Business feature: Solar Myths and pitfalls

A proposed solar system design on a house using a mapping software enables the customer to see what their system will look like before installation.

A proposed solar system design on a house using a mapping software enables the customer to see what their system will look like before installation.

With the popularity of solar energy in Australia burgeoning, it’s inevitable that the number of solar retailers in the market will also climb.

As with any competitive market there’s always good operators and bad; those businesses that are in it for the long haul and others that might be driven by the prospect of quickly cashing in.

There’s some common myths and pitfalls when choosing solar, yet with the right things to look for, selecting a retailer doesn’t have to be a minefield.

Adam Dalby of Solar Australia explains how homeowners and businesses can ensure they make the right choice.

The starting point when considering switching to solar is to ensure you understand the credibility of both the retailer you are engaging and the products they use.

“One of the most important factors when choosing a solar panel installer is to ensure that they are ‘Clean Energy Council Accredited’, and that the products they are using have been approved,” begins Dalby.

Much akin to the licence number held by electricians, the accreditation means that the installer will hold an accreditation photo id card.

The Clean Energy Council of Australia website details useful information about the accreditation process and what to look out for with downloadable guides and questions to ask suppliers.

While Dalby agrees that the rise in competition in the solar market is ultimately a good thing, many new retailers have gone out of business, leaving customers high and dry.

“One of the biggest parts of our business now is service and picking up with customers who have paid a retailer, only to find they have closed down and disappeared.

“They are left with products that are no longer guaranteed.

“There’s definitely been a high number of cases of retailers over-promising and under-delivering,” he explains.

There’s definitely been a high number of cases of retailers over-promising and under-delivering.

Adam Dalby, Solar Australia

For those customers left behind by a retailer no longer in business, it’s a matter of starting again, which can be costly. Dalby warns against companies that ask for an upfront payment or deposit.

“We don’t ask for any payment until the day of installation but if you have paid a deposit and then decide not to proceed, a refund should be given.”

Another factor to be aware of is the expected lifetime of the panels and batteries purchased along with ongoing maintenance.

“The system should be installed to last over 25 years. Again, it’s important that the brackets used to install them have an engineers certificate of approval.

“Maintenance should be minimal and while some customers request an annual check, it’s not usually necessary,” Dalby comments.

“Just as with any other investment you might make in your home, it’s important to do your research. 

“Make sure you check the history of the retailer you talk to, ensure they are qualified and don’t always opt for the cheapest solution, it can often result in being more costly in the end.”

Since they began in Newcastle over 10 years ago, Solar Australia have helped over 25,000 homeowners and businesses enjoy the benefits of solar.