The best solar panels (also called modules) for you depends on your budget, whether you want to buy a certain brand or Australian made and the type of site that you have – how large it is and whether it is shaded.
Thin-film panels are better for shaded sites and in general are a little cheaper, however they also require more space. Polycrystalline and mono-crystalline panels are more efficient and need less space but are not suited to sites with shade. Panels also come in different sizes (wattages) and many brands.
Panels must comply with Australian Standards and you’re installer should ensure that only approved panels are offered. Over time panels lose some of their performance. Warranties reflect this, with a guarantee of 90% of stated output (in watts) over 10 years, and 80% of state output for a period of 25 years.
Size of your system:
You should consider what your main aim is in installing a solar power system. Do you want to reduce your electricity bills to zero? To offset all your energy use? Do you simply want a small budget system? Or perhaps you’d like a small system now with the ability to be expanded (adding solar panels) later on?
You don’t need to buy a system to supply all of your use, although you may wish to. If the electricity your system is producing doesn’t cover what you need at any point in time, enough electricity will be taken from the grid.
Limiting factors on your choice may include your budget and the available unshaded roof space for panels. Discuss the options with an installer(s) and when you have made up your mind be clear with the installer what your aim is.
Design of your PV system:
Your installation company or system designer should optimize the overall design of the system to suit your needs.
It is important to note that your solar panels will never generate quite as much power as they are rated for, as they are rated for performance at optimal conditions.
In the design process, allowances are made for losses that occur at each stage and variations due to external factors such as temperature.
Australian Standards specify many of the requirements for safe design and operation of a system. These include correct cable types and wiring conventions, fuses and placement of components.
Placement of your PV System:
Your designer/installer should, in consultation with you, optimize the site of your solar power system to maximize its benefit. The ideal site for a solar power system is a north facing section of your roof with no shading. Unfortunately not everyone has such a spot.
If you don’t have a suitable north facing roof, alternatives may be to use a north-west or north-east facing roof, and/or use a “tilt-frame” to mount the panels reoriented to face in the correct direction.
If there is any shading on your optimal site then the installer may recommend a different type of panel (e.g. thin film) that is better suited. A small amount of panel shading can cause significant losses in the output power.
Sometimes two differently roof areas with different orientation may be used to maximize the solar energy throughout the day. A special type of inverter is then used to combine the two sources.
Gold Coast Energy Pty. Ltd. is the first company in Australia to have an IEC standard, solar panel output tester. If you wish to have a detailed performance analysis done on your current PV system by this state of the art testing equipment please click the link below: