There is always a lot of hype around the world’s most efficient solar panels, and rightly so. Advancements in solar panel technology have global significance because with increased output more and more households will be able to become self-sufficient, especially now that solar storage is available.
So it is with much excitement that LG Solar is now well on the way to their goal of a 400W panel, with the new 370W NeON R panel now available in Australia.
But is a high-efficiency panel ‘the best’? Well, that depends on your definition and what you are trying to achieve. Most of our customers are looking for a combination of quality, performance, reliability, and longevity, and then choosing a solution that offers value for money at a price point they are comfortable with. ‘The best’ solar system, therefore, will not be the same for everyone. Some people pay more for quality, others want a faster return on their money.
With this in mind, let’s have a look at some the best technology available in solar power & energy management in 2019 for homes in Australia.
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Judging The Best Panel For Efficiency
The efficiency of a solar panel refers to the output divided by the size of the panel. As the size of a residential solar panel is typically standardised at 1.7m by 1m, high-efficiency panels will output more power from the same sized panel. For example, the LG Solar NeON R panel is rated at 370W and is approximately the same size as a standard 300W panel.
Using high-efficiency panels means fewer panels for the same output and hence fewer panels and less roof space is needed for a certain size system, however a 3kW system with high-efficiency panels will output the same amount of power as a 3kW system with standard efficiency panels, it will just do so with fewer panels.
Furthermore, efficiency is only a measurement of output, not quality. Naturally high-efficiency modules from the leading brands are going to be well made, however, it should only be one factor of many when considering solar panels, others being quality, longevity, and output in low light conditions.
It is important to clear up this point because when we are talking about the best panels available, we are not only looking at the panel’s efficiency; the best solar panels combine performance, reliability, longevity, warranty support and efficiency with (you guessed it) – the price!
Panels at the top end of the efficiency scale are generally going to be more expensive than standard panels, however, there is also a huge price range between the panels at the top, so it is important to find a panel that is going to offer good value as well as performance.
The Best Solar Panel Available in 2019
LG NeON R 370W Panels
LG is a world leader in solar panel manufacturing with over 20 years of experience. The latest NeON R 370W panel is packed with the latest technology that gives households improvements that really matter, from longer warranties and higher efficiency to stronger framing and increased wind loading.
Choosing a top of the range panel such as the LG NeON R is an investment in superior standards of design, manufacture, backup support and warranties. This high quality is the result of LG Solar’s strong commitment to developing a module that delivers reliable, high output for decades.
LG solar products are rigorously tested beyond industry standards, and those standards apply equally when selecting materials for their solar modules. When you choose LG Solar, you’ll have peace of mind that you are buying the best.
Very few panels of this quality are available for residential installations, making LG Solar Solaray’s stand out choice as the leading brand at the top end of the market. LG Solar offers full warranty support and has local representation, and all LG systems installed by Solaray include our Platinum Service Package, which includes full replacement warranties and technical support.
The best news of all is the price – NeON R 370W panels are extremely well priced for such a quality panel. LG Solar are striving for industry-leading efficiency, but critically they incorporate this new technology into their production line to ensure all customers have access to the best technology available. It’s not much use if a company releases a high-efficiency panel (with a lot of publicity) but only makes 1000 of them and/or charges an absolute fortune for them.
LG Solar was ranked as the number 1 panel in Australia by Choice Magazine in an independent test by CSIRO. They ranked number 1 for real-world output and the only panel to achieve an ‘excellent performance’ rating.
LG Solar Panels Powered by Enphase
The 7th Generation IQ 7 and IQ 7+ microinverters are now available. Packed with the world’s most advanced microinverter technology, the IQ 7 has an incredible efficiency rating of 96.5% and is compatible with all high powered solar panels including the LG NeON R 370W panel.
Built on the 7th-generation platform, the Enphase IQ 7 range is smart grid ready, and integrates seamlessly with the Enphase Envoy-S, and the Enphase Enlighten monitoring platform.
Microinverter technology allows each panel in a solar system to work independently from the other panels, ensuring maximum output of clean renewable energy for your household or business. Micro Inverters help avoid common roadblocks that stop a solar installation on many houses such as patchy shade and small roof areas.
An Enphase Micro Inverter system uses a small DC to AC inverter under each panel. This means that each panel’s performance does not affect any other panel’s performance – this is of particular use when there are shade issues, or when you need to face panels in two or more directions.
An Enphase Micro Inverter is attached to the mounting kit underneath each panel. The micro inverter uses state of the art electronics to convert DC to AC underneath each panel. This allows each individual panel to output power independently from the other panels, significantly increasing system output.
According to Renewable Energy World, shading of as little as 9% of a solar system connected to a central inverter, can lead to a system-wide decline in power output with as much as 54%.
The below image is a great example of how micro inverters can significantly increase output. In this image, the system will be working at near maximum output, despite the patchy shade because each panel is independent of the rest of the array.
One of the biggest limitations with standard string inverter systems is that the panels are installed in series, meaning that the system will always perform at the rate of the worst performing panel. This means that partial shade on just one panel can have a large impact on the output of a system.
It is not just shade from trees that can affect solar output. Bird droppings and dust, as well as chimneys and power lines, can all affect solar output. Additionally, solar panels have a +- tolerance during the manufacturing process. For example, LG Neon R panels have a 0 – +3% tolerance, so they will range in output from 370W to 381W. Your system won’t be able to take advantage of this unless each panel is outputting power independently from the other panels.
Using Micro Inverters allows our solar technicians to design a panel array across multiple roof areas – both across different orientations and angles. If you use most of your power in the afternoon, it can be beneficial to have panels facing both north and west to distribute the output of solar power across the day. This avoids having a big peak of solar power in the middle of the day, making it easier to use a large percentage of the solar power as it is generated, and hence increasing the value of your system.
The Enphase Envoy Communications Gateway is the networking hub for the system. The Envoy Gateway connects to the internet to transfer live data on system performance and critical issues. As your Enphase Installer, Solaray receives automatic emails alerting us to any technical issues, making it simple to conduct system checks remotely from our head office in Glendenning, or even when our technicians are on the road. Customers are also able to read system output and check the system status on the Envoy’s LED screen.
The Enlighten software platform provides solar professionals and solar system owners with ongoing system statistics and uptime assurance. Enlighten has a user-friendly and engaging interface to view your energy production. This energy monitoring platform is regarded as one of the best in the industry.
Microinverter systems avoid the need for high voltage DC cable runs, increasing safety for the homeowner. If a string inverter system was invented today it would probably be deemed illegal due to the need for a high voltage cable run through your home. There is also power leakage on longer DC cable runs, making safe and easy AC cable runs the preferred option whenever possible.
No single point of failure
In the unlikely event that something goes wrong with one of the panels or micro inverters, the rest of the system that is unaffected will still be operational. This allows for less downtime and allows you to continue to generate solar power during a warranty claim or service check.
Remote Technical Support
Both Enphase and Solaray as your installer have access to live, real-time monitoring of every panel. In the event of a fault, Solaray receives an automated message to alert us to the issue. In most cases, the firmware can be updated by Enphase technicians and the problem fixed remotely. This can save you days of downtime and the frustration of having to call out a technician.
Microinverter systems are expandable, limited only to your roof space. Solaray can install as many additional panels as you like, and we don’t need to match the panels to your existing array. This allows you to take advantage of any technology gains over the next few years.
With a standard string inverter, you need to match the inverter size to the panel array to ensure high performance. This means that adding panels normally requires the inverter to be replaced. The other limitation is that we need to match the panels in order to add panels to a string. This limits the upgrade window to around a year or so, as trying to find old stock is close to impossible due to the fast advances in technology.
Single Phase vs. Three Phase Power
With a standard string inverter system, we would normally use a single-phase inverter even if you have three-phase power. We connect the inverter to the phase that uses the most power. The alternative is to use an expensive three-phase inverter. For systems over 5kWs, you must have three-phase power and so the only option is to use a three-phase inverter.
With an Enphase Micro Inverter system, there is no additional cost for you if you have three-phase power. This is the best option from a technical viewpoint and can save you a lot of money as you don’t need to upgrade to a three-phase solution.
10 Year Warranty as Standard
Enphase offers a 10-year warranty as standard. It is a full replacement warranty so you are not out of pocket in the event of a failure. One of the reasons Solaray are considered to have industry-leading support standards is that we offer full replacement warranties. Solaray does not service ‘back to base warranties’ where you need to send faulty parts to the manufacturer.
All of the main string inverter manufacturers including SMA, ABB (Aurora), Schneider Electric and Growatt offer a 5-year warranty as standard. In some cases, these warranties can be extended to 10 or 15 years.
Enphase systems are battery ready and are the preferred option if you are considering batteries in the near future.
The Enphase Energy Management System is unlike anything else currently available because of its compatibility. Enphase Batteries are connected directly to the meter board, where we install a control hub that manages power consumption and storage in the home. This allows the Enphase power storage system to be compatible with any existing solar system. This is in stark contrast to other battery systems that typically connect directly to an expensive hybrid solar inverter and have limited compatibility.
The system itself has been designed to be modular, expandable, easily installed and can be tailored to each customer’s usage profile. A household or business will be able to monitor their usage, solar generation and peak times, and install more battery capacity knowing that it will pay for itself in the quickest possible time. Find out more…
Introducing Outstanding Energy Management – The Enphase Envoy-S Metered
Enphase is revolutionising renewable energy in Australia and Solaray is proud to be at the forefront of this incredible wave of smart solar and energy management technology.
Integrated, efficient and reliable, the Enphase storage solution combines solar generation, storage and load management technologies into one solution that is about to hit Australia’s shores over the coming months.
With all the talk surrounding solar storage, it has been easy to overlook the next generation Envoy-S.
In my opinion, this is an absolute game-changer as it is the first integrated energy monitor that provides energy usage insights, remote update capabilities and load management, enabling a more cost-effective and reliable solar installation while adding significant value for system owners.
The Enphase Envoy-S communications gateway delivers solar production and energy consumption data to Enphase Enlighten monitoring software for comprehensive, remote maintenance and management of the Enphase System.
This is what so many of our customers have been asking for, and very shortly we will be able to offer it with all of our Enphase systems.
It really is exciting stuff.
With production metering and consumption monitoring options, Envoy-S is the platform for total energy management and will integrate with the soon to be released Enphase Energy Storage System.
- Consumption monitoring for total energy insight
- 99.5% accuracy – miles ahead of what we have seen previously
- Bi-directional communications lets the Envoy adapt to future utility requirements
- Flexible networking options with integrated Wi-Fi
- Ready for plug-play cellular networking
- Connects up to 600 micro inverters
Interested in more information? If you don’t have a solar system installed the first step is to submit an online quote for an Enphase Micro Inverter Solar System. Of course, you can also call The Solaray Team on 1300 221 586.
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