27 Jun 5 Considerations When Buying Solar
Written by SolarKraft Energy Consultant – Jack Fuller.
So you’ve made the decision to go solar. That’s the easy part! Now you need to wade through the hundreds of fact sheets, buying guides and product reviews just to get your head around what the hell it is you’re doing. I’m here to make that process a little bit easier.
I think the solar purchasing process is a lot like buying a car. It’s a big purchase. You’re after safety, quality, reliability, value, and above all else, peace of mind. You want to avoid salesmen that only have the size of their bank account in mind. Thankfully, there is information out there to help you make an informed purchase. Unfortunately, the problem isn’t whether there is enough detail, it’s that there is too much. The sheer volume of data available can be overwhelming, intimidating, and often, just plain distracting.
When we’re buying a car, we don’t trawl through YouTube videos trying to work out how an engine works. Similarly, do we really need to become experts on the photovoltaic effect? I mean sure, go for it if you’re that way inclined. Most of us just want to ‘set and forget’, only reminded of the system on our quarterly bill.
Choice magazine has a comprehensive guide to all things solar if you do need that extra detail, that URL, along with some other handy links, are at the bottom of this page. With that in mind, we believe these are the fundamentals to take into consideration when purchasing solar. Then, if you feel you need to study electrochemistry, go right ahead! Get back to me with your findings.
It’s the first thing that comes to mind when we make any purchase. For solar, the cost of a system will directly affect the viability of having one installed and can be the difference between a great investment and a not-so-great investment.
I am not saying is that cheapest is best. Far from it. Paradoxically, it’s the cheapest systems that end up costing us the most. You’re installing a power plant on your roof. You don’t want to cut corners, and you don’t want to go through the rigmarole of having a sparky come and fix your wiring because the installer wanted an early finish!
That’s not to say that you need to spend tens of thousands on a system, either. We’re all different. Some of us want the basics, some of us want the bells. What we all have in common is the desire for value for money.
Take a look at the cheapest system you find, and compare it to one of average price. Ask yourself, where is the saving coming from? Is it the product? The installation? The warranty? The service? All four?
The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.
You probably have a fair idea now of the importance you should be placed on system quality. It was mentioned before, but it bears repeating: you are installing a power plant on your roof. This is more than just peace of mind. You want proven brands with solid track records. Systems backed by decent product and performance warranties. As has been mentioned, a poor quality system will end up costing you more in the long run.
Of no less importance than price and quality, and one of the most overlooked aspects of the process. When solar became the must-have product from 2008 onwards, government regulation failed to keep up with the sheer number of installations, and as a result, installers. Cowboys took advantage, ripping people off and cutting corners wherever possible. There have even been instances of companies using unskilled backpackers to install systems! That’s rare these days, but it pays to be diligent.
You need to find an installer that trusts their staff enough to warrant their work. Once again, this is a point where your gut instinct says a lot. If you’re talking to a business that barely has a Facebook page let alone a website, and is offering a 25-year manufacturing warranty, will they be around in 10 years if you have an issue? It’s probably too good to be true. Often those offering the cheapest systems are the ones to go under suddenly. Even larger companies like EuroSolar, who recently received a winding up order by the ATO, aren’t immune5.
So before you get too deep, research the business. What’s the company’s rating on SOLARTRUST? Are they a member of the Clean Energy Council? Will they care about the results I’m getting after install? These are important criteria that you should be checking before you even bother with a consultation. High-pressure salespeople are from a bygone era. Treat them that way.
You wouldn’t buy a brand new car without a warranty, so why should solar be any different? When you’re investing in a PV system, you need the piece of mind that its performance will deliver the returns you need. Most brands back themselves with a 20+ year performance warranty, but what about the installer? What do they have on the line? For example, SolarKraft has an in-house installation team, so we can carefully monitor the quality of our installations. We back our expertise with a 10-year workmanship warranty.
CASH OR FINANCE?
You’re almost there! You’ve found a quality system, from a reputable installer, at the right price. Now comes the all important question – how do I pay?
If you ask your financial planner, he may not necessarily say ‘cash’. If you want the best financial outcome, why not look at putting it towards your home loan? Knocking off a big chunk now can save you a LOT in the future.
Or, if you work to live and money is a vehicle to create experiences, why not take your loved ones on a well-earned holiday? In ten years, you’ll probably remember the trip to Fiji with fonder memories than the day you installed solar. And we love solar.
The final decision rests with you, but don’t instantly think that cash is your best bet. If you can secure a payment plan that doesn’t charge interest or hit you with outrageous fees, you may find that your cash is best left in your hands.
So that’s it! As a company that believes in renewable energy as our future, our goal is to one day see solar panels on every street. Whether the purchase is made through SolarKraft, or through somebody else, we want that process to be as smooth as possible. After all, solar is part of a movement that our kids depend on.
Hopefully, this guide will get you on your way, but if you have any questions, please get in contact with one of our friendly staff on 1300 985 363. Good luck!