Six Solar Tips

Six solar tips to consider when buying a solar power system

There’s a lot of information out there in solar la la land and if you are new to solar, it can be tricky to sort through and find the answers you need. I’ve put together a list of six solar tips to help give you a good start on things to consider when buying a solar power system. Here we go…

1. Find out who manufactures the solar panels and inverter.

Do your research. Does the brand have a good name? What have other people’s experiences been like? Some companies are reluctant to give you this information and some are using cheap rebranded or “lucky dragon” panels which have only been on the market a couple of years and substitution of lower grade materials is not unheard of. Choose an installer that is transparent about the components they use and stick with well-known brands that have an Australian office for warranty issues.

2. Make sure you’re happy with the installation company.

Who are they? Are they close to you? What have others said about their service? Are they members of any industry bodies Clean Energy Council (CEC), Australian Solar Council (ASC), Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) or the Alternate Technology Association (ATA)? There are a lot of solar installer reviews online if you want to find feedback. Also watch out for the hard sell sales tactics, steer away from anyone trying to get you to make your mind up on the spot.

3.      Don’t buy the cheapest solar system you can find.

Obviously price comes into the equation at some point when you are buying a solar system, but like anything, you get what you pay for. There are many ways to cut costs in a solar business, I could purchase the cheapest panels/inverters that I could find, I could squeeze my installers on the installation cost, buy cheaper isolators, cabling or other balance of system components, or I could skimp on the resources I put towards customer service and post installation backup. Either way, by compromising on the above things you may find you end up with a less than average solar system or less than average solar experience. You don’t have to buy the most expensive option to get a good system, but don’t buy the cheapest!

Ballarat Solar Installation

Ballarat Solar Installation

 4.      Don’t compromise on the inverter.

50% of all system failures have something to do with the inverter. There are heaps of cheap options out there now, often at less than half the cost of the good stuff. Our suggestion is, it’s not worth it, buy a good quality inverter – some examples include SMA, Aurora or Xantrex. If your panels are going to last 25 years+ you don’t want to have to replace an inverter every five years. There are also some fantastic micro-inverter options becoming available, these generally come with stronger warranty periods, better system monitoring and safety and performance benefits.

 5.      Take your warranty with a grain of salt.

Although warranties are an important aspect of buying a system  nearly all panels on the market have a 25 year performance guarantee, stating that the silicon will degrade at a certain rate over time, with the panel still producing a minimum of 80% of its initial output after 25yrs. Note that the panels also have a materials and workmanship warranty normally in the range of 5-10 years. Inverter warranties are normally between 5-10 years with some micro-inverters offering up to 25 years. Then there’s you installation warranty from the installer which usually is 2-5 years. The one thing to be aware of here is that the warranty is only as good as the company behind it, if they go into liquidation or are taken over by another business, you might find yourself left high and dry. Some big panel manufacturers and installation companies have gone bust or dropped out of the solar industry recently, so be careful. Our best advice is to read the fine print, stick with good quality components to minimise the need for warranty claims and go with a company that has a track record and you feel you can trust.

 6.      Size the system to cover your daytime usage.

In Victoria, the Feed in Tariff is now a minimum of 8 cents per kWh. The price you are paying for electricity is probably up around 30 cents kWh. This means you don’t want to oversize your system too much, as you won’t be paid very much for the excess power that you’re not using directly and exporting back to the grid. If you size your system right, you will get a better return on investment and quicker payback period. If you need some help here we can give you some advice. Note that there is currently a great niche for many businesses that use power during the day to capitalise on the benefits of solar power.

I hope the tips help. If you have any further questions, or are after some advice please feel free to give us a call on 1300 931 929.

Cheers Aaron.