With all the recent news surrounding dodgy practices and unscrupulous operators in the solar industry, it’s more important than ever to ensure you select a quality solar supplier. Here are a few tips to help you choose wisely.
Are they a Clean Energy Council Approved Retailer?
The Clean Energy Council (CEC) is an independent, not-for-profit body that looks after the clean energy industry in Australia. The Approved Solar Retailer Certification is a way for solar businesses to prove their commitment to exemplary conduct, responsible sales practices, as well as quality and industry best practice.
Also check for other industry accreditations or memberships, including Master Electricians Australia and Smart Energy Council.
Be wary of cheap pre-designed package deals
We’ve all seen the ads, cookie cutter package deals that must end soon! A reputable solar company would never offer a pre-determined package deal for your home or business. Each property has its own nuances, and these must be taken into account when designing the best solar solution. If you’re being pushed a standard on-size-fits-all ‘package’, it may be a good idea to get a second opinion or quote.
What solar panels and inverters are included?
Not all solar panels are created equal! While most panels will perform as stated, poor quality or no name versions will degrade at a much faster pace. Go for components with a brand name, and do your research on each of them. By choosing a known brand name, you will be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.
Cost and payment terms
Cost is one of the main factors in making any large purchasing decision, and making the decision to install solar is no different. But as is true with most things, you get what you pay for. If a deal seems too good to be true, then it usually is.
The fly-by-night operators within the industry will usually ask for payment upfront, with limited payment options available. Paying a small deposit is standard, but never the full amount! If you’re asked to pay the full amount before installation, it may be best to walk away.
What product and performance warranties do the panels and inverter come with? Any reputable brand will offer a performance guarantee and a product warranty. This will cover you for any faulty components. It’s also best to ensure that the brands have a presence in Australia, otherwise the warranty terms may require you to ship them to China or India or your cost.
Installation is also an important part of any warranty. Accredited installers should offer at least a 5 year warranty on the installation or workmanship.
Aftersales Support & Maintenance
Offering ongoing support after installation can be a sign that the supplier is here for the long run, and not just a get-rich-quick operator. If you have any doubts, its best to check that the support does exist by giving them a call or submitting a support request. Their response will give you a good idea of their levels of service.
Solar is considered low maintenance, but maintenance is a key component to ensure you get the best out of your system. Ask if your supplier offers an ongoing maintenance program and what exactly is involved.