SolarQuotes Vodcast Episode 13 – How To Destroy A Solar Business

Ronald and Finn are back after the Easter/ANZAC break to discuss recent solar industry news and techie stuff.

0:25 – Times are tough for Victorian solar installers and frustrating for households in the state wanting solar panels after the sudden (temporary) end to the state’s hugely popular solar rebate. But it was an entirely predictable mess that could have been avoided with a bit more forethought and/or a lower rebate from the outset.

“I don’t know if you could have designed a better way to try and destroy small and medium solar businesses,” says Finn. “Government trying to do too much, all motivated by trying to win an election.”

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6:07 – Australians are really keen on the idea of electric vehicles, despite what the Liberal Party will tell you.

Ronald and Finn also discuss Labor’s propose fuel efficiency standard of 105 grams per kilometre. Ronald says there are already cars in Australia achieving that and Finn points out that the proposed standard is an average for auto makers – meaning they can use EV models to bring down overall average emissions of their range.

Acknowledging that charging an electric vehicle from the grid also results in emissions, Ronald says that will improve rapidly as more renewables are brought online.

Finn says he’s selling his car this year as he thinks it will be almost worthless in two or three years and believes plug-in hybrids are the go for those who are not interested in an all-electric vehicle.

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10:28 – Ronald explains PERC technology and how many solar manufacturers have started producing PERC modules. Unfortunately, it turns out PERC panels can be susceptible to LeTID – that’s Light and elevated Temperature Induced Degradation. Some cheap panels have been found to have as much as 8% deterioration per year.

As for well-known brands, while some manufacturers say their panels don’t suffer the issue, others are keeping quiet on the topic. However, from next year, all solar panels sold in Australia will have to be certified as LeTID resistant.

Props to Ben Neville from MC Electrical who wrote the original article that brought the LeTID issue to the fore.

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13:24 –  Recent legal action against a solar company highlights the risk that businesses in the sector take when buying leads without doing their due diligence. Finn expresses his disdain for some lead-gathering techniques and explains how SolarQuotes is different.

On a related note, Ronald reminds solar buyers they should know their rights when it comes to door-to-door solar sales.

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16:04 – While solar panels suffer performance loss in heat, fossil fuel power stations lose even more efficiency. Even so, Ronald explains what Pmax and NOCT mean and how they affect performance of solar panels under elevated temperatures. Also revealed is the best panel in terms of temperature performance – which unfortunately you can’t get in Australia. Ronald and Finn also briefly discuss Tesla’s solar panels.

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19:45 – SolarQuotes recently hit a major milestone – 400,000 people have requested quotes from the service since it began a decade ago, which is equivalent to around one in fifteen owner-occupied homes in Australia.

Finn talks more about SolarQuotes’ approach – including what he calls SQ’s “stupidly long” quote form – which helps to ensure quality in terms of the service that solar buyers receive and the detail installers are provided.

“The thing about SolarQuotes is we made a conscious decision recently, well it’s kind of always been there in the background, but a conscious decision to be better, not bigger,” says Finn, who believes growth results anyway from that mindset.

Ronald’s thoughts?

“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.”

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21:56 – The worst review chosen for this week involves a solar business that kept on changing installation dates, had rude sales people, didn’t reply to emails, used hidden telephone numbers and questionable payment policies.

The best review of the week was for EverSolar in Victoria, who provided quick installation and great after sales service – congrats to EverSolar.

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24:55 – While the rule of thumb for solar panel tilt has been that it should equal latitude, that’s not quite correct as it turns out. Using PVWatts, Ronald calculated the optimal panel tilt angle what will give solar owners the maximum output for the year.

Ronald acknowledges that the difference isn’t much. Finn calls him anal.

This article was a follow up to Ronald’s post on optimal solar panel direction.

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About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. Great work guys.

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