summer.
think it's probably warmer in Newcastle. FIgured out where to find it . Seems to vary a bit. Last one was only 19.5 but the year before it was 25 in june it's 9-10. So we're about the same in summer bit better in winter. Never seen that data before.

Very interesting, we were quite down this year which has been a lot more cool and rainy than normal. And a bit humid.
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#20

We've saved a heap but we got our panels with the high rate of rebate that is no longer offered. We're also home all day and try to do washing during the day and run the dishwasher.

We decided against a battery until the tech is further improved.
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#21

OP I hope you don’t mind a hijack...

Has anyone got maxim panels? I understand they work better where there’s partial shade but they don’t seem to be widely available so I’m not sure if they live up to the installer’s hype.
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#22

Daffy2016 wrote: Sun Feb 28, 2021 10:20 am OP I hope you don’t mind a hijack...

Has anyone got maxim panels? I understand they work better where there’s partial shade but they don’t seem to be widely available so I’m not sure if they live up to the installer’s hype.
Check them on the website 'Solar Quotes'. I've been told they're the most independent review website.
I'm finding it hard to navigate all the hype. I've had a quote of $4,000 for a 9kw system and a quote of $10,000 for an 8.2kg system. I'm so confused!!! The $4,000 is from a company that advertises heavily on TV and there's lots of 'warnings' about...the other is the top pick on the Solar Quotes website (the most balanced review site I've been told).

edited to add, I can't see Maxim listed on this site.
Last edited by RomeoVoid on Sun Feb 28, 2021 11:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RomeoVoid
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#23

Daffy2016 wrote: Sun Feb 28, 2021 10:20 am OP I hope you don’t mind a hijack...

Has anyone got maxim panels? I understand they work better where there’s partial shade but they don’t seem to be widely available so I’m not sure if they live up to the installer’s hype.
I also found this which is interesting
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#24

Some of the cheap setups that get advertised are pretty worthless, they might slightly reduce your electricity bill, but without proper customisation they are tokenism.

We have a battery and do feed in to the grid. We would be lucky to have one or two days a month where we actually require the grid for our power needs, we are net positive and feed in around 60% of our production. This would be higher but there are limitations based on the inverter.

Our usage during the day is covered by the incoming and overnight it's the battery. If we run the oven or dryer we might import for a few hours in the early AM. Some nights we can get through with 50% battery remaining and dinner plan are the biggest impact on that. The battery is usually recharged by 10am and the best time for us to use power hungry items is in the few hours when the panels have good solar, but before the battery is charged which is a pain, but that is about min/maxing rather than being required.

We paid a lot for the set up, but we are on a shaded block and wanted battery for back up purposes, the pay off period was calculated at `15 years, but it is likely to be at least half that. Even on mostly overcast days we still get solar power, just more slowly, and it's the only when there is heavy cloud that they don't convert.

The battery is warrantied for 15 years but there is reduction in capacity over that time. Our plan is to add in a second battery at around 7 years (hopefully they go down in price) to combat this.

Even with the pitiful tariff and daily connections fees, we are in credit on electricity and this is enough to cover our gas bill as well. My only regret is that we didn't get a better featured inverter, ours is set and forget, but we would have liked the option to have profiles based on weather and various factors, that is a pretty small thing.

Biggest piece of advice, shop around and don't go for the cheapest option. Ours was done by the local electricians not a solar company who knew nothing about local conditions. One of those companies even told us the house was unsuitable for solar.
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RomeoVoid
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#25

nightmarish wrote: Sun Feb 28, 2021 12:10 pm Some of the cheap setups that get advertised are pretty worthless, they might slightly reduce your electricity bill, but without proper customisation they are tokenism.

We have a battery and do feed in to the grid. We would be lucky to have one or two days a month where we actually require the grid for our power needs, we are net positive and feed in around 60% of our production. This would be higher but there are limitations based on the inverter.

Our usage during the day is covered by the incoming and overnight it's the battery. If we run the oven or dryer we might import for a few hours in the early AM. Some nights we can get through with 50% battery remaining and dinner plan are the biggest impact on that. The battery is usually recharged by 10am and the best time for us to use power hungry items is in the few hours when the panels have good solar, but before the battery is charged which is a pain, but that is about min/maxing rather than being required.

We paid a lot for the set up, but we are on a shaded block and wanted battery for back up purposes, the pay off period was calculated at `15 years, but it is likely to be at least half that. Even on mostly overcast days we still get solar power, just more slowly, and it's the only when there is heavy cloud that they don't convert.

The battery is warrantied for 15 years but there is reduction in capacity over that time. Our plan is to add in a second battery at around 7 years (hopefully they go down in price) to combat this.

Even with the pitiful tariff and daily connections fees, we are in credit on electricity and this is enough to cover our gas bill as well. My only regret is that we didn't get a better featured inverter, ours is set and forget, but we would have liked the option to have profiles based on weather and various factors, that is a pretty small thing.

Biggest piece of advice, shop around and don't go for the cheapest option. Ours was done by the local electricians not a solar company who knew nothing about local conditions. One of those companies even told us the house was unsuitable for solar.
Can I ask how big your system is, how much it cost and how big your family is?
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