The High Cost Of Very Cheap Solar

warning tape

Caution – extremely cheap solar has a high cost

The best deal is very rarely the cheapest deal. This is something we all understand intuitively.

So why do we get so easily get seduced by unbelievably cheap solar deals that appear so totally believable?

Let me be totally up front with you. I did not set up SolarQuotes as a tool for people to find the absolute cheapest solar systems on the market.

If you want the cheapest solar systems on the market, just type “cheap solar” into Google and click on the Google Ad that promises a 5kW system for $3,000. It really is that simple. Don’t use my service. If you use my service, you should get great deals on quality hardware, well installed. The prices will be keen, because the installers are competing with their peers, but you’ll almost always be able to find a cheaper, lower quality system elsewhere.

Most of the companies that advertise these ‘too good to be true’ deals have approached me asking to join the SolarQuotes network. I  turn them down.

I don’t do this because I am trying to manipulate the market or keep great deals away from my visitors.

I do this because I run SolarQuotes with a very simple philosophy. If I would not recommend a company to my grandmother. I will not recommend them through SolarQuotes.

You see, while the front-end purchase may be cheaper with these systems, the Chartered Electrical Engineer in me knows that the long-term consequences of buying these stupid-cheap systems is that they are more expensive to the buyer. While they’re being seduced by the low price, they’re getting sucker punched because they don’t know the ramifications of choosing that cheap option.

In the end everyone loses. The consumer loses, the industry loses, and the companies with the razor thin margins lose too. Because the problem with a racing to the bottom of a market is you might just win.

So how do some companies sell systems at such jaw droppingly low headline prices?

Here are some of the ways I’ve seen people getting burned and getting themselves into trouble because they don’t understand the hidden costs of the cheaper option.

1. Bait & Switch. Use quality components as the bait. Advertise genuine Tier 1 panels and a top end inverter. Put in your conditions of sale that you reserve the right to swap out the inverter and panels for ‘equivalents’. Install a really cheap inverter and panels.

2. Bait and Switch V2. Don’t advertise the brand of panels and inverter, just a really low price. When the customer makes an enquiry, upsell them to better hardware, with the end result that they pay much, much more than the price that was originally advertised.

3. Cut corners on the Install. I was shown an job ad on Gumtree last week. It was asking for backpackers who wanted to earn $17.50 per hour wiring up switchboards and panels for a solar company. It said they needed their own ABN but didn’t need an Australian Electrical Licence. This is a recipe for disaster (and probably illegal). For example, here’s what can happen when a novice works on your switchboard:

No ferrules, terminal over tightened.

No ferrules, terminal over tightened. Photo: Crap Solar

4. Cut corners on the install V2. Some companies have reputations for paying the lowest install rates in the industry. Guess what – they also have a reputation for really poor installations. Most solar systems operate at high voltage DC. If installed well, high voltage DC is safe. If it is not installed well it is very dangerous. Here’s what happens when high voltage DC goes wrong:


A burnt out isolator. Photo: Crap Solar


5. Use crappy panels but claim they are the absolute cream of the crop! Some companies claim their panels are Tier 1, but they are nothing of the sort. Cheap panels do not last in the Aussie sun. Good panels should last 30 years plus. The recent import statistics show that around 60% of panels coming into Australia are not Tier 1. That’s a worry.  These low end panels will start failing and it can be really hard to get a low-cost solar company to honour the panel warranty for these reasons. Here is what can happen to a badly made panel within 2 years:

hot spot on solar panel

A thermal fracture caused by a hot spot expanding within the panel. This is what can happen when panels are mishandled or worse still poorly made.

back of panel

The back of the same panel. The installer refused to replace it. Claimed it was impact damage.

6. Use a crappy inverter and claim it is the best quality money can buy! A really cheap inverter will be unlikely to last 3 years. Inverters are easier to replace under warranty than panels, but still some manufacturers will blame the failure on ‘grid spikes’ and you’ll either have to fight, or pay $1500+ for a new inverter. Hey inverter manufacturers! If you want to sell into the Aussie market, then you have to cope with grid spikes because our grid voltages are all over the place!

7. Hire commission only salespeople, treat them like crap and fire them if they don’t reach their quotas. If the salesperson you let into your home is under constant threat of being fired, do you think they might be more likely to oversell the benefits, exaggerate the quality and push for the sale there and then? Of course. These guys are under the pump.

8. Turn crap quality solar panels into an opportunity to make even more money! There is a loophole in the solar rebate. You can replace all the panels on someones roof and claim the rebate again!. The rebate is worth over $700 per kW installed. A really cheap and nasty panel can be bought for under $500 per kW. Do the maths!

I could go on and on – but I’m starting to get depressed!

Do you want a system that is well designed for your roof and your consumption patterns? One that is genuinely designed with a view to adding batteries in the future? One that uses good quality panels, inverters, racking, wires and isolators? One that is installed by a trained solar electrician who is paid a fair wage and is given the time to do things properly? One that will make you happy for decades to come and give you a well optimised return on your investment? One that will be supported in to the future if there is an issue? If this is what you are looking for in a system then please be wary of the ‘too good to be true’ offers online, in the papers and on TV.

All the information you need to make an informed choice is on this website, and you are absolutely welcome to contact me if you need any help, whether you got your quotes through this site or elsewhere.

About Finn Peacock

I'm a Chartered Electrical Engineer, Solar and Energy Efficiency nut, dad, and the founder and CEO of I started SolarQuotes in 2009 and the SolarQuotes blog in 2013 with the belief that it’s more important to be truthful and objective than popular. My last "real job" was working for the CSIRO in their renewable energy division. Since 2009, I’ve helped over 700,000 Aussies get quotes for solar from installers I trust. Read my full bio.


  1. We used your site and followed the advice after doing some of our own research. We are very happy with the end result. The system we purchased and the workmanship of the recommended supplier / installer seems to be quite good. Will use them again when the time comes.

  2. Rich Bowden says

    Excellent article. Thanks Finn.

  3. Great article.
    I was only talking to a friend the other day who is a solar installer (actually that rather undersells him as he lives and breaths solar, has installed an off-grid system at his home and designs and installs commercial as well as residential systems) and he is very concerned about the exact same problems.
    Do we have another pink bats debacle in the making?

  4. Esmail Attia says

    For customer best interest
    1 they should avoid all together (The Middle Man ) the solar marketing company as they try to increase their profit margin and squeeze the installer
    to do cheap jobs,

    These companies often close down within a few years, thus leave customers with no support

    2 customers should obtain full documents on their system so as the system is serviceable espeacially a wiring diagram, panel , inverter and railing data sheet,
    inverter service manual beside the mandatory CCEW

    3 Customers should check with Photons lab test review on modules and inverters as to the products that solar sales man is offering

    4 Do not fall victim to FALSE ADVERTISEMENT
    Australian Solar Council should play a part to control this practice

    Example: A company Cap____ Gre___ advertise on line that
    buying their 20 panels plus SMA 5kw inverter for $5999 and the option to add the battery storage at later time and they claim that it is Battery Strorage Ready
    and they have a limited system left ( Get It Now Technology – before stock runs out )
    To me these is nothing special , only make a fool of the customer

  5. Finn, I do not see Winaico panels mentioned on the website. Any comments on these?

    • Finn Peacock says

      Winaico are a global Tier 1 manufacturer based in Taiwan. Their panels are meant to be good from what I’ve heard.

  6. Hi Finn,I have done the sums for solar installation at my home, with 2 occupants and they don’t really add up as we have gas heating and water. However I would like to do my bit for the environment and we are thinking of giving our two daughters who have families, a solar installation for Xmas. One lives in Townsville QLD with pool pump! The other in Newport Vic. I would really like to know if a 3.5 kW system would be suitable for both. Would you say $6000 would cover each one ? Can you tell me what panels and what brand and size inverter you would advise me to tell them to look for. Thanks I am in the woods about this however have taken in a lot from your web site. Thank you.

    • Finn Peacock says

      Hard to size a solar system remotely, but if they have a pool pump, and put it on a timer for 11am-3pm ish and combine with at least 3.5kW of solar they’ll see some good benefits.

      Good panels include Trina, Yingli, Jinko, Canadian, JA Solar, Suntech, Hanwha, Q-Cells, Sunpower, ET Solar, LG.
      Good inverters include SMA, Enphase, SolarEdge, Fronius, Delta

      Hope That Helps,


      • Do you have an opinion about Hanover HS250P Plus panels. They were recommended to me as the BMW of panels.

        • Finn Peacock says

          Personally – they would not be my choice. They are usually amongst the cheapest panels at the wholesalers. Also, they are not German.

  7. Dear Finn,

    I work in solar and yes, I’ve recently been to one property in Rooty Hill Sydney where the new home owner found out soon after moving in that the original 2kW solar installation didnt work. I looked up near maps and worked out it was purchased/installed in 2011. With no warranties (given solely to original purchaser) and the fact that 13,000 solar companies in Australia have gone bust since 2004, I had no choice but to offer an entirely new solar system. That cheap solar installation has cost double!

    Your article doesn’t mention the non transfer of warranties between owners of the solar system – as experienced by this family. Nor do you talk about the ability of panel and inverter manufacturers to actually honour their warranties over the warranty period I.e. Up to 25 years. The reason I ask is because you would be aware that the vast majority of manufacturers are small manufacturing companies offering panels and inverters who have only been around A few years offering the world in warranties, but are very unlikely to suvivie financially and actually honour them. Do you have an opinion or offer any financial analysis on your recommended panels/inverters and their ability to honour the warranties customers have paid for?

    You’ve not listed Phono Solar panels, but their heat coefficient is -0.40%. I thought they’d be a good Tier 1 panel to use in Australia’s hot sun? Do you have an opinion on Phono Solar panels?



    We are two older adults in a small unit, with a North facing tin roof. We use a lot of electricity in Summer in Qld. with one cooling only a/c and a small halogen heater in the Winter. Our Summer bill was $550 (was very hot) and our Spring bill was $337. (Great increases over the past few years.)

    Were thinking of getting four solar panels and inverter and considered the ones advertised on TV all the time for $1,000, plus the new meter (cost?). Another quote was for 6 panels for $2,000 plus meter. We may not stay in this unit for more than another five years. But when we worked out what we could save in five years, it didn’t seem to cover the cost of $2,000 panels. And the $1,000 panels could be shonky. All we need is four panels, but firms always push us to have six? Could you recommend a 1.5 kw four panel option that we could afford and would be reliable?

    • Finn Peacock says

      Hi Michael,

      If you are leaving your home in 5 years, then a well-specified, well installed solar system may pay for it self by the time you move out. But it will be a close run thing. However the system should also add to the value of your home – so bear that in mind.

      Solar panels are generally 250W-280W each these days – hence a 1.5kW is usually 6 panels.

      My advice would be to get a well-reviewed local installer round to have a look at your consumption and size a system appropriately. He should also be able to give you a good estimate of the payback period for that system – so you can make an informed decision as to the economics.

      It is no possible for me to size a system for you online for these reasons:

      Hope That Helps,


      • MICHAEL JEFFREY says

        Thank you Finn. You have confirmed for us that we would require six panels after all. I think it is beyond our budget at the moment. However, you never know, this could improve.

  9. Veronie Hollands says

    Good evening, would you give me An idea if the Company Enviren have a good reputation as suppliers and installers. They say they use Trina panels.

  10. Alan Davidson says

    Our Fronius inverter failed within 8 years, a 1.5kw replacement was costed at $1,800. Very hard to justify solar panels on that basis.

  11. Bruce Paterson says

    hi I’ been reading your site with much interest.
    Would you have an opinion on a deal from TruValue for a 4 kw system with a Bosch BPT-S 4 inverter and Hanhwa HSL 60S POLY modules total cost installed onto a flat Klip Lok metal roof with Grace clamps tilt kit 2 storey with large balcony for access is $5,500
    Is there any advantage going to smart modules? My roof is not shaded all hours to sunlight or moonlight.
    Kind Regards

    • Finn Peacock says

      The Bosch inverter has been discontinued – so you are essentially buying an obsolete model.

      The Hanwha panels are Tier 1, but be aware that they are the budget Hanwha panels (the premium ones are called Hanwha Q-Cells).

      Smart modules give about 10% more energy even on an unshaded roof because they cope with cloud cover and panel mismatch better – so your call.

      I’m personally not a fan of True Value Solar because of their history and some of the installs I’ve seen. But they seem to be upping their game recently – and that price is actually not ridiculously low for 4kW.

      I’d certainly consider getting quotes to compare with that one.

  12. I have been reading on solar I am more confused than ever I have been quoted $5000 for 5kw system with panel rsm60-6-250p from risen with sunnyboy inverter are these good panels

    • Finn Peacock says

      Risen are pretty good T1 panels from what I’ve heard. SMA sunny boys are one of the best inverters. If it’s a well installed system that’s an excellent price.

  13. Hi Finn,
    thanks for putting together a great website. very informative and unbiased opinions.
    Can i run a quote by you from tru value? seems quite cheap.
    as you mentioned i should be careful with bosch inverters as they are no longer being made. what are the problems that can arise from a discontinued line?
    how do seraphim panels rate?
    do tru value or eurosolar offer any good products? they seem to be cheapest iv found so far but im just not sure about quality.


    Price does not include cost of metering ($66 if digital, $176 if analogue).

    GE 2 years $5300
    After $300 deposit $5000/24 = $208 a month.

    Line Total
    Package: TVS June Special 6kw
    Inverter: 4.6kW Bosch Inverter Single Phase
    Panels: 250w Seraphim (35mm)
    Extra: Administration Fee
    Travel Fee (67.00 KM)
    Calculated Total:
    Discounted Total

    • Finn Peacock says

      Seraphim are Tier 1 – so should be OK – but I need to do my research.

      Bosch inverters are obsolete – so I’d avoid them personally.

      Price is very cheap – so I’d be worried about the quality of the install and other components. If you do go ahead – I’d recommend a third party independent inspection of the install.

      • Craig Norton says

        Looking at 5 KW Sungrow crystal inverter 565KD and sumac phono 330watt panels 24 off . Quoted $4695 installed . Just wanted your opinion on the quality of material and costing all advice appreciated.

        • Ronald Brakels says

          Hi Craig, Ronald here.

          Sungrow inverters and Sumac Phono panels are solar hardware we can recommend. If you want to see all we recommend currently you can check our Solar 101 Guide:

          I don’t know your location so I can’t say how it compares in your area, but provided it is installed by someone who does quality work that is a reasonable price.

    • I agree Bosch inverters are terrible. That’s coming from an installer.

  14. Hi Finn,, got a quote from Eurosolar for $4499 for 5k system. He based his quote on Google Earth view on our roof. Seems unusual? ?

    It seems a little cheap too. Any feedback on them. ??


  15. Hi Finn,

    Would you be able to advice me on the below quote I received from Synergy?

    Option 1 – recommended

    $ 3709.00
    Including GST and remittance for STC transfer. Does not include REBS application fee or applicable meter charges. 2,60 kW system
    10 x Hanwha Solar HSL 60S 260W solar panels
    Fronius Primo 3.0-1 inverter

    Option 2

    $ 4279.00
    Including GST and remittance for STC transfer. Does not include REBS application fee or applicable meter charges. 2,75 kW system
    10 x QCELLS Plus G4 275W Quantum solar panels
    Fronius Primo 3.0-1 inverter

    According to Synergy sales consultant, A Hanwha system compared to Qcells performance is almost at par, only 1% difference and the savings I will be getting if I install a Qcells is very minimal ($8 per cycle bill) but the price I pay to get Qcells installed is close to $600. Is this true?

    Yesterday I have also spoken to another Solar company which told me that QCELLS are also made in China. There’s no such thing as a German panel in Australia and therefore he advised me to get a Jinko panel instead for a much better deal. How true is this? Any feedback about this please?

    Thanking you in advance,

    • Finn Peacock says

      Hi Mandy,

      Q-Cells – although made by Hanwha, are much better panels than Hanwha in my opinion.

      The reason to buy Q-Cells is not a modest performance increase- but that they are likely yo last longer on your roof and degrade slower.

      So although Hanwha will do the job, I’d personally spend the extra $600 for a better quality panel.

      Q-Cells are not made in Germany any more. The only panels that are are SolarWorld, which are excellent.

      Jinko panels are OK, but Q-Cells are better. Also the Fronius inverter with 10 year warranty is an excellent choice.

  16. Hi Finn,

    I got a quote from Vicsolar for a 3kw system worth 5k. And both panels and inverter product is OneSolar.

    What do you reckon about Vicsolar and OneSolar?

    • Finn Peacock says

      For $5k you should be getting a premium inverter (SMA, Fronius, Enphase etc.) and Tier 1 panels like Trina, JA, Jinko, Canadian, Suntech etc. I’ve never heard of OneSolar which is a bad omen!

  17. Hi Finn,

    Would you
    a) get a Fronius / Jinko 5kw package for $5800.
    b) get a Fronius / Q-Cells package for $6800
    c) neither of the above because Too expensive for these models.

    Also, Solargain / Bradford as suppliers?


    • Finn Peacock says

      Fronius are one of my favourite central inverter manufacturers. The prices seem fair to me for 5kW.

      Both panel brands are good in my opinion. Q-cells are the more premium panel – hence the price increase. They should produce a little more energy and last longer over the decades. I like premium stuff – and plan on staying in my home for decades – so I’d go Q-Cells, but I’d be happy with Jinko too.

      Solargain and Bradford are both good. Solargain have been in the solar business longer, Bradford are backed by CSR – so up to you!

  18. Hi Finn,

    What is your option of:

    – Zeversolar 5kW (single phase) inverter (new model to be WiFi enabled)
    – Opalsolar panels (Risen Solar) in series

    Intend to have option to connect to batteries at a later date.

    Also Captain Green Solar as a relable supplier for Perth (I had never heard of them and I note some ‘average’ comments on this thread that may be associated with them).


  19. Stacey fetherston says

    Hi Finn,
    What do you think of these products in this quote from Energy Matters and your opinion of this company ?
    4.16kw system
    . 16 rec 260 panels
    . Ingeteam Sun 5.0 TLM inverter
    . Sunblock mounting
    Ausgrid paperwork, etc included.
    $7941 and $400 off if accepted within 14 days
    10% deposit upfront
    Seems ok, but I’m really not sure. I still have a few others to compare. Thanks.

    • Finn Peacock says

      The panels and mounting kit are excellent.

      I can’t comment on Ingeteam as I’ve never heard of them – but Energy Matters’ judgement on hardware has always been pretty good. Having said that, for that price you could get a Fronius, which has a 10 year warranty and is a very well known and well supported brand.

      $8,000 is expensive for a 4kW system, They generally go for closer to $6k for high quality systems.

  20. Hi Fnn,
    Thanks for your reply. I have since got another quote from an installer you provided.
    What is your opinion of this and would you recommend going up to a 5kw system if I’m going to add batteries on down the track ? I just don’t want to regret that I didn’t go for the bigger system later on…
    Four adults in the house, heavy users of media, Xbox , pool pump, air con, etc in Newcastle nsw.
    4kw Enphase system
    16 x enphase s230 micro inverters
    16 x Jinko jkm260pp-60 panels
    Envoy -S metered
    Enlighten Manager
    Meter changeover
    Fully installed
    $6,694 and add $2,000 for 1.2kw enphase battery
    I would also like to know whether I should wait to add the battery and get the qcell panels instead ?
    Thanks for your very informative input.

    • Finn Peacock says

      I would definitely consider going up to 5-6kW if you are heavy electricity user. It will give you more power to play with in winter and in mornings and evenings.

      Jinko panels are good, tier 1 and well supported in Australia. Q-Cells are a bit better, yes.

      I personally would not buy a battery for economic reasons as, although the Enphase units are excellent, they will not pay for themselves:

      Wait a few years for batteries, they’ll be half the price and pay for themselves.

      Unless of course you just want to play with one as an early adopter!

      • Hi Finn, I’m a little confused. In this post you say Jinko panels are “tier 1”, but in your blog post Jinko solar is under the “more affordable” range under panels.

        Would you be able to clarify?

        Also, what do you make of Tesla’s Powerwall 2 and the pricing? Is it still under the cateogy of “unlikely to save you money”?


        • Ronald Brakels says

          Hello James, Ronald here. Jinko panels are tier one and they are either one of the lowest cost or the lowest cost tier one panels. It is possible to pay less for lower quality panels, but there are no panels on the graphic that are not known to be of decent quality.

          As for the Powerwall 2 I am afraid it is still unlikely to save money, but there may be a small number of people in Australia who may be able to come out ahead. I have written about it here:

  21. Mark Rumley says

    Hi finn, just after your opinion on a quote from black diamond in S.A. please note we have 3 phase power
    5.12Kw lg neon2 320W solar edge optimised system
    16 x 320W lg panels
    1x solar edge se5000 backup imverter and se smart meter
    1x 5.12kw tile rack
    Fully installed
    Not included
    New meter $350
    Isolator $150

  22. Hello Finn, My quote from Synergy solar return is $3850 for 12 Hanwha HSL60S-260w panels and Fronius Primo 3.0-1 inverter. Is this reasonable?
    The quote says that the inverter is NOT battery ready. Does that matter? I was hoping to connect the system up when batteries are cheaper.

    • Finn Peacock says

      Hi Kaye,

      The price is very reasonable and the Panels are mid-range Tier 1. Fronius are one of the best inverters money can buy.

      In terms of battery ready – it depends how you define ‘battery ready’.

      Whilst you won’t be able to simply plug batteries in – you will be able to add batteries easily using an ‘AC Coupled’ battery inverter. So you could say it is not ‘battery ready’, but it is ‘battery compatible’.

      More details here:

      • Hello again Finn, Thank you so much for your reply. I have gone ahead with the purchase. Christmas cheers to you and yours and thank you again for your most helpful and informative service.

  23. Bronwyn Pile says

    Hi Finn/Ronald

    I have been quoted $7,000 by Cool & Cosy for a house in Adelaide for a 3.12 kW polycrystalline PV system (Yingli panels and Solax Inverter). It also includes Solar Analytics. As a RAA member this included a 10% discount but the $7000 was the final price I’d have to pay.

    There are 3 adults in house with normal bill ~$430 per Qtr with AGLso they are not heavy users eg last bill was 702kWh Peak + 1202kWh Controlled Load.

    As I know next to nothing about all this other than reading your site, I thought this seemed rather expensive so would like your thoughts. Also any other good quality providers in SA that I could investigate if you think this quote is too high. I’ve signed a contract but have till 23rd to cool off.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hello Bronwyn. Yingli panels are generally considered to be reliable, but they are one of the cheapest panels that I consider dependable enough to use. And my impression of Solax inverters are they are a decent budget inverter.

      I suggest you get three quotes from us:

      They will all be from installers Finn has investigated to ensure they do quality installations.

      I am very confident you will find you can get a system for that price with far higher quality hardware, or alternatively get a system where the hardware is still good quality and reliable, but at a lower price.

  24. Keith Pearson says

    Hello Finn,
    Do you have an opinion on Solahart Systems, (Solaredge Inverter, 8-Power Optimizer for existing panels, 12- REC280TP solar panels) their quote came in at $9K with all allowances, where as the other systems we received via Solarquotes were all in the $4K bracket except for AllGreen who quoted an alternative with micro inverters for around $6K the top to bottom price is concerning, do you have an opinion on this.
    Kind Regards

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hello Keith, Ronald here. That Solahart quote is very high. A significant amount of its expense is going to come from the cost of fitting optimisers to the existing panels and presumably to the 12 new ones. Typically optimisers increase output by around 5-15%. If you want to generate as much electricity as possible from a limited amount of roof space then you may consider it worthwhile. But if you don’t want to spend that much, an alternative is to just install more panels. If you don’t have the roof space for extra panels you could instead consider investing in energy efficiency measures for your home or if your motivation is to protect the environment you could help put solar on the roof of a relative or a charity.

      Microinverters have a similar effect to optimisers and will generally boost output by 5-15%. Like optimisers they will provide more benefit on roofs that suffer from shading. Enphase microinverters are likely to be the most reliable.

      Systems without optimisers or microinverters can’t be expected to produce quite as much electricity, but have an obvious cost advantage. Provided they have tier one panels and a decent inverter (SMA and Fronius are two of the best) they can be a cost effective choice.

  25. Jonathan Lilley says

    Hey guys amazing site thanks,

    I really need advice, I have an old SMA sb1700 inverter approx 7 years old and want to upgrade.

    2 options a – add 3kw SMA inverter and 14 seraphim 270kw panel so a total of 4.8kw
    b. go to a cheaper inverter ie. sungrow 5kw and gcl or jinko for instance and replace the complete system

    Ive been told to both keep and replace im stuck

    any advice will help thanks so much

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hi Jonathan. Either option has pros and cons.

      SMA is definitely a good brand, so if you keep the old inverter it will probably serve you faithfully for many more years, but it is out of warranty so if it does fail you will either have to pay to replace it or do without power from the panels it is attached to. The new SMA inverter should be extremely reliable. One option would be to consider using your current panels as one string on the new 3 kilowatt inverter and using the new panels as a second string on the new inverter and no longer using your old inverter. But with this set up you could only have a maximum of 4 kilowatts of panels. With a 3 kilowatt inverter and a 1.7 kilowatt inverter you could technically have up to 6.26 kilowatts of panels.

      Jinko are a tier one panels, like Seraphim, and should be reliable. Sungrow inverters are not as reliable as SMA, but it will have a 5 year warranty. And then there will be the cost of removing the old panels.

      After due consideration, I think I would rather have a new 3 kilowatt SMA inverter and a 7 year old 1.7 kilowatt SMA inverter than any brand new 5 kilowatt mid or budget priced inverter. So if the cost was comparable, that’s what I’d go for. But I might choose differently if my old solar panels were showing signs of deterioration.

  26. Jonathan Lilley says

    Sorry one more question – ever heard of a Soltaro inverter and feedback would help please

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Soltaro is a Chinese made inverter. I do not recommend it. It is cheap, but I have no evidence that it is good value for money.

      • I have a soltaro 5kw inverter, as part of a package deal from a reputable Horsham based company “Wades Gas and Paint”. They use high quality components and have done hundreds of installs throughout Horsham using Soltaro inverters. I spoke to many people with this system and have had nothing but positive feedback. warranty of 10 years on inverter and 25 years on panels. the 5.5 kw complete system fully installed (installed by local qualified sparky) cost me $6,800. we are a family of 4 with young kids and a large home, ducted electric split system throughout home, self contained apartment on property also , so we are on the high end of power consumption. This system is saving us hundreds of dollars every month! and was by far the best investment we have ever made. install was over winter and yet to even see what summer savings will be!! so soltaro are definitely not a “cheap Chinese” brand and I would recommend them to anyone.

  27. Jonathan Lilley says

    Ok thanks staying away from it

  28. Jonathan Lilley says

    which 3 budget 5kw inverters would you suggest from top to bottom

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Two inverter brands that stand out in terms of reliability are Fronius, which now come with a 10 year warranty, and SMA, which despite being a reliable brand still only come with a 5 year warranty. Many consider Solaredge to be reliable. Enphase is generally recognized as producing the most reliable microinverters and they have a 10 year warranty in Australia. As for the rest it is difficult to actually rank them due to a lack of good information. If you look at the inverter section of our solar 101 guide, you will see them approximately arranged from budget to premium brands:

      Because of the high cost of getting an inverter replaced, I recommend getting something reliable, but not everybody has horse money like I do, so I can understand people trying something cheaper and then hoping it lasts well beyond its warranty period.

  29. Hi Finn – really enjoying your information on Solar – thanks

    Would you mind commenting on a 4.9 W system quoted by a provider in the Blue Mountains (NSW) – total cost of $10.6K (includes GST and rebate) – 15 Sunpower 327 w panels, SMA SB5000TL – 21 Sunnyboy inverter, SUNLOCK roof attachments and an SMA home manager.

    The components are of high quality and reviews for this installer are very good however, the quote for the 5 KW system seems expensive compared to other quotes listed on this blog..

    Rgds – Brian

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hello Brian. Ronald here. That price is definitely at the high end for a 4.9 kilowatt system, but all the components in it are high end, so it is unavoidable that it will cost significantly more than the average system. SunPower panels are arguably the best available in Australia, the Sunny Boy is a quality inverter, and the SMA Home Manager is a considerable extra expense.

      If you are happy with a system that’s not the best and doesn’t have a home management system, then you could get something considerably cheaper.

  30. Nicole Sheen says

    Just had a quote to have 6kw SMA sunny boy with 22 Jinko panels installed, I was advised these panels are great and the inverter is a premimum inverter. I was quoted $6200 installed with 0% interest finance.

    Does this sound like a great deal I have had a few quotes this isnt the cheapest but getting told so many different things.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hello Nicole. Jinko panels are tier one and reliable and SMA is one of the best inverter manufacturers around, so the hardware is good. If the installer does a professional job then what you’ve been offered is a very good price. But, as Finn says in the article, cheap solar can be expensive. If you went through SolarQuotes then Finn has personally vetted the installer and you can be confident the job will be well done.

  31. Nicole Sheen says

    Thanks for the prompt response Ronald very much appreciated.

  32. Hi Finn/Ronald, i got a quote to have 5kw with Canadian standard panels and Delta inverter installed at $7K, and I have to apply the government rebates afterwards which I was told to be about $4.5K. That means net cost to me at $2.5K!
    Does this sound right?
    And thanks for the info you provide on this website!

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hi Mandy, Ronald here. I’m afraid that sounds very fishy. For 5 kilowatts of panels, even in central Australia, you can only expect around $4,100 in STCs as part of the solar rebate. For most of inhabited Australia you would only get around $3,500. If they want you to pay them $7,000 and expect you to claim the rebate yourself that is not at all professional and as dodgy as hell. Stay well away from them. And if they say you only need to pay $2,500 in total that’s also as dodgy as hell. There is definitely no way a quality system can be installed for that much and I don’t even see how a low quality system could be installed for that price. It is possible all they want you to do is pay a deposit and then they’ll disappear.

  33. Thanks Ronald! Despite the price doesn’t look real, what’s your verdict on the products? Are Canadian panels and Delta inverter good products?

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Canadian panels are tier one and reliable. Despite the name they are made in China, not Canada, but they are the one panel with a misleading name I’ll give a pass to since the company was founded by a Canadian citizen in Canada. And I guess Delta would be a mid range inverter. It’s not regarded as one of the top inverters but not a budget inverter.

  34. Thanks Ronald and have a great Easter weekend!

  35. Hi Finn,

    Just wondering what your opinion is with GCL 270W panels? I am getting them matched up with a Fronius inverter as a quote.


    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hi Chris, Ronald here. GCL panels are tier one. This means large financial organizations consider them reliable enough to use in large scale solar projects, so it’s unlikely you’ll have problems with them. You can expect them to do their job. They are a low cost panel with a product warranty of 10 years. There are now many other tier one panels with longer product warranties, but you’ll probably have to pay more for them.

  36. Hello Fin

    I got a quote from Hello Solar for 5kwh 20 panels system:
    – 260W Tier 1 Risen Solar Panels RSM60-260W Polycrystalline Panel
    – 5.0kW Zeversolar Inverter Zevershine 5000TL Battery Ready Inverter
    at $5200 after rebate.

    May I have your opinion on the provider, as well as whether Risen Solar panel and Zeversolar inverter trust-worthy? Appreciate your advice and recommendation?

    • Finn Peacock says

      Risen are OK, budget Tier 1 panels. Zever are a good budget inverter.

      I assume you mean 5kW system? $5,000 is a fair price for a budget 5kE system, if it is well installed.

      I’d ask about getting 6kW of panels with the 5kW inverter – you may be able to upgrade for very little due to how the rebate works:

  37. pietro b says

    Hi Finn,

    What’s your opinion on the components below,

    6kw system
    Solar Juice Opal 260W Solar Panel x 24
    Zever Solar TLC5000 3-Phase Inverter or 6.5kw system with the same inverter though with CGL-P6/60 250-265W Panels x 24

    Is it a good system and is one solar panel better than the other?

    • Finn Peacock says

      My choice would be Solar Juice panels. I think you mean GCL panels for the other option. The jury is still out on GCL panel quality. Zever are good budget inverters.

  38. Finn, here is a historical perspective as an early adopter. In 2006 we decided to install a RAPS system given the $70k+ estimate from Verve to connect us to the grid. So for the grand total of $43k we installed 1Kw of Sunpower 90w panels ( 12 ) and a 1Kw Whisper wind turbine, married to 24 x 2v Supersafe OPzV gel batteries and a SEA 3.5 Kw inverter/charger. Entire system @ 48v DC with the SEA converting to 240vAC.

    The Sunpower panels still going strong, supplimented by 1 additional Kw of Chinese Aquatooth 90w panels in 2010, we exact matched all pv panel specs to maintain system balance off the two PV arrays.

    Both panel banks have their own Blue Sky Energy 48v Solar Boost charge controller. Excellent units, original and second unit going strong.

    The SEA inverter finally died this year after 10 years of reliable service. We have replaced with a MUST PV1800 5 Kva 48v/240 iinverter/charger. One of the new generation transformerless inverters as most manufacturers have/are switching to. 10 year warranty so we shall see what happens.

    The Whisper wind turbine caused nothing but trouble from day 1 and finally died in 2013. Replaced that with a Chinese XMork 1.5 Kva 48v unit I direct imported from China, works very well with its own regulator.

    I have no issue with ” Made in China ” The worlds most modern and efficient mass production factories are now in China. Chinese scientists, researchers and engineers are on a par with any.

    I found the key to a reliable system is how it was installed. We have used Chris Raymond from Aurelius solar for all our installs and upgrades including a new retirement house with a 6Kva PV bank, 5 Kva inverter with a 5.5 Kva battery backup. Under 10k !!! My how time and technology change 43k then vs less than 10k now!!!

    I also think the line between traditional quality brands and the new generation brands is now so blurred vis quality and warranty, that its worthwhile jumping in at a lower cost.

    The farm house we run is a 300 square meter homestead. We are careful users and have all the mod cons incl a carefully managed split a/c that we run in cool mode only @26/28 degrees, which if beaut when its 43 degrees in the water bag outside.
    So thats our solar story.

  39. Thomas Paterson says

    Hi We want to install a 6.6kw system to a single phase house the supplier says they can do it but would need to install 2 x 3kw inverters would this be ok?

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Normally that would be done with a single 5 kilowatt inverter, but it can be done with two 3 kilowatt inverters, provided your local Distributed Network Service Provider (DNSP) is okay with you having a total of 6 kilowatts of inverter capacity on a single phase connection. (Your DNSP may be okay with more than 5 kilowatts of inverter capacity provided it is export limited.)

      Note with 6 kilowatts of inverter capacity you can install up to 8 kilowatts of solar panel capacity if you want to. Given the increases in electricity prices and feed-in tariffs most people have experienced this month it may be worthwhile.

  40. Alex Podesser says

    I have bought a property in country Victoria with a 5KW Growatt inverter and 8 X 190W panels (1.52KW).
    I had arranged with Euro Solar to add whatever panels are required to full capacity.
    They have been sidestepping on my request and trying to sell me a new system of 4.6KW (inverter and panel brand unknown).for about $4300
    I have since spoken to local installers and the opinion seems to be that is too cheap to be high quality.
    I intend to approach another company for a quote using a Fronius inverter, 24 X 250W Q-Cell panels.
    Would I be able to continue using the existing unit, alongside a new installation.
    Any advice would be appreciated.



    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hello Alex

      I personally suggest thinking twice before using Eurosolar. You can read about them here:

      Because your current inverter is probably old and outdated, the best thing you can do is probably to leave it where it is and install a new system to operate alongside it, provided you are not required to export limit your system and you have space on your roof for the new panels. (Since you are in a rural area, putting solar panels on ground mounts is an option if you don’t have the roof space. They can even be put on trackers that follow the sun if you don’t mind spending extra to maximize their output.)

      If you install 24 x 250 watt panels that will be 6 kilowatts, giving you a total of 7.52 kilowatts when your old system is included. Given how high both electricity prices and feed-in tariffs now are, that’s not a bad sized system. But, as you are in a rural area, you may be required to export limit your system. If you are, it is a problem because your old inverter is so large. Although it only has 1.52 kilowatts of panels attached to it, your Distributed Network Service Provider is still likely to regard it as being able to export 5 kilowatts. So if you are export limited to five kilowatts your new inverter may not be permitted to export anything and so you will lose out on a great deal of feed-in tariff payments. If you are export limited to 5 kilowatts I’m afraid you best option may be to get rid of your old system.

      If you get rid of your old inverter and get a new 5 kilowatt one, then you can have up to 6.66 kilowatts of panels. While connecting your old panels to your new inverter is a possibility, in practice in will probably be easier to use new panels.

      Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  41. Kevin Mulligan says

    Hi guys,
    Anyone have an opinion on the difference between Suntech STP310-24/vem panels and Jinko JKM270PP-60 panels?

    I have been quoted on a 5kw system from different suppliers, 16 Sun tech panels as against 20 Jinko panels.

    Rest of system is the same, all with Enphase micro inverters and Envoy-S monitoring system.

    Both suppliers are excellent installers and price is almost the same.



    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hello Kevin.

      The Suntech STP310-24/ven are 72 cell panels which makes them larger than the usual 60 cell panels that are mostly installed on Australian homes. Their product warranty is for 12 years.

      The Jinko Solar JKM270PP-60 panels are standard sized 60 cell panels with a 10 year product warranty.

      They are both tier one panels and should be reliable and not give you any problems.

  42. john keaveny says

    can you tell me anything about byd polycrystalline solar panels

  43. Hi Finn/Ronald

    I have recently purchased a property and my family visit me for couple of months being winter and running the ducted aircon all night last power bill hit the roof…

    So decided to go solar, I have received a quote from Captain Green Solar for $ 5,759.00 after all rebates..

    Jinko Eagle 270W Solar Panel * 22
    Fronius Symo 5.0kW Three Phase Inverter..
    SMA SB 5.0 Sunny Boy Smart Connected Inverter

    Please let me know if this is a good price and is it worthwhile to get the Powerwall at this stage? Do you think the prices might drop later..

    Thanks in advance guys…

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hello Harish, Ronald here.

      Jinko are tier one panels with a 10 year product warranty and should definitely be reliable. Both Fronius and SMA are currently regarded as high quality inverters. SMA provides a 5 year warranty. Fronius has a 10 year warranty, but only the first 5 years is for full replacement. For the second 5 year period they will replace a faulty inverter, but they won’t pay for the cost of installation.

      The cost comes to less than $1 a watt, which is excellent.

      I would check that the quote was made after the 19th of last month, as that is when STC prices fell and caused an increase in the cost of buying rooftop solar. If it was made after this date, the quote should be fine.

      • Thanks Ronald…
        I have another quote from All Green Environmental Solutions, from the 3 companies you guys forwarded,

        5KW Enphase System with Trina Mono Panels
        17 x Enphase S230 Micro inverters
        17 x 300W Trina Mono Honey M+ TSM-DD05A.05(II)
        Envoy-S Metered (Battery Ready, Consumption & Production Monitoring)
        Metering changeover
        Grand total of $8,880 after all discounts…

        Just curious if it is worth getting a micro inverter system than the one mentioned above from captain green..
        Has there been a lot of issues with micro inverters that you guys are aware of?
        In future if i wanted to add tesla powerwall instead of emphase batter pack would it be possible…

        Thanks in advance….

        • Ronald Brakels says

          Hello again Harish

          If your roof has no shade, you can expect microinverters to produce around 5% more electricity per panel watt than the previously mentioned system. However, you will be paying over 50% more.

          The Enphase microinverters you have been quoted for, while not perfect, are extremely reliable. Microinverter systems are considered extremely reliable because even if one of 17 fails, the other 16 keep working.

          The Powerwall 2 and the Enphase AC battery are both AC coupled and don’t care what kind of inverter or inverters you use, so no need to worry.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Harish, I neglected to answer your question about whether or not the Powerwall is worthwhile at the moment.

      I am afraid at the moment it does not pay for itself and will have to get substantially cheaper before it is worthwhile for average households to get it. For now you are much better off getting a large solar system and looking at energy efficiency measures for your home.

      Maxing our your solar system will provide a far better return than batteries can, so you may want to consider getting a solar system as close to 6.66 kilowatts as possible, as this is the maximum many homes with single phase power can easily install.

  44. Claire Moore says

    Hi, we’re looking at two quotes and trying to decide between Solar Beam or Beyond Solar, does anyone have any experience dealing with either company?

    Our options are:

    $4,999 for a 4.05KW system with 15 Jinko (270) panels and a Fronius 3.5-1 inverter

    $5,799 for a 4.06 KW system with 14 Jinko (290) panels and a Fronus 4.0-1 inverter

    We are thinking the cheaper system would be sufficient for our 3 person house, but are mindful that cheaper isn’t better. Any advice on what seem like two very similar products, but $800 difference>?

    Thanks in advance,

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hello Claire.

      Beyond Solar have been around for a long time and have an excellent reputation. You can read their reviews here:

      Solar Beam is also a reputable installer, but they haven’t been around as long and I know less about them.

      Those two systems are almost identical. So you can either decide based on who you think will do the best job, or on cost.

      With the larger inverter it is possible to add 4 extra panels on at a later date, but if you want extra panels I strongly recommend getting them when the system is first installed as it will save a significant cost later on.

      If you wish to install extra panels now to get closer to the maximum allowed for your inverter, then…

      With the 3.5 kilowatt inverter you can have a maximum of 4.66 kilowatts of panels, which would be 2 extra 270 watt panels.

      And with the 4 kilowatt inverter you can have a maximum of 5.33 kilowatts of panels which would be 4 extra 290 watt panels.

      Since the cost of the extra panels should fairly low, I suggest considering getting them, provided you have space on your roof.

      Hope this helps.

  45. Hi Lads,

    I’m looking looking to purchase an 8kw 30 Rec panel system through a company called energy matters. They seem reputable. The inverter is a solis 4g single phase. The warrantly level is good with 10 years on inverter, 12 years on panels for manufacturing and 25 years performance. My current bills are averaging 750 a quarter so Im happy with the 8kw being recomended but Im worried about the cost.
    The cost is $18715 and that is after the rebate of about 5500 so without that even it would have been 24k. They offer performance guarantees and the whole deal they have offered sounds good. Does this price seem unreasonable & are the rec panels and solis inverter a good product in the market.


    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hello Nick

      Energy Matters is a company that is known for doing good quality installations. REC panels are tier one and should be reliable. I don’t know enough about the Solis inverter to say whether it is good value for money or not, but the fact they are willing to give you an extended 10 year warranty on it is a good sign.

      But there are a couple of odd things about the quote. As far as I am aware, the largest Solis 4G inverter is 5 kilowatts, which won’t be suitable for 8 kilowatts of panels. Also, the price not competitive, especially for an installation that doesn’t use top of line hardware. I would suggest double checking that the quote is correct and if it is, I suggest getting more quotes from reputable installers.

  46. Hi,
    We are looking to get solar power install for a 5 by 2 single story house. Our daily power usage is about 17 unit a day.
    We were recommended by Solargain to get 6.5 kW solar power system. First option is Jinko 270W 24 panel with Fronius Primo 5.0 for $5590. The second is Q-cells peak G4 22 panel with Fronius Primo 5.0 for $6590. Inverter have warranty for 5 years. Any advise on these quote?

    We also get another quote from SolarHarness. SolarHarness recommended that we only need a 3.0kW system. Quote given were:
    1. Sungrow 4000 11 panel with Soctano P275 for $4996
    2. Hanover P275 12 panel with Fronius 4 for $4994 ( he saying that Hanover panel is a German brand, just that not made in German, and is a good panel)
    3. Consent P250 with Fronius 4000 for $8494.
    I not so sure about the quote from SolarHarness- not much cheaper for lower system compared to Solargain. Can we have some advise on these different quote. Thanks.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hello Lam

      With regard to the first set of quotes:

      Jinko panels are tier one and should definitely be reliable. QCELLS panels are also tier one and are considered a cut above lower cost tier one panels. Fronius inverters are considered high quality. Fronius inverters will come with a full 5 year warranty with an additional 5 year partial warranty after that where they will replace the inverter if required, but won’t pay for the cost of installation.

      The system with Jinko panels comes to 86 cents a watt, which is an extremely competitive price for a system with a Fronius inverter.

      I can’t work out the exact price per watt for the QCELLS system as I don’t know the exact panel wattage, but as it is probably just over $1 a watt it is also a very competitive price for QCELLS panels with a Fronius inverter.

      With regard to the second set of quotes:

      Sungrow is a lower cost inverter that comes with a 5 year warranty.

      Hanover panels are not tier one. They are definitely a lower cost panel. Personally, I don’t recommend them.

      I am afraid I don’t even know what the other two panels mentioned are and so I suggest staying away from them, as they are unknown quantities.

      Finally, the cost per watt is much higher than for the first pair of quotes.

  47. hi Finn,

    I have quotes from essential solar for 6.04 kW system
    ET panel 290 W x 21 panels
    Fronius primo 5.0 invertor


    and quote from Solar Flow Australia for 5.94kW system
    jinko eagle panels 270 W x 22 panels
    fronius primo 5.0 invertor


    are these reasonable quotes, they look a little more expensive than others quoted here?

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hello Janet, Ronald here.

      Fronius is a high end inverter and is considered reliable.

      ET panels are tier one and so should be reliable. This system comes to $1.31 per watt.

      Jinko panels are so tier one and should also be reliable. This system comes to $1.43 a watt.

      Not that long ago I would have considered both those prices to be very competitive for systems with Fronius inverters. But there are now installers putting in similar hardware for less, so if you shop around you will probably be able to find a lower price, although it will depend on your area. However, I do suggest you use an installer you are confident will do a good job, as a poor installation can result in problems even when using good quality hardware.

  48. Hi Finn

    We have received a quote from Cola Solar Hybrid 5.1 at just under $6K with no other cost. my questions are around the quality of the products and are we better off with different products.

    BYD Tier 1 panels X 20 12 year product warranty
    Goodwe Inverter X 1 10 year product warranty

    We will take your advice and hold off on the battery at this stage.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hello Elaine, Ronald here.

      BYD panels have only fairly recently been installed in significant numbers in Australia, but they are tier one and so should be reliable.

      A Goodwe inverter is a lower cost option and isn’t considered as reliable as more expensive brands, but they have extended the warranty to 10 years instead of Goodwe’s normal 5, so you can be confident you won’t be out of pocket for a new inverter for at least that long.

  49. Hi Ronald

    Thanks for the info. I am now looking at a Fronius Inverter and Jinko Tier 1 270 watt solar panels X 20 quoted for 5kw system fully installed $5790 is this a better option quality wise. Is it difficult to add battery later to this system. Again thanks for your assistance.



    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hello Elaine.

      That comes to $1.07 per watt, which is a good price for system with a Fronius inverter that is installed well.

      Adding batteries at a later date is not difficult as they can be AC coupled, which allows them to work with any existing solar inverter.

  50. Hi Ronald/Finn

    had a quote from Sunlight Energy for a 5.4 KW solar system consisting of, 20- 270 watt high grade QCELL G5 panels with a 5kw Fronius Inverter . for $5850.
    am happy with the products but not sure of the Solar company Sunlight Energy.
    Iperating in NSW and I am in Victoria . Is it a reputable company to engage with

    • Finn Peacock says

      I’m not familiar with the company. I just looked them up and Sunlight Energy is a business name owned by a partnership in the name of S.K MAKKAR & H SINGH and has been in operation since March 2017. Not very long.

      Their website does not fill me with confidence for a number of reasons.

      They claim to be Australia’s #1 Solar Retailer. That is patently not true.

      They have fake testimonials on their site.

      I can’t find their electrical licence, and they don’t disclose it on their site (legal requirement).

      Hope That Helps,


  51. Hi Finn/Ronald
    Could you please let me know your opinion on these quotes I have received.
    Heartz Electrical, Camden.
    6kw system. 21 x 280w Opal Solar OSR-60P panels.
    Opal Switch Light Pro inverter. $5,180

    Power House Solar & Batteries
    5.4kw. 18 x 300kw Opal Solar Percium Mono panels
    ZeverSolar Zeverlution 5000S inverter, WiFi.
    Single phase $4,600
    OR with a Fronius inverter for $6,100

    Thanks guys, appreciate your help.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hello Richard, Ronald here.

      Opal panels are not tier one but they have a good reputation and should provide good value for money. I believe they now have a 12 year product warranty.

      Fronious is a high quality, premium, inverter. Zeversolar is more mid range. The Opal inverter is a rebadged inverter that I expect to be cost effective.

      The first quote with 21 x 280 watt panels comes to 5.88 kilowatts and is 88 cents per watt.
      The second quote with 18 x 300 watt panels cones to 5.4 kilowatts and is 85 cents per watt with the Zeversolar inverter and $1.13 a watt with the Fronius inverter.

      • Thanks Ronald. I wonder if it is worth spending the extra on the Fronius inverter, or whether the Zeversolar option would do a similar job? Would I just be paying for the Fronius name or is really worth the extra $$$?
        Much appreciated Ronald. Richard

        • Ronald Brakels says

          Well, it comes down to your person preferences. If you want an inverter you can be very confident will keep working without problem long term go for the Fronius. If you are happy with a little more risk in exchange for a lower price you can go for a lower cost inverter. Some people figure they will have more money in the future and so go for a cheap inverter now. Mind you, they can forget their time will also be more valuable in the future and they won’t want to be bothered by things such as inverters breaking down.

  52. Hi Finn/Ronald

    We received a quote from Solar power nation for 22*279w premium tier 1 jinko panels with 5kw solax X11 boost inverter with installation and certification by qualified CEC installer for $3700. Is it a reliable quote to go with. Please help us to evaluate them.
    Thank you

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hello Deveneni

      Jinko makes 280 watt panels but I don’t know of any 279 watt panels so I would check exactly what the quote is for. If it is for a 6.16 kilowatt system then that is a very competitive price. Jinko panels are low cost tier one panels and should be reliable while SolaX is an lower cost inverter.

      You can read reviews for Solar Power Nation here:

      As you can see, a number of people are not happy with them.

  53. Chuong pham says

    Hi Finn,

    I’ve received some quotes from some companies referred by you for a 5-6kW system. I am comparing two quotes and they vary by about $2500 mainly due to the use of Jinko versus the premium LG Neon R panels. The inverters are the same Fronius in both of the quotes.

    Assume the installation quality would be the same on both of these companies.

    Going through your web site, I got that if I value the better quality and intend to say longer in the house, I should go with the LG panels.

    I don’t seem to be able to make a decision based on the simple criteria above and I can afford the the higher price.

    My question is in 10 year time (or may be 7, 8 or 11 years etc.), solar industry will have advanced greatly (as with any technology) with better features, efficiency and lower price so would it be wiser to choose the Jinko panels for reasonable quality (tier 1 etc.), at a lower price then upgrading the system with new technologies after 10 years? Do you think this is a valid thought? It’s analogous to the case of a TV or a fridge. In 5 year time, replacing the fridge could give us better features and energy efficiency even though the fridge may still last another 10 years…

    I would have more reasons to purchase a more expensive car (or an upscale holiday etc.) due to the touchable benefits. For a solar system, as long as I don’t buy a “cheap” system or need very long warranty, I am thinking hard about paying extra…

    Do any other readers have similar thoughts to mine above? I would love to hear what you think.

    Your web site and services are excellent and I’ve learnt a lot starting from knowing absolutely nothing about solar…Thank you.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hi, Ronald here.

      LG Solar produce excellent panels, but I’d say if getting value for money is your main objective then you are probably better off with Jinko panels. You are unlikely to have problems with them. Their product warranty is only for 10 years compared to LG Solar’s 25 if you do have problems after 10 years then they shouldn’t be too expensive to replace. But I think they are likely to last for considerably longer than 10 years and provided the solar system you are installing is large enough you may not feel much need to upgrade if they are functioning properly. But perhaps you’ll have home energy storage and a couple of electric cars by then and will want a larger system.

      Inverters don’t last as long as solar panels and Fronius is regarded as a reliable brand. While you could save money by going with a cheaper inverter, I think you’re better off sticking with a Fronius if you can afford it. Personally I don’t see the potential savings as worth the risk.

      I go into the benefits and disadvantages of buying lower cost but still decent quality solar hardware here:

  54. Chuong pham says

    Thank you for taking the time to respond Ronald, and your article in the link you’ve provided has helped a lot. Thanks again!

  55. Hi Finn
    We have been quoted $15,000 for a 13.11kW system using 38 LG NeON2 panels and 2 SMA Sunny Boy inverters with Tigo optimisers.

    The alternate option given is using Trina Splitmax panels (with the same inverters and optimisers above) for $11,250.

    Are these good options and prices, and which would you recommend is the better way to go?

  56. Hi I thought I might go with technAus solar they want to install 22x300wstt astrometry panels with growatt inverter what are your thoughts please

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hi Pat

      I don’t know Astrometry panels, but if you mean Astroenergy Solar, they aren’t currently among the panels we recommend, but they are tier one and so should be reliable. Growatt is the lowest cost inverter that is commonly sold in Australia. Hopefully they are good value for money, but you can’t expect the same quality as more expensive ones.

  57. Hi,
    I was given a quote by a door-knocking company so hadn’t had a chance to do any comparisons or research before sitting down with them.
    3.42kW system, 12 Canadian panels $5350 the inverter is Goodwe.
    thoughts on size and price?

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hi Jodie

      Canadian Solar make reliable but not expensive panels. Goodwe is a low cost inverter.

      I definitely recommend getting a larger system. Provided it will fit on your roof I generally recommend close to 6.66 kilowatts, as that is the maximum most homes can install without complications. If you look around and do your research you can find a system close to that size from a reliable installer for around the same price.

      If you would like us to send you some quotes, you can go to our homepage:

      Enter your postcode in the space at the top right and answer the questions that come up as best you can. We will only put you in touch with installers we know do good quality work.

  58. Hi Finn

    Re:NSW Solar for Low Income Households

    We have been approved for this and the Gov. selected installer is SAE Group for a 3 Kilowatt system.

    Before they come and visit us to see about the installation, what should I know?

    I have your booklet, thank you, and I have done some research on the internet.

    But beyond that, is there anything you can help me with? Is there any feedback on this type of installation?


    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hi Urs, Ronald here.

      I’ve just been looking at the details of the scheme here:

      And I see you will get a 3 kilowatt solar system and in return you will have to pay around $2,850 over 10 years.

      At this time that is a good price to pay for a properly installed 3 kilowatt solar system.

      This is not a bad deal. Normally I would recommend a larger system, but that could cost $5,000 or more upon installation and if that’s not an option then a 3 kilowatt system which will cost you around $285 a year for 10 years is an excellent second choice.

      There is nothing you particularly need to worry about. SAE are installers we can recommend and we know they do good work. They will come and look at your roof and make sure it is suitable for installation and if it’s fine they’ll arrange an installation date. The only thing you’ll really need to concern yourself with is making sure you get an electricity retail plan with a good solar feed-in tariff.

  59. Hi Ronald

    Thank you to your detailed reply. Much appreciated.
    I am sure there is many others that are exactly in the same position as us and they too will benefit from your comments.

    We will need to find out what electricity plan would suit us to get the best out of our solar. Also, we do not have a smart meter yet. Do you know what we should look for in that respect please?


    • Ronald Brakels says

      In NSW Origin Energy has a Solar Optimiser retail plan with a 21 cent feed-in tariff. That’s likely to be a good plan, although it may not necessarily be the best.

      Electricity retailers are now in charge of changing electricity meters. SAE will be able to advise you what will need to be done. If your retailer offers to change your meter for free I recommend getting that in writing as some people have been billed after being told they wouldn’t.

  60. Hi

    We are already NSW Origin Energy customers.

    In response to your feedback about their feed-in tariff I would like to add the following.

    There are 3 plans that they offer:

    Solar Boost Plus Solar Optimiser All other plans
    23 c/kWh 21 c/kWh 8 c/kWh

    The highest feed-in tariff is if you buy an Origin Solar System, the 2nd highest is if you switch to Origin, the lowest is for existing customers.

    It seems that customer loyalty is not rewarded?

    In view of this what other providers to you know that pay a descend feed-in tariff?

    The estimated savings on a 3 KW system will be much less on the lowest feed-in tariff, however if I understand it correctly, the power the solar panels produce will be first used by our house (and as such reduce how much we use from Origin). Therefore the savings could be what our present peak usage is, i.e. 26.57 c / kWh, as we use about 600 Watts “on standby” (= constantly)? Do I understand this correctly?

    Your answers are much appreciated in this jungle of tariffs and conditions.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      I’m afraid electricity retailers generally take advantage of people who are loyal to them. If you threaten to leave them they may give you the 21 cent feed-in tariff. But if they don’t want to do anything you can change to a different retailer. For example AGL has a Solar Savers plan which should have a 21¢ solar feed-in tariff.

      During the day when the solar system is producing electricity it will go towards supplying your home first and then any that is left over gets sent into the grid for a feed-in tariff. But even if you are normally home during the day you will generally send at least have the solar electricity produced into the grid. But having a high solar feed-in tariff is less important for smaller systems.

  61. Hi Finn
    Solarhart system
    30 Solarhart panels 300w 9kw
    Solaredge inverter 6kw
    Optimizers on all.
    Is this too much for a premium system of the sizing?

    • Finn Peacock says

      I’d say that’s an expensive 9 kW system – unless it is a crazy complex installation and/or in the middle of the bush!

      • hi Finn,
        is this company any good. GREEN IOT PTY LTD/ ABN 16 634 083 622. they claiming they are clean Energy councils / approve solar retailers.
        i got a quote for 12.6kw With longi 350w + fronius, $6900 and 13.3kw Jinko 370 Cheetah plus + Fronius Inverter 10kw three phase + three phase upgrade + our 10 year workmanship warranty & ongoing monitoring and remedies $7200.

        and 13.32 kw jinko cheetah plus 370w with 10kw Solis or Growatt system for $5990

        And 18kw system jinko cheetah plus 370w with 3x 6kw inverter Solis or Growatt for 6690

  62. Jocelyn bereyne says

    Thinking of getting a solarhart 5kw solarsystem with a solaredge inverter been quoted $10000 after rebate does this sound ok.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hi Jocelyn

      It depends on your location, solar costs more in remote areas, but generally speaking I would say that is a high price for a 5kW system these days. Especially if it’s not installed by someone with a good reputation for high quality work.

      If you’d like some quotes through us so you can see what else is available, you can go to our homepage:

      Enter your postcode in the space at the top right and then answer the questions that come up as best you can. We will send you some quotes from installers who have been vetted by us and we know do good quality work.

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