There is very little difference between the top five solar panel manufacturers, the biggest difference for Australian consumers is simply that some of these top five brands are hard to get in Australia. They are all manufactured overseas and some just do not send much stock into Australia as the demand for their panels in North America and Europe is heavy.
The top five tier 1 solar panels brands are:
1) SunPower at 22.2% efficiency
2) LG at 21.1% efficiency
3) Panasonic at 20.3% efficiency
4) Solartech Universal at 20.2% efficiency
5) Solaria at 19.4% efficiency
All of these five offer 25-year warranties on their panels and they are all competitively priced on their solar panel cost, especially around the 5 kW to 6 kW systems as these are what most people install.
No matter which state you are in, you can expect to pay around $4,700 for a 5kWh solar system fully installed.
The efficiency of panels does not vary greatly between the tier-one brands, but the price certainly does.
I could rattle off average prices for you, but it is all going to come down to the markup price from your supplier/ installer. This can differ greatly.
You should have little trouble finding a system seller and installer who sell and install SunPower and LG systems in Australia but finding someone who sells and installs Panasonic in Australia won’t be as easy.
There are currently at least 4 brands of solar panels that are new to Australia and as yet are not very popular but these companies have stellar reputations overseas, especially in the USA, so if you find someone selling either Hyundai Solar, Phono Solar, LONGI Solar or Tindo Solar I would suggest you have a serious look at them, these are Tier 1 sellers.
It is very difficult to actually say what is the most cost-effective brand of solar panels simply because the solar panels price is only one part of the system that has more than two other parts, the main one being the inverter you use, you can install the best, biggest and most expensive solar panels on the best-aligned roof in the world but if you use a cheap inverter you won’t get much out of the system.
You must do your homework and as everywhere I read says, get at least five quotes from pre-vetted sellers. If you do that and choose the one you want wisely then your system should last you at least 15 years giving you the best solar power price and be worry-free during that time.
Buy Tier 1 panels, get the best inverter you can afford, and have the whole thing installed by professionals who have the necessary consumer protection guarantees. You should get guarantees and warranties on not only the solar panels but also the inverter and the installation. These should be three separate warranties which combined guarantee your system is what you paid for.
Do your homework on the price of the system you decide you want to purchase, then do the homework on the inverter and finally, triple check the credentials and bona fides of the Seller/installer, if everything is good then, by all means, go ahead, even though it is a large investment up front most of the blogs say that you will recoup their costs within five years, some say if you do it right you can recoup your costs in as little as 3.5 years.
Why does solar cost different amounts in different States?
Currently, rebates and subsidies for the solar industry cost the Australian taxpayers $1.3 billion per annum. The Federal government provides what they call incentives which are basically cash handouts for people to install solar systems on their homes.
On top of that, every single state and territory government also provides what they call rebates which are also basically cash handouts for people to also install those same solar systems on their homes.
There is no single subsidy scheme that will pay a homeowner who lives in the regional city of Dubbo the same amount as a person who lives in Adelaide, every single postcode has a different subsidy amount with the homeowners in the capital cities laughing all the way to the bank according to most of the blogs.
Not one subsidy or rebate has anything to do with the solar power price to consumers or the solar power cost to generate.
The Victorian government, after recently orchestrating the shutdown of the Hazelwood coal-fired power station is now offering a cash incentive of $2225 to homeowners who install solar panels on their roof, which is about 32% of the cost of a 6 kW system, this comes after a few days of 40+ degree temperatures where over 60,000 homes were without power for many hours.
Currently, Victoria has only two coal-fired and two gas-fired power stations to provide electricity to 6.35 million people, they also have numerous renewable wind and solar stations that provide less than 7% of the state’s power, when weather conditions are optimal.
Victoria currently provides the highest subsidies but how long that will last for is anyone’s guess, almost every year governments either increase, change or add new subsidies which of course change the numbers. Most people in South Australia currently expect their government to either increase the current subsidies or add a new one like Victoria has done because they suffered the same weather conditions recently and also had massive power failures across the state.
On top of the governments actually offering monetary incentives to install solar systems, they also provide guarantees for low interest or zero interest bank loans to install solar systems on your roof. Solar sellers and installers also charge varying amounts across the states depending on the incentives provided by the State government.
Based on current solar power system prices here is a basic rundown of the costs. The cheapest state to buy a solar system in is Western Australia, across-the-board they give better subsidies making the cost of installation of solar systems from 1.5 kW at $2450, $220 cheaper than the nearest rival, right through to 6 kW system at $4210 which is a massive $1110 cheaper than any other state.
The most expensive state isn’t hard to guess, it is Victoria, a 6 kW system in Victoria will set you back around $6650, which is $2440 more expensive than Western Australia. Surprisingly the biggest state, New South Wales is competitive against Western Australia but still more expensive across-the-board.
Another factor in deciding the cost of the system in each state is in some other states they pay you per the number of panels you install and on how much electricity they generate, while other states will only pay you on one or the other. Generally, the states pay according to the per kilowatt produced.