Hi, this is a video about what’s the best solar system available in Australia today. It’s a comprehensive look at all the different components, panels, inverters, and the software that makes it all work well. If you only want to look at a section of it, please click on one of the chapter links. I really hope you find this valuable.
Just what is the best solar system available in Australia today? Well, while that may depend on your own definition of best. In this video, we’re going to look at the solar system that independent testers, the industry and consumer groups, regard as the best solar panels and inverters. The ones that provide the best performance, yield, reliability and savings.
Before we start, I’m going to assume that you’re already familiar with the fact that solar power is now more popular than ever in Australia due to rising energy costs, compelling financial savings, dramatic improvements in solar technology, and costs and our climate and that today, more than one in five households now have solar installed.
But one thing you may not be so familiar with, is that solar systems are meant to last for around 30 years. Meaning that you get the maximum financial benefit and the maximum environmental impact. Whereas many, many of the solar systems being sold today are lucky to last five or sometimes even three years. That’s why choosing the best or at least a good solar system is worth both the time and the extra money it costs now, to save much more later.
So let’s start with panels. To work out which brand of panel out of the hundreds available which one is the best, is actually quite easy. At Solaray, we simply look at a combination of all the important criteria. Output or yield, efficiency, reliability, safety, warranty, and of course, the cost.
The panel that today beats all the others is, in our opinion, the LG NeON panel. Widely regarded as the top-performing and value for money panel in Australia.
There are one or two other panels that come pretty close with some of the criteria, but the LG NeON panels are the only ones that we believe are the best in all of them. So let’s go through them one at a time.
Output and yield. Ultimately, the most important feature of a solar panel is how much energy it produces over a long period of time. Independent testing from organisations such as CHOICE, and DNV GL, a global environmental quality company, consistently show the LG NeON panels deliver more energy and therefore more savings than any of the other panels tested. This is also confirmed by the test panel system that we at Solaray have on our roof, where we have some of all the major panel brands installed, where the LG NeON 2 is the clear leader.
As well as that, the monitoring reports from thousands of our customers with LG panels confirms this as well. In fact, LG’s own data shows that the NeON panels can deliver around nine to 15% more energy per year, every year, for the life of the system, than a cheaper, similarly-specified panel. Which means you save much more on your power bills, than you spend on the relatively small amount of extra costs upfront.
Oh, and given that the LG panels will last for at least 25 or 30 years, and that many of the cheaper panels fail in a much, much shorter timeframe, then that makes the LG NeON choice even more compelling.
So how does it do with efficiency? Despite what you might think, efficiency is not the most important factor with solar panels. Not to say that it’s not important, just it’s not the most important. Efficiency refers to the rated output divided by the size of the panel. In other words, the amount of power it produces per square meter.
This is important when you’re trying to maximize the output of your solar system with limited roof space which is often the case today. However, 10 kilowatts is still 10 kilowatts whether that is produced from a small space or a large space. Having said that, the LG NeON panels do, of course, have one of the highest efficiency ratings available.
Let’s look at reliability. Now this is a big one. Will the panels last, as long as they are meant to, and, how often do they fail? Over the last 10 or 15 years, we at Solaray Energy have installed hundreds of thousands of solar panels, and we still service all of them. Without going into a whole bunch of numbers, let me just simply say that our most reliable panel we have ever sold is the LG NeON 2. In fact, in preparing for this, we’ve gone back and searched through all our old records, and we struggle to find more than one or two panels that have ever had a problem.
Safety. You would think this hardly needed to be mentioned in this day and age but if a solar panel is assembled badly and for example allows water in, then there is a possibility it can cause a short circuit and perhaps even a fire. Although this is unlikely with most of the decent quality panels, it is a potential risk with cheap ones.
Now let’s talk about warranty. With solar panels, there are three really important things to understand with warranties. The first one is, how long is the real warranty? What does it cover? Will you ever be able to claim on it if you need to?
All solar panels in Australia have what’s called a power output warranty, where the panel is warranted to output a percentage of its original power after 25 years. However, this is for residential customers at least, meaningless and have no value, with the claim offered often limited to a few dollars, and in most cases cannot be claimed on, even if the product stops working altogether. In other words, power output warranty is not a real warranty as most of us would think of it.
The real warranty is a product warranty. The same as you would get with a TV or a computer for example, where the warranty is that the product will work as stated for a period of time. With solar panels, this is generally 15 to 25 years and the LG NeON panels are at the top of the market with a full 25-year warranty.
But, and this is a big but, the warranty can only be claimed on if the company that manufactured it is still in business and still in business in Australia. In 2013, there were more than 450 solar panel manufacturers operating in Australia. In 2019, there were fewer than 70. That means that more than 85% of all brands sold in 2013, are in effect without a manufacturer’s warranty and believe me, we get dozens and dozens of calls every week from people that have faulty solar systems in warranty, but can’t get anything done about it. In most cases, they have to write off their investment and buy a whole new system. Sometimes, when it is even only a couple of years after installation.
So apart from better performance and reliability, this is why we choose LG panels. LG are a big global company, with a strong local business in Australia, making their warranty the safest of any of their competitors.
Now, lastly with panels, let’s look at cost. Well, all this of course is going to come at a cost and yes, the LG panels are more expensive but if you’re planning on being in your home for more than five years, you will get more savings much more than the initial extra cost and the peace of mind knowing that if there is ever a problem, you will be able to have it fixed.
Now let’s move on to inverters. Inverters are the engine and brain of your solar system. Firstly, they convert the DC power the solar panels produce, to AC power that your home uses. Over the last 10 years, technology has now done for inverters, what smartphones did to the wall telephone.
A number of years ago, solar inverters consisted of a single big box which the solar panels fed into. This had a number of problems not the least of which, is that it didn’t work very well. You see with a single old-style inverter, what happens is that because of the way the panels are wired together, the entire system would operate at the output of the worst-performing panel. Because all panels perform differently, even if they’re from the same manufacturing batch, you automatically lose up to 5% of your output. If even one panel is shaded, has a leaf on it, or is damaged, this gets dramatically worse.
Today, almost all good-quality solar systems installed have a device under the panel that allows it to operate independently of the others. Meaning you get a much greater amount of power and therefore savings.
The other major thing the solar industry has learned over the years, is that having high voltage, hundreds of volts of DC power running through your roof and your house is just downright dangerous and a fire risk.
Modern solar systems minimize this by either converting the DC to AC on the roof. Remember, AC is protected by circuit breakers and is much, much safer. Or by putting a device under the panel that turns the panel off if there is an electrical problem. We always recommend this except in unusual circumstances.
So the best of the best of the inverters is today, the Enphase Microinverter. It converts DC to AC on the roof. So it is the safest solar inverter available. It optimizes each panel, so it produces more output and therefore greater financial savings. It has a long warranty and a fabulous track record when it comes to reliability. Oh, and it also has the best software and technology of any of the inverters that we have seen.
Which brings us to the third major component of the best solar system available. The one that makes it smart. Smart solar systems are now the heart and brain of any home management system. It is where you are given control of your energy usage, how much you save and how you manage your home.
The Enphase system called Enlighten, not only gives you all that but also proactively monitors the health of your solar system, meaning you always know it’s delivering what you expect. It also means that if or when you install a solar battery, you will get the most value from that as well.
To sum it all up, we believe that the best solar system in Australia today, is one that has the LG NeON panels, the Enphase Microinverters, with the Enphase management software Enlighten managing the whole system.
Of course, the solar system is now a complex piece of technology, and so needs to be designed, installed and most importantly, managed and supported by experts.
Solaray Energy has been awarded the best installer of LG panels and the best installer of Enphase Microinverters in Australia every year, for the last five years. We have the most experience, the best track record and importantly, we have a dedicated team of support staff, to ensure your system works as expected, and to help you with how to get the most from it.
So if you are looking for the best solar system in Australia today, make sure you talk to the one company that specializes in this more than any others. With more customers than any others and with the longest track record of installing the best.
Get in touch with us today.