Confusing quotes in Perth

I have 4 companies coming over on Tuesday to actually look at my property and give me quotes. I contacted all those copanies based on recommendation from friends and through Fin Peacock’s site Solar Quotes.

Our main reasons for installing solar are to reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible and also to allow us to install split heating/cooling in a few rooms (and be able to afford to use them!) as we currently have only (2) portable electric heaters, celiing fans for climate control. Our bi-monthly bills are consistently between $275-$310. I’m a teacher and home a lot on summer days, so would REALLY appreciate air conditioning.

I really want to be able to compare apples to apples, but everyone is giving me completely different equipment recommendations.

Company A) From our friends who had a 6W system installed on their 2 story house in South Fremantle: 25 x JA Solar panels and a Sungrow inverter for $3890. The company never came out to do a site inspection; when they came out and discovered it was a 2 story house, they took 4 days for the install but kept the quoted price. When I spoke to them, I got a preliminary estimate of $5700 for 330W Q Cell pancels and SMA inverter (so the equipment is not even comparable, but the other products were not offered in our initial exchange). They are coming over on Tues evening for further discussion. I’m impressed that they kept the quoted price; not so much that they sent a quote without a site inspection (but that’s already taken care of here). Is our friend’s system a good quote? Is it worth the considerably extra for the equipment upgrade?

Company B has quoted us is in between with a preliminary estimate of $4200 for 19 x 315W Risen panels and a Fronius inverter. They are also coming over Tuesday.

The last two companies did not offer an email/phone quote but will be visiting the house.

My questions at the moment are how to go about compariing such wildy different recommendations? Should I pick my own brands and try to get each company to quote for the same or very similar set ups?

Thanks in advance,
Ruth

house%2018%20Oct%202018

Following up with actual quotes from companies who visited today. All three companies noted more shading from the ariel view of the house then we noticed on the ground. (Am I ok naming companies?)

Perth Solar Force: highly recommended optimizers over Enphase inverters
$6199
20 x Risen 330w Mono or 21 Longi 315W Mono panels
installed spit over north east and north west sides of the house
SolarEdge optimizers and 5kW inverter

$5699 (and claiming this the premium offer???)
20 Seraphim 330W Poly
installed spit over north east and north west sides of the house
SolarEdge optimizers and 5kW inverter

with either quote +$350 to remove an old, unused solar hot water system from the north west roof to have room for the panels

Greener NRG: also highly recommended optimizers over Enphase microinverters
$5999
21 x Jinko Cheetah 315W Mono panels or 20 JA Solar 330 W mono panels; fully optimized (all on the north east side, no need to remove hot water heater)
Solar Edge 5kW inverter

Green Wiring suggested that I didn;t need optimizers or microinverters at all, but wire the panels in two independent strings
$4200
Jinko Cheetah 330W Mono panels (all on the north east side, no need to remove hot water heater)
no optimizers
Hauwei hybrid inverter
(I’ve asked him to add to this quote Hauwei optimizers on 1/2 the panels)

$5500
Jinko Cheetah 330W Mono panels (all on the north east side, no need to remove hot water heater)
SolarEdge optimizers and inverter

Solahart
$8200
20 x Solahart Silhouette 330w mono panels all on NE side
ABB 5kW inverter
I did ask the salesman who manufactured the Silhouette panels; he said Hanwha. A bit of poking around in the solarquotes comparison chart lists Hanwha as the owners of Q Cell which agrees with someone’s theory from another thread.

Edit to add the cost received from the 11am quote and company names (why not?)

Email only quotes (so not sure if they looked at the house)
$3721
20 x Astronrgy panels (I asked elsewhere about these; can’t find much info)
Fronius 5kW inverter

$2999
20 x Jinko Cheetah 330W Mono
Goodwe 5kW inverter

(I suppose I could ask about the Jinko + Fronius but won’t bother if what I really need is a way to combat shade without cutting down the trees)

Another unknown panel brand and yet another pattern for the panels?
$3457
21 x Link Energy Jupiter60_156M_315W panels
split between north east and SOUTH east sides of the house
Huawei SUN2000L-5KTL inverter

Hi @petiteviolon

I am really struggling to give any sage advice about these quotes, nothing really stands out as a winner.

It seems pretty clear that you need optimisers or micros, so for starters you can probably rule the others out.

The difference in suggestions about orientation is annoying also. The roof coverage of these different quoted systems should not be considerably different, so if they all knew what they were doing, the layouts should all be the same. It’s hard to tell from the arial pic alone as to what the best layout is, although I’d suggest the south roof is not a good option. And if you can fit all the panels on the NE roof, I’m not sure why using the NW roof would be necessary. But 11am quote might have good reason to suggest NW roof, I’m not sure.

Really, what this comes down to is the companies that you are getting quotes from. Who seems like they know the most? Have you read this Chapter in our solar guide?

There are a list of suggested questions there to ask the company rep, which are designed to help cut through the knowledgeable, honest people from the rest. This is the most important thing to find out, because if you can narrow down the skilled, honest operators, you can just trust what they quote.

Also, of course reading the reviews of the companies can be very insightful also. A simple Google search goes a long way.

I hope that helps
Marty

Thanks for the input, @Marty. Patience (and perserverance after being man-splained to several times today) and I think I might have a winner with a

5:30pm visit - Shine Tech Solar:
$5700
20 x Q Cell 330W Q.Peak.Duo panels (all on NE roof)
1 x SMA 5kW inverter

They’ve offered to do Tigo optimizers on individual panels as needed for $65/ea on installation day or $85/ea retrofit if we find we need more later.

Would you agree with accepting this quote?

Yes, agreed that does sound better. Well done on persisting. I was going to ask about anyone offering the Tigos, but didn’t want to throw more products in the mix. I’m glad you got there.

What was it about this lot that made you more confident they were the right ones?

Please keep us informed on the process if you don’t mind. How did you come across Shine Tech Solar?

Cheers
Marty

@Marty, I’m not sure why I didn’t like the others (except for Solahart, which was much higher than the others for not much better equipment and they guy totally talked to me like I was an idiot).

Shine Tech Solar didn’t give us any different advice, really, just higher quality products for about the same price. And the salesman wasn’t pushy, asked me what I knew first and what kinds of products we were looking at. Maybe it made a difference that my husband was home from work by then and came to sit in on the session as well? Funny, though, he’s done no research on this at all, so was just there to be a figurehead.

And as for coming across them, we’ve had two friends recently install solar, one with Shine (though they used Longi panels and a Sungrow inverter on a 2 story house for just under $4000; that level of set up was never offered to us). Our neighbor used Solar Inspections, and though I contacted them on Thursday for a quote they took until mid-day Tuesday to get back to me and I’d already lined up 5 companies to come over. they’ve offered Risen mono panels and Huawei optimizers and hybrid inverter for $3690. Still might consider that, but I think we’re getting better service from Shine at this point.

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house%20more%20shaded

@Marty A bit more research found a more revealing arial view of the house - much more shade.

We’re still going to go with the Shine Tech Solar, but we’ve been working with them and modifiying our plan. We’re going to put 12 Q Cell panels on the NE side, 8 on the SW (which is different than pictured; that was an intermediate step in our calculations). 10 tigo optimizers takes the quote to $6350.

My thoughts - if we’re putting optimizers on half (not just 3 or 4) we might as well put them on all, which would increase the total price to $7000 with Tigo/SMA. If we choose Solar Edge, we’ve been quoted $6900. Damn close either way.

Hi Ruth

That looks like late afternoon in winter, at which point you won’t be getting great generation from the southern panels anyway.

It really shouldn’t be a guessing game, there are plenty of tools that the system designer can you use to tell you what the varying output would be with different layouts, taking the shade into account.

When you have that info, you can then look at when you use power more and decide on best way forward. For eg, if you use most of your power in summer (aircon) then you would want to optimise for output in summer.

I’m sorry to throw a spanner in (prob should have mentioned before), but I really think you should ask for expected output on a monthly basis based on different layouts, with shade taken into account. A good solar company should be doing that as part of the design/ quoting process anyway.

Cheers
Marty

@Marty Yes, we did get that… daily%20production%20through%20year

At the moment the house has no heating ((well, an electric blanket and 1 portable radiant heater we move around form room to room as needed) or cooling (except ceiling fans and a dyson). In winter we’re both out of the house well before sunrise, but I am home early afternoon. Ultimately, we want to get some reverse cycle units put in, but as for now, we’ve nothing.

Hi @Marty Getting back to this as we cancelled the contract with Shine Tech. We had issues with their finance team (not getting the amount of finance correct - TWICE!) and listing wildly wrong assets and liabilities. Their excuse of two customers applying for finance on the same day with the same name was dodgy, but we gave them a chance to revise things and they didn’t get any better, so we’ve pulled out.

So I am revisiting my original quotes (which of course are now all expired, so I have to request new ones).

I’m wondering why we’ve been getting so many differing opinions on panel placement and the need (or not) of power optimizers. Is our property that unusual? From reading people’s quote questions here, most seem more straight forward, comparing 1 company’s products to another rather than completely different system desgins.

Any advice at this point welcome. @CER, @mexicansolarguy, @Den_Thomson, @SolarHybridSolutions

I agree, you seem to be getting a lot more variation.

I wouldn’t go back to these same companies, I’d be looking at a new one. Have you tried looking for the best reviewed solar company/ electrician in your area and asking them for a quote? You probably have.

Here’s what we’re currently looking at with Regan, who are a big company. We were trying to stay local, but obvisously haven’t picked well in the small business category. They have quoted for all panels on the NE side and no optimizers.

19 Longi LR6-6–PH 350W (the new shingled panels) and a Fronius 5kw $4590
17 QCell Peak Duo L-G7.2 390W and a Fronius 5kw $4990
$400 extra for consumption metering + the standard fees to Synergy to upgrade the meter box, etc.

iGreen Energy would do the QCells (but with 20 x 330W G5 panels) and a Fronius for $5999.

I was inquiring about these new panels over in a different thread and @Svarky recommended the QCells, which is what we were leaning towards in the first place. there is very little cost difference for what we are doing and they have a known track record.

We could pay for that system outright, but my husband is looking into financing options with different company as well. If we can get a low enough interest rate and payments lower than our current electricity bill, may as well use someone else’s money. Community First Credit Union came recommended for green loans.

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Nice, sounds like you’re on the right track there @petiteviolon :ok_hand:

Finally! I was thinking that by the time we got this all sorted my summer vacation might be over (it hasn’t started yet, I’ve 2 more weeks this term) and school would be starting again! LOL

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One last question (I hope): Would there be any problems putting those 72cell 390W panels on my roof? Watercooler talk today and someone said they had to go with 60cell panels on the tile roof because the larger panels were too difficult to fit??? I never heard that before.

I am so ready to just give up. Does everybody lie? I think I find something and the next person comes along and says “that’s crap”. But maybe I have asked too many questions???

We were oh, so close to accepting that QCell / Fronius offer from Regan but had one more appointment that we’d already made, so kept it.

It was another quote for a SolarEdge optimized system using a 12/8 panel split over the NE and SW sides of the house.

So I asked everyone for the estimated daily production. And here’s what came back.

They yellow charts are the 17 x QCell 390w panels and Fonius (the higher one all panels on NE side, the lower with split panels) and the green chart was for 20 x 330w Seraphim and Solaredge. And should I be asking why an optimized system would only be expected to produce at 77%?

Are these differences so negligible that I should just stop worrying and make a decision?

I think so. There can be a bit of ambiguity in calculating derating. For example, how can you really know whether the tree detritus and dust in your particular area is going to have a 2% derating or a 4% derating. It’s just guess work some of it. There’s guidelines, but a difference between a 20% and 25% derating probably fits within the guidelines.

You’ve done a lot of work in narrowing it down @petiteviolon, it might be worth letting the gut feeling about which company is going to be more reliable help make the decision.

Cheers
Marty