PV Solar System Purchase Guide and Helpful Information

Helpful Information

There is a lot to know when purchasing a PV solar system for your home.

  • How do you tell whether these deals are good value?
  • What additional costs may exist?
  • Which products are best?
  • Are you getting value for money?

Which products are best?

There are a lot of different opinions on what constitutes a good solar product. The industry has lent itself to differentiate into two categories, Chinese products and German products. The truth is now most European companies now have moved their manufacturing facilities to China as it is too hard to compete against Chinese labour. However, most tier 1 solar companies have automated the manufacturing process improving the consistency of the build quality of products made in China. A couple of things to watch out for:

  • Only purchase tier 1 solar products. These companies are backed well financially and will reduce the risk of losing your warranty if the manufacture goes bankrupt. This will also ensure you get a good quality product that is well supported in Australia
  • There are some solar retailers in Australia selling “dumped stock” out of China that is substandard, look out for these solar panels. They will typically be much cheaper than other solar systems.
  • Make sure you get the best warranties in the industry. The life span of a solar system is 20 years plus, you want the products to last the distance of time

Additional Costs

What is included in the quote and what additional charges may exist? Many offers will require additional payment for what they call ‘non-standard installations’. This may include:

  • Two-storey homes
  • Tiled roofs
  • Difficult to access places
  • Large homes with long distances between north-facing roof and the electrical switchboard
  • Flat roofs or roofs with inappropriate pitch / insufficient north-facing roof space

Electricity meter change-over

The majority of installations will require you to change your electricity meter to an import/export meter. This meter will measure the incoming electricity you use from your electricity provider and also the excess outgoing electricity the solar system will produce. This is often not included in the quote price as SA Power Networks will usually send you the bill directly. This may cost approximately $300 for a single phase meter and approximately $650 for a three phase meter. Older homes may also require an upgrade of the electricity meter board – potentially a few hundred dollars more.

Beware of changing electricity rates!

One key consideration is that your electricity tariffs might change when signing up for the feed-in tariff. Most people are required to go onto peak/off-peak tariffs (sometimes known as ‘time-of-use’ tariffs), meaning that your electricity charge may be higher during peak times (Monday to Friday 7AM to 11PM), and lower during off-peak times (11PM to 7AM Monday to Friday and all weekend).
This means that while you may previously have been paying a flat rate, say 30c/kWh, for all of your consumption, after accepting a feed-in tariff offer this may become 36c or even 39c/kWh during peak times (weekdays), but as low as 23c/kWh during off-peak times (evenings and weekends). For some people, these rates may actually be better than the old flat-rate tariff – this depends entirely on when you use most of your electricity.

By far the majority of people will still be significantly better off with solar than without, when considering the avoided consumption for all of the electricity you generate and use in your home. This is even more pronounced if you are home a lot on weekdays and use a lot of electricity at the higher ‘peak’ rate. Make sure you find out about any changes to your electricity rates before signing up.
Remember, different retailers have different offers available, and some may be better than others, so make sure you get all the information you require from the retailer, ask about all the options that they offer, and shop around to see what different retailers are offering. Retailers are battling for market share in today’s markets so don’t be afraid to do some hard negotiating!

More on the SA Government Feed in Tariff here

Quotes

It is important to ask about any additional charges before signing anything. It is recommended that you don’t agree sign or commit to anything until someone has come and looked at your house and told you what the total final cost will be. Make sure there aren’t any clauses in anything you sign to add additional costs or charges down the track. Be reluctant to pay any sort of deposit upfront; try to pay in full after the installation has taken place once you are happy with the service and workmanship.

Warranty

Warranties are an essential component of any major purchase, so you should expect the following:

  • 25 years warranty on solar PV panel performance
  • 10 years on panel faults / workmanship
  • 5 to 10 years warranty on the inverter
  • 12 months warranty on installation workmanship

Rebates – Solar Credits

The government rebate for solar photovoltaic electricity systems (solar PV) is called the Solar Credits scheme. Under this scheme, solar PV systems are eligible for a significant rebate, based on the size of your system, where you live in Australia and when it is installed.
For a 1.5 kW system in Adelaide, this amount will be around $900.
Typically, your solar installer or retailer will claim the Solar Credits for you, and offer it as an upfront discount on the cost of your system, so you don’t need to do anything to get the rebate – in this case, the price quoted to you will be the price you have to pay after rebates.

Feel free to call us if you have any questions or would like to receive some further information on our solar system products on
08 8118 0186 or email sales@trackenergy.com.au

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