6.6kW Solar Systems… The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
If you are wondering why there are so many 6.6kW solar deals in Sydney in 2020, you’re not alone. We get dozens of phone calls every day from people wanting a quote for a 6.6kW solar system, and increasing we are responding with why?
Have you gone through the process of sizing up a system to decide that 20 x 330W panels is exactly what you need (if so, here is our 6.6kW solar price guide)?
Or have you been told that you should get a 6.6kW system with ‘premium tier-1 panels’, free Wi-Fi monitoring… and hurry, sale ends Friday! Here are some examples of what you may see advertised online:
There is actually a reason why there are so many 6.6kW solar deals in Sydney.
The energy distributors in Sydney (both Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy) have a regulation that you must have 3-phase power to install a solar inverter that is larger than 5kW. This means that for most houses in Sydney with single-phase power looking to install solar power, you are limited to a 5kW inverter.
You can then oversize the inverter by a factor of 1.3 which results in a 6.6kW array on a 5kW inverter. This will give you an average of around 20-25kWh of solar power a day (more in summer and less in winter), which may actually be a good fit for many households.
Sizing up a system is something we’d be happy to help you with, simply call the Solaray Team today on 1300 221 586.
Technically, on a perfect day for solar, your 6.6kW solar array will be limited to 5kW of output by the inverter, however on most days the output of a solar system doesn’t reach the system’s rating, which makes an oversized system like this a good design. In fact we do it with all of our Enphase Microinverter systems to help maximise the system’s performance:
So far, so good.
But here’s the thing. Nearly all of the top inverter manufacturers such as Fronius, SMA and Enphase have a way to get around this regulation from the energy distributors called solar export limitation. Because the cheaper inverters typically don’t have this as an option, the 6.6kW system size has become dominated by the cheaper end of the market, what is referred to in polite circles as… ‘cheap solar’.
The disaster that is ‘cheap solar’ has given the whole solar industry a bad name. On average, 1 in 5 solar systems inspected by the CEC are deemed defective, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
It is estimated that an incredible 1 in 3 solar systems across Australia are no longer supported due to either the manufacturer or the installer no longer being in business, or pulling out of Australia:
With this recent wave of 6.6kW solar installations at ridiculous prices, many are predicting this number of 1 in 3 to grow dramatically over the next few years when all these systems start failing. We have seen the astronomical failure rates of cheaper solar systems over many years now, there is no reason to expect things to improve when the price of these ‘no-name panels’ is now even cheaper.
This is why a 25-year product warranty from a company like LG Solar is not even close to being the same thing as a 25-year power output guarantee that comes with one of these cheap 6.6kW systems.
In fact, one of the main reasons so many solar installers have closed their doors is that they went broke from all of the warranty claims. They simply couldn’t keep up with the number of systems that failed within the first few years after the system was installed.
You can read more about Cheap Solar here, otherwise, let’s get back to the good inverters…
What is solar export limiting?
The best inverters on the market all have a way to limit the amount of excess solar power that is sent back to the grid.
This means that if you have single-phase power, you can install a system that is up to about 10kW. We then program the inverter to limit the amount of excess solar power that can be sent to the grid to 5kW.
Just to be clear, the full output of the system is fed into the home and fully available for you to use. It’s only the excess solar power that is limited to 5kW. So if the system is sized correctly you will very rarely waste any solar power.
Because of this, the average-sized solar system we are installing in Sydney is now quickly approaching 10kW.
Why is the average solar system now so large?
The way people are approaching solar power in 2020 is getting really interesting. The average system we are installing these days is around 8kW to 10kW, both with and without battery storage.
In simple terms, most households are now sizing up a solar system to match their 24 hour energy usage.
Some of the main reasons why so many households are doing this include:
- The price of solar panels is at a record-low (this also means more people are choosing top quality panels, thankfully).
- Most people will be driving an electric or hybrid car within the life of the solar system
- Energy prices are some of the most expensive in the world, and they continue to rise
- Battery storage has arrived – around 1 in 3 households are now installing batteries with their solar system, and this number is quickly rising
- And… there are some really good feed-in tariffs available from the energy retailers at the moment
Higher Feed-In Tariffs Could Be Solar’s Missing Puzzle Piece
Battery storage is quickly becoming the norm, but for every household that chooses to integrate battery storage, there is around 1 or 2 others that decide to hold off.
Until recently, this meant a lot of households were getting solar systems that were far too small for what they will need in the future. Solar was seen as a 2-step approach: get a smaller system now sized up to your daytime energy usage, and then add more panels with a battery at some stage in the future.
This meant 2 sets of installation costs, and it also meant getting an expandable system, (which is advisable), but it certainly rules out any of the cheap 6.6kW solar deals.
Now, thanks to feed-in tariffs of up to and over 20 cents a kWh, things have changed.
In 2020, you can now install the full solar syste- sized up to your 24 hour power usage. It’s a system that is future-proof and battery ready.
Down the road, you can add solar storage when you are ready.
For now, you can send any excess solar power out to the grid and get paid a handsome sum for it.
Typically a higher feed-in tariff will mean signing up to a 2 year contact, but this is often considered a good thing as it may lock in a great feed-in tariff for 2 years, after which you can revist the idea of adding storage to your system.
What’s more, a system like this when sized correctly can actually eliminate your power bills, and we now have many customers enjoying a credit every quarter from their energy retailer.
If you would like to find out more about this strategy, we have a case study on how you can install a 10kW solar system, only use 50% of the solar power it generates, and completely eliminate your power bill (even if you have single phase power). You can find it here: how to eliminate your power bill with solar power
If you would like to talk through your options with a member of our team, or you are ready for a personalised quote, please fill out the form below and we will give you a call at a time that suits: