Installing solar panels is the best way to get solar electricity and save money on energy bills. Better yet, they’ve become cheaper than ever. Despite this, however, solar systems are still going to cost you thousands of dollars.
So, to make sure that your hard-earned money goes to a quality investment, I’ve listed 9 questions to ask about solar panels before you make the switch.
Most of these are questions you should ask a solar installer, a solar installation company, or a salesman. But, before all that, go ahead and ask yourself the first question.
1. Why should I go solar?
From our time helping people out with their solar systems, there are 2 notable reasons for the switch: Altruistic purposes and financial stability.
Let’s quickly discuss both.
Altruistic (environmental) reasons for going solar:
Your utility company is using fossil fuels to produce electricity. As much as they’ve powered our past, they now threaten our future.
This isn’t just about carbon footprints or melting glaciers either. There’s also the declining quality of the air we breathe and the habitats we’ve wrecked.
Solar panels, on the other hand, quietly sip on sunlight, leaving no nasty aftertaste. It’s completely renewable energy, too. As long as the sun shines and your solar panels work, you’re going to have solar energy to run your home.
So, if you’re a person who wants to switch to a solar power system to help preserve Mother Nature, know that you’re taking a step in the right direction.
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Financial benefits of switching to solar:
Yes, solar panels ask for money upfront. Thousands of them, too. But, despite the high upfront costs, the money you’ll be saving over time will be tremendously higher.
How so, you ask?
Well, for one, all signs point toward the price of energy going higher. This means bigger electricity bills. If you install solar panels, you’re going to be generating your own energy, thus protecting you from the inevitable rise in the cost of electricity.
Second, even if the cost of electricity stays the same, your solar panels will likely have paid for themselves after 6 years or so — and many solar panels last way longer than that! After that payback period, all of the solar energy that your system generates will be free.
2. How much does it cost to install a solar system?
In general, the cost to install solar panels hovers around $1000 per kWh. So, if you wanted a 6 kWh system, you should expect to pay roughly 6000 AUD.
Furthermore, if you wanted your solar power system to have a battery, that would cost you another $1000 per kW of storage capacity.
These are just rough prices, though. The actual cost will depend on many things, including brands, models, installation fees, and whether or not you’re eligible for rebates.
It’s pricey, I know. But think of it like investing in an orchard instead of spending money on apples every day.
3. How long will my solar panels last?
The most important thing you should keep in mind here is that the gold standard for performance warranties of solar panels is 25 years. Anything less than this and your total savings won’t make enough sense to shell out the hefty upfront cost.
That being said, the end of your solar panels’ warranty isn’t its expiry date. They will still continue to produce solar energy for years after that.
The caveat here is that after installation, solar panels also begin their degradation process which leads to slowly declining efficiency. Moreover, high-quality brands and models will generally degrade slower than their counterparts which means they generate more solar energy throughout their life.
For example, SunPower’s Maxeon 3 has such a low degradation rate that its warranties last an industry-leading 40 years.
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4. Can you tell me the terms of both your product and performance warranties?
While we’re on the topic of warranties, there are 2 you need to be aware of:
- Product, and
- Performance (see #3)
Product warranties are insurance for the physical stuff. So, if anything is physically causing your system to malfunction, this warranty has you covered. Look for one that lasts at least 10 years.
Performance warranties are all about the amount of power your solar panels will produce at a specified time frame. As stated, 25 years is the gold standard. And, at year 25, high-quality solar panels will generally retain 85-90+% of their original efficiency.
Now, both these warranties are more than just their duration, so make sure to ask about their details. Or, better yet, read the fine print yourself. Figure out what voids them and find out how easy (or hard) their warranty claims are.
5. How do I know who to trust?
I guess this is a bit of an optional question because, obviously, whoever you’re speaking with will say “You can trust me!”
However, I believe in making them work for your trust. I don’t mean to be a fearmonger but there’s a bunch of shady people out there who only want to put your money into their pockets.
That being said, ask for quotes from multiple installers and see whose quotes give you the most value for money, who has the best customer service, and who has the best reputation.
And speaking of quotes, we have a network of pre-vetted installers all around Australia. We trust them with our own systems, so we’re sure about their skill and honesty as professionals. When you’re ready, we can get you 3 FREE quotes from them right away.
6. Are you a CEC-accredited installer?
CEC accreditation isn’t just a badge – it’s a testament. The Clean Energy Council puts these installers through training to make sure they go above and beyond Australia’s very own standards.
Not only that, you need CEC-accredited professionals to install your solar panels if you want to be eligible for rebates. They also know all about CEC-approved solar components.
So, if you want to save money while making sure that your solar system lasts as long as it should, this is the way to go.
7. Will you be here for the entire installation process?
You wouldn’t let a stranger babysit your child. Similarly, you want the folks you’ve built a rapport with to stick around until your whole solar panel setup is complete.
Because many solar companies hire subcontractors to do the installation. Then, at the very end, just have an accredited installer sign off on the installation. While this might make you eligible for rebates, your system may not have undergone extensive quality control during the installation process.
8. What kind of solar system do you have?
The solar company, installers, and salesmen who try to sell you these products should have solar systems of their own. If they don’t, I see that as a big red flag.
I mean, how are they supposed to know the real-life pros and cons of a product if they haven’t tested it out themselves?
Now, your solar system doesn’t exactly have to be like theirs. The point of this question is to test their credibility.
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9. What financing options are available to me?
If you don’t want to pay upfront, there’s always the choice to finance your solar system.
Even though you can do your own research, it’s a good idea to ask the solar company, salesman, or installer about this because they might know of an option that’s both easier and better for you.
In a nutshell, though, you have the following options:
- Personal loans
- Green loans
- Adding the cost of your solar system to your mortgage
- Solar leasing
- Power Purchase Agreements (PPA)
- Interest-free loans
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Solar energy promises a brighter, cost-effective future, but the road to this sunlit horizon isn’t without potential pitfalls. This is, after all, a major financial investment and there will always be greedy people out for our money.
But, if you ask the right questions and arm yourself with thorough research, you can protect yourself from hidden costs, substandard work, and deals that are clearly one-sided.
So, when you’re ready to take the next step, remember that we have a network of pre-vetted installers ready to give you 3 FREE solar quotes. Ask them these questions and see which of them suits you better.