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What to look for in a solar company

What to look for in a solar company

With thousands of solar companies in Australia, how do you choose the right solar company to install your solar power system?

This post provides a 15-point checklist of what to look for in a solar company.  Keep this list to hand when you’re shopping around for solar. It will help you choose the best solar company for your home or business.

What to look for:

  1. Are they a CEC Approved Solar Retailer?
  2. Do they use CEC Approved Solar Designers & Installers?
  3. Do they have use CEC battery accredited installers?
  4. Have they been operating for more than five years?
  5. Are they financially solid?
  6. Are they a big company, with local support?
  7. Is their pricing competitive?
  8. Do they supply leading brands that are CEC-approved?
  9. Do they provide a five-year full system warranty?
  10. Will they visit your home before providing a quote?
  11. Do they provide a detailed professional quote?
  12. Do they document all the warranty terms in the quote?
  13. Do they provide an estimated timeframe for installing your system?
  14. Do they provide good after-sales service?
  15. What do their customers say about them?

 

Are they a CEC Approved Solar Retailer?

The Clean Energy Council (CEC) sets the standards for how solar companies operate in Australia. A CEC Approved Solar Retailer means the solar company is committed to industry best practice and responsible sales and marketing.

Benefits:

  • No pushy sales tactics
  • Professional quotation
  • 5-year full system warranty
  • Required in Victoria for solar panel & battery rebates

 

Do they use CEC Approved Solar Designers & Installers?

The solar company should provide you with evidence that your solar system will be designed and installed by a CEC Accredited Solar Designer and a CEC Accredited Solar Installer. These are two different accreditations; make sure that the team working on your solar project have both accreditations.

Benefits:

  • Customised design
  • Electrically safe
  • Compliant with Australian standards
  • Required for Federal Government solar rebate (STCs)
  • Required for any applicable state government rebates

 

Do they use CEC battery installers? 

Even if you aren’t getting battery storage now, it pays to choose a solar company that employs CEC accredited battery specialists.  That way, you know that your solar panel system is battery-ready and won’t require major rework or unnecessary cost.  It also means that your battery installation meets the criteria for any battery rebates.

 

Have they been operating for more than five years?

Half of Australian solar companies operating in 2012 no longer exist today.  You should be looking for a CEC Solar Retailer that has been in business for at least five years in case you need to claim on a warranty.

 

Are they financially solid?

It’s easy for smaller solar companies to close quickly if they don’t have much of a business infrastructure.  Given that the solar company is responsible for important warranties on your solar system, this is the last thing you want.  Look for a solar company that is financially strong, with a good track record and operates at scale.  That way you can have confidence they won’t be shutting up shop at a moment’s notice.

 

Are they a big company, with local support?

Having a local solar installer is important. That way you know that if there are any issues with the system, support is not far away. Who wants to deal with a national solar company that hasn’t got local representatives?  You want a big solar company with local installers. That way, any issues get sorted fast. And you know there’s a big company providing all the back-up support.

 

Is their pricing competitive?

By choosing a big solar company, you’re more likely to benefit from competitive prices because of their strong buying power. Look for a solar company that buys direct from manufacturer, as opposed to buying from wholesalers.  By cutting the middlemen, you’ll find that their prices mean a better deal for you.

 

Do they supply leading brands that are CEC-approved?

Watch out for solar companies that have fine print in their quote which allows them to switch solar panels and inverters on day of installation.  You want to be sure you’re getting Tier 1 solar panels and quality branded solar inverters.  Make sure the brand and model number of the solar panels and inverter is shown on the quote.

 

Do they provide a five-year full system warranty?

SolarRun is one of the few Solar Retailers who provide a full system warranty to every customer no matter where they are in Australia.  The full system warranty covers the operation and performance of the whole solar power system, including workmanship and products.  It provides solar owners with complete peace of mind that their solar panels system will generate the power it is supposed to for the duration of the warranty period.  If it doesn’t, the full system warranty should state that the system will be rectified at the solar company’s cost. A full system warranty should be for 5 years from date of installation.

 

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Will they visit your home before providing a quote?

Check that the solar company will visit your home to assess the technical aspects of your installation and review your energy usage profile with you.  Sometimes just viewing your home online isn’t enough.  It’s important that a qualified solar consultant visits your home to review your electrical set-up, and discusses with you the best location for the inverter and solar panels.  That way, nothing is left to chance.

 

Do they provide a detailed professional quote?

Make sure the quote is computer-generated; never accept a hand-written quote.  All components (the inverter, solar panels, battery, mounting system etc.) should be specified by quantity, brand, and model number.  Make sure STCs (Small-scale Technology Certificates) are included on the quote – both the number of STCs and their value.  Make sure there is no clause that lets the solar company switch products last minute.  The quote should also include estimated system yield, so you know the expected power generation in kilowatt hours for the first year.

 

Do they document all the warranty terms clearly in the quote? 

Ensure that the warranty for each system component (i.e., inverter, solar panels, mounting equipment) is specified and links to the warranty documents are provided. Also ask for their full system warranty and workmanship warranty.

 

Do they provide an estimated timeframe for installing your system?

The solar company should state how many weeks it will take from the date you approve the quote to installation.  They should also specify any assumptions within that timescale that are out of their control (e.g., network distributor approval).  They should also let you know how long the actual installation will take and when you must be there.

 

Do they provide good after-sales service?

Ask the solar company what after-sales services they provide to ensure your system operates at maximum performance.  They should provide a maintenance schedule that includes a system check and solar panel cleaning if required.  If you have any questions about solar monitoring, you want to be sure that they have experts on their team who can help you.  Find out who you should call.

 

What do their customers say about them?

Check out their online reviews.  This is a good starting point but there’s nothing like talking to people who’ve had a system installed by the solar company you are considering.  Ask for a few customer references you can call.  Ask the solar owners about their experience of the solar company including their customer service, installation quality, and communications.  If there were any issues, find out if and how they were resolved.

 

Request a quote

If you’re thinking solar panels or battery storage, get in touch for a quote.

SolarRun is a CEC Accredited Solar Retailer with CEC Accredited Solar and Battery Designers and Installers.  As one of Australia’s top 4 Solar Retailers, we have the scale to purchase quality solar panels and inverters at excellent prices.  We pass these savings onto you; that’s why our systems are such good value.  Plus, we operate one of Australia’s largest solar franchises with local installers across Australia. So, chances are there’s a SolarRun installer near you!

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