After you’ve done the numbers, decided on the size of the system you’d like and on the components you’d like to make up the system, you need to make sure you’re comfortable with the people installing your system.
Choosing a good solar installation company can mean the difference between a smooth trouble free installation and years of headaches and unanswered phone calls. Take the time to ask a few questions before you sign on the dotted line and you won’t regret it.
IMPORTANT POINT: Don’t feel pressured to sign up on the day of the quote, only dodgy companies employ this tactic.
What makes a good solar installation company?
- Informative sales process – The company should be open and transparent about the products they install and about their own business. They should endeavour to educate you and help you choose the best solar system to meet your needs, not just sell you the system that makes them the most money. Don’t sign with anyone saying that you need to sign up that day, it’s most likely a con.
- Professional documentation – Although this doesn’t necessarily mean that the installation will be of high quality, it means that solar company is serious and organised, a good sign. You should be presented with a professional looking quote showing all expenses plus the spec sheets for all components making up the system. On signing up, you should be sent an invoice and instructions on what will happen next.
- Communication - There’s nothing more frustrating than calling a company and never being able to get through to them, if this is the case during the quotation process, walk away fast. If they won’t pick up the phone when you’re trying to give them money, imagine how hard they’ll be to get hold of if you have a warranty issue in the future.
- Professional installation – The installers should turn up on time and if not, call ahead to let you know. They should discuss with you the location of the solar panels and the inverter and confirm that you’re happy with this. On completion, they’ll show you their work, show you how the solar inverter works and explain what kind of production you’ll receive. The area should be left clean and tidy and all rubbish removed. Warranty and other documentation is generally sent by mail the following week.
- Who services your warranties? – This is a crucial question you need to ask your installation company. Ask who will cover the cost of shipping an inverter or panel back to the manufacturer and fitting the replacement. If the company can’t answer this and it isn’t in their terms and conditions, walk away. Some dodgy solar installers make you have a yearly check up and if you miss this just once, it voids your installation warranty and they forgo any responsibility – don’t sign with companies like this, it’s unethical and most likely against the law.
- After sales service – Does the company follow up to make sure the system is producing as they said it would? They should do this within a couple of months.
Check out the forum at http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum/143 and search for information on the company. With some notorious solar power companies, simply Googling their name returns bad comments on the first page. A little bit of homework can save you some major headaches by going with good solar installers from the start.
We’d also suggest downloading and studying the Clean Energy Council Consumer Guide for Solar PV at the link below.