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Solar on Sale: Will it cost you in the long run?

We’ve seen it across tv, radio and the internet: Solar systems at rock bottom prices with too-good-to-be-true financing available. When it comes to sourcing the right solar system for your business or home, it can be tempting to focus on deep discounts and price-shop for the lowest bidder. But before you sign on the dotted line, there are some essential facts about solar systems in Australia that you need to know.

Your solar system should last you over 20 years

And it goes without saying - twenty years is a very long time. When it comes to getting the maximum return on your investment, this shouldn’t mean twenty years of panels simply decorating your roof, but twenty years of self produced energy that reduces your bills and carbon footprint.

So to achieve these 20+ years of safe, clean energy production, you need to ensure you’ve got it right the first time. Like all technical equipment, quality is essential when it comes to choosing your solar panels. As in all growing industries, there are good systems, great systems, and budget systems. Choosing to focus on the deepest discount may seem like a good short term win, but when it comes to long term gains, you might find yourself caught short, and forced to begin again - a costly and common error.

Why is this a common solar system issue? Because in the past 10 years, over seven hundred solar companies have closed their doors

This closure of businesses has created a problem we call ‘solar orphans’ - hundreds of thousands of solar systems across the country that can no longer turn to their provider for any issues, warranties or servicing. Imagine buying yourself a fantastic new car with a 5 year warranty, but the car company closed six months later: You’re now left in the lurch, and forced to pay up for all servicing and issues that arise.

There are many reasons for businesses to close, but the rash of short lived solar companies (fondly referred to as ‘solar cowboys’) was initially due to a lack of accreditation and compliance requirements. Now, bodies like the Clean Energy Council and certain government standards minimise this risk, but can’t wipe out the “cowboys” completely.

Your solar system is more than an appliance: It’s an ecosystem designed to benefit you financially and environmentally

Due to the ‘set and forget’ nature of solar installation, it can be easy to think of your system like the purchase of a freezer or a microwave, turning you more so to bargain hunt a system that seems like the right fit for you. But like any long term fixture, you need to consider the ramifications of buying low with the expectation of a high return.

In this regard, we often see an issue with sizing, thanks to the temptation to buy a ‘standard’ out of the box solution. But what’s good for your neighbour or the factory across the road is not always necessarily good for you. Let’s go into further detail.

One size does not always fit all when it comes to high quality solar panels

For maximum return, a 6.6kW system makes much more sense than a 3.3kW system… right? Not necessarily.

If you have a solar system without a storage battery, the energy you generate during the day is available then, but not stored. This suits plenty of scenarios - especially businesses who use the dominant amount of their energy during daylight hours, and can see a huge benefit to solar in reducing their bills instantly.

But for residential solar especially, your usage may not be as simple as nine till five. For example, if your household is yourself and school aged children, you might find your daytime energy usage is actually quite low, and more dominant in the mornings and afternoons. Your ‘bargain’ investment in a lower quality but larger solar system, therefore, might not translate to the return you were expecting, simply because it is not sized to your needs.

Likewise, someone who is retired and spends much of their daytime hours in their home will greatly benefit from a solar system to reduce their bills, but may have their options limited by some providers who create an out-of-the-box solution. This could leave them lacking, with an opportunity to save even more on their bills, but stuck with a smaller system.

What do I need to focus on when it comes to choosing a solar system provider?

  • Work with a provider with history, who has a track record of support and success. If your provider has only been around for six months, how confident are you that they’ll be here for the next six, when you need them the most?

  • Ask questions, and ensure you are satisfied with the answers. You don’t need to be a solar expert to make an educated decision, but you should feel comfortable and confident with the information you are given by your provider. Solar providers should also be Clean Energy Council certified, which you can learn more about here.

  • Ensure their focus is on you and your individual needs. Especially relevant for commercial solar. Are they investigating your previous energy use and bills and future operational plans? Providing you options and able to confidently estimate your return on investment over time? Are the able to make your system make sense for your cash flow?

Choice Energy has been helping local businesses and individuals use less and pay less energy since 2013, and continues to provide service and assistance not only with solar, but a range of energy management solutions as well. We pride ourselves on our transparency and candour when it comes to providing genuine solutions that bring energy bills down, especially with high quality solar solutions. If you’re ready for a real conversation about what solar can do for your business, call us on 1300 304 448 or contact us here for your obligation free feasibility assessment.

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