Tips for selecting the best solar installer
Selecting an installer company to supply and install your solar power system is the most important step in going solar. Once you have decided that solar panels are worth the investment, you then need to find a good company to recommend and supply the system components, and perform the installation. This checklist highlights what to look for in a good solar company:
- Suitable accreditation
- A tailored solution
- Realistic ROI calculations
- Quality products
- Competitive warranties
- After sales service
- Business longevity
Solar accreditation and Approved Retailers
There are various affiliations, installer qualifications and company marks that you should be aware of; some are mandatory, and others are not.
- Look for industry affiliations
- Ensure a CEC accredited designer designs and installs your system
- Consider CEC Approved Solar Retailers
Ensure a CEC accredited installer fits your system
CEC accreditation is a must for the installer charged with overseeing the installation of your solar panels in Australia. If a CEC accredited installer does not install your solar power system, you will not be entitled to the Federal government rebate, which may cost you thousands of dollars. On top of the financial hit, an accredited installer has received specific training to carry out solar installations competently and safely. Often installers are subcontractors of the retailer so you need to check.
CEC Approved Solar Retailers
Another form of industry approval to consider is the Clean Energy Council’s Approved Solar Retailer program. The mark is awarded to solar companies that apply and adhere to the program’s code of conduct. CEC Approved Solar Retailers provide a 5-year total install warranty. Some state rebate schemes require you to select an Approved Solar Retailer, for example, to claim the Victorian solar rebate, you must purchase your system with a CEC Approved Solar Retailer. However, it is not mandatory to select a CEC Approved Retailer to claim the federal solar rebate, and many excellent solar installers do not belong to the program.
You should also consider the industry memberships and affiliations of your installation company. The affiliations may indicate the installers commitment to industry best practice and a clean energy future. We have compiled a list of memberships below:
- Clean Energy Council member
- Smart Energy Council member
- Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)
- Australian PV Institute
A tailored solution for your property
Once you receive solar quotes from installation companies, you need to assess whether or not your installer is providing good advice and tailoring a solar system for your property and your electricity consumption.
System size guidance
You should be able to get a good idea of how many panels you need on our website, but your installer can perform an additional investigation of your property’s suitability for the system size that you desire. Your installer should look at your electricity bills, obtain interval consumption data and design a system tailored to your needs.
Watch out for installers that are pushing a 5kW system because they happen to have a large quantity in stock.
Perform a site inspection
We always recommend where possible that your installer performs a site inspection, particularly if you are concerned about shading issues or have an east/west roof orientation.
Look for realistic ROI calculations
Your solar installer should provide a realistic return on investment calculation for your desired system size. If the projections are wildly different between companies and installers, you should be concerned about being mislead by product, performance and outcome and do your due diligence by asking installers various questions about any projections. Questions to ask installers about their ROI calculation:
- What percentage of power will your system export to the grid?
- What is the annualised electricity price rise?
- What is the level of system degradation?
Is your installer recommending quality products?
One critical decision you need to make when comparing quotes and engaging with solar installation companies is the quality of the solar panels, inverter and system components that you want to install. The difference in the quality of products can be an indication of the quality of the solar installer you are dealing with as well as the system’s longevity and reliability. You should ensure that the solar panels, inverters and lithium batteries are on the Clean Energy Council Approved Product Listing. If they are not, you may not be entitled to a solar rebate.
Compare warranties, business longevity and after sales service
The warranties provided by your installation company may also provide a point of comparison. You should ask about their entire system warranty and who will pay the cost of shipping in the event a component fails. You can read more about the types of solar warranties here. You should also check your Australian Consumer Law warranties for any failure of any products and responsibility of shipping and other fees for non-performance of products.
After sales service
After sales service is another indicator of a good solar installer. If the system is not performing as it should, you may be none the wiser. A good installation company will check the system for you once it is installed. If it is not performing to scratch, ask how long it will take to have it fixed.
Longevity and experience
The final check to perform when selecting an installer is to consider their relevant experience and longevity in business. A total system warranty is not worth much if the company is no longer around to service it.
Get quotes from the best installation companies
You can shortcut a lot of the comparison and concerns you may have about installation companies by using our solar quote service. We take into consideration all of the criteria listed above when choosing and recommending installer companies to you.