Decisions around home improvements can be complicated affairs. There’s all the research, the discussions around the kitchen table, the quotes, unsolicited advice from your father-in-law, then even more research. But choosing the right solar installer doesn’t have to be complicated to give you peace of mind – you just need to know the right questions to ask.
And look, we know that as an installer ourselves, you’ll be taking this advice with a grain of salt. What we’ve tried to do here is compile the best information from trusted sources including SolarQuotes.com.au, Clean Energy Council, and Choice to (as much as possible) provide unbiased guidance.
If there’s one thing you need to remember from this article, it’s that shopping on price alone is likely to be a disaster. Your family’s safety, the value of your investment and the fate of the planet are what’s at stake. So, remember to compare oranges with oranges (hey, that’s our colour!) when choosing your solar installer.
Before you sign anything with a solar installer or retailer, here are the seven questions you must ask before a solar panel installation:
1. Are you accredited for solar panel installation?
(Yes we are, by the way). But first, let’s define what ‘accredited’ even means in this space. The first no-brainer is to check that the installer is a licensed electrician. If that’s not the case, run for the hills.
The second main tick to look for is the Clean Energy Council (CEC) accreditation. Earning one of those laurels means the solar installer is certified to ensure your system meets industry best practices and Aussie standards.
There are four main types of CEC accreditation: Grid-connect (for maintenance work), Design Only, Install Only, and Design and Install. Of these, only the latter two require an unrestricted electrical license according to the CEC.
2. Who will be doing my solar panel installation?
Here’s the thing: if you buy from a solar retailer, that might not be the company that comes to install your panels, inverter and battery. That might not seem like an issue, but subcontractors usually have even skinnier margins and sometimes less expertise in the field.
A company using ‘subbies’ can (but not always) lead to corner-cutting and more issues when it comes to rectification of issues three, five, or even ten years down the track.
3. What is the best quality solar panel and inverter – and WHY?
We all have our favourite brands of toothpaste, computers, cars and, well, all consumer products. But solar is something you’ll but once or twice in your life, so how do you know which brands to trust?
Koala Solar has been installing solar now for more than half a decade, and we’ve narrowed down the products we use to, what we believe, is the industry best as a balance of value and quality. Fronius is generally considered a top brand and rates highly for satisfaction in the CHOICE member survey. In the more affordable tier with excellent quality, we turn to Huawei, Canadian Solar and Growatt.
Solar panel recommendations are a whole other conversation. Each product has its pros and cons, which we’re happy to discuss with you at length to help you get a handle on what you’re buying – yes – at no cost and obligation-free.
4. What’s your warranty on solar installation and parts?
The warranty on your solar products matters, as it usually takes a few years for energy savings to cover the cost of installation. Standard industry performance warranties for panels are usually 25-years, with inverter product warranties sitting at around 10-years.
Our solar installer warranty covers workmanship, things like bracket installation and electrical connection. Koala Solar offers a 10-year workmanship warranty on all home solar installations.
5. Is there any reason I shouldn’t get a solar installation?
Some solar installers are so ‘hot for the sale’ that they will put panels up where it may not be economically viable. If your home is in the shade of large trees or other buildings for much of the day, solar may not be a reasonable commitment for you. We believe customers should be made aware of any challenges upfront that could limit their potential solar savings.
6. How long have you been installing solar in Perth?
In the mid-2000s, countless solar installers popped up overnight and disappeared not long after, cashing in on demand for solar installations with impressive government rebates. We’ve all heard that 50% of small businesses fail in the first year, but Koala has been going strong since 2015; directors Cory and Stu have collaborated on electrical work for over 15 years. We’re in solar, and in WA, for the long haul.
7. Does your solar installation offer have a cooling-off period?
Australian Consumer Law states that any unsolicited sale will have a 10-day cooling-off period. So if some guy with a clipboard in the shopping centre signed you up to a limited deal – you need to ask them any of the above questions, so get on it ASAP and know your rights!
Any more questions for us? For more information and a no-obligation, on-site quote, contact Koala Solar. We also have a showroom at 5 Erceg Road, Yangebup, where you can browse the solar products available and ask any questions about your proposed solar installation.