Compare solar installers Solahart, Solar Australia, EnergyAustralia, Euro Solar, Bradford Energy, Origin and Solargain on their customer service, solar system performance, installation process, durability and set-up cost.
See our Ratings Methodology.
With lower power bills and renewable energy on the table, the choice to go solar should be an easy one. What’s probably not so easy are the few hurdles along the road to going renewable. Will it fit in your budget? Do solar panels work with your roof? Should you purchase a battery? With all of these questions in mind, it becomes crucial for the everyday Aussie to be in good hands when it comes to their installation specialist. And with 69% of customers we surveyed comparing quotes from several installers before going with one, it seems that a good majority of us are putting in the yards before settling on one retailer. Though, you’d have to worry about the other 31%.
It goes without saying that solar installation isn’t always black & white, with so many installation companies on the market claiming to have the cheapest prices and best service. You will have seen all those Facebook ads targeting you after searching for ‘solar’ in Google that one time?
Especially as a first-timer, it’s not always clear what your best options are. And that’s where we come in. Canstar Blue has taken the work out of choosing a good solar installer, by collecting the opinions of those that have already installed solar across Australia. We’ve asked them to rate their solar installer on variables such as customer service & advice, performance of solar system, installation process, durability and set-up cost, in order to help you find one that suits your needs. So, what did we find?
Here are the best solar installers in Australia, as rated by more than 1,000 households in our customer satisfaction survey:
In our first-time solar installer ratings, Solahart was the only provider to be rated five stars for overall satisfaction. In fact, it achieved five-star ratings in all categories bar one, which include customer service & advice, performance of solar system, installation process and durability. For Solar Australia, EnergyAustralia, Euro Solar and Bradford Energy, it was four stars for overall satisfaction. Origin and Solargain scored three stars overall.
It should be noted that, although we conducted a national survey to form these ratings, some of the companies listed may only operate in certain states or regions. Also keep in mind that we only compared solar installers that received the minimum sample size of 30 to be included in the ratings. Many others are available.
Read on for a guide to some of Australia’s most popular solar installation companies and to find out what to expect from them. We’ll also go into detail about solar systems and what questions you should be asking your installer. But first, here is a glance at the solar-specific energy deals on our database:
Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on the Ausgrid network in Sydney but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 3900kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. This table may include products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.
Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on the Citipower network in Melbourne but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. This table may include products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.
Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on the Energex network in Brisbane but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4600kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. This table may include products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.
Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on SA Power network in Adelaide but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. This table may include products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.
Here’s a glimpse at the seven solar installers in this year’s review. Read these descriptions to help you understand which installer might be the best fit for your household and budget.
While Solahart is probably best known for its solar hot water systems, with operations dating back to 1953, this company also retails solar panels and energy storage solutions. Solahart made its humble beginnings in Western Australia, growing to offer solar installation to more than 70 countries as a subsidiary of Rheem. The company, a Clean Energy Council Approved Solar Retailer, says it holds its practice to a high standard and according to its website, its “installers are trained to the highest standards to ensure the safety and effectiveness of your system”.
Solar Australia was originally called Solar Newcastle, making its start in 2006 and consolidating its various trading names in different states in 2013. According to its website, this retailer is dedicated to “delivering excellent service, the latest premium quality products, professional installation, industry leading warranties and comprehensive after-sales support”. Solar Australia is Clean Energy Council approved, as well as apparently employing local people and local installers. It specialises in solar panels, battery storage and solar hot water.
Alongside its popular selection of electricity and gas plans, EnergyAustralia was at a time retailing solar systems. It became Clean Energy Council certified in November 2018, contracting experienced local installers to provide the customer service and installation itself. On EnergyAustralia’s website customers could find three tiers of solar packages, with big panel brands like LG, Trina and JinkoSolar on offer. At the time, EnergyAustralia also offered Tesla and Redback battery storage systems.
Despite what its name suggests, Euro Solar is an Australian company founded in 2008. With a database of residential, retail and commercial customers, this company claims to be one of Australia’s largest solar retailers. As part of its installation process, Euro Solar asserts that it will help customers select the perfect panel system, conduct maintenance of that system and make the move of their solar power investment. According to its website, the solar retailer offers solar systems between 5.5kWh and 10kWh for residential purposes.
Please note that Euro Solar appears to have gone out of business.
Bradford Energy is one of Australia’s oldest and most well-known solar installation specialists, with almost 85 years in the energy market. This retailer was one of the first to receive Clean Energy Council approval, claiming to have a high standard of service. From Bradford you’ll find solar panels, storage systems, inverters and even monitoring tech, with its most popular systems coming in the form of bundles. Customers can choose between variations of the ‘SolarPack’ and ‘ChargePack’, which both include all of the components necessary to begin generating solar power.
In what may be news to some, Australia’s biggest energy provider, Origin, is also retailing solar products. It currently offers three main solar panel packs in its range, though also claims to cater to its customers’ individual requirements. Those interested in Origin for solar installation should also note that this retailer only has two battery storage options, the Tesla Powerwall and LG Chem. This solar installer also advertises a two-year interest-free payment plan for those who’d rather pay their big investment off gradually. Origin also provides customers who purchase solar through them to receive a slightly inflated feed-in tariff when signing up to its Solar Boost Plus plan.
Australian-owned and operated solar retailer, Solargain, has been around since 2005, with a log of more than 65,000 installations across the country. Specialising in solar panels, solar hot water and battery storage systems, this retailer has a range of pre-established packages, regularly offering discounted deals on certain systems. A Clean Energy Council Approved Solar Retailer, Solargain claims outstanding customer service, with its own dedicated after-sales solar service department.
With thousands of solar installers in the Australian market, it’d be impossible to name them all. Instead, we’ve compiled a list of some of the more well-known solar energy installers around the country.
In order to get the best bang for your buck when it comes to your solar installer, you’ll need to understand what you’re buying. If the words ‘monocrystalline’ or ‘inverter’ sound foreign to you, you’ll want to stick around for this. Without further ado, there are three main elements to a basic household solar set-up:
The two main panel types you’re likely to find are polycrystalline and monocrystalline, with the latter being the more popular. Monocrystalline panels are often more efficient, though can be pricier than their poly counterparts. Regardless of the panel type, the cost of the panels are typically in line with their quality. For entry level panels you might see brands such as Jinko, Trina, Suntech and Canadian Solar, with brands such as LG, Sunpower and QCells dominating the higher-end range.
Solar inverters convert the DC electricity generated by your panels into AC electricity suitable for household use. The two main types are string inverters and micro inverters, which differ in price and effectiveness. Micro inverters are generally more expensive, yet are effective and are more compatible with solar batteries. Some cheaper inverters you’ll find are from brands such as Solis, Goodwe and Sungrow, with more popular brands Fronius and Enphase considered to be high-end.
This is an often-overlooked part of a solar system, but nonetheless important to the durability and longevity of your panels. In the entry-level corner sits brands such as Titan solar, Rasol and Clenergy. More generous in price are mounts from retailers like Sunlock and Radiant.
There is, of course, also the option of installing solar battery storage alongside your panels. In case you’re unfamiliar, battery systems allow you to store energy generated during the day for use at night-time. You’ll still be hooked up to the grid in case what’s in your battery doesn’t cut it, but since your reliance on it is reduced, you’ll more than likely see dramatically reduced power bills.
What’s interesting is that in this year’s solar research, 62% of survey respondents said that they aspire to go off-grid. What this means is that you’re relying solely on your panels and battery to generate your power.
When it comes to installing your solar system, there are a few things to keep in consideration. The first and most important lesson is that what system you’ll be able to get will depend strongly on factors such as your roof size and style, household positioning and your personal budget. It’s your solar installer’s job to assess your roof and lay out your options in the form of a quote. And with most solar installers offering different options at different price points, it’s not always crystal clear which installer to go for.
In our ratings report, we’ve identified five factors from which to judge a good solar installer. They are customer service & advice, performance of solar system, installation process, durability and set-up cost. Our ratings are segmented in this way to allow you to sway toward certain features that are more important to you. If, for instance, you’re willing to pay a bit extra to ensure you’ll receive great customer service, you can favour a provider with a high score in that category.
Let’s break it down. There’s an abundance of information out there about installing solar, but what are the steps you actually have to take to do so?
There are many factors that go into the cost of your solar system. Everything from your roof’s solar capacity, the solar panel quality and brand, installer demand, your location and more will impact the overall cost of installation. That said, generally speaking, for a standard rooftop solar PV set-up, you’ll pay somewhere between $3,000 and $11,000. The prices below take into account average solar installation costs, as well as the Government’s Small-scale Technology Certificate Scheme applied.
|Solar system size||National average price*||NSW||VIC||QLD||SA||TAS||NT||ACT||WA|
Information sourced from SolarChoice, February 2020.
*Estimated price for product and installation after Government STC rebate.
It’s safe to say most of the brands that made it into our ratings have websites, but if you’re more the ‘pick up the phone’ type, we’ve compiled all the numbers we could find to get you started on your solar journey:
The Clean Energy Council (CEC) is a not-for-profit body that advocates for clean energy and sets guidelines around solar installation in Australia. There are two main levels of Clean Energy Council approval you should be looking for, which are CEC Approval and CEC Accreditation.
Here’s the thing with solar installation companies – some of them work independently, and others don’t. In other words, some installation companies will hire their own installers, and others will hire contractors to do the job. Larger electricity companies, for instance, tend to have ongoing arrangements with contractors rather than an in-house team dedicated to the job. Both business models have their strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to look at a company’s track record before jumping into the deep end. Likewise, if you have a preference for how you’d like to go through the solar installation process, don’t hesitate to ask a company directly how it conducts its business.
Best case scenario, your solar panel installer will provide you with all the information you could possibly need. Though, in some situations, it’s best to have a log of questions prepared to help you pick the right installer for you.
While they don’t come around as often as they used to, solar rebates are sometimes available under certain conditions. The good news is that it’s in your solar installer’s best interest to point you toward any rebates available in your state, as it may help you commit to the investment. In recent years, customers in the ACT, Victoria and South Australia have been offered rebates on panels or battery systems that can stretch to a few thousand dollars. Though again, it’s best to check with your chosen installer what may be available.
And while on a national level there are no rebates that apply to everyone, you may have heard of the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme.
Put simply, the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme allows customers to sell what’s called ‘Small-Scale Technology Certificates’ (STCs) which eligible customers that install solar PV are entitled to. How it works is that customers will receive an amount of certificates that correlates with the expected output of their renewable energy investment to the total of 15 years. Your location will also factor in when determining how many you’ll receive. Online calculators are available to those who’d like to know ahead of time how many STCs they’re likely to earn.
But who do you sell them to? And how much are they worth? Well, electricity retailers are your easiest option, given they’re required to purchase a quota of these certificates each year. Your solar installer can take care of this process for you, but you should expect a lower return for the convenience. Your other options are to try to sell them on the open market where the value is determined by demand, or sell them to what’s called the STC clearing house, operated by the Clean Energy Council, for $40 excluding GST.
Choosing a solar installer can be hard for many reasons, a big one being that you’ll be relying on sometimes decades of service from the same company. Any good installer will conduct maintenance on your PV system during its life, whether that’s scheduled or necessary due to complications. So, what do you do if your solar installation company goes out of business in the meantime? Here are some steps you should take:
Image credits: Smileus/shutterstock.com, electra/shutterstock.com, Visual Generation/shutterstock.com, cleanenergycouncil.org.au, noppawan09/shutterstock.com, simez78/shutterstock.com
Canstar Blue surveyed 12,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have had solar panels installed at their property by a professional solar installation company in the last 5 years – in this case, 1,090 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.
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