How to choose a quality solar panel installer in Australia

solar panel system australia

The residential solar industry in Australia is growing. In 2017, 3.5 million solar panels were installed, creating the same amount of power as a mid-sized coal-fired power plant.

However, with the boom in the industry, complaints against solar companies are also on the rise. Without proper consultation, installing a solar panel can be confusing and daunting. In this article, we explain your rights under the Australian Consumer Law and show you how to buy a quality solar PV module that will meet your power needs for many years to come at a fair price.

Checklist of solar accreditation

Is your solar panel installer accredited?

The best thing about the solar system industry is that it has so many accreditations to maintain standards and protect consumers. The trick is where you can check it and what accreditation to ask for.

When you are thinking of installing solar panels on your roof, it’s likely that you will deal with:

  • The retailer (the sales company)
  • The solar power system designer (who puts the design of panels, battery, and inverter together)
  • The solar panel installer (who actually puts the panel on your roof)
  • Certified Electricians are required to sign off on the system and issue a Certificate of Compliance for Electrical Work (CCEW).

The Clean Energy Council (CEC), funded by the industry, is the accreditation body for the installer, designer, and components. You will be able to see more than 7000 solar-accredited installers on their website and Think and Grow is one of them. It also specifies the various categories of accreditation such as install-only to design, design-only, and install.

Are the inverter and panels accredited?  

Inverters and modules that meet Australian standards are also listed by the CEC. Make sure that the components of your solar panel system Australia quoted are clearly specified by make, model, and size, and are approved by the CEC.

You should keep in mind that if you are not choosing a CEC-accredited designer, installer, and components, you will not be able to claim any government subsidy (rebate) of Small Scale Technology Certificates (STCs). For instance, a 6.6kW solar system can get you an incentive from STCs of approximately $3500, depending on the location. Thus, it is vital to choose:

  • A CEC-accredited installer.
  • A CEC-accredited designer.

How to choose a solar retailer?

To find a quality solar retailer, the Clean Energy Council runs the voluntary Approved Solar Retailer program, over and above its accreditation scheme. Besides being endorsed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), its main motive is to increase the standards in the 100kw solar system industry.

To check and verify if a retailer is actually approved or not, check for the logo and the list of CEC-approved solar retailers.

How to choose a solar company? 

Besides being CEC-accredited, you should look for a company that is:

  • Doing operations for more than 5 years.
  • Has an Australian local phone number and office.
  • Talk to previous customers about their pre and post-installation services.

Avoid companies such as:

  • Those who use aggressive sales techniques such as door-to-door sales, ask you to sign on the spot, or use taglines such as ‘take action before government rebates end’ or ‘limited offer only.’
  • Who use taglines such as one-size fits all.
  • Offers solar power systems below the market rate.

The warranty and cost of the solar panel

Check the warranty period that your solar panel installer provides. It is expected that even top-quality solar panels will degrade a small amount each year, but your solar panel supplier should offer a performance guarantee that covers your panel’s performance over a period of at least 25 years.

When it comes to inverters, the ideal warranty period should be ten, however, it should provide at least 5 years. Also, make sure that the inverter and solar panel warranty should be backed by an Australian entity. In addition, a minimum 5-year warranty should be given with regard to workmanship.

When we talk about the price of the solar power system, it may not be an important factor during the purchase. Having a system that offers the quality and performance you are satisfied with is essential since this is a system you will use every day for 20-30 years. And as it is said for most of the things in the world, you get what you paid for.

Some independent tips

Here are some independent tips and red flags that you should pay attention to such as:

  • Components such as solar panels, battery, inverters, etc. should be mentioned by brand, quantity, and model number. Or else they can be replaced with cheaper parts.
  • The quote should have the inclusion of STCs.
  • There should a 25-year performance warranty on panels as well as a product warranty for the inverter and panels.
  • Business terms such as deposits, timetables, and payment methods, and for how long will the quote be valid?
  • A cooling-off period of 10 days applies to contracts resulting from unsolicited sales. A 10-day cooling-off period may be offered by some suppliers, regardless of whether the sale was unsolicited or not. Make sure to keep a note!

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