Solar Panels For Your Home: A Quick Buyer’s Guide

By Finn Peacock, Chartered Electrical Engineer, Fact Checked By Ronald Brakels

If you’re thinking of buying solar panels for your Australian home, there are 4 areas you need to understand before you make a purchase decision:

1. It is important you understand what government solar rebates and subsidies are available to you as in many circumstances, these can pay a significant proportion of the up front cost of solar panels.

2. You need to know how much you will get paid for the surplus solar electricity you export to the grid, as this can make a difference to how long it will take for the system to pay for itself. This will depend on how much your electricity retailer pays you as a feed-in tariff. The good news is most Australians can pick and choose their electricity retailer to find the best combination of feed in tariff and usage rates. You can compare electricity plans and feed in tariffs in your postcode here.

3. When you are ready to buy, you should always get multiple quotes from installers. You should be comfortable analysing these quotes and deciding which one will be the best solution for your unique circumstances. Our solar 101 guide will get you up to speed in 17 minutes.

4. How will you be financing the solar panels for your home? 100% up front? Put it on the mortgage? Get a personal loan? To make that call, you need to understand the economics of solar. Calculate the savings and estimate your post-solar electricity bills with our very comprehensive, accurate and easy to use solar and battery calculator.

It’s also worth highlighting 2 golden rules in any type of purchasing: “caveat emptor” (buyer beware) and “you get what you pay for”. We are fortunate in Australia we have an accreditation program, strong standards and *generally* a pretty well regulated industry, despite what you many have read in mainstream media and heard from some politicians from time to time.

However, something of a gold rush in our industry due to generous rebates and falling solar PV prices resulted resulted in a very small number of unscrupulous companies emerging. In some cases, they have serviced customers poorly, provided poor quality products and in some cases have installed solar power systems that are unsafe.

Comparing Quotes And Installers

Use your intuition when choosing a supplier and ask yourself these questions before signing any contract of sale.

  • Does the deal sound too good to be true? (if it does it probably is)
  • Does the solar company understand what they are talking about and are they technically competent? (These questions will have the uninformed salesperson running for the hills!)
  • Does the firm have a reasonable track record of successful customer service? (These solar installer reviews will reveal all!)
  • What are the terms and conditions of their offer?
  • Are there any negative stories about the business on forums or blogs? (search their name in this forum to find the serial offenders!)
  • Are they transparent about all the details of who makes the solar panels and inverters? You can see where solar panel and inverter brands lie on the scale of budget to premium with the brand charts in our solar 101 guide.
  • What guarantees are they providing about installation date, grid connection, service and power output – and what compensation will they agree to if they don’t deliver?
  • Have they checked that the voltage at your switchboard is not too high to enable reliable inverter operation?

Solar panels are a wonderful product and a solar power system can be a great investment for your home. Don’t squander the opportunity by getting caught with a shonky company or simply poor service for the sake of a few dollars.

We hope you’ve found this quick solar buyer’s guide useful – check out the rest of the site for more detailed information!

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