6 Simple Steps to Avoid Inferior Solar
Few things in life last as long as LG Solar panels. With an operational life of 25+ years it makes sense to spend a little time considering this investment to ensure you achieve the best possible outcome for both the environment and your finances. The good news is that in selecting LG panels you are on your way to getting a high performing solar system.
1. Check your roof.
There is a daunting choice of solar panels and inverters available today but considering available roof space and shading is a good first step to narrowing down the best solar system for you.
The roof is where your solar dreams meet head-on with the reality of what is possible. Make a note of any shading of the roof from growing trees, street lamps or power poles, power lines, aerials, chimneys and neighbouring buildings. Shade is the enemy of solar power but micro inverters, power optimisers and high efficiency panels may help reduce the impact of these losses. If you have no shading a single "string" inverter may be a great financial option.
Solar panels are typically installed on north, west and east roofs so assess the space you have in these directions. Family households and businesses today use approx. 12 to 23kwh a day on average* and need space for 10-25 panels (3.5-6.6kw) but in the future with all-electric homes, electric cars and solar batteries this will most probably increase. Unless you have huge area of good roof it is advisable not to limit your solar future by clogging it up with low efficiency panels under 340 watts.
If tiles are weak, old and cracked, tin is rusty or the roof is "sagging"; it is advisable to address these problems before solar panels are installed. The usable life of LG panels is 25+ years so proactively making repairs on roofs can save headaches once solar panels are installed.
2. Gather information.
Review electricity bills and record the units per day consumed over different seasons. This will give a broad-brush guide to the system size in kw that your household requires. Keep an eye on the future and how power use might change with a bigger/smaller family, electric car, solar battery, moving to electric heating, cooling and hot water. Replacing gas appliances with electrical alternatives and then utilising free solar power is now a very common strategy to make financial and greenhouse gas savings.
*Based on Ausgrid 2017-2018 Local Council Community Electricity Report.
Understand the "feed-in" tariffs your local electricity retailer is offering for excess electricity exported back to the grid. In most cases this skews the financial considerations favourably towards getting the biggest system your electricity retailer will allow.
A bigger system with a well-paid feed in tariff will generally minimise the purchase of expensive grid electricity and maximise income from power sold back to the grid. Expanding a system at a later date is possible, but may be substantially more expensive than getting a big system upfront due to paying installation costs twice.
East facing solar panels start generating power from sunrise and peak in the morning, north facing panels generate a little more power in total and peak at noon and west facing modules peak in the afternoon and keep generating until sunset. West is especially good as it supports air conditioning loads in the afternoon.
Rarely are roofs so perfect that they have space in all the directions you would like to have panels. However, it's useful to understand your household's time-of-day power use to make the most of your roof and intelligently locate panels to generate free power when you need it most. For homes that use most power when the sun goes down and who really cannot load-shift power to daylight hours the best solution may involve solar with a battery.
3. Research solar panels.
Visually panel brands look similar but there are huge differences in performance, design, build quality, componentry and the life expectancy of panels. A more important consideration in selecting panels is not the upfront cost, but how long they will last, as this has the bigger impact on the total solar power generated and the savings made. A quality solar system can easily save an extra $20,000 over its life compared to a budget brand package.
Cheaper budget brands in the harsh Australian climate have failed in as little as 3-4 years and many after 8-9 years. Such systems may last as little as a third of the 25 year + life of LG panels. So while the price is appealing, you may have to buy 3 times compared to once for LG.
Retain a healthy scepticism of “too good to be true” stories because the cheapest is not the best. Some budget system solar installers have only got their own profit interests at heart, not yours.
4. Find an installer.
Research reputable local solar companies; avoid door-to-door salespeople and those that use "high-pressure" tactics and lots of internet spruiking with low ball prices. A company that has a long trading history is considerably less risky than a new start-up. Membership of the industry body, the Clean Energy Council or “CEC” or Smart Energy Council is no necessarily an indication of quality, professionalism or integrity.
Obtain installation quotes from a few companies to compare equipment and costs. A good solar company will be looking for information about your roof and household power usage.
Good solar companies will tend to ask questions, understand your needs and consider your roof/shading in detail before offering solar packages. Good solar companies will tell you about challenging shading, roof-space or wiring issues. All installers offer installation warranties but remember these are only of value if the company stays in business over the long term. Sadly this is not always the case in the solar industry and many warranties are now worthless as the installer is no longer trading. So ask how long your installation company has been operating or in the industry. Where an installer has been around more than 5 years, they are likely to be in it for the long run.
5. Choose your solar panels and inverter solution.
You may not intend to stay in your house for 25+ years but purchasing a recognised brand of quality panels like LG, with a comprehensive 25-year transferable warranty, may well add value to your property. It can serve as a feature when selling, give you and future owners long-term security and peace of mind, and not least likely deliver thousands of dollars-worth of power savings. Cheap panels are more likely to fail early, and while the joy of the cheap price is soon forgotten it may well be replaced by years of regret and a poor environmental outcome if they go to the tip prematurely.
Look for efficient, durable solar panels from a company you already know and trust. LG NeON 2 solar panels with Cello Technology have a double-sided solar cell structure, enabling them to capture light and generate energy from both the front and back. When the angle of light is lower during mornings and evenings — times home owners are most likely to be home — LG NeON 2 solar panels will generate more energy than others that only capture light from the front. These solar panels provide great value and are backed by an industry leading 25-year product and performance warranty. High-quality solar panels like these are low maintenance and have a very low failure rate.
LG panels work well with string inverters from SMA and Fronius, as well as Enphase micro-inverters and Solar Edge optimiser solutions. Tigo optimisers can help string inverters to handle shadow issues.
6. Buy with Confidence.
Assuming you have suitable roof space, purchasing a quality solar power system is likely to be one of the best decisions you make both financially and for the planet. There is no rush, but the sooner you get solar panels on your roof, the sooner the power bill will fall. When the installation is complete have the technician explain the monitoring system. When you understand the pattern of free solar power you can actively try to match household power usage to it by "load shifting" appliances into daylight hours e.g. washing machines, dishwashers, clothes dryers, electric hot water systems, air conditioning and pool pumps. Having chosen an installation company and solar products that are high quality from brands you trust, your project is likely to be destined for success. Then all you need do is let the sun love your home.
For more information or to calculate your savings via our ROI calculator go to www.lgenergy.com.au where we have answered over 200 solar questions in the