Want cheap solar panels? Think again!
Reasons to avoid cheap solar panels
There are numerous reasons why you should think twice before buying a cheap solar panel system. A cheap system is one where the solar panel cost is far lower than average industry prices.
- 1. Value vs cost
- 2. Don’t risk your solar rebate
- 3. Cheap inverters fail
- 4. Check the warranties
- 5. 17.7% of installs are substandard
- 6. 3.4% of installs are unsafe
Value vs cost
Buying solar panels is an investment and not a cost purchase. Solar panels generate savings. When deciding if solar panels are worth it, you should consider the savings potential over 25 years and not the number of years it will take to pay back the system. Which is better, a system that pays back in four years but underperforms for 20 years, or a system that pays back in six years and generates lifetime savings of $65,000? If your answer is the cheap solar panels that payback in four years, how can you be sure the system will last more than five years let alone 25?
Your buying decision should factor in the likelihood that the system will operate as it should in the long term, as the first systems to break down are generally the cheap systems with shoddy installations.
Buy with confidence
You risk losing your solar rebate
If you must buy a cheap system, you need to ensure that the Clean Energy Council has approved the panels and inverter you buy. If you are not buying CEC approved products, you will not receive your solar rebate, this could instantly add between $2,500 – $3,000 to the cost of a 5kW system.
Cheap Tier 1 panels
If you are considering cheap solar panels, beware the Tier 1 sales pitch. The system may very well comprise of Tier 1 solar panels, but chances are it doesn’t. The list of Tier 1 panels is not made public, so you need to ensure that you are buying the genuine article.
Cheap inverters are more likely to fail
The component of your system most likely to break down is the inverter. Cheap solar panels normally accompany cheap inverters. You may find that a cheap inverter breaks down far earlier than anticipated, perhaps around the 5-year mark. Whenever it does, bear in mind the cost to replace the inverter could be around the $2,000 mark, a cost that you would not have to pay for with a quality solar panel system.
You need to check the solar warranties that come with your system. For cheap solar panels, go straight to the product warranty and the inverter warranty. The best solar panels have product warranties lasting 25 years whereas cheap system may only cover you for 5 or 10 years. You also need to consider whether or not the installer company or manufacturer of your system will be in business in five years.
Installation: Who installs your system?
Many large solar retailers outsource the installation of their solar panel systems; this means that you need to check the installation warranty. Your solar company may promise a ten-year install warranty, but they may not be the ones responsible for the installation. It may fall on the sub-contractor, and they are far less likely to provide a warranty of that length.
Quality of the installation
The quality of the solar installation is also of great importance. Installing a solar system is not as simple as connecting a new TV. Installation involves connecting a live power plant to your roof that is expected to perform without fail for 25 years. The Clean Energy Regulator carries out routine inspections of solar installations; their recent report reveals that 17.7% of systems inspected were substandard. The risk of the system breaking down is higher, but more pertinent is the safety risk.
Poor installation increases the safety risk. The Clean Energy Regulator reports that of the systems they inspected, 3.4% were found to be unsafe. The most common safety risk is water infiltration of the DC isolator, which can cause a fire.
How to avoid cheap solar panels
The best way to avoid cheap solar panels is to take 10 minutes to read our guide to buying solar panels and get solar quotes from quality solar companies. We thoroughly vet all of the companies that we refer to you, meaning that you don’t have to worry about buying a substandard system.