Questions you should ask your retailer or installer before your solar installation
When it comes to Solar, research is imperative. Sometimes it is hard to know where to start, but one thing is for sure is that when investing in solar for your home or business it’s not just about your chosen solar products, it’s very much about the hidden components which are ‘behind the scenes’. Sure, there are shiny, attractive inverters and solar battery storage solutions available on the market these days, supported by an array of solar panels to boot. But! There are many aspects of a quality install that are vital to the longevity of your solar PV system.
Earlier this year the ABC’s 7:30 report’s lead story was questioning the safety and quality of the Australian solar power industry. Leigh Sales promised to reveal “the dark side of Australia’s solar obsession”. We know what you are thinking, it sounds intense and very scary. So what is the real truth?
Well, we, and the ABC believe that there is a problem with shonky, low standard solar installations. Too many substandard and unsafe solar systems are being installed on roofs around Australia. Now, this is when the research comes in to play. It’s most likely that the cheapest system on the market will have hidden surprises that you don’t want to come back and bite you later.
Do your research into your solar panel brands, inverter brands and solar installer companies you are approaching for quotes.
It’s as easy as entering the company name, panel brand or inverter brand into Google and then adding the word ‘review’.
The report into inspections and dodgy installations
What else did the ABC have to say about this topic? Well, The Clean Energy Regulator (CER) is responsible for administrating the Renewable Energy Target and performs a “statistically significant” number of solar PV and solar battery storage system inspections each year.
According to the ABC The Clean Energy Regulator audit just enough installations to get to meet their report targets. It seems that they, unfortunately, do not do anywhere near enough inspections to expose the solar ‘cowboys’ who are installing sub standard systems every day.
The Australian National Audit Office audits the inspection program and published a report way back in December 2018.
We at Clean NRS Solar, and the ABC were horrified that one in every 30 systems were deemed as unsafe and also a ‘severe risk’. Conventional residential solar systems can have up to 600V DC running through the roof, which is more dangerous than plain vanilla 230V AC. So installing solar on your roof is not something to be taken lightly!
It’s not this just severe risk that we are concerned about, it is the sub-standard installations that are happening now in our Perth suburbs. The ABC reported that a whopping 1 in 8 systems are ‘sub-standard’ and at a ‘high risk of failing’ but this is very easy to avoid, the shonky installers are easy to weed out and are almost always exposed on the internet!
Do your research and check your installation warranties!
The Clean Energy Council guidelines
Since the dawn of the Clean Energy Council around 10 years ago, there has been a significant shift in the Western Australian solar power industry. The group introduced ‘Clean Energy Council Approved Solar Retailers’ and ‘Clean Energy Council Approved Solar Installers’.
Every installation carried out by an accredited installer is required to meet the Australian Standards and all Clean Energy Council Guidelines must also be followed. CEC Approved Installers are required to install all systems in accordance with in the Clean Energy Council’s Installation Guidelines for Accredited Installers and Supervisors. These guidelines are updated regularly and consider current industry best practice.
Also, all solar products used for your installation must be approved. Accredited solar installers must use products that meet Australian Standards.
The Clean Energy Council has compiled a list of approved products including solar PV panels and grid connect inverters that meet the necessary standards. In order to qualify for government incentives for the solar PV system, installers must use equipment approved and listed by the Clean Energy Council.
Steps to take and questions to ask before signing on the dotted line
- 1. Do your research! Check reviews, research your panels and inverter manufacturers. Always research your solar retailer, check all reviews and comments.
- 2. Ask your retailer if they are Clean Energy Council Accredited a. Clean Energy Council Approved Solar Retailers and b. Clean Energy Council Approved Solar Installers.
- 3. Only buy Tier one solar panels.
- 4. Check warranties on both products and installation. Is the solar retailer prepared to back up their installation with a decent warranty?
- 5. Install Solar Analytics to monitor your system or choose a retailer who may through in free monitoring of your system.
- 6. Choose local! Talk to a local (real person), face to face to help make the right choices. There is nothing worse than thinking you are dealing with a local company and realising you are dealing an overseas call centre! Or an over east all centre. We always welcome our customers to our local, owner-occupied warehouse and showroom in Osborne Park.
- 7. Insist on an on site inspection and quote – and this should always be free of charge and with zero obligation.
- 8. Arrange to have a safety inspection of your solar system conducted every 5 years.
- 9. Don’t buy in on any schemes or door knockers offering any sort of group incentive or bulk suburb purchase for your ‘area/suburb/street’. If it is too good to be true it probably is not true! The same applies for telemarketers applying high pressure tactics.
- 10. Ask for a thorough consultation including estimated yield figures. No two houses and households are the same, so make sure your quote suits your needs.
- 11. Make sure you receive your Government incentive deduction on your quote! Don’t miss out on your free money for the government. Free money that will not only help you reduce your energy bills, but help reduce your carbon footprint and support a future of renewables for Perth and Australia.
- 12. Beware of shonky retailers offering large discounts with a deadline to sign up. Don’t be pressured into making a quick and uninformed decision for your home or business. Avoid the ‘sign up today’ deals and don’t get sucked in.
- 13. Don’t fall for interest free or finance dodgy deals, they might seem cheaper but you will pay in the long term on a number of different levels.
- 14. Make sure the products supplied are not outdated.
Meanwhile, over in Victoria
Over east, Solar Victoria has been closely monitoring and hunting down retailers exhibiting dodgy behaviour in the solar industry by salespeople and installers and refers incidents to Consumer Affairs Victoria and the Clean Energy Council. There have been approximately 20 businesses that have been reported to Consumer Affairs Victoria for further investigation.
“In a very competitive market, our objective is to protect consumers from those who prey on people with little knowledge or experience with solar,” said Solar Victoria Acting Chief Executive Jonathan Leake.
Solar Victoria has inspected around 5% of all solar power installations benefiting from the Victorian Solar Homes rebate. These post-installation inspections are conducted independent safety auditors commissioned by Solar Victoria and take up to two hours to complete.
In some cases, the solar power systems are switched off until any work required is completed.
Worksafe, Energy Safe Victoria and the Victorian Building Authority joined forces to maximise safety for workers and householders. “Agencies across government want to make it very clear that safety breaches will not be tolerated,” said Mr. Leake. “Failing the safety test may lead to you being removed from the Clean Energy Council’s Accredited Installers lists and referral for investigation and prosecution by the appropriate agency.”
Research, research, research!
So remember, do your research and pay a bit more for better solar power from a well regarded, Clean Energy Council Approved installer.
We at Clean NRG Solar want you to feel confident about your solar investment for your home or business. We want you to know that you are choosing the right brand and feel confident about your choice.
We stand by the quality of our work and supply the highest quality systems and products for your solar system.
Clean NRG Solar is proudly a 5 STAR Google reviewed Solar company.
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One of our friendly staff will be with you every step of the way to find a Solar solution to suit you and your family so you can start enjoying receiving your power bills.