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Solar Panels

Everything You Need To Know About Solar Panels In Australia

When looking at solar for your home or business, understanding what panels are right for you can be difficult. In Australia, we have a bucket load of brands available before you even consider the panels in their range.

Once you add it all up, there are thousands to choose from. Literally, thousands of panels. 

We have built this page so you will only ever need one resource for all things solar panels. You will find everything you need to know to know right at your fingertips. 

We are big believers in no fluff so if we have already written about something in more detail we will provide you guidance to get there quickly.

If you can’t find something you are looking for on our page, get in touch and we will be happy to help with anything at all to help.

Get There Quick

How Do Solar Panels Work?

Solar Panels work by harvesting energy from the sun and turning it into power. There is a chemical reaction that occurs (called the Photovoltaic Effect) when the sun hits the panels and long story short, out of the panel comes DC power.

We have written a great article and filmed a cracker of a video on How Solar Panels Work. You can read or watch to get the full run down.

Solar Panel Costs

There are a few key variables that impact the cost of solar panels. The key ones being, quality (shock), materials, technology and country and origin. 

The first one, is a combination of many things but solar is very much a “you get what you pay for” in terms of solar panels. The total price of your system will also change depending on many things but generally speaking cheaper panels just won’t be as good quality as more expensive ones. 

Like any manufactured product, the materials that make up the product will have a big impact on the final cost. In the world of solar panels, the biggest material based price impact is silicon. Not to be confused with silicone, silicon has been used as semiconductor in electronics for decades. In solar panels, you need to use pure silicon to ensure the highest quality product comes out the other side. 

When silicon prices go up, large solar companies hedge their positions as best they can but inevitably, customers will end up paying more when silicon prices go up. 

Technology and country of origin doesn’t need much explaining. 

Tech costs money. Better tech means more research, more development, more commitment, more money. 

Country of origin is another pretty obvious one. The cost of labour will have a direct relationship with what an end user pays for a product. If something is produced somewhere that has lower labour costs, then you end up with a cheaper product.

Solar Panel Warranties

Solar panel warranties can seem (and are) very complicated. This is because panels will come with two warranties, a performance warranty and a product warranty. 

We think performance warranties are essentially worthless. They are nearly always longer than the product warranty and thus get talked about the most. They will guarantee a solar panel’s output and degradation over a period of time. Usually 20 – 30 years. Here is the thing, If in 10 years your panel is at 85% and they said it should be over 90%, hope do you prove it? Way too hard. They are nearly worthless unless you are Woolworths or a solar farm installing panels. 

The product warranty is the big one. This covers you against any manufacturing faults, defects or issues with the solar panel. So basically, if it breaks, they will fix it. At Teho we believe this is the warranty you should be much more concerned about. Check out our video below and full report on solar panel warranties.

Does Where They Are Made Matter?

Not really. There are great panels made from just about everywhere.

The largest manufacturing location of solar panels will come as no surprise, China. As of 2019 production numbers, they made over 70% of the world’s solar photovoltaic modules. Just like anything there are some very high quality panels coming out of China and some not so good ones. 

South Korea(6%), Malaysia(6%) and America(3%)  take out the next 3 spots. 

South Korea has been known to make very high quality panels. Some of the big players making panels out of Korea are Hanwha QCells and LG Solar. Both are very high quality panel manufacturers. 

The moral is though, does it matter where they are made? No. Focus more on the more important factors like brand, reputation and product warranty. 

Speak to Teho today to help pick the perfect system for your home.

Solar Panel Sizes (Output) The Great Debate!

Ah, one of the great topics in solar. People can get very caught up on this because it is used as a “mine is bigger than yours” by solar manufacturers. However, it doesn’t really matter all that much. 

Panels have come a long way in the last 10 years and most panels these days are in the high 300’s to low 400 watts in panel output. Your system is the cumulative total of all of the panels on your roof. This is what really matters. 

If you are super tight on space, a high solar module efficiency will mean a slightly smaller solar panel but if you are comparing a modern panel vs another modern panel you won’t really see much difference. 

Moral is, don’t get too caught up in solar manufacturers, mine is bigger than yours games. Focus on a high quality manufacturer and a system size that meets your goals and objectives and most importantly, fits on your roof.

General Solar Panel Specifications Explained

If you have decided to go down the, “let’s read the data sheet” road, then we commend your enthusiasm and commitment. Here are a few things you will commonly see and what they mean.

Solar Module Efficiency is how much of the sun’s energy that hits the panel is actually turned into electricity. You will find it on a data sheet as a %. Does it really matter? Not hugely. There are so many other things that you should be more concerned about than module efficiency. It does have an impact on how big the panel will be VS it’s total output in watts but it isn’t enough to worry about unless you are installing 100s – 1000s of panels. 

Operating temperature range is the range a panel is rated to operate in. Pretty obviously and not particularly exciting. They are made to have the sun hit them so they generally have a very high temperature rating. However, a panel operates best at around 25 degrees. 

Power tolerance is the range a panel will actually operate in compared to it’s output. For example, a 380 watt panel with a 0 – 5+ watt power tolerance may actually pump out anywhere from 380-385 watts. We wouldn’t worry about it too much so don’t get caught up on it. 

The list could go one but these are some of the more common ones we get asked about. If you have got this far down a data sheet congratulations but really, they are there for solar designers, engineers, etc. If you want to take your research this deep, focus more on who is installing your system and the manufacturers behind the products.

Poly VS Mono? What's The Difference?

This topic get’s a lot of airtime but probably unfairly so. Our thoughts, it doesn’t matter. Focus more on a good manufacturer selling good panels. What technology they use is negligible unless you are planning on installing your own solar farm. 

If you want to learn more, we have come to the rescue and written and filmed an article that covers this off in much more detail. Check it out at Polycrystalline VS Monocrystalline Solar Panels.

What Is A Tier 1 Solar Panel?

Another question that we  guarantee will surface in your solar journey.

Tier 1 is actually a reference to the top tier on a structure Bloomberg the financial services company made and maintains to help understand the financial viability of solar panel manufacturers.

Does it matter to you? Not really.

In theory, tier 1 does mean you are buying from a large company that should be around for years to come but there are plenty of good solar panel manufacturers that aren’t tier 1.

Yet again, the legendary team at Teho have made a video and article on this in detail. Check it out here at What Is A Tier 1 Solar Panel?

Aesthetics Of A Solar Panel

An often overlooked aspect of installing solar is the aesthetics of a system once installed.

Firstly, if you can’t see where they are going to be installed we would encourage you to completely forget about this whatsoever. If you can’t see them, what does it matter? If a tree falls in the forest blah blah blah you know what we mean.

If you can see your panels, and you are particularly keen on making them look good there are options for every taste.

Not every solar panel looks the same. They will look similar, but not the same.

Your standard panel is going to be a dark blue like colour and will have a silver/black frame around it. The racking it is then installed on is also traditionally silver in color because it is usually aluminum.

If this isn’t your jam, we often suggest customers soldier an “all black solar panel”. All black solar panels have a black looking cell with black frames and are then best installed with black hardware. They can add a very sleek looking finish to an install and really take it up to the next level when your system is quite visible.

The price difference to go for an all black panel isn’t that much more and when you have visible panels, it can be a really nice finish. Make sure to ask or specify before you buy that you want to consider or install an all black solar panel and mounting hardware.

Solar Panels Available In Australia

You are spoiled for choice when it comes to solar panel manufactures and then panel options in Australia. There are currently over 5,000 solar modules from over 100 manufacturers on the CEC’s approved module list. 

This makes it incredibly hard to decide and comparing is tough so our first suggestion is, give us a call or request a free consultation and we will help. Alternatively, read and read and read, then request a free consultation with us.

Either way, we cover off the high level detail you need to know about some of the manufactures in Australia below. They are in alphabetical order for ease, not in order of any preference.

Does Solar Panel Output Vary Based On Where I Am?

Short answer, yes. Your location will impact your solar generation. Solar needs the sun to work so the areas in the more northern parts of Australia like Brisbane, who get more daylight hours will get more production than areas in the southern parts of Australia, like Tasmania. 

In the table below, you will find the average output of a solar system based on where it is. All you do is, times the system size by the number below in the corresponding location and that is the average kilowatt hours it will generate on any given day. These numbers are ball park figures based on a few variables so to understand your exact scenario, it is best to get your own solar proposal.

LocationOutput
Adelaide4.2
Alice Springs5.0
Brisbane4.2
Cairns4.2
Canberra4.3
Darwin4.4
Hobart3.5
Melbourne 3.6
Perth4.4
Sydney3.9

Do You Need To Clean Your Solar Panels?

If they get really dirty, yes. If they aren’t dirty, probably not. 

If your panels are on a reasonable tilt which is common, you won’t get much build up that will impact your panels performance. Rain should take care of most dirt and grime. 

If you have flat panels, cleaning may be required as dirt and grime can build up. 

For more information, check out our full report and video on Solar Panels and their cleaning requirements. Do My Solar Panels Need Cleaning?

How Do I Pick The Right Panel?

It isn’t easy. 

It is a balancing act, trying to get the best panel possible within your budget. This is made even more difficult with fluctuations in prices and differences from retailer to retailer.

The best thing to do is to request a free consultation with an Energy Consultant at Teho who can help you navigate your way to the right panel. Just fill out our form and we will be in touch.

We can help anywhere in Australia.

Conclusion

When looking at solar, picking the right solar panel is vital. It is the engine of the solar system. However, try not to get too bogged down in details and focus on what’s important. The company behind the panels, the warranty and are they right for you!

If you are ready to go solar, reach out to Teho today for a free consultation. We will help you find the right solar panels and the right system for you.

FAQ

Most frequently asked questions and answers

Most solar panels in Australia have performance guarantees of 25 years. This doesn’t mean they stop at 25 years however their performance is no longer guaranteed by their manufacturer. Some will last longer, some low quality definitely won’t. 

China is the largest producer of the worlds solar panels making around 70%. The next 3 spots are taken by South Korea(6%), Malaysia(6%) and America(3%).

In Australia we are lucky to have some solar panel specific recycling facilities. These are the best place to dispose of old or broken solar panels.

Most people won’t need to get planning permission to install solar. The most common situation we see requiring planning permission is if you live in a heritage listed home. 

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