Questions To Ask Your Solar Installer and Provider

So you’re ready to start receiving quotes or speak to installers about your options? If this is the case you’ll want to be prepared with questions to ask and ensure you get the most valuable information available to assist you in making an educated decision.

Here are some questions that we feel any reputable solar installation company should be able to answer, if they can’t or won’t, think about whether you want to give them your hard-earned money.

TIP: Check customer reviews & testimonials on websites such as Product Review, Facebook, Google, TrustPilot and Clean Energy Reviews prior to signing with an installer or system.

Questions about the Installer and Provider

  • How long have they been in business?
  • How much experience do they have working with your energy retailer?
  • Will they be able to assist in organising connection to the grid?
  • What accreditation do they hold, and will a CEC accredited installer be conducting the install?
  • Are their products, qualifications and accreditation’s in line with the Government requirements for claiming Government incentives, subsidies, rebates?
  • Will they handle or assist with the Government incentive paperwork for you? If so do you just pay the difference or will you receive a rebate?
  • Do they have finance options?
  • What documentation will you receive both before and after the install?
  • Who should you contact if there is a problem with the system/installation? Where are they located? Who is responsible for ensuring that warranties are serviced in a timely manner?
  • What is the Feed-in Tariff you can receive?

Questions about the Solar System and Installation

  • What system setup do they recommend for your property and energy needs?
  • What’s the maximum size solar system you can install?
  • What size system do they recommend you install?
  • What are the brands and models of the products they have available and where are they made?
  • What are the upfront costs of the system?
  • Is this cost including any discounts from Government Incentives?
  • What is the expected payback period/ROI for the system?
  • What warranties are available for the different parts/components of the system in the quote?
  • Do the warranties cover shipping and labor if a part or the system needs replacing?
  • Under what circumstances will the warranty become void?
  • What is the expected impact this size system will have on your bill quarterly/annually?
  • What direction will the panels face and what affect will this have on production?
  • What impact will the Feed-in Tariff have on your bill?
  • What is the maintenance required for this system?
  • Will you be able to expand the system or add battery storage in the future? What will this entail?
  • What is the life expectancy of this system?
  • Is shading going to be an issue?
  • Does the inverter have communication software?
  • How can you track the energy production and consumption with this system?

Questions about the Battery

  • What battery storage options do you have with your current system?
  • Will they need to replace your inverter or add additional solar panels to your current system before adding battery?
  • Does or will your system generate enough energy to store excess to use at night?
  • What is the expected impact to your bill that adding battery storage will have?
  • What are the brands and models of the batteries they have available?
  • What is the life cycle of the battery? How many years would they expect this to last?
  • What is the depth of discharge for the recommended battery?
  • What is the warranty and its terms and conditions?
  • What is the expected payback period/ROI?

 

Where in your solar journey are you?

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Understanding Batteries

Off-Grid Systems

For some households a battery system can be of great benefit and minimise a home’s reliance on the grid. However, it’s important to understand for a battery to be useful your solar system needs to be generating excess energy for the battery to store, which you can then use at night or when the sun is not out.

When selecting a battery, you’ll want to invest in a system that is most suited to your home and can drive the best return on investment (ROI). Despite a larger upfront cost, a higher quality battery may significantly increase your ROI.

    Battery systems start from $6,000 and costs can vary greatly based on the following factors:

  1. Cycle Life-Time

    The number of times a battery can fully charge and discharge.

  2. Battery Power (kW)

    How fast it can be charged or discharged.

  3. Storage Capacity (kWh)

    The maximum amount of energy a battery system can store.

  4. Battery Management System (BMS)

    An electronic ‘smart’ system that gathers data and manages the battery ensuring it does not overload or operate outside of its safe functioning zone..

  5. Inverter

    Battery systems require their own inverter if your solar system does not have a hybrid inverter.

  6. 'All-In-One Unit’

    A system which includes the battery, BMS and an inverter all in one unit.

  7. Warranty

    Length of time or cycles the battery system is under guarantee.

  8. Blackout Protection/Backup

    It’s important to note this is not a common feature of a battery system and could cost thousands of dollars to include. Blackout protection not only requires additional components but also a specialised installation and rewiring. For grid-connected homes, the cost for blackout protection can outweigh the benefit.

Additionally, if your purpose for adding battery is to go Off-Grid and become completely independent from the grid you will need to ensure your solar system can generate enough energy to power your home and your battery system is large enough to store this energy. For homes in metro areas going Off-grid is not cost effective and is only recommended for those in remote areas with limited access to the grid. Off-grid solar systems with battery start at approximately $30,000.