written by Greg Shaw, Solar Energy Consultant & Managing Director, Solar Shop Hua Hin.
We have been asked by many of our customers to continue our series on the Q’s and A’s regarding solar installations at your home. Here we address some important issues that you should bear in mind when looking for your solar installation company. We have paraphrased (not directly quoted) email chains here to keep the article current and relevant. Enjoy!
Q? What is the checklist I should follow before choosing a solar system and installer?
A: Continued from the Home Page …
Solar inverter is PEA certified to be connected to grid and includes a PEA-required energy export control meter (this includes homes within closed communities). Ensure your installer provides you with excellent training on how to use your solar system (So you do have “peace-of-mind” that you will not have a problem with the PEA in the future).
Solar inverter comes with a LCD display (You’ll be far happier as you can monitor your solar power output and “trouble-shoot” your solar system, especially when there is no WiFi). Choose a solar system with an exceptional smart phone APP that is easy to use and displays your daily solar system power outputs in a meaningful way. Ensure your solar inverter comes with WiFi and all the features including energy export control (It’s worth noting that inverters purchased directly from agents in China may not have these features, WiFi dongles are often sold separately at extra cost and the export control feature can be missing as it’s not required in mainland China). Before buying a hybrid “Battery ready” inverter be sure it can discharge power from batteries to household loads during a “black out”, and has dedicated batteries available in country. 10 out of 10 of Solar Shop’s inverters have all of the features above so you will have better success with your solar system in the long run.
Choose a professional root-top solar installation group. We have a highly-experienced solar roof mounting team of home-building specialists (including a partner with a Masters in Civil Engineering) that know how to install roof-mounted solar panels in a professional manner and prevent roof leaking. For example, we will not drill holes into your ceramic tiled roofs (even if they have been foamed) as it may cause roof leaking in near future. We also have several methods for mounting panels on flat roof tops which have been approved by our partner civil engineer. We will explain everything to you during our free home consultation. Solar Shop Hua Hin has a 100% success rate in guarding against roof-leaking. It is a big reason why we have been chosen as the dedicated solar provider to residential developments in Hua Hin.
Ensure your paperwork with the solar install company represents a legitimate legal contract (If you have a contract in place, (i.e. not just a proposal w/invoice), you can have “peace-of-mind” that all promises made will be honoured.
Q? Does my solar inverter need to be PEA approved? Do I need an energy export meter?
A: Yes and even if your home is located in a closed residential community you should purchase an inverter that is PEA approved to be connected to the grid. You should also have an export meter installed so you can demonstrate energy export control. The inverters that are on the PEA list are as follows. This list is updated regularly throughout the year.
Q? What happens if my inverter is not on the PEA list?
A: We recommend that you have an export meter installed and set it so that your street meter does not spin backwards. This also applies to home owners in closed residential communities.
Q? Do I need to register my system with the PEA? Do I need to follow what my development owner says?
A: If you have a private home with a PEA meter you are required to register your solar system with the PEA. The PEA requires registration after solar systems are installed and it is entirely the responsibility of the home owner to register. Also know that a 1-way meter will be installed at your home so it will be important to get the correct sizing for your home. The PEA will also be looking at your solar installer’s electric works to ensure it is “PEA Standard.” You will have “peace-of-mind” knowing that K. Chalerm (our Electrical Engineer) has always ensured that our solar systems are PEA Standard and that our design team always gets solar system sizings correct.
We at Solar Shop Hua Hin regularly advise all of our customers (with PEA meters) on how to go through this process. For our customers (old and new) if you would like more information in regards to this please contact us. For those houses located in closed residential communities you cannot register your solar system with the PEA. This is because you do not have a PEA electric meter for your home. Yes, do your best to follow the community rules that are in place regarding ownership and operation of solar systems within your residential development.
A: My house is located in a closed community with a guard at the front gate but I have a PEA electric meter. So do I need to register my system?
Q? Yes because you have a PEA electric meter.
Q? Why Seraphim “Tier 1” solar panels?
A: Seraphim are top best selling “Tier 1” panel in Thailand. On a bright sunny day you can expect over 2KWh output for each of our MONO hi-perc and/or half-cell solar panels. We also sell Seraphim produced “OEM panels” which are the same panels sold under a different distributor name, “Sunfree.” These are lower in price. All of the 380Wm 400W, 440W, 540W and 600W panels have black frames so they look great on your roof. “Tier 1” means that the company has the highest financial strength in it’s industry. This improves that chances of the solar panel company existing if you have to make a warrantee claim, say, 20 years from now.
Q? So why offer Solax “Hi Tech” solar inverters and not, say, Huawei?
A: It may cost a little bit more, but you do get better technology when you go with Solax inverters. Solax on-grid inverters have LCD displays needed for monitoring and trouble-shooting especially when there is no WiFi. The Solax Cloud smart phone APP is visually-pleasing and easy-to-use. It’s the only inverter lineup that allows you to program your export meter and monitor total house consumption (instantaneously) from the Solax Cloud APP. This information comes in handy when you are fine-tuning the energy savings of your home. Our Solax hybrid systems can discharge over 20KWh at night/ during blackouts and our Triple Power lithium batteries now come with a 10 year warrantee. These features are what sets the Solax inverter lineup apart from the new Huawei inverter lineup (no LCD display, standard APP display, no discharge of batteries during “black outs” and no LG batteries in country until at least Q4, 2020). Surprising really. HuaWei is said to have invested “billions” on it’s solar inverter lineup but the inverters are surprisingly low-tech and missing important features and the dedicated LG battery. Solax inverters can also handle up to 35% oversizing in terms of solar panel power. So the 10KW Solax X3 10T on grid inverter, for example, can be installed with 13.5KW of solar panels. Normal oversizing is about 20%. This ensures that the output from the inverter is very high even when there is a cloudy sky. Extensive studies, conducted in Australia, have shown that sensible oversizing of solar panels has no negative effect on the life expectancy OR the 98%++ efficiency of European Standard inverters (our Solax and GoodWe lineups) OR the 99.9% efficiency of the MPPT trackers (track highest peak power from the solar panels to maximise output of the inverter).
Q? What’s the lifetime of the offered solar panels?
A: The expected lifetime will be over 30 years. They have a 25 year performance warrantee from the Seraphim Energy factory. Solar Shop Hua Hin stocks, services and warrantees the panels in Hua Hin as authorised by the Seraphim Energy factory.
Q? How it the output during the solar panel’s lifetime?
A: They have a linear performance warrantee of over 98% at year 0 to over 83% at year 25. Draw a straight line. They must have a power output performance above the line at all times. Of course they are expected to perform high above the line.
Q? Can I rely to get my investment back quickly?
A: Yes. And it depends on how fast the PEA raises their electric rates (they are on the rise now). And or on the rate at which your developer charges. At 5 baht/unit with your system facing south your payback calculation is quite fast. Feel free to use our solar investmetn calculator on our website to do your own calculations.
Q? Is there any maintenance, if yes, what are the costs and how often do I need to pay?
A: The panels are slick like teflon and will self-clean in the rain. As the system is fully European Standard and our Electrical Engineer Chalerm will ensure the electric works are PEA standard, your solar sustem is expected to run at least 14 years with maintenance – based on studies conducted in Australia on solar systems. You can expect good performance at low maintenance cost.
Q? Should I pay extra to extend my inverter warrantee?
A: In our opinion it is not worth the extra cost – which can be relatively high. The inverters come with a 5 year “no-quibble” warrantee and because they are Euro-Standard they are expected to run at least 14 years without maintenance. If your inverter breaks down after, say, 10 years of operation, it can still be serviced. But also you’d be better off saving your money now and buying in on a new inverter later on – when it undoubtedly higher in technology and most probably offered at a lower price.
Q? Why would you choose Solar Shop Hua Hin as your solar installer and or supplier?
A: Please take time to read through the headlines on our home page. Our company has the mandate to make solar systems affordable without sacrificing exceptional quality and service. With respect to the later we only operate in the Hua Hin, Cha am and Pranburi area making us very responsive in regards to our follow up service. Our team of engineers regularly produce unique designs (works of art and engineering) that meet the requirements of the owner(s). We do spend a lot of time advising people in the Hua Hin area on what is the best system for them – and in certain cases advise people what to avoid. The partners of Solar Shop Hua Hin are engineers with exceptional and diverse experience (please also see our Bios at solarshop-huahin.com/about-us/) and we always do our best to be transparent and honest.
You will see that we are (being honest) the only highly-experienced installer and supplier along the Royal Coast (including Pranburi, Hua Hin and Cha-am) with an online solar shop with products in hand (all products from THE authorised suppliers in Bangkok with THE only exclusive warrantees and service commitments in Thailand. We cannot be beaten on price for same-same equipment (i.e. PEA certified to be connected to the grid), service quality and home safety (roof leaking and electrical fire prevention). This is because we NEVER lower our standards! Our electric works are 100% PEA (Provincial Electric Authority) standard and our team of electricians, managed by Chalerm (Masters Electrical Engineering) are highly competent. We have a highly-experienced solar roof mounting team of home-building specialists that know how to install in a professional manner and prevent roof leaking. The old motto, “You get what you pay for!”, certainly applies to the solar industry.
We meet with the PEA regularly so we can truthfully guide you on how to remain compliant with your solar systems. All of our recent installations (even in closed communities) have PEA Certified Inverters and PEA Required Export Control Meters.
Q? I read some article that it is now possible to sell electricity back to the grid in Thailand, is that true?
A: New legislation in regards to feed-in-tariffs has been enacted into law. As you’ll know the last time licences were mainly given to a few people within elitist social circles. This time around the application process if more fair and available to the general public. Applying for a permit to sell electricity can be a lengthy process that requires quite a bit of paperwork / supporting documents that must be first approved. An application fee follows. (Noted at the time of writing) Upon successful application, solar electricity will be purchased at 1.68 Baht/unit and units will only be purchased by the PEA certain hours of the day. So far, most people have chosen not to apply for the permit and go ahead and install their solar systems. About 20% of the available roof top solar panel output allotment (10MW) was processed in Thailand in 2019 for sell to the grid. The Ministry of Energy announced the continuation of the program through 2020 and now applications can be made online.
Q? What will be the materials used for the installation (i.e. mounting gear, cabling)?
A: About wiring and accessories. Charlerm (Ooh) my partner sources the best materials available at competitive pricing. Again our cables (25 year expected lifetime) and electric works are sources from the authorized dealers in Bangkok who handle the warrantee claims in country. Wiring will be 100% PEA standard. The roof mountings exceptional. We also typically install with black mounting equipment (rails, mid- and end-clamps) that have added “anti-corrosion” coating, important as we are living in a ocean-side city. Know it is very easy to substitute these items with “cheap Chinese junk” that can even represent electrical fire hazards and pass them off. It all comes down to if you trust the installer manager. My partner is quite Western in his approach and worries about quality and safety. He is also very experienced. You will have to trust that you are in good hands. Know we have ran into a number of examples where other groups have not practiced what they preached and customers have been left asking questions about the quality and safety of electrical and accessory works installed. Recently for instance we bought roof mounting hooks from a local supplier. Chalerm could break them in half with his bare hands. These roof mountings are supposed to secure solar panels even in the strongest wind storms. Obviously Chalerm must be discerning when choosing materials and wiring.
Q? What is included in all of your solar system installations?
The following electric works, accessories and PEA standard installation is included for every job:
1) European Standard, PEA Approved inverter with WiFi included and export control meter capability.
With stock, warrantee and servicing from Solar Shop Hua Hin (the local “Tier 1” supplier for Hua Hin).
2) European Standard, highest quality with “Tier 1” solar panel offers. Solar panels with black frames
so they look beautiful on your roof. With stock, warrantee and servicing from Solar Shop Hua Hin
(the local “Tier 1” supplier for Hua Hin).
3) Export Control Meter
4) Solar Combiner box with fuses, surge protectors and breakers.
5) L-feet Mounting System for metal flat sheet and corrugated steel for corrugates roofs ONLY.
CPAC Mounting System for ceramic tiles ONLY. We do not drill holes in your ceramic tiles even if your
roof has been foamed. Civil Engineer approved anchoring and mounting methods for flat roofs, for long term safety.
6) All cabling and connections, for the system. Ask about our “all black” mounting equipment with added
“anti-corrosion” coating – great for installations so close to the salty sea.
7) Includes professional PEA standard installation, set up, and system testing.
8) All conduit and boxes, for securing the cables and electrical
Q? Will my roof leak if I have solar panels installed at my home?
A: The answer is ‘No’ if you have an experienced and trustworthy installation team. We have a perfect 100% record when it comes to not having any leaks in roofs where we have installed solar panels. Feel free to check around town with all the residential developers for verify this. It is a big reason why we are the dedicated solar provider at several developments now. You may have heard the story of the solar company team installing in the Hua Hin area which broke roof tiles (leading to roof leaking) as well as ceiling gypsum board and then refused to accept responsibility, replace/repair or pay for the damage. This is why it’s important that you select an installation company that you can trust. The installation team needs to be careful while working on and under your roof. The solar company needs to be honest. Did they leave your house in the exact state/condition as before the job? Will they let you know about a tile breaking if it occurs. Incidentally the solar company has been banned from working at the development permanently.
Same Q again = Must be very important? ‘Hi gregory, Thanks for quotation how do you guarantee, the holes through the roof, to secure the panel from any water leaks during 10 years or more technically?’
A: Hi, Please see attached pictures (copyright care of Nattypicturesphotography) of an installation at another development. The mounting gear using the “CPAC roof mounting method” seats directly under the tiles. The tile immediately above each “hook” is only lifted millimeters to accommodate this. So there are no holes created in your roof during installation. The roof tiles will not noticeably change in profile and water will run off of them in a normal manner.
I hope this explanation helps. Kind Regards, Greg.’
For further explanation pls. see our video on Hua Hin Solar’s web homepage: solarshop-huahin.com :0)
A: Repeating again, and for example, we will not drill holes into your ceramic tiled roofs (even if they have been foamed) as it may cause roof leaking in near future. We have several methods for mounting panels on flat roof tops which have been approved by our partner civil engineer. We will explain everything to you during our free home consultation.
Q: Can the Hua Hin Solar team be trusted to install at our home while we are away?
Yes we have performed several installations while the customer has been away. The house was left in the same condition as it was found. Except, of course, there was a solar system added to the property ;O)
Q? ‘Hi, One more question in case of typhoon? If the panels get damaged? Guaranty or insurance? Thx’
A: Thank you for your email with your question.
Sorry but there is no coverage in the 10 or 12 year manufacturer warrantee (length of warrantee depends on panel manufacturer) and also there is no coverage in the Hua Hin Solar Co., Ltd. limited warrantee on the solar system, if there is damage caused by a typhoon. However, typhoons hitting Thailand typically happen in the NE (inland of Vietnam) and in the south of Thailand closer to Malaysia. As far as we know Hua Hin has not encountered typhoons – at least not in recent history. Thailand has encountered – rain storms and flooding – which are the aftermath of typhoons. Sorry also, we do not offer insurance as our suppliers also do not offer this to us. Pls. ask Jeff about approaching a private insurance company if you would like to pursue this.
FYI: To quote the solar panel supplier/manufacturer warrantee:
“Further exclusions of the limited warranties include defects: Caused by force of nature, […] for instance, earthquake, typhoon, whirlwind, volcanic eruption, flood, lightening, snow damage, etc.”
To quote our 1 year guarantee on the solar system and our work:
“Our warrantees for our products and solar energy systems are limited and do not cover Force majeure (storm damage, lightning strike, fire, thunderstorm, flooding etc.), ….
Kind Regards, Greg.
Q? How do you protect the system from Lightening storm ??? I was living in South West of France where our electrical was fully protection from Lightening by a derivation system to the ground can you do this please?
A: Good morning,
My partner who has a Masters in Electrical Engineering explains:
Each system has: Dc current from solar panels and Ac surge from utility grid protection with circuit breakers.
We also connect grounding for the inverter and surge protection (DC, AC) to main ground of the house.
I hope this helps.
Kind Regards, Greg.