The Basics of Choosing a Solar System

Choosing the Right Photovoltaic System for You

Photovoltaic Systems (PV), or solar panel systems, have exploded in popularity over the last two decades as panels have become cheaper to produce, government incentives and rebates have become more enticing, and energy prices have continued to soar, particularly since COVID-19.

In Perth, we are one of the luckiest places on earth when it comes to having a PV system installed on your home. According to Wikipedia, our city has an average of 8.8 hours of sunshine per day, which equates to around 3,200 hours of annual sunshine, and 138.7 clear days annually, making it the sunniest capital city in Australia. With almost guaranteed sunshine every single day of summer, and almost every day in winter, it really is a no-brainer to install a PV system on the roof of your home or business.

Installing a solar system in your home can provide a number of benefits, including reduced energy costs, increased energy independence, and a cleaner, greener energy source. However, it’s mostly about saving money on your bi-monthly electricity bills.

In this post we want to discuss how you can choose the right solar panel system for your premises and energy needs, and what you should consider before you make the investment.

Benefits of having Solar at Home

A solar system installed in your home can provide several benefits. The most notable of these benefits include:

  • Reduced energy costs: Solar systems generate clean, renewable energy, which can significantly reduce your energy bills.
  • Increased energy independence: With a solar system, you’re more independent with your power consumption. While you’ll still need access to the grid, you won’t have to feel guilty anymore running your aircon at full blast during the day. This isn’t commonly known, but unfortunately, to be truly and fully independent from the grid you will need to invest in a solar battery.
  • Your cleaner & greener source of energy: Without a doubt, producing your electricity via solar is one of the quickest and easiest ways you can produce green, renewable energy and start making a positive impact on the environment with your home.

PV System Placement & Maximising Efficency

Generally, there are four main things you’ll want to keep in mind when you’re starting to consider a solar-powered system, or photovoltaic (PV) system. These factors will determine the placement of your system, the likely efficiency and power generation you’re likely to see and, ultimately, what sized system you’ll need.

The four factors to consider are:

  • The size of your home: The size of your home and your family living in your household will determine the number of solar panels you need to generate enough energy to meet your needs. In general, it’s better to get a slightly bigger one as your energy consumption will likely only increase over time, and the efficiency of the panels do diminish over time.
  • Location: The location and orientation of your home will affect the amount of sunlight it receives, which is an important factor in determining the efficiency of your solar system. Generally, you’ll want to have the longest side of your house be exposed to the most amount of sunlight in order to maximise power production.
  • Shading: Shade across your solar panels are their greatest enemy. Shading issues such as large trees, your neighbour’s house, or even antennae or other things on your roof may cast shade over your panels limiting their performance capability. The placement of your panels will be important. If shading is a major issue there are different panels and inverters we can use to make sure you’re producing the maximum amount of solar energy that you can.
  • Energy consumption: Depending on how much power you use, as well as your energy consumption habits throughout the day, will determine which PV system will work best for you. Be sure to share this information with your solar installer when you first meet.

When investing in solar, it’s important to consider these factors when you choose a PV system for your home. The last thing you’ll want to do is move your panels once they’re installed because you’ve realised that during peak production hours, your neighbour’s house casts shade across your system.

Considering Solar Panel Efficiency

When it comes to choosing the right solar power system for your home or business, we assume you’ll want them to be as efficient as possible.. Not all panels are made the same, and this is especially true for Aussie conditions, where your panels will often be exposed to extreme temperatures. Our sun can beat down like no other and this will impact what your panels will be capable of in peak summer.

The efficiency of your solar panels determines how much energy they can convert from the sun’s rays into usable electricity, and we’re guessing you’re wanting to convert the most possible in order to maximise your savings.

While you might think you’re comparing two identical 6.6kW PV systems the make and country of origin of your panels will have a big impact on the efficiency of your panels. Opting for a cheaper, lower-efficiency system, will only mean it will take you longer to get your return on investment in the form of bill savings. The longer it takes to get your money back, the higher the risk that cheap panels will break.

Country of Manufacture/Origin

As with any manufactured product, considering the country of origin is crucial if you want to make sure you’re choosing the right panels for you.

Different countries have different regulations and standards for the manufacturing of solar panels. While you shouldn’t really have to worry about this if you’re choosing a reputable local solar installer, there are a number of providers in the industry who aren’t doing the right thing and sourcing cheap, unreliable panels and inverters.

Some of the top countries where solar panels are produced include China, Germany, the United States, India, Japan, and South Korea.

According to data from 2021, China is, by far, the world’s largest producer of solar panels, accounting for over 70% of global production. While China produces some premium lines of panels, typically panels are considered to be cheaper and often of lesser quality.

Both, the United States and India are sizeable players in the solar panel manufacturing industry, with several major manufacturers based in both countries, including the world’s largest producer, Longi, recently setting up shop in Ohio.

Germany is another global leader in solar panel manufacturing and production, with a well-established industry that has been growing for decades. Known to be producing some of the highest quality panels in the world, the country’s commitment to renewable energy has led to significant advancements in solar technology.

Japan and South Korea are known for their high-tech manufacturing processes and advanced solar technology, making them popular choices for high-efficiency solar panels, however Japenese and Korean brands are less common in the Australian market.

Ask your solar installer which country your panels originate from, and perhaps do a cost comparison between a number of brands.

Warranty Periods & Your Return on Investment

It’s important to consider the warranty period of your solar panels when choosing a PV system. Here, buying the cheap panels might actually cost you more in the long-term, and you’re trying to save here.

Typically, solar panels come with a warranty of 25 years or more, but the length and terms of the warranty can vary between manufacturers and installers. We’ve seen warranty periods that are significantly shorter than that so do ensure you ask your installer before you sign any contracts.

You’ll want to have the peace of mind knowing that your investment in a PV system will pay off in energy bill savings before your system potentially breaks.

The average residential PV system of 6.6kW will cost you anywhere between $7,500 and $15,000 for decent quality panels. If you save about $200 every 2 months, it will take you approximately 8.3 years to pay off your system. In this scenario, a 5 year warranty period wouldn’t cover your system for the time that you need to get your investment back in the form of savings.

With more premium panels where your warranty period is 20-25 years, you can be confident and relax knowing that your system will continue to generate energy and savings for years to come.

It’s important to choose a solar power system with a warranty period that matches or exceeds the amount of time it will take to pay off the system with energy savings to make it really worth your while.

Proper Maintenance and Upkeep of Your Solar Panels & System

You’ll find that over time your photovoltaic system will not produce as much energy over time. In order to maximise your energy production and that your system continues to perform at its best, it’s important to consider periodic maintenance and cleaning. Here are just some of the things we recommend to upkeep your PV system:

  • Regular cleaning: Dust, dirt, bird droppings and other debris will build up on the surface of your solar panels thereby reducing their efficiency. Regular cleaning can help to keep your panels working at their best, outputting the maximum possible energy each day.
  • Monitoring performance: Some of photovoltaic systems come with apps that let you monitor your power production. We recommend that you periodically monitor these to check in on the performance of your panels and to help you identify any issues, reducing any potential downtimes. Sometimes you’ll find all you need is to restart your inverters.
  • Regular inspections: Having your PV system regularly inspected by a professional will help you identify and address any issues early on before they become a serious issue. We do offer inspection and maintenance services, so please talk to us about these.

Coupling regular maintenance and upkeep, with your changing power consumption will help you maximise the reeturn on your investment of your PV system.

Invest in The Most Suitable Solar Panel System For You

Choosing the right solar power system for your home or business requires careful consideration of several important factors, which we discussed in this post.

Maximising panel efficiency by checking on key environmental influences such as shading and direction, the country of origin of the solar panels, and the warranty period are all crucial variables to consider before making your decision.

As always, do your research , but we recommend investing in a more premium, high-quality PV system. You can start to enjoy the many benefits of renewable energy, including significant cost savings on your energy bills and a reduced carbon footprint for many years to come.

If you’re ready to make the switch to solar power, we at Solar Panels Perth are here to help. Our team of experts can guide you through the process of selecting the right system for your needs, provide professional installation services, and offer ongoing maintenance and support to ensure that your system continues to perform at its best.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you harness the power of the sun and start saving on your energy bills.