Tick these boxes before signing your solar contract!

We’ve all heard the horror stories of solar companies selling and installing dodgy panels and inverters that have to be replaced within 5 years but did you know – there are a new set of techniques these companies are using to over promise and deceive consumers into signing contracts on the spot or even over the phone? We unpack what your solar proposal should include to save you making a very costly mistake. A little disclaimer – I have not been paid to write this article on behalf of ‘Open Solar’, it’s free and should be used by all solar installers!

How your system works ☐

You don’t buy a new car without first knowing if and how it works so why should a solar system be any different? Believe it or not, some companies don’t explain that your solar panels will not produce power at night (don’t worry a lot of people don’t know that). Within your proposal you should have an explanation of how your system will work.

  • Will your system be big enough to cover your energy consumption all year round?
  • Will it generate excess solar during the day and be sent back to the grid?
  • Will there be enough excess solar power (credit) to offset your night usage costs?

These are just a few of the points that should be included or at least explained during the proposal process.

System performance ☐

Much like knowing how your system works, it’s also very important to understand how your system is expected to perform. Gone are the days of multiplying the size of your system by 4.5 (peak sun hours) and writing it down on a piece of paper next to your quote. The technology is readily available with applications like ‘Open Solar‘ that carefully calculate system performance after assessing a plethora of factors including orientation and tilt of panels, panel and inverter efficiencies, shading issues and a whole lot more!

 

Return on investment/savings calculations ☐

Sometimes the promise of your electricity bill reducing to $0 just isn’t possible so don’t take it as gospel and sign the contract on the spot. Your company should have at least outlined a conservative estimate of your savings as well as a time frame you will have your system paid off. Again, Open Solar is an amazing tool your company can use to accurately calculate savings by using their in built tariff setting.

System hardware specifics ☐

Crucial! Be 100% sure that your quoted systems hardware is what you were promised! Unfortunately the bait and swap tactic happens far too much which means you may not end up with the panels and inverter you were promised. A hot tip would be to ask your installer on the day to confirm they are installing what you were quoted. This is another great example of why it’s important to have your system installed by the company who sold it to you (not a sub-contractor).

  • Is the brand of the panel & inverter what you were promised?
  • Is the wattage of your panels & inverter what you were promised?
  • Ask the company what mounting hardware they are using.
  • If your close to the beach, is your system and all its components corrosive resistant?

 

Warranty information ☐

If your company has confidence in their team and procedures they should be providing a 10 year workmanship warranty to cover any defects created by them. On top of that your panels, inverter and mounting hardware all should have a minimum of a 10 year warranty with quality panels like LG & QCELLS providing a 25 year warranty.

Read our panel reviews HERE.

Read our inverter reviews HERE

Product vs performance warranty?

Product warranty – The more important out of the two, your panels product warranty is based on the manufacturers workmanship, materials used and the quality of them. In other words, the longer the product warranty, the more confidence the manufacturer has in their product. At the time of writing this LG, QCELLS, Sunpower, REC and a few others boast the longest product warranties of 25 years.

Performance warranty – Otherwise known as the ‘power’ warranty, your performance warranty is a guarantee in power output of your solar panels over time which varies in manufacturers. Depending on your situation (how long your staying in your home), we recommend panels providing a guarantee that after 25 years they will be performing at a minimum of 80% of their original output.

 

RECAP

How your system works ☐

System performance ☐

Return on investment/savings calculations ☐

System hardware specifics ☐

Warranty information ☐

 

 

Article by –

Jye van Waelsden -Managing Director.