Buying Tips For Residential Solar PV Systems

Making the decision to buy a solar PV system to install at your home is a rewarding and worthwhile investment. However, it can be quite daunting once you start your research and are suddenly bombarded by the solar industry lingo, competitive pricing and sometimes abrupt or aggressive advertising and sales tactics. As a solar system is a long-term investment for your property and future energy bill savings it’s important to not get pushed into the first quote you receive.

solar townhouse

Doing your research will not only help you understand what brand and providers are reliable but will give you knowledge on how a solar system works and how you can get the quickest return on investment.

Here are some buying tips to assist once you start shopping around.

Determine What Type of Residential Solar System You Need

The first thing you will need to know is what type of solar system you require or can be installed at your property. Determining this before you dive into further research will assist you greatly.  What type of solar system will be most suitable to you will be dependent on your location, energy needs, budget and the reason you’re deciding to install a solar system.

There are three main types of solar systems which have been broken down below;

Grid-connected with a standard inverter

A grid-connected solar system is a solar system that is connected to the household and the electricity grid. These types of solar systems will generate energy for your home to run but will use energy from the grid if the solar system is not generating enough energy or in the evening when solar panels are not receiving any sunlight to generate electricity.

Being connected to the grid also means when your solar system produces excess energy (which is common on a clear, sunny day) that it will be sent to the grid and you will be reimbursed in the form of a feed-in tariff which appears as a credit on your electricity bill.

Grid-connected with a hybrid inverter

Similar to the above, a grid-connected solar system with a hybrid inverter is connected to the household and the electricity grid so it can pull energy from the electricity grid if required. The difference with this solar system is the hybrid inverter which provides the ability to add battery storage to a solar system. Being able to have battery storage means when your solar system is generating excess energy during the day you can store this energy in a battery to use when your solar system is not producing any or enough energy e.g. at night.

Off-grid

An off-grid solar system is also called a stand-alone system. These types of solar systems are not connected to the grid and require battery storage. Off-grid solar systems are usually only found in rural areas that have difficulties connecting to the grid. Off-grid solar systems are substantially more expensive than grid-connected systems due to the amount of energy they need to generate and store to keep a household running without back up from the grid.

approved solar

Search For Feedback and Recommendations

Instead of being told that the most expensive solar system is the best for you by a pushy salesperson, seek out feedback and testimonials. You can find feedback about brands, installers and manufacturers online, from peers and people in your neighbourhood. This way you’ll get the full scope of people’s experiences with a solar system and possibly get some references for reliable, trustworthy installers or some tips on what size system you’ll require for your household.

Know What Rebates and Discounts You’re Entitled To

In Australia, we’re fortunate enough to have the Federal Government Solar Rebate which can discount the upfront cost a residential-sized solar system by approximately $4000 or more! To be eligible for this rebate you must install with a Clean Energy Council (CEC) accredited installer and select CEC approved products. Many installers will advertise or quote the price of a solar system inclusive of the Federal Government Solar Rebate as most Australian households are eligible for it.

There are also additional rebates in selected states throughout Australia that you can claim on top of the Federal Government Solar Rebate which can further discount the upfront cost of a solar system. Knowing which ones, you can claim before committing to a quote will ensure you choose installers and systems that meet the eligibility criteria.

Know The Different Warranties

When installing a high quality, reliable solar PV system with a reputable installer and company, it’s doubtful you will need to claim through your warranty but nevertheless errors do occur and understanding your warranties and what you are entitled to can save you not only a substantial amount of costs but headaches and time.

Typically, there are four types of warranties you should receive when installing a solar system.

Panel Product Warranty

A Panel Product Warranty is a warranty that will cover the replacement or repair of the panels should there be defects or fault causing a lack in performance or no output. A 10-year panel product warranty is pretty standard and any more than this means the manufacturer has high confidence in their product.

Panel Performance Warranty

A Panel Performance Warranty is a slightly trickier one to assess and claim under as the warranty is a pledge to the panel’s performance and production over its lifetime of 25 years. Performance warranties need to take into account the gradual decline in performance during a system’s life.  A performance warranty will state something along the lines of the panels being able to provide 90% production for 10 years and 80% for a further 15 years.

Inverter Warranty

Inverter Warranty as a standard will be 5-10 years and will cover the replacement or repair of the inverter should there be defects or fault causing a lack in performance. This can be the most important warranty due to the inverter being the most likely component of a solar system to have any issues due to the amount of work it does to convert energy.

Installation Warranty

Installation warranty conditions and time periods will vary per company so it’s important to ask your installer upfront about the conditions and the protocol for using the installation warranty. Things you’d want to be covered for are call-out fees and labour, should there be any issues with your system that require the installer to inspect, fix or replace. You will also want to be covered in case of any damage to your roof that may have occurred during the installation of the panels.

Get A Number Of Quotes To Compare

The more installers you speak to and receive quotes from, the more you be able to gauge what the standard pricing is and avoid jumping into an overpriced quote or one too good to be true. You’ll also build your knowledge on solar by asking a number of questions giving you the ability to make a well-rounded decision of quality, value and price.

Need Quotes? We can help connect you to local accredited solar suppliers who can quote you for Clean Energy Council Approved solar panels and products.

Request 3 obligation-free solar quotes to get started!

Download Your FREE Beginner’s Guide To Solar Power!

Beginners Guide to Solar Power

If you’re considering solar for your property or just looking to maximise the savings for your solar system, download a FREE copy of our "Beginner’s Guide To Solar Power".

Become an expert and better understand the ins and outs of solar power and solar PV systems for your property.

Includes detailed explanations and diagrams of the various types of solar systems and their parts, solar battery storage systems, Government incentives, expected ROI periods, finance, energy saving tips and more!

Download Your Free Copy Now!

 

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Understanding Batteries

Off-Grid Systems

For some households a battery system can be of great benefit and minimise a home’s reliance on the grid. However, it’s important to understand for a battery to be useful your solar system needs to be generating excess energy for the battery to store, which you can then use at night or when the sun is not out.

When selecting a battery, you’ll want to invest in a system that is most suited to your home and can drive the best return on investment (ROI). Despite a larger upfront cost, a higher quality battery may significantly increase your ROI.

    Battery systems start from $6,000 and costs can vary greatly based on the following factors:

  1. Cycle Life-Time

    The number of times a battery can fully charge and discharge.

  2. Battery Power (kW)

    How fast it can be charged or discharged.

  3. Storage Capacity (kWh)

    The maximum amount of energy a battery system can store.

  4. Battery Management System (BMS)

    An electronic ‘smart’ system that gathers data and manages the battery ensuring it does not overload or operate outside of its safe functioning zone..

  5. Inverter

    Battery systems require their own inverter if your solar system does not have a hybrid inverter.

  6. 'All-In-One Unit’

    A system which includes the battery, BMS and an inverter all in one unit.

  7. Warranty

    Length of time or cycles the battery system is under guarantee.

  8. Blackout Protection/Backup

    It’s important to note this is not a common feature of a battery system and could cost thousands of dollars to include. Blackout protection not only requires additional components but also a specialised installation and rewiring. For grid-connected homes, the cost for blackout protection can outweigh the benefit.

Additionally, if your purpose for adding battery is to go Off-Grid and become completely independent from the grid you will need to ensure your solar system can generate enough energy to power your home and your battery system is large enough to store this energy. For homes in metro areas going Off-grid is not cost effective and is only recommended for those in remote areas with limited access to the grid. Off-grid solar systems with battery start at approximately $30,000.