Solar... who's clued in?

dunndog

Eats Squid
So I'm getting close to pulling the trigger on a solar PV system at home. Have spent the past few weeks reading, e mailing and talking to so many sources my head is spinning. It's a really strange industry, seemingly flooded with cheap and nasty companies just trying to undercut each other in order to sell as many units as possible before closing up and running for the hills. Amongst these are the reputable, genuine companies who actually know more than can be read on their web page and actually care about giving you the right advice and product. It's a slippery course to navigate but I'm slowly whittling away the cheapos and rip offs and am settling on a particular configuration of 5.4kw system with Fronius single phase inverter and panels either by Jinko or et solar.
Quotes for identical systems in terms of these components vary from $5300 to $7700, which is huge in terms of percentage. They all spruik certified electricians, installers, system engineers, cec accredited independent inspections same warranties on products and workmanship, so the hard part is believing they'll still exist long enough to honour a 25 or even 10 year warranty..
So where is the rest of the value? One company offers lifetime system analysis so as to be able to inform us on more beneficial energy usage patterns, or issues with power generation etc, so that could be handy but not essential.
Who around Melbourne or within Victoria has had a system installed, and what would you recommend to help sift through the shit and not get ripped off but at the same time not just assume more expensive is better? I'm leaning toward a company that's about middle ground price wise, seem pretty honest, get decent independent industry reviews and are local and been in business for years. But any advice or experiences would be great to hear before I throw down 6-7k.
 

rowdyflat

chez le médecin
Get someone reputable and long standing even if it costs more .
The after sales service and quality of panels and installation is worth it.
Plenty of fly by nighters w accents.
Ring Martin at sunreal 0427408531 esp if off grid or rural.
Worth it otherwise if someone is home during the day to use the power or you do it as a group eg in ur street
 

99_FGT

Likes Bikes and Dirt
Have a look at your energy bill. If you can get time of day readings of this, assuming you have an interval meter.
Have a think about what else you can shift to daytime usage.
Hot water, dishwasher, washing machine, heating and ac, assuming you're home.
The sales pitch is often over optimistic of savings
If you're not home, what is the feedin tariff like in vic?
 
What are your motivations behind installing solar, for most people it is driven by wanting to save money against the increasing costs in energy but in order for this to be effective you need to be able to work out your return on investment. You're talking about dropping seven odd thousand on a solar system that produces it's greatest savings benefit when you aren't at home to use it, one of the major costs associated with peoples energy usage is hot water and if you have an electric hot water system typically these turn back on after everybody has had their showers... at night... Another big portion of your energy bill is cooking and heating/cooling guess when you use most of this... at night.

Most people who install solar without some form of storage will end up feeding a great portion of their generated electricity back to the grid, if you work on this assumption it becomes relatively easy to calculate how much money you stand to make from this venture and from there you can work out how long it will take get your seven thousand dollars back before you start making a profit from your system. In the mean time you could have potentially invested your money into something with bigger returns.
 

indica

Where did I come from?
Mine has halved my bill and I am really happy with that.
Have a read on Whirlpool, lots of dickheads there but some very good information.
Get good gear. You will pay more for it but it is worthwhile.
 

dunndog

Eats Squid
My motivations are financial and moral. If I didn't save a cent, but gathered my energy from the sun rather than that dirt c word, I'd be happy. But financially on a 7k spend we're looking at about 6-7 years to pay for itself. We are around generally on weekends, with 2 growing kids that are only going to consume more energy as they grow.. my wife works from home Wednesdays and has our daughter and often 1 or 2 other kids. I have fortnightly Monday rdo's, so we have a decent amount of weekday time at home. Plus I'm usually home by 3/330, so in summer there's still5-6 hrs of sunlight and usage there, plus another hr or 2 in winter..
Storage will be a handy addition to supplement after dark usage but at this point it is just not viable to supplement the usage that occurs in these times. During daylight saving hrs this equals maybe 2 hrs of us being active after dark? In Vic feed in tarriffs have just doubled to 11c, so generally what's sold into the grid through the day will pay for what's used of an evening.
And yes, we'll get smarter about what we use when to ensure maximum consumption while the suns up.
There are plenty of quotes and contacts that I'm basically ignoring, they are blatant cowboys. So getting up into the credible end of town, there are still enough discrepancies between prices ($1400 between the 2 options I'm keen on) it just makes me wonder what I'm missing. I don't think there is anything, though 1 offers lifetime system monitoring but I'd be surprised if there wasn't some easily accessible phone app that talks to your inverter and does this job? (Any suggestions on monitoring software?)
 

dunndog

Eats Squid
In the mean time you could have potentially invested your money into something with bigger returns.
I see this used a bit too, but that 7k would be used paying my bills over the same time it is instead being used to pay for my system.. anything that might get put into any investment would be extra to either scenario so it's a moot point.
 
I'm surprised at the amount of people who look to solar without considering any of these things and yet claim to have done their research, it sounds as though you have a solid basis for your decision and with some little lifestyle adjustments should be able to make it work for you. I can't help much regarding installers in your area but if you have narrowed it down to a handful offering identical systems maybe the best path is to ask them directly why their installation is better than the competitions, hopeful it shouldn't be too difficult to sniff out any non-genuine contenders.
 

99_FGT

Likes Bikes and Dirt
Right path Dog, you quoted a payback period of 6-7 years on a 6-7k system, so I'm going with you've worked out that you'll get about 1k pa back, 250/qtr.
Seems reasonable, but remember the energy from the sun is worth 2-3 times as much to you as your retailer. They'll sometimes pay a top up over the mandated feedin too (??)
Monitoring, as mentioned needs to be built into the inverter. And see if either inverter offers the capability to add storage in future (including during outages)
 

dunndog

Eats Squid
Thanks for the feedback guys, I think I've been reasonably thorough.. you never quite know until you hear from others in the know though.
Another thing I forgot to mention was I've shifted us to another energy provider, Globird. By paying on time my price per kilowatt has dropped, and daily usage charge down from $1:20 per day to :70c... every bit helps!
 

c3024446

Likes Bikes and Dirt
I've got a system with 24x320W LG Panels, Enphase micro inverters with every panel, Enphase monitoring, it's pretty awesome. Have shading issues for maybe 4 months per year in winter (high trees to the north), but we knew that, so don't get much value from the system in winter but sure do in summer. Now with a 12.5c feedin tariff from Energy Australia (more than doubled from 6.1!), if the air con isn't on we would make i reckon $5 per day in summer just from the tariff, so really in summer even with our silly 7KW ducted aircon will have a negligible or even credit bill. (But $1500 in winter since we live in a shady valley and have the heater on a lot!)

Had my brother put it on for cost, he is running his own little solar business on the side at the moment. Definitely pay for quality, and get monitoring (to further scrutinise your power usage, and so you are sure it's hooked up properly!), and see if you can get monitoring on your house now to see if it's actually worth putting it on. If you aren't home during the day it probably isn't worth doing, but the monitoring will tell you if it'd be worth it. Most important is make sure there are no shading issues around the house. IF there are, have a look at microinverters (inverter on each panel so shading affects only the individually shaded panels, not the full bank of them).

If you can find a guy who runs a small operation, only puts quality gear on and is up front and honest - get them to do it.

Battery technology just isn't there yet, but we are ready when it is,

Fronius inverters and monitoring are my brother's flavour of the month, so good choice there. LG panels are really, really good. Great W/sqm of panel and the monitoring suggests they do produce what they say they should........
 

bhibbert

Likes Bikes
Do a lot of research on the performance of the panels, it is all dependent on your situation. Angle of incident, temperature coefficient, and many more. So many variables to work with and each brand does something better then the next.

Do some sun calculations yourself many free programs that are able to do this accurately. Work out if a tracking system (even if basic east/west) (or manual summer/ winter) would be of benefit.

By investing some time into the research of panel and invert performance you will soon see where the cost difference comes in. A lot of the the middle price stuff works in winter / early spring but suffer a lot in Australian summers (roof and panel temp 70 degrees plus).

Then find a installer who is independent and is willing to install and conduct warranty work.

Good luck, it is hard but by doing some in depth research you can get the payback time down even less. my parents payed off a 7 kW system in just 2 years. It took 12 months of research, import (the panels where not available in Aus) and install.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

99_FGT

Likes Bikes and Dirt
Temp performance definitely
Tracking meh. Rooftop not worth it, even tilt racks often cost more than a couple of extra panels, for much the same output.
 

sane

Likes Bikes and Dirt
Quick question around this.

I am well into a reno & have just confirmed the solar installer. The architect has just come back to me saying the roof will need to be reinforced to support the additional load of the panels, with an additional cost of course.

Several friends & family have gone down this road recently & I have never of heard anything like this, anyone else?

I'm calling BS
 

rowdyflat

chez le médecin
Prolly BS if its an existing house as panels arent ridiculously heavy , the weight is spread out .
Unless it is some sort of new minimal support cantilevered maximal span roof thing.
Is it a corrugated iron or tile roof ?
 

sane

Likes Bikes and Dirt
Prolly BS if its an existing house as panels arent ridiculously heavy , the weight is spread out .
Unless it is some sort of new minimal support cantilevered maximal span roof thing.
Is it a corrugated iron or tile roof ?
Colourbond new ptched roof. 18 x panels @20kg approx spread over both faces. How does an 80kg+ roofing tradie get up there focusing his weight in 1 spot to install the roof if the structure can't support 360kg spread across the entire space?
 

Knuckles

Lives under a bridge
Colourbond new ptched roof. 18 x panels @20kg approx spread over both faces. How does an 80kg+ roofing tradie get up there focusing his weight in 1 spot to install the roof if the structure can't support 360kg spread across the entire space?
It's probably due to the matchstick members they originally specced.

Punch them in the throat, move on. Try to tee up a "retrofit" install by the supplier. These don't need desktop engineering, at least in Vic.
 
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