Choosing a Reliable Solar System Installer

Choosing a reliable solar installer and installation company can mean the difference between a smooth trouble-free installation or years of headaches and unanswered phone calls.

Take the time to ask a few questions before you sign on the dotted line, you won’t regret it.

IMPORTANT

Ensure your selected installer is a CEC Accredited Installer. If the system’s parts, the designer or the installer are not CEC accredited, you won’t receive the Federal Government rebate Small-Scale Technology Certificates (STCs).

What to look for in an installer

CEC ACCREDITATION

CEC accreditation means that the installer demonstrates competence in the design and installation of stand-alone and grid-connected solar PV systems. CEC accredited installers are also eligible for Government incentives and rebates, which can assist with the cost of your solar power system.

INFORMATIVE SALES PROCESS

The company and installer should be transparent about the products they install and be willing to educate you and help you choose the best solar power system to meet your needs, not just sell you the system that makes them the most money.

PROFESSIONAL DOCUMENTATION

Although this doesn’t necessarily mean that the installation will be of high quality, it means that the solar company is serious and organised, which is a good sign. You should be presented with a professional-looking quote displaying 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.

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 are 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 who will fit the replacement. If the company can’t answer this and it isn’t in their terms and conditions, walk away. Some solar installers make you have yearly checkups 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.

ADDITIONAL THINGS TO LOOK FOR

  • Australian office and local phone number in case you have any post-installation queries/issues
  • Positive reviews from previous customers
  • Offers to do a home-site visit to provide an accurate quote
  • Products and installers available are CEC accredited
  • A company that has been around for at least 3 years

What to avoid & warning signs

PUSHY SALES TACTICS

First off don’t feel pressured to sign up on the day of the quote, only dodgy companies employ this tactic. Avoid door to door salesman telling you if you don’t act now, you’ll miss out on discounts or Government incentives as it’s not the case.

ONE SIZE FITS ALL QUOTES

Every person, family and property will have different requirements when it comes to a solar power system and installation. If a company has a generic, non-tailored quote that goes out to all their customers, you are not getting an accurate quote and may be charged a completely different figure compared to what you initially intended to pay.

What is CEC Accreditation?

The Clean Energy Council (CEC) provides standards in which installers, retailers and products need to adhere to obtain accreditation. This accreditation demonstrates that the installers, retailers and products are competent and comply with regulations and standards within the industry.

There are three different types of CEC accreditation:

CEC ACCREDITED INSTALLER

The installer demonstrates competence in the design and installation of stand-alone and grid-connected solar PV systems. CEC accredited installers are also eligible for Government incentives and rebates, which can assist with the installation costs.

CEC SOLAR RETAILER CODE OF CONDUCT

Signing to the CEC Solar Retailer Code of Conduct is optional for solar providers but is becoming more common due to some States making it a requirement when participating in State-based Government rebates or incentives. Signing to the Solar Retailer Code of Conduct means the solar company follows all relevant consumer protection laws and is prepared to back the operation of your solar PV system for at least five years. The code was put in place for solar companies to show their commitment to responsible sales and marketing activities and solar industry best practice.

Some State Government incentives require you to install with a company which is a CEC Accredited Retailer & Installer however most only require the CEC Installer accreditation.

CEC ACCREDITED PRODUCTS

Approved modules and inverters that meet Australian Standards for use in the design and installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.

All Government incentives require the system to consist of CEC accredited products.

Accredited installers should always refer to the list(s) before performing an installation.

Find out more on the CEC Solar Accreditation Website.

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