What solar panels should I buy?

“What solar panels should I buy?”


I’m asked this at least a couple of times a week.  It’s time to share the answer.


My answer is in three parts.


Part One:

You’re not buying the panels, you’re buying the power.  What’s promised by the panel seller or installer or maker may not be what you get.  Sure, you’ll get the panel, but does it give you the power you were promised?  So the first part is to focus, not on the panel, but the promise of the amount of power it will give you.

Back in ’96 when I put mine in I was promised x but after a year it was clear the panels were delivering – x.

Once the panels are on your roof and the installer has moved on it’s difficult to get them back to answer your question, ‘But I”m not getting as much power from the panels as you promised?”  There’s no money in that exchange for them.

So be clear with whomever you buy whatever panels you choose:  say this to them: “What power will they produce?  Will you install them on condition that the balance of the payment will be made when you and I agree the panels are delivering the power you promised me they’d produce?”  If they won’t do that deal then I’d not buy from them.


Why do I say this?  Aside from my experience, and the experience I’ve heard from others, its clear both from a survey by CHOICE and word of mouth that there are many fly by nighters out there selling shonky panels who will not be there for you when they’ve got your money but the panels aren’t producing.


Part Two:

Only buy and have installed panels from a business that’s been going for at least five years.  Many installers only last a couple of years and many won’t be there to honour warranties and guarantees.


Part Three:

Ok; which panels?


Truth is, it’s hard to keep up with the growing number of new panels so my answer about brands is limited by the fact that, although I live and work in the renewable energy sector, I’m not across all those that are available.  And CHOICE has not done a technical comparison of them, nor, amazingly, has any body representing the  solar industry!  (Note:  I rarely use exclamation marks.)


So I’m not going to go on and give a full list as I just don’t have that recent data.  I would recommend Tigo as:

  • I’ve had them on my roof for a couple of months and they are producing more energy than they are rated to produce;
  • they have a terrific phone and email alert and data service that is the best I”ve seen;
  • they have “microinverters’ that allow each panel to produce the power it gets or does not get from the sun without dragging down other panels which are not getting as much or are getting more sun.


But there are many more that I have not mentioned.


If you’re putting your own panels on I’d definitely go for Tigo; they are well-made, but expensive.


Just my thoughts,


May the sun shine on you and yours,


One Response to “What solar panels should I buy?”
  1. Dennis Pont says:

    Hi Michael,
    How might you be, it Dennis from many years ago, the manufacturer / supplier of your 1st CSA inverter.
    I’ve just returned from a month on the road in Europe visiting manufacturers, attending InterSolar in Munich and generally having a 2nd Summer.
    I’m over staying at my son place in Manly for a few days recovering and completing a training course. I will be available again from this Monday 6th of July…we (SEO) have several different business models and activities involving distributed generation presently that may be of interest.
    My mobile is 0427461530, email, txt or call…I’d be interested to catch up with you after all these years…
    Best regards
    Dennis Pont

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  • Michael Mobbs

    Michael is a former Environmental Lawyer who is uniquely placed to consult in four main areas:

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