Solar Panels For Your Home: A Buyer's Guide
If you are thinking of buying solar panels for your Australian home, there are 4 areas that you need to understand before you buy:
1. It is important that you understand what government solar rebates are available to you as in many circumstances, these can pay a proportion of the up front cost.
2. You need to know how much you will get paid for your solar electricity, as this can make a huge difference to how long it will take for the system to pay for itself. This will depend on whether your state has what's called a Feed In Tariff.
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.
4. How will you be financing the solar panels for your home? 100% up front? Put it on the mortgage? Get a personal loan? See which option works best for you with out solar finance calculators.
Lastly, it's 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 that we have an accreditation program, strong standards and generally a pretty well regulated industry (despite what you many have read in the mass media and heard from some pollies).
However, in the last few years there has been something of a gold rush in our industry due to the fact that we have had some very generous rebates and falling solar PV prices. This has resulted in a very small number of unscrupulous companies emerging and in some cases they have serviced customers poorly, provided poor quality products and in some cases have installed solar PV systems unsafely.
Use your intuition when choosing a supplier and follow these golden rules:
- Does it sound too good to be true? (if it does it probably is)
- Do they understand what they are talking about and are they technically competent? (These questions will have the uninformed salesperson running for the hills!)
- Do they have 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 bad stories on forums or blog listings? (search their name in this forum to find the serial offenders!)
- Are they transparent about all the details of who makes the panels and inverters?
- What guarantees are they providing about installation date, grid connection, service and power output; what penalties will they agree to if they don't deliver?
Solar panels are a wonderful product and 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.