Solar Panel Buying Tips
The 20 important questions to ask your solar installer.
- What size solar power system should I install in my situation?
- Will this system completely wipe my power bill?
- Is my roof pitched at the correct angle for solar?
- Is shading going to be an issue at my property?
- Am I going to require a meter upgrade at my property?
- Which orientation is going to produce the best results on my roof?
- How much discount will I receive on my system from government rebates?
- Is there a feed in tariff available to me?
- How long will it take to pay the solar power system off?
- Are the solar panels and inverter high quality?
- Have they been independently tested?
- What are the warranties on the system components?
- What are the maintenance requirements for the system?
- How long will it take until the system is installed and operating?
- How long has your company been around for?
- How many installs has your company done?
- Can you provide me with references from installs in my area?
- Will your company handle all of the rebate and grid connection paperwork?
- What documentation will you provide me with?
- What are the payment options available to me?
Frequently Asked Questions
What size solar power system should I install?
The size of the solar power system that is right for you depends on a number of factors, these include:
- Your current electricity usage – both the total usage and the breakdown of how and when you use your power.
- Your location – certain areas around the country receive higher levels of sunlight
- The size of your roof – the size and orientation of your roof are important and most solar installers will measure the size of your roof using tools such as NearMap while they are on the phone to you. This will determine the maximum number of panels you can fit on your roof.
- Your Budget – As with everything, there are both high end and low end products available in the market. The amount you choose to spend will influence the size of the systems available to you and also the quality of the system you receive. Solar PV systems have a high return on investment and good quality systems can last 25 years so it is important to select a high quality product from a reputable installer.
Will a solar power system completely wipe out my power bill?
This will depend on the factors detailed above and whether or not you are entitled to receive a feed in tariff at your location. The solar installer will take all of these factors into account and run through a number of options with you. Most installers are can you with detailed energy calculations on request.
Will the pitch of my roof affect the output of the solar power system?
The pitch of your roof will affect the output of your solar PV system. Most homes around Australia have a 22.5 degree pitched roof – which is almost optimal. If your roof is flat it would be worth installing tilt frames, this is something best discussed with your chosen installer as the optimum pitch for your solar PV system changes based on your location.
Is shading going to be an issue at my property?
Shading on your solar panels can affect the output of your system dramatically. Most high quality panels come equipped with bypass diodes, which will minimise the effects of partial shading by essentially enabling electricity to bypass the shaded cell or cells. In order to mitigate the effect of shade on panels it is important to position the panels on your roof in a way that minimises the amount of shade that falls on them between the hours of 8am and 4pm. Your chosen solar installer will use tools such as NearMap to check shading levels throughout the day and position panels accordingly.
If you think trees are going to be an issue at your property, discuss this with your chosen installer and factor the cost of cutting down the offending branches into your calculations.
Am I going to require a meter upgrade at my property?
The solar installer will get you to send them a picture of your current meter during the quotation process to determine whether or not you will require a new meter.
How much does a meter upgrade cost?
The cost of a meter upgrade varies depending on your state. Ask your solar installer for the cost to upgrade at your location.
Which orientation is going to produce the best results on my roof?
An array on the North facing aspect of your roof will receive the most sun during the day. However, to maximise the value you receive from your system, your electricity usage needs to be taken into account. For example, if you used most of your electricity in the early mornings or late afternoons – an East or West facing array would maximise value in your situation as you are not feeding back into the grid during these times. Your installer will run through this to ensure you are making the most of your solar investment. They can also provide you with a roof plan to show how the panels will look on your roof.
How much will I receive in government rebates?
The size of the government rebate available to you varies depending on your location. Our top rated solar installers will let you know exactly how much of a rebate you are entitled to during the quotation process.
What is a feed in tariff?
Feed in tariff schemes have been introduced as an ongoing reward for people who invest in a solar PV system. Feed in tariffs work by paying homeowners for excess electricity that they are feeding back into the electricity grid.
Is there a feed in tariff available to me and how much is the rate?
The rate of your feed in tariff varies depending on your location and energy supplier. We have put together a table, which describes the current feed in tariffs available to consumers based on their location.
How long does it usually take to pay a solar power system off?
The payback period of your solar PV system depends on the size of system you choose to install, the price you paid for your solar PV system, your electricity usage, your energy supplier and the FIT available at your location. Your installer will be able to provide you with a payback period based on the above factors and will be happy to run through the calculations with you. Typically, the return on investment for solar PV is between 15% & 20%.
How can you tell if solar panels are high quality?
The highest quality solar panels have a positive power tolerance – which means that the solar cells will generate slightly higher then 100% of the output specified by the cell manufacturer. A great way to research the quality of the solar PV components you have been quoted on is to type the name of the panels or inverter into an online forum or search engine and read the results/ratings people have given these products.
Is there an independent testing facility for solar power systems?
There is an independent testing facility in Alice Springs called the Desert Knowledge Australia Solar Centre (DKASC), which allows users to track the live performance output of a large number of solar arrays from different manufacturers. This tool is great as it provides a side by side comparison of competing solar products in harsh Australian conditions. Further information on DKA solar centre can be found at the DKA solar centre website.
What warranties are normally provided with solar PV systems?
You will typically receive a performance warranty on the solar cells, a manufacturer’s warranty on the solar panels, a manufacturer’s warranty on the inverter and a workmanship warranty. Most reputable installers offer a 25 year performance warranty on the solar cells and a 10 year manufacturer’s warranty on both the solar panels and inverter.
What are the maintenance requirements for solar power systems?
Solar PV systems require a minimum of maintenance over their lifetime. In order to continue to receive maximum efficiency out of your system, solar panels should be washed every 6 to 12 months. This can be done with a garden hose and soapy water or by calling professional solar panel cleaners who specialise in the maintenance of solar panels.
Who handles the connection of the solar system to the power grid?
Generally speaking, your chosen solar power installer handles the connection of your system to the electricity grid. They will also run through the details of the paperwork which you are required to complete in order to connect to the grid.
How can I maximise value from my solar power system?
There are a number of ways you can maximise value from your solar PV system. These include:
- Trying to use your heavy usage appliances during the day when your system is generating the most power
- Run your hot water system and pool pump (if applicable) on peak tariff and use timers to set these to run during the middle of the day
- Install LED lighting or energy saving light bulbs to minimise electricity usage in the evening
- Replace any old fridges or faulty electronic equipment
How should I choose a solar power installer?
The best way to choose a solar power installer is to enter your postcode in the box at the bottom corner of this page and fill in your details to claim 3 free quotes from the top local solar installers in your area. It only takes 30 seconds to arrange your free solar quotes! In addition to the information displayed on our website, we will also send you a copy of the Clean Energy Council’s – Guide to Installing Solar PV on Households. This independent guide provides some great solar panel buying tips and walks you through the process of purchasing and installing rooftop solar panels. Start saving money with solar by requesting your free quotes now!