solar-power

How to Compare Solar Products

Information verified correct on December 6th, 2016

For people who want solar power and want to find the best system to suit their needs.

There are over 9,000 different Clean Energy Council certified solar panels to choose from. There are some common features you can compare to find the best PV solar product for your home or your business.

Compare solar products by these features

To find the best solar product for your home, compare different makes and models of solar PV panels based on the following features:

  • Clean Energy Council certification. Are the solar panels certified by the Clean Energy Council (CEC). Certification ensures the solar product has been manufactured according to industry best practice and it adheres to Australian standards. You can claim government rebates like small-scale technology certificates for CEC certified solar panels installed by a CEC accredited installer. You can check to see whether solar products are certified by searching a database on the CEC website.
  • Warranty. What is the manufacturer's guarantee and how does this compare with warranties from other manufacturers. Also look out for where the solar products were made and whether that particular brand of product can be serviced within Australia.
  • Lifespan. What is the expected lifespan on the quotes solar products. Some systems will last longer than the others.
  • Solar manufacturer reputation. How long has the brand been in business? What’s the likelihood the brand will still be in business if government rebates schemes change. You can take confidence in the length of time a product has been on the market.
  • Solar system output. What is the projected output for the PV solar system. The capacity to generate electricity varies depending on the size of the system.  A 4kWh solar system has the capacity to generate more electricity than a 1.5kWh system; however, the actually amount of electricity the solar product generates depends on a number of factors like sunlight exposure, temperature and position.  Be sure to account for factors like electricity losses from the inverter and wiring and so on. These factors can contribute to a loss of as much as 20%.
  • Solar panel efficiency. What is the solar system output compared to the amount of space covered by PV solar panels. Smaller roofs may require a system with high efficiency to get the best result; while a less efficient system on a larger roof may give the same result.
  • Cost per kilowatt. Your quote should include a cost per kilowatt figure and a cost per kilowatt hour of delivered energy calculated over a solar year. Compare this figure against the price you pay to buy electricity from the grid. Remember that electricity prices will more than likely increase in the future and be conscious that solar inverters generally last for about half the life of PV solar panels.
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Compare these solar product features second

These solar product features can be highlighted by solar manufacturers as a selling point; however, they are less important than the features we’ve listed in the previous section.

  • Improved low light performance.
  • Improved performance in high temperature environments.
  • Improved energy efficiency.
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The different types of solar panels

There are four different types of solar panels on the market for you to choose from. Your solar retailer should recommend the best type of solar technology to suit your home and your electricity needs.

  • Mono-crystalline silicon solar panels,
  • Poly-crystalline silicon solar panels,
  • Thin film solar panels,
  • Hybrid solar panels.
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What’s the difference?

PV solar panels made from thin films have the lowest cost per watt, but they have the lowest energy efficiency out of the four different types of PV solar panels. Thin film solar panels are good for homes with a large roof with partial shading. Hybrid panels are at the other end of the scale with the greatest energy efficiency; while this suits homes with small roofs, hybrid panels have the highest cost per watt. Mono and crystalline silicon solar panels sit in the middle. Panel efficiency is between thin film and hybrid solar panel technology and the cost per watt is greater than thin film solar panels but not as high as the cost for watt for hybrid solar panels.

Frequently asked questions

The best type of solar panel for your home depends on a number of factors like your budget and your energy requirements; however, certain types of solar panels perform better than others in certain conditions.

Which is the best type of solar panel if I have limited roof space?

solar panels with a higher efficiency can generate more energy from fewer solar panels. Hybrid solar panel technology has the highest efficiency compared to the other types of solar panels.

My roof is partially shaded during the day, which is the best type of solar panel for me?

If you have partial shading on your roof, a thin film solar panel may be best suited. Thin film solar panels can work better than other types of solar panel if bypass diodes are used. A bypass diode helps the flow of an electrical current around a thin film solar panel.

The area I live in gets very hot during the day, which is the best type of PV solar panel for me?

Thin film solar panels have less energy loss in high temperatures compared to other types of solar panels.

I live in an area where we experience low light, which is the best type of solar panel for me?

If low light has been raised as an issue for your home, a thin film solar panel can fare better than other types of materials used to make solar panels.

Use this information on this page to help you compare solar products and quotes before installing a system so you can find the best PV solar system to suit your energy needs.

Shirley Liu

Shirley is finder.com.au's publisher for banking and investments. She is currently studying a Masters in Commerce (Finance) and is the author of hundreds of articles. She is passionate about helping Aussies make an informed decision, save money and find the best deal for their needs.

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