When choosing a solar system for your home, the market is notoriously difficult to navigate. Any average punter knows that the best bet is to get multiple solar energy quotes. But with prices varying by more than 200% in some cases – it really is a jungle out there.
Look, we could all be forgiven for naturally gravitating toward the cheaper option in instances like these.
But when it comes to your energy bills, and an investment as large as solar is – it really pays to know WHY your quotes can vary so much and what are you getting or not getting for the quoted price.
And that, we imagine, is why you are here reading this right now. You DO want to be informed and make the best decision for your home and for your family.
So let’s get stuck in, savvy solar buyer.
Let’s start with the basics – price.
We’ve broken down three of the most popular system sizes for residential solar installations:
|System Size||3kW System||6kW System||10 kW System|
|Number of Panels||10 panels||20-25 panels||31-40 panels|
|Units of Electricity per Day||13.2 units||22 units||44 units|
If you are quoted prices much lower than the ones stated in the table above – it is highly likely that the company is sacrificing the quality of installation, the quality of the products themselves or even the level of customer service and warranties attached to your system. Even though they may initially seem to operate similarly, a higher quality (and slightly more expensive) systems offer lower degradation rates of the panels, better warranties that you can feel more confident will be honoured, higher quality components and even perform better with varying levels of shading etc. If reassurance and performance are important to you – then it would be wise to choose a higher quality system.
“Okay, thanks GEM Energy!” you think to yourself. You’re welcome.
But what about these Tier 1 panels I’ve been hearing all about?
Beware of your everyday solar retailers and installers who claim that their solar panels are Tier 1 standard. Tier 1 is important, but it more so speaks to the manufacturing process of the panels – not of their performance or longevity, which should be your primary concerns! Some companies may gain your trust, spruiking the Tier 1 line, but in reality they are going to stick you with a low quality investment all the same.
So how do I get the best solar energy system?
Well, of course, you should get multiple quotes. While we personally think we offer the best products in partnership with the best in-house engineering and installation in Australia – you should still get a few quotes to compare the options you have.
It’s really important, however, that you make sure you get like-for-like quote. You simply cannot compare two totally different sizes on price, for example a 3kW and a 6.5kW, nor can you compare a Sunpower panel with a no namer panel.
Helpful hint: if they’re not on the below chart – don’t bother!
When receiving quotes for your solar energy system, be sure to ask yourself one simple question:
Has the system being created just for me, with my bill and my home and my usage in mind – or is it just a stock standard package advertised on a website?
If you’ve been asked the right questions and had the condition, type, aspect and tilt of your roof taken into account – you can feel more confident that the system has been designed for you. But if it’s just a package being advertised online in an ad or on a website, with a standard size and a standard price. Watch out! You need to make sure you fully understand the quality of the system you are being quoted on, and the implications that may result from choosing a system that was advertised these ways.
Okay, but what happens if I do decide that I’d like to save some money and get the cheaper option?
Well, you should be prepared for potential issues, such as:
The classic bait and switch. Some installers use quality components as the bait, advertising genuine Tier 1 solar panels and a top end inverter. They put in their conditions of sale that they reserve the right to swap out the inverter and panels for ‘equivalents’. Then, they install a really cheap inverter and panels instead.
Your provider may also cut corners in the install, and do it too quickly or use cheap, unlicensed labour! Some companies have reputations for paying the lowest install rates in the industry. Guess what – they also have a reputation for really poor installations. Think of it this way – most solar power systems operate at high voltage DC. If installed well, high voltage DC is safe. If it is not installed well, it is very dangerous. Can you guess what happens next?
Using a poor quality inverter can cost you as well. A really cheap inverter will be unlikely to last 3 years. Inverters are easier to replace under warranty than panels, but still some manufacturers will blame the failure on ‘grid spikes’ and you’ll either have to fight, or pay $1500+ for a new inverter.
And the worst part. The people that are selling these poor quality systems are making money from their customers 2-3 times over. There is a loophole in the solar rebate, where an installer can replace all the panels on someone’s roof and claim the rebate all over again! The rebate is worth over $600 per kW installed, while a really cheap panel can be bought for under $500 per kW. That’s some tidy profit right there.
And what do you recommend I do GEM Energy?
It’s simple – choose quality!
Avoid shifty providers and find a solar power system that is well designed for your roof and consumption patterns. Choose a company that anticipates the addition of panels and batteries in the future while designing your initial system. These are the kind of companies you can count on to use good quality panels, inverters, racking, wires and isolators. With a trained electrician (or team of electricians like our dedicated residential teams at GEM Energy) who is given the time to install your system properly, you will receive a high quality solar energy system that will perform as specified for decades to come and continue to return your investment well into the future. Keep your wits about you when obtaining solar energy quotes, and be wary of the ‘too good to be true’ offers online, in the papers and on TV.
As always, we will be here to help! GEM Energy is one of Australia’s leading installers, backed by an award-winning engineering team that works on each and every job we install. Call us today to get a quote on a high quality solar system, installed by the best and backed by industry leading warranties, or visit our dedicated get a quote page.