There are many factors in choosing a solar electric system for your home or business. The most common quoted factor is the price. However, prices can be deceiving if we just look at the bottom line. A system that has the lowest price may not give you the best bang for your buck. Inferior products, shoddy warranties, low-grade components, and a poorly designed system can severely impact the life and health of your system performance. It is true that you get what you pay for. In this article, we will look all of these factors and how you can be a savvy consumer.
Quality Products: Much like purchasing a vehicle, solar panels have varying degrees of effectiveness and longevity. Studies by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have found that solar panels have a median degradation rate of 0.5% per year. After 20 years, that solar panel will only be producing 90% of the electricity that it was intended to produce. Factors such as heat and location can also come into play, as well as climate
Installing the Cadillac of solar panels may not always be the right choice for your home. For example, according to the California Energy Commission, a government agency that rates solar panel efficiency, The LG 390 watt solar panel has an efficiency of 91.5%, under standardized conditions. The Axitec 390 watt solar panel received an efficiency rating of 93.38%. Even though the Axitec performed at a higher rate, the LG panel costs are 40% higher than the cost of the Axitec panels. This cost savings in solar panel cost gives you room to upgrade to more efficient inverters and parts behind the panels.
Warranties: Having a system that runs efficiently and produces electricity consistently is important. Every day that your system is down is a day you are not producing electricity. The AP Systems and Solar Edge microinverters have parameters that allow units to underperform when they see irregularities they don’t like or aren’t programmed for. These software and hardware issues that control the electrolytic capacitors are subject to frequent failures, causing your system to not produce the intended electricity, stalling your payback and leading to costly repairs.
Chilicon microinverters have decreased that failure rate by eliminating the electrolytic capacitors. This creates a more stable output. They individually test all units for 12 hours before allowing them to be shipped. By creating a more stable output of electricity, your system can be more productive and efficient. By adding more efficient components, you can create more power and get your investment back sooner.
High Grade Components: Less experienced and incompetent installers and system designers can often cut corners using cheaper components and balance of system to increase profit margins. Such shortcuts as not using watertight flashings, limiting the wire size, or installing poor quality electrical components that is prone to failures can effect system output.
By insisting on the use of quality products and hiring a professional solar installer with a proven track record, you can ensure that your system lives up to your expectations and is free of defects. Wire that is oversized creates a more efficient solar system, creating more power and promotes a safer installation. Focusing on the smallest details will give you the biggest bang from your buck.
Quality System Design: A quality system design is important, as there are many factors in designing a solar system. It is not one size fits all. Each home has its own individualized electricity needs, and no two families are alike. The amount of space you have available for an installation, the efficiency of the solar panels/inverters, the size of wire, the type of racking and your yearly electric use come into play when designing a system.
Larger national installers or neophyte companies don’t always offer the best price when it comes to installing your solar system. The Federal Government (NREL) has determined that larger installers tend to charge $2000 to $5000 more than large solar installation companies. Large installers offered a higher quote price than a corresponding non-large installer in about 70% of the time. Large installer quotes are $0.33/W (about 10%) higher, on average, than non-large installer quotes offered to the same customer.
In closing, choosing a company with longevity in the industry, which offers individualized quotes, high quality system components, well trained electricians and optimal system design is the key to creating a solar system that will outperform your expectations and provide you with electricity for the years to come. This ensures that the price is right- for you.