Our Top Ten Tips when Choosing a Solar Installer – Avoiding the Pitfalls

At Central West Solar, our philosophy of solar partnership means we give you a complete Solar Solution and not just an installation, this includes arming you with the right questions to be asking when comparing offers. To help you, grab a cup of tea and take a look at the following guide. Solar is a long-term investment, so getting it right the 1st time is an important decision for you and your family.


Are you accredited and experienced?

Ask for the Installers accreditation number, ask how many installations they have done, how long they have been in business and how long have they been installing. Sometimes long-term businesses set up a solar section in an established business, just because they have been around a while doesn’t mean they are experienced in Solar.
Central West Solar accreditation number: A6229599, designed and installed over 700 systems since 2007


Have you installed in our area before?

Local knowledge means a better quality installation and follow up service. A local company will know what to expect in climate, environment and local energy use patterns. Be wary of companies just passing through looking for the next quick sale. We focus completely on the Central West / Tablelands, it is not possible to offer adequate after-sales service to someone who cannot be easily reached).


What products do you use and are they supported in Australia?

Important when considering warranties and service, buying from reputable distribution companies in Australia may add to the cost but it also means your investment is protected under Australian Consumer Law. It is always easier to claim on warranties and after install service when dealing with your local supplier. Over the years we have used several brands of solar panels and inverters, all considered to be premium choices, currently, we prefer to use Winaico solar Panels and SMA, Fronius or Enphase Inverters. All of our Balance of System products are also sourced locally including German made Isolation Switches


How are my system needs assessed?

A well-performing system is designed and sized to meet your needs and installed with consideration of the site, roof space and orientation. A consultant will conduct an on-site inspection and review your bills preferably for the last 12 months, discuss your lifestyle and expectations with you before deciding on the size and type of system you need. They should advise you of options available and help you understand the total lifespan of your system and what you will need to consider today and into the future.


There seems to be a lot of cheap products available – How much should I expect to pay?

Paying substantially less than other quotes may not mean you are getting the best deal, be wary of poor quality equipment and also of poor quality installation work, it is important to compare the components, the warranties and look at the company undertaking the actual installation, sometimes who you buy from is not who will be on your roof. Quite often you may be offered a ‘Package Deal’ but sometimes you need to look at panels and inverters carefully and select the products best suited to your situation – not a one size fits all ‘Deal’.


How much should I expect to save? How do I know what to expect?

In assessing your system size your consultant should be looking at your current energy usage, review the historical solar data for your location and provide you with an estimation of savings based on your own personal situation. Solar is an investment and it needs to save you money if it is going to pay you back for the purchase. A well designed and specified solar power system should save you approximately 60% -80% of your daytime energy consumption. With the current STC incentive, this should equate to a system payback of between 3-5 years.


Who will be installing my system?

Many companies subcontract the work to an unrelated company. It is important to know who that will be, what is their experience in solar and how will you be able to follow up with them if something goes wrong. What assurances does the company you purchase from provide in relation to the work being done on the roof of your home? I will be personally supervising and or installing your system. Our workmanship is covered by a statutory warranty of 2 years. Components are covered separately by their manufacturer’s warranty


Will my system need maintenance? If so, who will be doing it?

Australian Standards recommend annual maintenance to keep your system performing safely and efficiently. Some component manufacturers will ask you about maintenance and service history if you do need to make a claim on your warranty. The company you are purchasing from should let you know what their maintenance options are and how they intend to help you care for the system you purchased. We will supply a suggested maintenance timetable upon completion. Maintenance of system is minimal and is generally of the preventative type.


Can my system be upgraded?

The solar industry is growing day by day, technologies are advancing and like anything else new options are opening up all the time. Be sure your solar company has taken your future needs into account – have you discussed the potential for storage options in the future? What happens if your energy needs grow and you need a bigger system? Checking into this now will make sure you have a long-term energy plan in focus before you start. Through ongoing training, we have stayed in touch with the latest developments in technology and installation techniques, giving you the best chance to upgrade your system when required


Are there government incentives available? How do they work?

At the moment there are certainly options for reducing the cost for your system through the Small Scale Technology scheme, STC’s. Your installer should explain these to you carefully; they should be clearly noted on your quote so you can see how they are applied and what it means to you in terms of costs. Be wary of anyone who tries to pressure you to sign a contract by saying ‘the STC’s are about to disappear’ – always check the facts!!

Product in Focus

Over the years we have used many premium components for the makeup of our systems. We believe there is not a  one size fits all solution and we prefer to tailor the system components to suit the customer’s requirements.