10 Costly Mistakes to Avoid When Purchasing Solar

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According to industry research, more than one-quarter of Australian homeowners have invested in solar panel systems.

In all, more than 1.7 million households and businesses in the country are making the switch as installation prices lower and technology improves.

Are you looking to reduce your carbon footprint, improve your energy efficiency and save money on your electricity bill? Purchasing solar power can get you there, but only if you approach it the right way.

Today, we’re sharing 10 costly mistakes that are all too easy to make when you’re beginning your solar journey. Learning from these tips will help guide you through comparing solar proposals, avoiding dodgy sales tactics and help you design a solar system that is perfect for your energy usage and will produce well into the future with a great return on investment.

Ready to learn more? Let’s go!

  1. Over-Prioritising Price and Sacrificing Quality

Chances are, finances factor into your decision to install a solar system but remember that not all solar systems are created equal.

You’ve heard that Australian homeowners pay the highest power prices in the world and that solar panels can help reduce your usage by a significant amount.

Motivated by dollar signs, you might feel tempted to choose the cheapest solar panel system on the market, believing they’re all the same.

While you don’t want to fall for schemes that over-charge you for installation, the opposite also holds true. Think of a solar installation as an investment and improvement to your home, and be prepared to pay for it as you would any other renovation.

In fact, high-quality panels will yield an even higher ROI than a typical household remodel! Research shows that the average homeowner who goes solar can recover around 97% of that investment over time. In comparison, a luxury kitchen upgrade only generates a 60% return.

The bottom line? If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Find an CEC accredited expert who can guide you toward a solar solution that marries quality and value.

All too often we have come across solar systems that have been installed on homes for less than five years that have already failed and are not producing any power. Unfortunately, in some cases these faulty products are not even covered by a warranty as the manufacturer has gone into liquidation and the installer cannot be found. 

Ensure to read reviews, understand warranty terms and stick with reputable brands that are proven. Darwin has a very harsh environment and need to install a product that is going to stand the test of time on your rooftop to get the best return on your investment.

  1. Avoiding Due to Finances

While we’re talking money, it’s important to understand one thing: There are financing opportunities available to help you shoulder the cost of solar panel installation.

As you research solar panel quotes, don’t be afraid to ask potential installers for information on financing and lending options.

Ask yourself, what is your return on investment paying a utility bill?

The best time to act and install solar is this moment. Green loans have very low interest rates and fast approval processes that help you save today.

It is much easier to repay a $50 – $100 fortnightly repayment than an expensive energy bill every quarter. By acting fast and taking advantage of a finance option you will be in front straight away as the investment will be cash flow positive and allow you to put that money towards better things such as a family holiday, savings or even extra home loan repayments.

Even after factoring in the interest rate of the lending company, the savings you will make from producing solar power will offset the interest and much more.

As an alternative, you can also enter into a power purchase agreement. This allows you to install solar panels on your home and lease your roof space out to the owner of the panels for a set period of time.

During that time, you’ll purchase solar power from the owner until you’ve paid for the system in its entirety. This rent-to-buy setup helps you avoid upfront costs so you can enjoy your solar panel system sooner.

Hesitating on installation from fear of initial payment could mean missing out on valuable promotions and flexible payment plans. Voice your concerns and questions to prospective providers, and a solution should be right around the corner.

  1. Failing to Claim Incentives & Going Too Big

Trying to determine the size and type of solar panel system you need? It helps to understand the rebates and incentives that the Australian government provides homeowners in your shoes.

There are a few different kinds of systems available today. The model you select can affect your eligibility for these rewards. Your four main options include:

On-Grid Solar

These solar panel systems tie directly into your utility grid without backup battery support. You’ll access the grid to supplement the power that your panels generate during the day.

Off-Grid Solar

An off-the-grid system relies on solar panels to generate the power that your home requires. It is not connected to the main utility grid at all.

As such, these setups require a larger solar panel array to generate as much power as possible, even in low light. You’ll also need a large battery bank to store energy for darker days and support power-hungry appliances.

Hybrid Solar

A hybrid system provides the best of both worlds. You have access to the (mostly) guaranteed electricity supply that the grid provides. In addition, you’ll use special batteries and inverters to store your extra solar energy to use on cloudier days.

Specific solar incentives vary, so visit here to check your eligibility and apply.

  1. Signing Too Soon

With all of the choices at your fingertips, shopping for a new solar panel system can get complicated. That’s why it might feel tempting to sign on the dotted line as soon as the first offer comes your way.

However, it’s best to take your time. Always get three or more quotes and take your time.

It’s important to do your research and vet all of your options before partnering with an installer. Even more so for larger systems or specially if you’re considering a system with battery storage.

Don’t feel pressured by companies that offer “limited time offers”, strange rebates that are unheard of or seem too good to be true or short-term promotions. You deserve time to check and compare quotes to make sure you’re getting the best deal for your money.

It’s also important to do your due diligence and make sure you’re partnering with the right installer. Check online reviews and customer testimonials to see if others have had a positive or negative experience with the ones on your list. 

This is equally as important when considering products that the company proposes to use, check reviews, performance and warranties on the proposed solar products.

When gathering this information it is wise to keep in mind the after sales support you would receive from the company too. Are they local? Will they be here if you have any issues?

Usually, cheaper quotes are indications that the solar company hasn’t factored in any after sales support into their pricing (which is important) and won’t be around to offer assistance if there is a problem. 

Always remember that saving a few thousand dollars in the short term could lead to a much bigger loss in the long term if the system fails or the solar installer is not around to assist with an underperforming solar system.

  1. Assuming Shade Makes It Impossible

Think you’re ineligible for a solar panel system because you have a roof that gets a tonne of shade? Believing these myths could mean missing out on valuable cost savings.

When it comes to solar power, remember to never make assumptions. The technology has improved exponentially over the past decade, and capabilities that were once considered impossible are now standard.

While you might lose a little efficiency if your roof is darker than most, you still stand to gain a ton of value from a solar panel installation. Your provider can help explain how the benefits you’ll receive can help negate a minor loss such as this.

Did you know that your system will still function and produced on an overcast day?

  1. Is The Designer/Installer Accredited

Always check the individual’s licence onsite or look out for it on the proposal. You are within your rights and it is not offensive to ask to view the installer or designers licence.

It is easy to verify accredited solar designers and installers by searching the Clean Energy Council website here.

A qualified electrician has the ability to install a solar system but unfortunately by going down this path you will not be able to redeem STC’s for the solar system which will drive up the cost of the installation and could also lead to massive performance issues if the system has not been designed or installed correctly.

It simply is not worth investing your hard earned money into a solar system to potentially have the system not perform correctly or fail prematurely leading to lost earnings or the potential for the system to be replaced in its entirety.

  1. Failing to Complete Your Home Energy Transformation

Installing a solar panel system is great way to lower your home’s energy consumption. However, there are a few simple steps that can help further your investment, allowing you to see a greater economical and environmental transformation.

While you’re in the process of setting up your system, take a quick energy audit of your home as a whole. Are there other areas that need improvement as you seek to go green and minimise your carbon footprint? 

You may even be able to maximise your return on investment by reducing your consumption and gain an even greater return on your solar power system.

For instance, you might need to add insulation in your ceiling. Or, you can caulk around your doors and windows to help your house contain air better. You can also install low-cost window shades or smart thermostats to keep your rooms cool and cut down on your air conditioner use.

I wonder, do you know if your electric hot water booster circuit is on right now? Does it need to be? 

How long does your pool pump run for each day?

For more inspiration, check out this list of steps you can take to trim your electricity bill each month or call and organise to meet with an energy expert at your premises for FREE and let us do the leg work for you.

  1. Installing Too Big a System

When you’re researching solar system design options, it’s easy to get excited about some of the massive, top-of-the-line solutions on the market. Yet, remember that the most effective system isn’t always the biggest and most expensive.

If you team with a reputable installer, he or she can help you determine the exact size you need. To get started, there are a few factors to keep in mind as you shop. These include:

  • The size of your house
  • Your average energy use
  • Your plans for the future
  •  

Weigh the cost of the system against the return that it will deliver for your specific case. You aren’t likely to splurge on a 15-bedroom mansion for a four-person family, so don’t apply that same logic to your solar panel system.

In addition, be wary of inverters or other up-sells that offer more power than you require. This is why it’s important to do your research and find the right provider who won’t deliver more value than you require or can afford.

At times, we have provided solar proposals that are then met with confusion as we have accurately quoted a system to fit the needs of a client and they are comparing this against other proposals that are oversized to the client’s needs.

Keep in mind that grid connected solar systems which are the most popular and ideal choice for the majority of households in Darwin are limited in export size which is policed by the utility company. 

Power and Water currently allow a maximum size of 5KW for single phase and 7KW for three phase which is limited by the inverter. This means that this is the maximum energy that the inverter can export at any one time to the grid.

Typically, a 5KW or 7KW solar system will completely offset your usage and more, turning your power bill into a power credit with no need to spend further money and go bigger.

It is very easy and possible to go larger, but, the system would then have to be zero-export meaning that no energy can be sent back to the grid. If you have a zero export system you would ideally use all of the energy generated or store it with batteries.

Territorians receive fantastic tariffs in the Northern Territory for export and this is the simplest method so that electricity usage habits don’t need to be changed and it avoids investing in expensive options such as battery storage.

A Clean Energy Council accredited designer will be able to size a system that is the correct size to meet your energy requirements, don’t get caught with dodgy sales people that design a system that is way too big for your required energy consumption that will cost more to install and is not even required.

  1. Not Exercising Your Consumer Rights

For the average homeowner, the idea of solar energy is a relatively new one. Unless you work in the industry, many of the nuances can seem complicated, especially at first.

For that reason, it’s easy to trust any advice that your installer throws your way. When you do, you could unknowingly allow untrustworthy vendors to take advantage of you.

From exorbitant maintenance fees to unreasonable upkeep schedules, they can heap tons of “advice” on you that might sound professional but is anything but. As a result, you sign off and pay way more than you should.

While there are consumer laws that protect your rights as a buyer and prevent this kind of fraud from taking place, knowledge is your best defence. Make it a point to seek out accurate and objective information before you even begin your search for the perfect solar partner.

In addition to maintenance and upkeep, you should also know the fine print surrounding any warranty on your solar panel system. As this is a long-term property investment, you want to know what’s covered. While some salespersons will try to glaze over these details, you’re within your rights to read every word.

Always know your rights. Cooling off periods do apply to any signed contracts of unsolicited sales for solar power see here ACCC, it is also against the CEC code of conduct to use “pushy” sales tactics to manipulate the public into having solar systems installed.

It should raise alarm bells straight away if a solar sales person is pushing a deal that will only be around today or are pressuring you to sign on the spot.

  1. Waiting for New Technology

We get it. Technology improves and innovates at the speed of light. This means that systems that seem advanced today could be rendered obsolete by tomorrow.

As such, many people decide to hold out and wait until the newest technology is released before jumping on any sort of investment. While it’s smart to prioritise future-focused decision-making, playing the waiting game for too long could end up costing you.

In the solar industry, there are many benefits that early adopters are now reaping. For instance, those who waited for solar storage are now enjoying their systems in a more effective way. However, try not to ride the fence for too long.

At the end of the day, there will always be something new right around the corner. But, waiting until there are no more innovations will likely mean waiting forever. In the meantime, other homeowners are making the leap to solar while you’re still paying full-price on your electricity bill.

Waiting too long could also mean that you could miss out on some of or the entirety of the STC Government solar rebate. Each year the value of STC’s reduces as we move towards the end date of the scheme which is 2030. 

Also, eventually our amazing feed in tariff will change in the Northern Territory and reduce. Take advantage of this tariff while it is available and lock into a power purchase agreement with your power company today so that when it changes you can still receive the amazing tariff that is currently available.

Stay Smart and Save While Purchasing Solar

Your new solar panel system is designed to bring you energy efficiency and cost savings. It shouldn’t cause a headache or any undue stress.

While the research and buying process can be complex, you’ll find that it’s easy to avoid most of these common mistakes if you take your time and keep a long-term perspective.

The best way to make sure you have the best experience possible when purchasing solar energy for your home? Partner with a solar panel installer who’s certified, qualified and experienced in handling solar jobs like yours.

That’s where we come in.

We’re a team of reputable electricians and refrigeration mechanics dedicated to helping homeowners like you slash their electricity bills and enjoy a more eco-friendly way of life.

Contact us today for a free on-site consultation and learn how going solar can be one of the smartest decisions you’ll ever make.

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