If you are making the change to solar power there are several factors that you need to consider when buying solar panels. The solar industry has exploded and this rapid expansion paved the way for a large number of solar panel manufacturers to enter the market. Given the abundance of solar panels now available to consumers it can be overwhelming for newcomers and the industry specific lingo only adds to this confusion.
Luckily for those entering the market there are a few key questions to ask when buying solar panels. These questions serve to give you a better idea of what you can expect from the manufacturer as well as the panel itself. Keep in mind we always recommend talking to an experienced solar consultant before going ahead with any purchase as their insights and knowledge of the industry is invaluable when making such an investment.
Questions To Ask When Buying Solar Panels For The First Time
Who Is The Manufacturer?
There are so many solar cell manufacturers on the market that it’s hard to keep count. It seems like every day a new player enters the market with many of them being offshore companies. When looking at a panel’s manufacturer we want to see a solid track record and company history including investment into research and development as this is a good indication they are in it for the long haul.
If the manufacturer is based offshore it is a good idea to check whether they have service locations and warehouses within Australia. While it is rare solar panels do occasionally ship with defects or experience failure sometime after installation and when this happens you want a customer service contact within Australia to avoid serious headaches and get a quick turnaround to resolve any issues.
Recap: Check out the manufacturer online, note their history within the solar industry, their backing and whether they have customer service options within Australia.
What Do The Reviews Say?
One of the key benefits of the internet is the ability to browse consumer reviews from countless sources for just about any product you can think of. While the solar market has boomed the technology itself has been around for a while now which means you will be able to see a bevy of reviews for solar panels provided the manufacturer isn’t brand new. This means you can gain insights into their real world performance which is vital information.
When looking at reviews we want to note any consistency in complaints. If a large number of consumers are all saying the same thing about faults or performance it is reasonable to expect this is something to be concerned about. Buying solar panels is an investment and just like any other it just makes sense to benefit from other consumers’ experience both in terms of positive and negative outcomes.
Recap: Look for reviews of both the panel and the manufacturer to get a better idea of what to expect, noting any issues that pop up consistently throughout the reviews.
What Does The Warranty Promise?
Solar manufacturers will often present 2 different warranties with their solar panels; product and performance over time which is often referred to as a linear power output warranty. The product warranty is what you would be most familiar with as this specifies how long they will stand behind the materials and workmanship of the panel itself. These typically range from 10 – 15 years and aim to give you peace of mind that your investment is sound.
As time goes on a solar panel’s efficiency will degrade due to exposure and other factors and this is where the second warranty comes into play. A linear power output warranty states what percentage of their original power a solar panel will produce after a set amount of time. This timespan is usually 25 years and we want at minimum an 80% plus figure to be fully comfortable with going ahead.
Recap: As with any consumer product the warranty matters and lets you know the amount of confidence a manufacturer has in their own product both now and in the future.
Do The Panels Have Half-Cut Cells?
The introduction of half-cut solar cells was a landmark moment for the industry as it resulted in improved power output for all solar panels using them. As the name suggests, half-cut cells are traditional silicon solar cells cut in half by a laser. By doing this the panel has increased performance and durability. The performance is gained through reduced resistive losses and the durability is due to the individual cells being smaller and therefore more resistant to cracking.
Another key benefit of half-cut cells is better performance in partial shading. Solar panels are wired in rows in what is called “series wiring”. When a cell in one of these cells is shaded and stops producing power the whole row will stop producing power. By using half cut cells we double the amount of rows therefore the impact of one cell being shaded is significantly reduced and this is very important if your solar panels are going to be getting shade at certain times of the day.
Recap: While most well known solar manufacturers now use half-cut solar cells as standard, it pays to make sure your panels have half-cut cells to improve performance and return on investment.
How Many Panels Will I Need?
This is a question you are most likely going to work with a consultant to answer. The power output of the panels, their location, amount of space on the roof as well as your current power demands all factor into what size solar system is best for you. What you expect to get out of your change to solar is also important as what solar panels you go with can affect your return on investment and ability to add to the system down the line.
Global Solar Solutions provides solar panels for commercial, residential and off-grid applications and our consultants spend a significant amount of time working out what system will deliver the best performance for your needs. This understanding only comes with time and our varied client base means you benefit from every challenge that has come before you. Our consultants are there to ask the questions you have not thought of.
Recap: There is no quick answer to this one and we will always recommend you talk with an experienced solar consultant about your needs before going ahead with any solar.
Thinking About Buying Solar Panels? Talk To A Solar Expert
We covered a few key questions you should be asking when looking to purchase solar panels in the hope they ease some of the stress that can come with making decisions regarding any investment. Having said that it will always be our recommendation that you talk with an experienced solar consultant to better understand what advantages each panel offers and what will work best for your circumstances.
Entry into the solar market should not be taken lightly and we have used the term “investment” several times for good reason. In order for you to get the best return possible from your move to solar it is vital to seek advice before going ahead. We realise there is a conflict of interest in us advising this however we can assure you our role in the industry is to foster goodwill towards it in order to promote growth.
We have no exclusivity deals with any manufacturer and a key reason behind this is so we can offer the best product to each customer everytime we provide a quote. We are always on the lookout for new products that meet our own criteria for supply and are always working towards increasing the amount of quality products we can provide. A recent development in this area was our move to become a certified installer of the Tesla Powerwall battery system.
To talk with a solar consultant regarding what solar panels will suit your needs the most, or to simply get more information about what to look for when making the change to solar, give us a call on 1800 255 474. Our solar consultants are on hand to answer any questions you might have and provide invaluable insights that every consumer should consider before going ahead.