Read This Before You Decide to Buy a Solar System

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 warranty

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.

Installation warranty

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.

The true value of customer service and support

There is a lot more involved in choosing a solar system than the upfront cost.  The most important benefit of purchasing through a trusted retailer is the after-sales service.  The true value of customer service is the assurance that if your solar system malfunctions, your retailer will be able to offer support and swift action.

An immediate response to any warranty claims and necessary repairs is essential: every day that your system isn’t performing increases your electricity bills. Working with a trustworthy retailer and installer ensures that you’ll receive the service you need to get your system back to optimum performance in the fastest time possible.

Don’t get caught out with a cheap or untrustworthy company that sells you a system and then doesn’t respond to your calls when things go wrong.

Government solar incentives – rebates and loans

As part of the Solar Homes Program, the Victorian Government is offering a solar rebate of up to $1,850 to eligible household when they install a solar system.Households can also apply for an interest-free loan from Solar Victoria, equivalent to the awarded rebate amount.  That means that you could get a total of $3,700 off theupfront cost of your solar installation.

Households need to meet set criteria to be eligible for the rebate and purchase their solar system from an authorized solar provider, such as Helcro Solar.  To learn more about the rebate, and find out if you’re eligible and how to apply, check out  Solar Victoria’s website.

Another incentive that you can take advantage of is the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) run by the Federal Government.  Households that purchase a qualifying solar system are issued Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs).  The number of certificates you qualify for depends on the amount of solar energy generated by the system and the area in which you live.

STCs are like shares and can be traded and sold in the same way.  Alternatively, you can use them for a discount on the cost of your system from your solar retailer.  To learn more about STCs, eligibility, and use, you can visit the Australian Government’s Clean Energy Regulator site.

Choosing the right size system for you

When deciding which size solar system to install, there are two primary considerations:

  1. Your daily electricity consumption
  2. The size of your roof

For the average household, a 6kW system is enough to offset your daily power usage, generating about 26kWh a day.  However, if you have a pool or have higher energy usage, you might want to purchase a larger system.

The time of day you use most of your power is another factor to consider.

Solar panels only produce energy during the daylight hours; after dark, your house will go back to drawing power from the grid.  If you mainly use electricity at night, you won’t need a large system, unless you want to offset the cost of your bills using the feed-in tariff.

The larger the system you install, the more solar panels you’ll need on your roof.  Suitable roof space can become a limitation, especially as panels can only be installed on North, East, and West facings.

How much money you can expect to save with a solar system

Installing a solar system saves money on your electricity bill in two ways:

  1. By generating your own solar power, you use less electricity from the grid.
  2. Any unused solar power feeds back into the grid, gaining you a credit with your provider called a “feed-in tariff” (FIT).

Drawing less electricity from the grid lowers your electricity bill, and with a solar system, that’s essentially what you’re doing.  With a solar system installed, you only draw energy from the grid if you’re using more power than your system’s output, or at night when there’s no sunlight to generate the electricity.

According to a study done by the CSIRO, the average Victorian household uses around 25kWh of electricity a day. A 5kW solar system generates between 18 and 22 kWh per day in Melbourne (depending on weather and panel facings).

Let’s say you’re paying consumption charges of 21cents per kWh, and your 5kW solar system generates 18 kWh per day, you’d be saving $3.78 per day. While that may not seem like much, multiply it by 365 days of the year, and you’re looking at a total saving of $1,379.90 annually.

Most households only make use of about 70% of their solar energy, but even working with this figure, you’d still be saving around $963 a year.  The credit from your feed-in tariff will further slash the price of your electricity bill.

If you’re looking to make the switch to solar and save money on your electricity bills, we’re here to help.  Helcro Solar is an authorized and trusted solar retailer.  We’ll help you find the most appropriate system for your household and provide quality customer service and support, including after the installation.

Once STCs have been finalized, make the most of the Victorian state government rebates and loans to further reduce your upfront cost. With such generous incentives on offer and the ability to save money selling electricity back to the grid, it has never been a better time to install a solar system in your home.



We’re here to help.

Click here to chat to one of our

friendly representatives about

why solar is right for you