Sometimes a 5 kW system has been offered by some companies for under $5,000 after rebates. Meanwhile a 5 kW system has also been advertised for $15,000 by another company. The question is, how can one company offer ‘the same thing’ for a third of the price? As you may know, there are literally hundreds of solar companies in Australia. Each has their own offer, and there can be a significant gap between the cheapest and the most expensive. This buyer’s guide has been created to allow you to make an informed choice about your solar power system purchase. And it all comes down to quality!
These companies have been around long enough to know that their panels will stand the test of time. Unfortunately there are also a lot of poor quality panels on the market, particularly in the last few years. This has prompted the industry leaders and even a Federal Environment Minister to write extensively on the dangers of “landfill solar”.
They may have a 10 year product / 25 year power output warranty, but how do you find that company if your panel fails? And how do you trust a 25 year warranty from a 1 – 5 year old company? Are the manufacturer’s products warrantied nationally, or only based overseas?
So buyers beware. Do your research and ensure that your solar panels are from an established and reputable brand. EnviroGroup recommends these quality range of panels.
As with solar panels, there are a number of cheap inverters on the market without a proven track record, which comes back to the warranty issue again. Some of the better known and respected brands of inverter are SMA (Sunny Boy), Fronius and Enphase.
Again. Do your research!
Unfortunately, poor equipment quality and installation practices have resulted in many unsuitable and unsafe systems. Common problems include systems being installed with incorrect roof orientation or in significantly shaded areas. In some cases incorrect or very cheap electrical breakers and isolation switches have been installed resulting in dangerous malfunctions and house fires.
A few companies in Australia have also been given the status of CEC Approved Solar Retailer by passing very thorough assessments by CEC for the highest quality and safest solar installations in the industry. EnviroGroup is proud to be a CEC Approved Solar Retailer with a dedicated in-house team of full-time installers. We are also ISO Accredited for Safety, Quality and Environment.
Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions before you buy.
It’s also important to ask if your deposit is refundable should there be a significant change in STC prices (read more about STCs). Needless to say, when you pay large amounts of money upfront, you expose yourself to a great deal of risk. Make sure you thoroughly investigate the deal before you hand over your hard earned money!
At EnviroGroup we do all the paperwork for you. We arrange your smart meter to be reconfigured (or installed) and lodge paperwork to claim the rebates (STCs) on your behalf. You’ve paid enough for your system, so why should you have to struggle with masses of paperwork and constant phone calls to electricity retailers and power distributors?
This is to be expected, but be wary of companies that offer large warranties if they have only been in business a short time. This doesn’t give you any peace of mind, as most of the components have been manufactured by no-name companies who may or may not be around tomorrow. If your solar company closes the doors, you will have to contact the manufacturer (if you can locate them and know how to speak their language!) to have your warranty work carried out.
In fact there have been over 500 solar installers that have gone bankrupt in the past few years in Australia. Unfortunately these customers now have limited warranties or assurances for their systems and have to do the leg work on their own if something goes wrong.
It is also strongly recommended that you only install with a company who demonstrates a true commitment to the environment. Is their heart in the right place? Are you buying solar from a used car salesman who would have you install solar even if your roof was completely shaded? Make sure whoever you choose carefully considers your individual situation and who makes recommendations that are clearly for your benefit, not just theirs.
A simple way to find out if an installer’s reputation is by doing a quick google search. Online forums like Whirlpool are ripe with angry customers who have been let down by dodgy installers.
At EnviroGroup, we pride ourselves on our honesty and commitment to the environment and our customers. If your house is not suitable for solar, that’s exactly what we’ll tell you.