Purchasing a solar system is a significant financial investment, so it’s essential to do your research, rather than make an impulse buy. Learning about solar, and what you can expect from a system will help you to make an informed purchase that will pay for itself and save you money.
As with other industries, there are dishonest companies who take advantage of those who aren’t savvy buyers. That’s why it’s important to know what you’re looking for and to purchase from a trusted retailer. Understanding the different warranties, the solar system size you need, and how government rebates work enables you to make a quality investment.
To help you navigate the industry, we’ve put together an article on everything you need to know before you make your solar purchase.
Why you should purchase from a trusted and reliable solar retailer
When you buy a quality solar system and have it installed professionally, it should last for at least 25 years and come with warranties. However, a cheap system that comes from a retailer without any credibility will need replacing a lot sooner and cost you more money in the long run.
Some companies offer unbelievably low prices on their solar systems compared to the name brands. It comes back to the saying, “if it looks too good to be true, it is.” These retailers can only offer such cheap prices because they cut corners at your expense. Buyer beware, if you opt for the cheaper option, rather than a trusted solar retailer, you could find yourself victim to some of the following situations:
- Swapping out quality products for cheap imitations. You may think that you are buying the advertised reputable solar panels with a high-quality inverter but check the fine print. Some retailers will put in the conditions of sale that they reserve the right to swap them out for ‘equivalents,’ and give you the cheapest option available.
- Untrained and inexperienced installers. Not all retailers use qualified professionals for installation. If a company is cutting corners, they sometimes hire unskilled workers at cheap rates, which results in poorly done and dangerous installations.
- Pushy upsells. It’s a lot cheaper to pay people commission-only than to have a payroll, so that’s what some of the cheap companies model. What this means for you is pushy representatives who are under pressure from the company to make sales, as well as needing a deal for their own pay chequeen. Be prepared for the sales rep to exaggerate the benefits of the system and push to sell you more than what you need.
When you purchase through a trusted solar retailer, you are guaranteed:
- Quality systems: from the panels to the inverters, you’ll be getting exactly what you paid for, with nothing swapped out.
- Professional installation from qualified workers.
- Knowledgeable representatives who have your best interest in mind and will help you find the right set up for you.
A reliable solar retailer will also be easy to contact if you need to make any warranty claims, which is just as important as the initial service.
Remember, solar is an investment, so don’t buy an inferior product to save money upfront; it will end up costing you more in the long run.
Types of warranty, and why they’re important
A warranty is the guarantee of a product’s quality and indicates the manufacturer’s confidence in product performance. Solar systems have different types of warranties that cover various aspects of the system and installation.
One of the most crucial things to check is that the manufacturer is either Australian or has an Australian office or representatives that can service your system. Some warranties require thefaulty part to be removed and sent back to the manufacturer for testing at the customer’s expense. That’s why it’s essential to ensure it can be covered locally.
There are four different types of warranties for your solar systems: panel performance, panel product, inverter, and installation warranty. You’ll want to make sure that your solar system is covered by all four.
Panel performance warranty
The 25-year performance warranty refers to the degradation of the panel cells over their lifetime. It will have the manufacturer’s statement of the percentage that the performance of the cells will reduce by. Issued by the manufacturer, it’s, unfortunately, more of a marketing scheme than an actual warranty: unless you’re prepared to fight for it.
Panel product warranty
Provided by the manufacturer, this is what you’ll be able to claim on if you experience panel failure or faulty performance. Make sure that the panels you’re buying have a warranty for at least 10 years; anything less than that is an indication of low quality.
Some manufacturers will offer an insurance backed warranty, which means that even if the company goes out of business, you can still make a claim.
Inverter warranties are generally for five years, though some manufacturers offer an upgrade to an extended warranty. Of all the system components, the inverter is one that’s most likely to fail, so make sure that you’re covered.
The installation warranty is provided by your installer and can vary significantly between companies; it’s best to ask details on what it covers. Find out in advance whether it includes call-out fees, and if it covers the entire system. Depending on your retailer, the installation warranty can be anywhere between 1 and 10 years.