Which photovoltaic power to buy? A Chinese or German one? Moreover, is it better to choose a generic string inverter or pay more for the top of the market? PVCompare asked these questions to the Italian users registered on the website in order to determine the parameters for choosing from the available offers in 2015.
It has shown that 25% of the Italian owners of photovoltaic plants had difficulties installing them, and that for 12% the inverter was the most troublesome component and that the interviewed preferred German inverters. As for the Chinese products in turn, the panels were more popular than the inverters.
When it comes to the average size of the plants, 3 kWp was the most frequently installed in 2015 (in the range between 2.5 and 3.7kWp). A trend that deviates from the previous years, when larger systems were chosen in view of the support programmes. The present trend is bound to continue in 2016.
Such approach is positive: it is advisable that the users produce as much energy as they consume (to avoid the excess put into the network being paid less than the amounts paid for the kWh produced) and installed on a “tailor-made” plant. For instance, for a family that lives in the South of Italy, a plant of 2.75 kWp is sufficient; those who live in the North are better off with that of 3.5.
70% of the interviewed paid €2.000-2400 a kWp installed (VAT included). The cost includes materials, design, installation and consulting – to request the permit and electrical connection – and it constitutes an interlude among the existing offers (15% of the interviewed declares to have incurred the cost of over €2.500 a kWp, whereas the others paid €17.00 a kWp). The return on investment time varies from 5 to 10 years and 15% of the interviewed users declared that the installed system, according to the outlooks, will be paid off sooner than expected with respect to the design.
12 interviewees bought the most popular brand of solar panels and 74% said to be aware and prepared in terms of the production site (61% of the products purchased were produced in Europe of which 31% in Germany). In 2015 the most frequently bought inverters were SMA (22%) and ABB (18%), and also in this case the users knew where they were manufactured (37% in Germany and 17% in China). In both cases the Italians trust more the Old Continent: only 11% of the European inverters purchased had issues versus 17% of the Chinese ones (of which 16% had to be replaced). Yet, the owners of Chinese and European panels and inverters gave both of them on average a high mark (84%).
As for the installation of the plant, 32% of the interviewed declared to have faced problems, 12% – delays (above all due to incorrect wiring or change of materials after signing the contract) and 79% searched more information on the Internet. Indeed, out of 13 basic services that the users should have received within the installation programme, on average 8 were provided; 4% did not receive anything.