Advertising tells you that a 6.6 KW system is the one to have. This has NOTHING to do with what’s best for you – it has everything to do with making the easiest sale (a one size fits all approach).
When buying solar it can be confusing at best as you navigate a whole new world of terminology. Working out how much power you need can seem daunting and often it is impossible to know what questions to ask in order to get what is required.
- Does every family have the same energy requirements?
- Is every home roof angled the same way?
Of course not, that is why we design every system to suit each individual customer’s roof, energy needs, lifestyle and budget.
Many operators in the solar industry rely on the ignorance of customers and promise you great things for the lowest price. It is almost impossible to compare apples with apples, which makes the decision that much harder. When it gets too hard, people fall back into ‘safe mode’ and buy the system with lowest financial outlay – there, they got you. And then you eventually experience that sinking feeling known as buyer’s remorse.
Most people install a solar system to reduce or offset their energy bills. The most common error made is to buy a solar system based on its capacity (POWER RATING) and its price. Your energy retailer sells you ENERGY, not POWER.
So, what is the difference between energy and power? A useful analogy is the water to fill a bucket: Energy is like the quantity of water that can fit in the bucket (how full the bucket gets), power is like the pressure of water coming out of the tap. What is most important is how much ENERGY the system will produce (daily, yearly and lifetime). It’s the energy produced that saves you money.
The panel technology (which can vary almost infinitely as there are so many options available), roof angle, orientation, potential shading and other factors all determine the energy produced and therefore how much the system will save.
All solar panels lose energy output over time too. How quickly they reduce depends greatly on the purity of silicon, cell engineering, manufacturing process, glass type and other technical factors. In every instance, cheaper panels always reduce energy output much faster than higher quality panels.
This is often reflected in the panel performance warranty. Even then, whilst you might see a 25-year warranty on performance, the durability of the panel is often only 10 years or so – after which you are living on borrowed time with these panels.
To gain certification in Australia, panel manufacturers have to test their panels for a mere 200 cycles (this refers to hot-cold cycling, to address expansion and contraction). That is equivalent to just a little over 6 months out in the real world. Hot-cold cycling is the biggest cause of failures within solar panels – cell and interconnection breaks (micro-cracks & broken solder joints) make up over 40% of all problems, another 45% are caused by corrosion (again expansion & contraction can allow moisture to penetrate the panel).
High quality panel manufacturers such as SunPower conduct tests up to 5000 cycles! They have engineered internal breaks & corrosion issues OUT of their panels – you have more chance of being hit by lightning than having one of their panels fail!
Our primary mission at Solar-Man is to educate potential customers so they can make an informed decision. We are not going to bore you with technical guff (unless you are into that), but we will arm you with all that you need so you can make a smart choice.
If you are interested in talking about the technical stuff, or just want an informed idea of what is best for your unique situation, then get in touch!