Solar panels are the most important component of a solar power system. They are the most expensive component. There is currently a “government rebate” which is really a carbon credit discount which is based on the panel capacity. In 2021 this is providing a significant reduction in the price of a solar power system. This discount reduces gradually on 1 January every year to become zero in 2030, so panels that fail in the future will be very expensive to replace. They will be a lot more expensive to replace than an inverter.
The best solar panels such as SunPower and SOLARWATT have a life expectancy of 30 to 40 years. They are the panels most likely to operate after severe storms, extreme heat, high humidity, extreme variations in temperature, etc. This is valuable whether you stay in your home, or sell it in the future.
A lot has happened in the last 18 months. “Average” panels have increased from around 330W to 370W+. This isn’t due to a sudden increase in cell efficiency. It’s mainly due to significant increases in the physical size of the panels. So, in reality, a 390W panel isn’t necessarily any more efficient than a 320W panel.
Apart from the confusion and hype created by physical panel size, the sales strategies of many solar companies are designed to confuse the customers even more. These strategies raise the relative importance of “panel features” that don’t really make a lot of difference. This is because many companies need to draw the customer’s attention away from opposition products that have key features that really matter.
I’m an electrical engineer. I continually assess new and emerging technologies and choose what I believe is best for our customer’s different needs.
Keep it simple – When I assess solar power panels for Central Solar Systems to offer to customers, I look at factors including how long the manufacturer has been in business, their business ethics, the quality of their Australia based support, their warranty support record, the panel warranty and the actual design of the panel. These factors are more important than the efficiency/physical size of the panel. I then look at the solar panel efficiency, particularly for our local conditions so that Central Solar Systems has a well rounded product offering.
Solar Panel Systems Warranties
Most sales people say that there is a 25 year warranty. In most cases the 25 year warranty is only a performance warranty. The real part of the warranty is the product warranty. If a panel has a 10 or 15 year product warranty and a 25 year performance warranty, the real warranty is 10 or 15 years. This also applies to Phono Solar below . I regard the warranty as 15 years. The performance warranty can be very difficult and expensive to claim unless it is matched by the product warranty.
My Selection For 2021
Over the years Central Solar Systems has offered Silex, JA Solar, Jinko, Hyundai, Phono, Trina, Winaico, LG, SunPower and SOLARWATT. We have learned a lot about types of manufacturer, their warranty claim process and the way they do business. This, as well as the quality of the panels themselves have been considered for our current panel offering.
We believe these are the best solar panels for 2021.
- Phono Solar for our entry level panel (this panel is actually a mid level panel). We are currently offering a 370W Half Cell Solar Panel. This has a 15 year product warranty and 25 year performance warranty.
- Hyundai Solar. Hyundai has been around for decades. We are currently offering a 390W Shingled Cell Solar Panel. This has a 25 year product warranty and 25 year performance warranty.
- SunPower P3 for our much better than mid level panel. SunPower was established in 1985 and is the market leader in solar panel efficiency and durability. SunPower is majority owned by Total Petroleum. SunPower is the only solar panel manufacturer that has been manufacturing solar panels for longer than it’s warranty. The SunPower P3 all black residential solar panel is available in 320W standard panel size and 370W larger panel size and is taking the market by storm. The commercial panels are available in 415W (which can also be installed on residential) and the new 475W. The P3 solar panel has a 25 year product warranty and a 25 year performance warranty. Click here for more information.
- SOLARWATT for our higher end panel. Regardless of what detractors say, panels are still made in Germany. SOLARWATT solar panels are manufactured in Dresden, Germany. This solar panel has a 30 year product warranty and a 30 year year performance warranty (87% at year 30). Click here for more information.
- SunPower Maxeon is our top end panel. With power output options from 395W to 400W for a standard sized panel these are clearly the most efficient panels available in Australia. Actual field testing revealed that SunPower Maxeon panels have almost 4 times stronger reliability than conventional panels. More reliability means more savings. This solar panel has a 25 year product warranty and a 25 year product warranty (92% at year 25). Click here for more information.
Winaico is a great solar panel, but it’s currently hard to fit it into the above list in terms of price and warranty.
In general, if a solar power system is really cheap, it’s for a reason. When selecting a solar power system you should also assess the solar power installation company (like Central Solar Systems). A well respected local business that’s been around for more than 10 years will be more likely to offer better quality panels and system components with manufacturer warranty support located in Australia. You will pay a little more, but it will be worth it in the long run. Some companies import panels directly. Even if the panel manufacturer has an office in Australia, that office won’t support the panels if they have been directly imported. The warranty is with the solar installation company. This can mean that you may end up with no warranty on your panels.
Please don’t hesitate to contact Central Solar Systems if you would like to discuss panel choice in more detail.