The answer to this lies in doing a little bit of research – but this research can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
Selecting the right brand of solar panel really boils down to balancing the following issues:
2) Warranty & Support; and
Rather obviously, you won’t find any brand of panel that gets a perfect score in all three categories: they can be the best quality but won’t come cheap, or they can be very cheap, with little or no prospect of any support if you need to claim under warranty. (It almost goes without saying that the cheaper the panel, the more the likelihood of something going wrong).
Choosing the right panel therefore depends on which of the above three points is most important to you.
We do, however, suggest that at the very least you look at the following factors when choosing a panel:
Quality solar panels
- How long has the manufacturer been making solar panels (in our view it should be at least 10 years to have developed the knowledge and experience to do it properly)?
- Do they conduct their own Research & Development (ie do they invest at least some of their profit into continually improving their product) or do they rely on someone else’s technology (usually labelled as ‘German Engineering’!)?
- Do they make their own wafers, cells and other key components – or are they really just an assembler reliant on their supplier’s quality?
- Do they assemble by hand or is it fully automated (as making solar panels is a technically difficult process and the possibility of error is far too great for hand assembly)?
- Can they provide long term reference sites where their panels have already stood the test of time?
Click here for more information about our quality range of solar panels
Solar Panel Warranty and Support
- Does the manufacturer have an Australian office so that a consumer can make a warranty claim directly to the manufacturer if required?
- Is the manufacturer listed on a European or American Stock Exchange so that independent financial analysts can review their costs and assess their viability?
- Does your installer buy from a recognised distribution partner for the manufacturer – as there have recently been several reported occurrences of seconds or even fake products being sold in Australia – and not carrying any manufacturer warranty?
- Does your installer buy from a large and substantial importer or from a small wholesaler or the manufacturer – because under Australian law, if the manufacturer leaves Australia for any reason, it is the importer that holds the warranty and you need to ensure the importer is big enough to support any warranty claims.
- Does your installer accept they will take responsibility for any product issues or will they just refer you to the manufacturer?
Solar Panel Price
- The price you pay for a solar system will of depend on the brand and type of panel you buy. However, you will find that the price from different installers FOR THE SAME PRODUCTS should only vary by at most a few hundred dollars. A variation greater than that will usually indicate different or cheaper components.
- As with almost everything you buy, there will be top of the range, mid-range and cheap. For most buyers, starting at the mid-range is usually the smart option and educating yourself about the pros and cons of going up or down from there is important.
Clearly, there is no simple answer to selecting the right size panel – but using the above as a guide, and taking a few moments searching on the internet will be time well spent.