5 Questions to Ask Your Solar Installer Before Buying

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Guest Author: Lilly Miller

Solar conversion has been on the rise across Australia in recent years, with more than 21 per cent of homes with rooftop solar PV. This rise is driven by government incentives, new payment plans and the rising awareness of the importance of clean energy. Yes, Aussies are increasingly switching to solar and investing in green renovations, but before you sign on the dotted line and let anyone start work on installing your new solar system, there are some important questions you may want to ask in order to make a sensible investment. After all, not only does the installation help safeguard the environment, but it can also help build a better financial foundation and increase the value of your home in the process.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some key questions you may want to go over with your solar company before signing.

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Ask if investing in solar is worth the money

The first question you may ask right off the bat is whether or not going solar makes financial sense for you and your home. You see, solar is not necessarily the best option for every household in Australia.

For example, if you don’t plan to live on the premises full-time or over the long term, then going solar might not be the most cost-effective solution. You also have to take into account the positioning of the roof and whether or not it’s oriented to maximize the potential of the solar panels. Of course, the installer might be able to reposition the panels and make adjustments that will maximise the household’s solar potential.

It is a good idea to do some research of your own before asking the installer by going online to find reputable sources like Energy.gov to find extensive information, research, and facts about solar systems so that you can make an informed decision. Generally, you can expect the upfront costs, not including installation, to range from $3,500 to $10,000.

This is, for one, a good way to check the trustworthiness of the solar company, but it’s also a great way to stay in control of the conversation and get the right solar system for your needs. So, it can pay to educate yourself about solar energy, then compare the answer with other reputable sources.

Be meticulous about solar installation expertise

The solar industry is constantly growing year after year, and in the next decade it will become one of the most lucrative sustainable industries in the world and according to Forbes, solar PV is expected to grow the fastest from now to 2050. The future of energy is certainly moving towards a greener future, and given it’s such a lucrative field, there are many solar companies ready to help customers move away from relying solely on the grid. This is why it is a good idea to ask your chosen solar installation company for its certifications, experience and level of expertise.

The wrong installer can ruin the structural integrity of your roof, position the panels all wrong, damage the equipment in the process, or even worse, completely disappear when the time comes for maintenance and repair. Check the installer’s references and certifications, and ask about their experience.

Ask for better deals on solar panels

money on solar panel

Australia has numerous incentives for residents to switch to solar energy, electric cars, and other sustainable solutions, particularly in the field of clean energy. In such a market, you can bet that there are many deals and discounts on solar systems that you can use to finance your transition to solar energy in a more financially sensible way. Make sure to look for government incentives by each state, as rebates are sometimes offered across Australia.

In some cases, you may find interest-free financing for solar panels as well, and credit card companies with strategic solar partners offering interest-free purchases. It’s also easier nowadays to find solar panels for sale online as the industry is getting more competitive and installers are finding new ways to attract and retain customers. The more saturated the market gets, the better deals and discounts you can hope to find, so keep in mind there could be a better price tag out there.

Ask if your roof is suitable for solar panels

Not all roofs may be suited to solar panels, so it is always worth asking a professional installer. This includes the orientation and positioning of your roof – north-facing tends to capture more sunlight – but also its structural integrity.

If the roof needs any repairs, then you may need to finance a renovation first before installing any solar equipment.

Be specific about the warranty on offer

Before deciding on the panels or installer, ask about the system’s lifespan, what is covered under the warranty, what the replacement and repair procedures entail and how long the installer guarantees the system will work at a high capacity. Inspect the warranty thoroughly, and don’t be afraid to ask any additional questions or make the installer explain any areas you’re unsure of.

Typically, you can expect the warranty to last at least 10 years, although some panels may come with a 25 year linear performance warranty. The lifespan of your solar system will, however, depend on numerous factors such as the durability of the make and model of the panels, environmental elements and the panels’ exposure to severe weather conditions, as well as the type of panel used.

Wrapping up

Going solar is probably one of the best things you can do for the future of your property and your financial stability over the long term. That said, make sure to ask the right questions before signing on the dotted line in order to ensure a positive return on this pricy upfront investment.

Last but not least, make sure to sign up to a competitive energy plan. This can be a solar-specific plan with a higher feed-in tariff (FiT) rate or a regular energy plan with low usage and supply rates. Be sure to weigh your options to find a plan that’s best suited to your household needs. Don’t forget to check the fine print of an energy plan before signing up because sometimes a higher feed-in tariff may be concealing higher usage and supply rates.

Compare Solar Energy Plans

Click on your state below to see a range of solar deals in your area.

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. These are 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. These are 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. These are 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. These are products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Image credits: zstock/Shutterstock.com, simez78/Shutterstock.com

About Lilly Miller

Lilly Miller guest author profile

Lilly Miller is a freelance writer, who focuses on interior design, well-being, and sustainable living. She loves to experiment with daring new home decor trends and write about them as a regular contributor to Smooth Decorator. Settled in Sydney for the time being, Lilly shares a home with two loving dogs and a gecko named Rodney. You can find her hanging out on Twitter.

This article was reviewed by our Energy Editor Jared Mullane before it was updated, as part of our fact-checking process.  

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