Solar Power System Quality – It’s The Little Things

When it comes to the quality of solar power systems, much of the focus is on the big ticket items such as panels and inverters; but even dodgy connectors can have a major impact on efficiency – and safety.

While many cowboys have been cleared from the solar playing field in Australia; competition is still intense and margins wafer-thin. Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to corners being cut on solar installations that shouldn’t be.

A system may feature tier one or two solar panels and a leading brand solar inverter; but a way to shave costs is to use cheap cabling and connectors; which can cost half as much or even less than the best component for the job.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and this also applies to solar arrays. Clean Energy Now has posted several images showing a three year old solar PV system in Australia with major problems relating to the cable and connectors. One image shows a connector that fell apart in the installer’s hands while in the process of being disconnected.

The amount of money saved using sub-standard connectors and cable can be quickly gobbled up – and then some – by decreases in system efficiency. These poor quality items can also add to fire and electrocution risk.

With regard to this aspect, solar buyers should check the cabling in a system being purchased is certified to PV1-F and solar connectors to EN 50521 standards.

Solar panel, inverter, mounting system, cabling and connector quality aren’t the only aspects solar buyers should be aware of. Energy Matters offers free 23-page solar power consumer guide offering additional advice on what to look for – and what to avoid – when selecting a solar power system and installer.