Top 6 Mistakes People Make When Buying Solar Systems

Don't get caught out paying too much for a solar system, get the right size system with the best components at the right price.

For most Australians the inner workings and technical details of how a solar power system works can seem complicated, without industry knowledge it may be difficult to determine what are the best solar brands, size and type of solar power system that suits your homes energy needs.

Below are some of the common mistakes solar buyers make:

1. Not getting multiple quotes for a solar power system

By getting numerous solar quotes, you will be able to compare the difference in price between each solar panel installer. Having more than one solar quote can be a real eye-opener as you may discover the same system component brands being offered at a much higher or lower price, if one installer provides a much cheaper system then the question is why? If your solar quote lists the brand names and specifications of the solar panels and inverters then you can search the web to find the average price of the parts and maybe read some solar customer reviews.

2. Fully understanding how solar rebates work and correctly calculating solar payback times

Many solar buyers do not fully understand how the solar rebates and feed-in tariffs will affect system payback times and monthly power bills.

A solar rebate is a federal government financial incentive designed to encourage the uptake of solar energy installations, and the feed-in tariff is a state government financial incentive that pays solar owners a tariff for the energy they produce and feed into the main power grid for other non-solar customers to use.

Some people have the idea that installing a massive solar power system means that they will never have to pay for electricity again and that they will make a healthy monthly profit form the power they sell. These days are over, and they will not return with the feed-in tariff now at 6-8c per kWh.

The death of the feed-in tariff, however, does not mean significant electricity saving cannot be gained from installing solar power, put simply if you are generating power from the sun then you are not buying it from the power company.

3. Being unaware of Australian consumer protections and laws

Be wary of solar sales people trying to mislead you with technical jargon.

Some solar installers will try to tell you that your system will need a regular yearly service to stay operational or to meet warranty requirements and that you need to pay a regular maintenance fee. This is untrue as most modern systems will only need a five-yearly service and depending on the conditions a regular cleaning of the solar panels to remove the dirt or dust.

Some solar salespersons will try to use the 25-year‘ performance warranty' in a way that fools the customer into thinking the entire system and all its components are covered for 25 years. It is easy for solar manufacturers to avoid claims on this warranty by claiming defects in the PV panels are only covered by the 'panel warranty' which is usually five years.

There are generally four separate warranties that apply to a solar power system, a ‘performance warranty’ plus more realistic warranties for the solar panels, the power inverter and for the actual quality itself such as cabling, panel mounting and so on.

Look for the following when making your decision:

  • Power inverter warranty - 10 years
  • Solar PV panels warranty - 10 years
  • System workmanship - 5 years

4. Not asking the right questions about the system components. Not knowing enough about the product

Learn about solar power, learn about how a solar power system works. If you are reading this article then you have access to the Internet, search for and read solar reviews of solar inverters and solar panels. There is a world of information out there at your fingertips.

A massive library of solar component reviews can be found here Solar Reviews -

5. Not knowing what size solar system to install

What size solar power system to install is not that hard to work out, it all comes down to a few simple factors, what are your solar goals? Do you want to go entirely off grid or stay on the network and reduce your power bill, how many people live in your home and at what time of day do you use most of your power?

Your accredited solar installer should be able to assist you with these questions. The good thing about installing solar panels is that once the system is in place you are not locked into its size, you can easily upgrade by adding more solar panels if needed.

A helpful article about solar power system sizes can be found here What Size Solar Power System -

6. Thinking that your home is not suitable for solar because of its location or roof angle

Solar panels are advancing in efficiency as time goes on and more high-tech panels come on the market. Even if you are unable to mount your solar panels in the perfect Zen position for optimal output, this does not mean they won't work at all.

In some cases depending on when you use power, you may be better off having panels facing in an easterly or westerly aspect to generate more electricity in the mornings or afternoons.