Thinking about getting solar panels installed? A solar system is a long-term investment, and with so many solar companies out there it’s important you choose wisely.
So, how do you find a good solar installer?
With a little due diligence and asking the right questions, you’ll be able to choose the best solar panels and installation that suits your property.
These three steps will help you find a reputable solar installer.
Step 1: Do your research and compile a short list of solar installers
When you buy solar panels in Perth, it’s not uncommon to find yourself dealing with numerous individuals, from a solar retailer (the company selling solar panels and solar installation), the system designer, the solar installer and a qualified electrician. Sometimes a qualified electrician who specialises in solar panel installation will look after it all.
Look for experienced local companies and solar installers, especially those that know your local conditions, are certified and technically competent. Check warranty terms and conditions.
Read online product reviews (not website testimonials) and speak to family, friends and neighbours who have all had solar panels installed. A good referral goes a long way!
Step 2: Make sure the installer is CEC accredited
Clean Energy Council (CEC) accredited solar installers are certified and trained to ensure your system meets industry best practice standards and Australian Standards. This is a must for any solar installer.
If the system and components, designer and solar installer are not CEC accredited, you won't be eligible to receive any government rebates.
The CEC provide a handy tool where you can search for local CEC accredited solar installers.
Step 3: Speak to solar installers and get multiple quotes
Once you have narrowed down your options, it’s time to talk to the solar installers, ask them the important questions and get some quotes. Each company should visit your home to understand exactly what your house needs.
Don’t just settle for the cheapest price. The quality of the equipment and solar installation services can vary hugely, so cheapest won’t necessarily be the best solar panel option.
As a rough guide, the average Australian household needs at least a five kilowatt system with around 16 to 20 solar panels to meet their energy requirements. The cost is likely to be anywhere from $7,000 to $9,000.
Five questions to ask an installer before signing up to solar
1. Are the solar panels and components CEC approved?
The installer should be able to discuss your options, the products available and how it would work for your installation. Quality solar panels will obviously last longer, but they may cost more. Find out where they are made, if they are CEC accredited and whether the installer offers custom designed solar panel systems. You don’t want a one-size-fits-all approach!
2. Are the conditions ideal to install solar panels on my roof?
A reliable solar installer will assess the conditions and nature of your roof and advise whether your house receives enough sunlight to generate renewable energy in the first instance. They should tell you whether your roof needs strengthening or repairs, or if your property needs re-wiring before any solar panels should be installed.
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3. What’s the warranty on the solar system?
Ask about the warranty claim process should something fail, and how long the warranty lasts. The solar installer should provide a warranty of the workmanship and components of your solar system and explain the conditions of each to you. A standard product warranty is usually at least 10 years but could be anywhere up to 25 years.
4. If something goes wrong, who’s responsible for repair or replacement costs?
Find out if any maintenance or repairs are covered in the cost of your solar installation. Ask about system maintenance and how often you should service it to prolong the life of your system. For any potential roof repairs, find out what kind of cost you would be up against.
5. Who will submit the application for the connection?
Anyone who wants to install solar panels needs to submit an application to Western Power to authorise the connection. As the electricity account holder, you can apply or, you can arrange for your installer or solar retailer to do this on your behalf. Just make sure you’re clear on who’s going to do it.
Solar industry complaints have doubled in the last year, so to avoid being set up by a solar scam, here are some of the warning signs to look out for.
Be wary of solar companies who:
- Have only been in business for only a few years
- Use aggressive sales techniques such as asking you to sign on the spot
- Conduct door-to-door or telemarketing sales
- Present a quote with a one-size-fits-all system
- Offer systems well under the usual market rate
- Make exaggerated claims such as 'no more energy bills'
Do your research, ask the right questions and you can’t go wrong. For more tips and advice on buying solar panels and solar installation, visit the Clean Energy Council website.