Solar Power Consumer Guide
Solaray has an extensive track record of supplying and installing quality Solar Systems, whilst providing the best customer service levels available in the industry today.
Our products are selected to provide the best combination of efficiency, performance and value for money. This, together with our customer service approach and rigorous installation standards, means you can be assured that a Solaray System represents the best available and cost effective solution on the market.
We have compiled this list of FAQ's to answer specific questions, as well as to help you browse various topics to deepen your understanding of the technology involved, the solar industry in general and why it is so important to use a reputable solar installer such as Solaray.
How Does Solar Power Work in NSW?
A solar system produces clean energy from the sun to help you save money from your power bill and reduce your carbon footprint. Solar power is fed into your home to power everything that is connected to mains power.
If you don't use the solar power as it is generated, it is automatically fed out to the grid and you may be paid a feed in tariff by your energy retailer (this is generally around 7 cents to 10 cents and is paid as a credit on your power bill). If you are using more power than the solar system is generating you will automatically buy power from the grid at your contracted rates. This is known as a Nett system.
To get the most benefit from solar power, you should use most or all of the solar power at the time it is generated. To do this requires some analysis of your current and future usage patterns - as well as preferably some knowledge about how solar power works. A qualified consultant can usually assist with this.
Will solar power work for my home?
We hope so! When you call our Solar Experts, they have access to detailed aerial photos on the computer to help accurately measure how many solar panels will fit on your roof. A site visit may also be required to confirm the measurements.
We can help you clarify your roof's orientation and any shading issues. If your roof looks suitable for solar we can then book a free site inspection for you to help answer all of your questions and provide a detailed quotation for the installation of a grid connected solar system.
Are there government rebates currently available in NSW?
Rebates are available to qualifying residential and commercial premises in Australia that install Solar Panels and other Renewable Energy Systems.
These rebates can mean significant reductions in the cost of Solar Systems -and have been designed to encourage Australia’s use of renewable energy.
The rebate program – which is part of Australia’s Renewable Energy Target – means that when you install a Solar System, a number of Renewable Energy Certificates are created. These Certificates (referred to as STC’s – or Small scale Technology Certificates) are then purchased by Energy Companies as part of their Renewable Energy commitments.
The value of these Certificates can vary and can either be deducted from the price of your system or sold via the Clean Energy Regulator’s certificate Clearing House system.
There are also several additional incentives and grants available for commercial systems. One of our commercial consultants would be happy to discuss these with you.Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs)
Small-scale Technology Certificates (STC’s) – previously known as Renewable Energy Certificates or RECS – are created when a Renewable Energy System such as a Solar PV system is installed.
The number of STC’s depends on the size of the system and therefore the amount of energy generated. In essence, one STC is created for every megawatt hour of production capability of the system. In simplistic terms, a 2kW solar system would be expected to generate between 2.4MW and 2.9 MW per year depending on location.
This is further multiplied by the number of years the system is likely to generate energy (for home solar systems, this is usually 15 years, although the life of the solar panels themselves is considerably more than that).
There are currently great rebates available on all of our solar systems. The larger your system the greater the rebate!
System Output - STC's - Rebate*2kW - 41 - $1,435
3kW - 62 - $2,170
5kW - 103 - $3,605
* Based on an STC price of $35. Real savings are currently even higher!What does this mean for me?
When we install a system, we normally reduce the purchase price by the value of the STCs created by your system. There is no additional paperwork, and you receive the value of the STCs at the current market price.STC PRICE:
The system for trading and pricing STCs for small systems is managed by the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES). STCs are bought by Liable Parties (eg. electricity retailers) and must be surrendered at the end of each quarter. As the number of STCs that are required to be surrendered is a fixed amount each year, but the number of STCs created is variable, the price paid for STCs also varies and is determined by supply and demand.
The Federal Government legislated in 2010 a fixed price for STCs by implementing a Clearing House system where STCs can be bought and sold for $40. However, there is no requirement for Liable Parties to purchase from the Clearing House, so they are likely to only do so if there is a shortage of STCs or the market price exceeds $40.
There is currently a surplus of STCs in the market which means the market price of STC’s is below $40. However, as the price of solar systems has literally halved over the past 18 months or so, this means that the reduction in STC value has been more than absorbed by the decrease in panel costs.Do I need to know all of this?
No, we make it simple for our customers by offering a number of easy options for obtaining cost reductions with STC’s, including deducting the value of the STC’s from the purchase price or arranging with you to put them in the Clearing House System. We would be happy to discuss these with you based on your own requirements.
But I heard that the rebates have finished?
Many households in NSW are on the old Solar Bonus Scheme that is now closed to new applications. On this scheme households were paid a high feed in tariff for the energy they supplied to the grid- up to 60 cents a kW/h. This scheme was designed to increase demand in the solar market to bring down the price of a solar system, and it was extremely successful in doing this.
Although the Solar Bonus Scheme doesn't apply to new purchasers, this is more than made up for by the massive reduction in solar prices since it was in place - in other words, you can in many cases be even better off buying solar today than under the old scheme.
Does Solar power work on cloudy days?
A solar system does not only work at maximum capacity. In low light conditions such as early in the morning or when it is overcast, solar panels will still convert light into power for your home, just at a reduced rate.
For example a 4kW system may only be outputting 2kWs of power on a cloudy day. There is a point where the energy produced is no longer strong enough to power the inverter and the system will turn off. This happens every evening and perhaps during an especially dark storm.
What is a kilowatt hour (kW/h)?
This is a unit for measuring energy and it is how your energy retailer bills you. A kW/h is one kilowatt of power measured or used over an hour. For example, if you have an air conditioner that uses 3kW of power, it will use 3kW/h of power every hour. If you are billed 25 cents per kW/h by your energy retail, it will cost you 75 cents every hour to run the air conditioner.
Similarly a 2kW solar system will generate 2kW/h of power for every hour that it is outputting power at full capacity. If on a sunny day in summer it works at full capacity for 4 hours and you use all of this power in the home, you will save $2.00 off your power bill (2kW x 4 hours x 25 cents).
How much power will my solar system generate?
This depends on a number of factors including your roof orientation, the angle of the panels, the weather, the seasons and the size of your system. Because of this we only use averages as well as guidelines from the clean energy council.
The Clean Energy Council advise that in Sydney a solar system should on average output 3.9 kWh of energy per day for every kW of solar installed,, taking into account the seasons and the weather. On any given day this figure could be extremely different.
To simplify this further, a 2kW system should output 7.8kWh per day and a 10kW system 39kWh per day Using this figure, a simple yet effective way to estimate the output of a solar system that is installed is to multiply the system size by 4 (or 3.9 to be exact). For example a 2kW system will generate approximately 7.8kW/h of power on an average day.
As with most products, our experience is that higher quality products in many cases achieve results above the expected averages.
What size system do I need for my house?
The right size solar system depends on what you want your system to do. For many people it is about making sure it pays for itself in as little time as possible,, for others it is to reduce their power bill by the greatest amount or reduce their carbon footprint and do their bit for the environment.
Paying back your investment as quickly as possible requires sizing up a system to match your daytime energy usage. In a perfect situation, you would use all of the solar power that is generated and have the solar panels facing north or (north-west to maximise your savings during the peak time of use billing period- see below for more info). For example, if you install a 5kW system for $6,200 and it generates 7118kW/h over one year, if you save an average of 30 cents a kW you would save $2,135 every year. This would result in a return on your investment of only 2.9 years! In reality it is difficult to use 100% of the power a solar system generates, however if the system is sized correctly you should be able to get close to 80% and higher.
Minimising your power bill is easy, simply buy the largest solar system you can afford and/or fit on your roof. As mentioned above, there is a good fit for everyone but there is no harm in getting a system that is a little bigger. This can allow for future increases in power usage if you are planning on buying a pool, spa, air conditioner or some other large user of power, and don't forget the kids! For some reason teenagers seem to find it difficult to shower without the heat lamps on, and then there is the hair dryer...
The reason returns diminish when you have a larger system is that instead of saving money from your bill by using the solar power rather than buying power from the grid (eg. contracted rate of 25 cents per kW), you are selling solar power to the grid at your contracted feed in tariff rate (eg. 7 cents to 10 cents per kW/h).
If you are environmentally motivated, your roof space and budget are all that are stopping you! The bigger the solar system the better, as you are reducing your reliance on polluting industries such as coal and gas and helping to produce clean, renewable energy. Buying a solar system is one of the biggest steps you can take as an individual and a household to help build the renewable energy sector and reduce our reliance on old and polluting technology. There are now over 1,000,000 solar systems in Australia, and as this number continues to grow our voice becomes louder- governments are starting to listen!
What direction should my solar panels face?
Solar panels will generate the most energy over the course of a year when they are facing north. This is especially important in winter when the sun is lower in the northern sky. A Solaray consultant can visit your home and, using specially designed software, demonstrate the sun and/or shade that your particular roof will have in winter, summer and at any time during the year.
If you house has a north- south roof line, we can install panels on either the eastern or western roof depending on what time of the day you use the most power. For many families they will use more power in the afternoon when the kids are home from school and the air conditioner and pool pump are running. If this is the case we would install your solar panels on the western roof.
The other point that can influence this decision is time of use pricing. Please see the question about your new digital meter for more detail.
It is important to understand that panels installed on a roof facing south of either east or west will generate significantly less power than a solar system facing north, and may not even turn on during winter. In almost all cases, we would advise against using any south facing roof as it is not only against industry best practice, but also as your financial benefits may be below an acceptable level.
Do I need a new digital meter?
Yes! All solar systems require the replacement of your meter to a new digital meter that can monitor how much power you are sending to the grid as well as how much power you are buying from your energy retailer. If you have a digital meter you will still need to get it replaced as it will not have the correct programming in it, unless you or your builder have specifically installed a digital meter that can measure solar meter. This is rare for houses that have not had a recent renovation.
Because all installations require a new meter we include this service in our price. If you want to have the meter installed by your own ASP we can reduce our quote by $250.
Does having a digital meter mean I will pay more for my power?
Your new energy tariffs will then depend on which energy distribution area your house is in. If you are in the Endeavour Energy distribution area- your regulated energy tariffs should not change when you go solar.
In the Ausgrid distribution area , having a new digital meter will result in you being charged time of use pricing. This is a great opportunity to further reduce your energy bill but you will need to manage your power usage to ensure you maximise the potential benefits.
Energy prices in shoulder and off peak periods are much cheaper than a flat rate tariff. The peak billing period is between 2pm to 8pm on weekdays only, which means you will pay less for your power 82% of the time. According to Ausgrid, an average Sydney household only uses 22% of their power during the peak period, when power prices are approximately 50 cents per kW/h.
If you have a roof facing between north and west, you can take advantage of time of use pricing to further minimise the amount of power you use during the peak period. This results in both free solar power in the afternoon and low tariffs in the morning until 2pm and after 8pm.
Please note that the actual tariffs you pay depend on which retailer you choose and the available packages.
If you have any questions about this please call us now on 1300 221 586.
I have heard that solar technology is progressing rapidly. When should I look at getting a solar system installed?
Now is the best time to buy a solar power system in NSW due to generous government rebates and a high Australian dollar. It is important to remember that no matter how efficient panels become in the future, a 3kW solar system is always going to output 3kWs. A common mistake consumers make is to equate a panel's efficiency with its output. A high efficiency 250W panel produces exactly the same power as a low efficiency panel, it just does so using a smaller surface area. Unless you are hindered by a small roof and you are looking to install a commercial size solar system (over 30kWs or so), efficiency is largely irrelevant.
You would be much better off buying a 3kW system with today's 250W panels compared to waiting 5 years to buy a 3kW system with 320W panels because you can take advantage of the great government rebates currently available, plus you have had lower power bills in the meantime!
Solar power prices have been dropping for many years, however we are approaching a limit to this price drop due to the fixed costs of installing a system such as the installation, cabling and mounting kit.
Do you offer payment options?
Yes, we offer a number of great options depending on what you are more comfortable with.
We offer an interest free payment plan for all of our systems using Certegy Ezi-Pay. The minimum deposit is 10%, however you can put down more if you want to reduce your repayments and payments are made fortnightly. All you need to apply is an Australian drivers licence and over 96% of applicants are approved instantly. As always conditions apply so please call us for a quote and for the terms and conditions.
A solar system from Solaray qualifies for a low interest Green Loan- available from local credit unions. The interest rate can be as low as your home loan. We are not able to offer financial advice, however many of our customers are now taking advantage of this offer to finance their solar system. We are happy to make an introduction to the appropriate credit union as a Solaray customer.
If you are looking to pay for your system in full, we require a deposit (usually $500 on a standard system) and the balance on the day of installation once the solar system is fully installed. Speak to our staff today about our great discounts available if you are looking to pay for your system up front. And yes, this discount is available if you organise your own finance through a green loan!
What maintenance does a solar system require?
Very little. Solar panels are passive, however they can collect dust, bird poo and other particles that will build up over time. Luckily the rain will normally wash all of this off. If there is a period of many moths without rain, by all means safely wash your solar panels by spraying them with a hose (whilst standing safely on the ground), but we don't recommend that you go up onto your roof and wash them by hand. It is not worth your time and of course it can be dangerous. If you get up onto your roof to clean the gutters then spraying your panels could be a good idea if you are able to do it safely.
We have heard of other companies charging yearly service fees to maintain your system, but why pay for something you don't need? If you want us to come and check your system, we are available 6 days a week and we don't charge for a standard service or warranty call.
What happens if there is a blackout?
For safety reasons your solar system switches off in a blackout. It should automatically turn on again once the power is restored. If it doesn't please call us on (02) 8090 4399 and ask to speak with one of our support staff. We can help you switch your system on again or book a service check for you to make sure everything is ok.
Do you sell battery systems so that I can go off the grid?
Yes - but for most residential customers, the technology is too expensive to make them worthwhile buying. However it shouldn't be more than a few years before we see battery backup systems become mainstream. This is really exciting because it has the potential to revolutionise Australia's energy market as micro grids become a possibility and many households may be able to go off grid and say goodbye to their power bills. It may also change lives, communities and whole countries, especially in the developing world.
Current battery technology for solar systems include wet cells such as the ones used in golf carts and gel cell batteries. These batteries require stable temperatures, ventilation and mounting racks; making it impractical for most households. Liquid batteries require weekly monitoring, periodic maintenance and refilling every year, so drainage and safety procedures are also important. It is the type of setup you would have in a rural shed, away from the house, and only when you absolutely need it.
Recent progress in Lithium batteries looks promising, as do systems such as BlueGen that use gas and ceramic tiles to produce power and hot water. The race is on to capture the lucrative market to help households store the power from their solar systems, but for now, we must wait.
Naturally, it will be possible to install a battery system later that works with your current solar PV system.
I already have a solar system. Can I install more panels?
If you are on the old Solar Bonus Scheme you cannot add panels to your existing system without loosing your great feed in tariff. You are permitted to install a second system alongside your existing system and you are entitled to the current government rebates as long as you qualify. You are able to install up to a total of 5kWs on the one phase. The rules relating to this have recently changed to what is outlined above, so for accurate advice please call our technical team for further information on 1300 221 586.
I have 3 phase power. Do I need a 3 phase inverter?
Not always. A three phase inverter directs power across all 3 phases evenly, however you can also have a standard inverter and not adversely affect your returns because your new digital meter will usually reconcile the power across all three phases in 15 minute increments.
Whether or not you need a 3 Phase Inverter really depends on the size of your system, your load and usage profile and future plans so please contact our solar staff so that we can assess what you have in your home and then provide you with the right information.
How do solar panels work?
A solar power system converts sunlight into power that can be used in the home. Photons in sunlight hit the solar panel and are absorbed by semiconducting materials, such as silicon.
Electrons (negatively charged) are knocked loose from their atoms, causing an electric potential difference. Current starts flowing through the material to cancel the potential and this electricity is captured. Due to the special composition of solar cells, the electrons are only allowed to move in a single direction. An array of solar cells converts solar energy into a usable amount of direct current (DC) electricity.
What is the difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline (multi crystalline) Panels?
Monocrystalline solar panels are flat at a microscopic level, which means that they work better than pollycrystalline panels in good conditions such as in the laboratory, the desert and in direct sunlight.
Pollycrystalline solar panels are more like cones or pyramids at a microscopic level so they work better in low light environments such as early morning and late afternoon. This means that a polycrystalline solar system will turn on earlier in the morning and turn off later in the day, however a monocrystalline panel will outperform the former during the day, especially if the sun is shining.
It is important to stress how little this debate matters for a residential solar system. It is an issue that is more relevant for solar farms and larger commercial jobs where a tiny increase in output per panel results in higher returns. Almost every other aspect of a solar installation such as the orientation of your roof, the angle of the panels, shading and the quality of the components has a greater impact in terms of potential returns on your investment.
All the panels look the same and everyone is saying their panels are the best! How can I tell the brands apart, and what should I be looking for?
The Solar Panels are the heart of any solar system. Whilst there are literally thousands of brands of solar panels on the market, Solaray only selects preferred suppliers that meet our strict standards. The supplier must:
- Manufacture their own products in their own factories
- Have a local office in Australia to provide warranty and other support
- Conduct Research and Development and show a level of technology leadership
- Have been manufacturing and supplying solar panels for at least 10 years
- Have the financial and market strength to be able to honour the long term warranty
- Have commercial scale and solar farm reference sites
As with most industries that have grown rapidly in the past (such as televisions, computers, cars etc), we are starting to see a growing consolidation in the number of manufacturers and it is likely that within the next few years, we will see the industry dominated by the top handful of suppliers. For this reason alone, it is worth selecting panels from any one of the world's leading brands rather than the smaller or newer ones.
What is the warranty and who holds it?
All of our solar panels come with a 25 year linear power output warranty and 10 year workmanship/manufacturing warranty. The ultimate responsibility for the warranty is held by the manufacturer as well as the importer (if they are not the same), which is why we only sell brands with an Australian office. In the rare event that you have a warranty claim, Solaray will, of course, be your point of contact and arrange with the manufacturer the repair or replacement of any faulty product.
Do you sell any Australian Made solar panels?
No. As far as we (and The Business Spectator) understand, Tindo is currently the only Australian manufacturer of solar panels, and anything else you hear is misleading marketing at best. Australian quality, made for Australian conditions etc. are taglines used for marketing, some of which have been deemed illegal by the ACCC. If you have anyone try to sell you panels under the guise that they are Australian Made please ask for clarification and if necessary report the issue to the relevant authority- we take it that seriously.
Unfortunately global market conditions have made it difficult for an Australian company to compete in this extremely competitive market. For more information click here:
Do you sell any German Made solar panels?
Yes, there are a handful of genuine German manufacturers that make their panels in Germany and we have strong relationships with Bosch, Q Cells and SolarWorld. All of these companies meet our stringent quality measures, all at very competitive prices.
The companies we are aware of that are currently manufacturing solar panels in Germany are:
- First Solar (Mainly USA but they also have production lines in Germany and Malaysia)
- SolarWorld (As well as the USA)
If you have received a quote for a panel not on this list that is claiming a relationship to Germany, or even Europe please read between the lines! German quality, German designed etc. are tag lines we see used continuously in product marketing, some of which have been deemed illegal by the ACCC. A quick look on the manufacturer's website is a good idea, and price is often a great indication of what you are buying. Please don't think you are buying top of the range German Made solar panels if they are significantly cheaper than all of your other quotes.
I have a quote for Trina Solar panels that is significantly cheaper than the others. Do I need to look out for Grey Market panels?
Assuming all else is equal, large solar manufacturers such as Trina Solar and Jinko have a wide range of panels at different price points. For example the Trina Honey 250W module is significantly more expensive to buy wholesale than many of their other panels, and we would argue that this has everything to do with quality. It is for this reason that we only sell the 250W Honey module.
A troubling occurrence is that there have been reported instances of some installers selling grey market solar panels, which means that they have obtained the panels at a discounted rate from 'other supply channels' or unrecognised suppliers. In this case the manufacturer may not honour the warranty if you were to make a claim. Make sure you check the serial numbers on the panels with Trina Australia on the day of installation if you think something is not quite right.
Does panel substitution during installation really happen?
Unfortunately it appears that it does.. It is wise to physically check the panels as they are going up onto your roof to make sure you are getting what you paid for - as it can be very difficult to check once they are installed. If they are not what you were expecting, you should stop the installation until the issue is sorted out. We have heard of some installers claiming it was an admin error, but in our experience 'mistakes' like this generally don't happen by accident. If they can't offer a reasonable excuse you should cancel your contract and report the company to the authorities. We don't stand for such unethical behaviour.
Another little trick we have seen in our time are 'product shortages'. If you accept a quote for genuine products that was significantly cheaper than the others, you may get a phone call after you have paid your deposit from someone apologising for a sudden shortage of stock. They will then either delay your installation (indefinitely) or try to swap products on you, sometimes offering you a discount depending on how much of a fuss you make. Of course there can be genuine product shortages from time to time, but our advice is to treat this type of behaviour as extremely suspicious, and do some serious research on what they are offering you as a replacement. If they are having issues with stock, the replacement should be at least equal or better than their original offering to make up for the inconvenience they have caused you.
What is an inverter?
A solar power inverter converts D.C. power from the panels to 240V A.C. power that is used in the home. It is the working part of the system and it is imperative that you buy a good quality product. The inverter also monitors the performance of the solar system, and this is displayed either on a little LCD screen or via Bluetooth to your computer.
Why is it so important to buy a good quality inverter?
The inverter is the working part of the solar system and the way it performs ultimately determines how well your entire system performs. Despite the brochures, there are often significant differences in efficiency and performance between similarly rated inverters, so it is worth buying a quality products.
The inverter is also the component most likely to fail. Unfortunately, some Chinese inverters have been proven to be inferior to the main brands and we have now replaced many cheap and broken inverters for customers who cannot contact their installer and have discovered the manufacturer/importer is unable or unwilling to honour their warranty.
We strongly recommend buying a solar inverter from a European manufacturer such as SMA or Power One Aurora, and that there are only a handful of brands besides these two that you should even consider. For example we proudly stand behind the German manufacturer Delta who offer a 10 year warranty as standard and have proven support and service..
What is a duel tracker inverter?
A dual tracker inverter allows for two strings of solar panels that can operate independently. For example, you may have split your solar panels to face two different directions, or you may have one string of panels on a flat roof and the other on a pitched roof, resulting in different outputs from the two strings.
Do you sell micro inverters?
Yes, at the moment around 5% of our customers go with this new technology and this is about average for the Australian residential solar market. As the name suggests, a micro inverter is a small inverter that is attached to each individual panel so that the panels are not installed in strings. This allows for greater flexibility as you can have solar panels facing different directions without having to worry about the capabilities of your inverter or a minimum number of panels per string.
It also allows for increased feedback from your monitoring device as you can monitor the output of each individual panel to ensure it is functioning as it should.
Because this technology is still comparatively new, we are very selective with the types and brands of mirco-inverters we supply. As there is a price difference between string and micro-inverters, we will discuss with you how to determine whether they will represent value for money for your property.
For more information about micro inverters please contact our Solar Team on 1300 221 586.
Is it difficult to go solar?
We make going solar one of the easiest decisions you can make to help reduce your power bill and your carbon footprint. We take care of all the paperwork, including your grid connect application, claiming your rebate and arranging your installation. All you have to do is give us the go-ahead and we will do the rest.
How much roof space do I need?
Most solar panels are all approximately 1.7 meters high by 1 meter wide. If you have a flat roof please allow a minimum of 2 meters per row to allow for additional shading from the panels after they are tilted. As today's solar panels are about 250Ws or higher, you should allow 4 panels per kW. For example a 4kW system can be installed in 2 rows of 8 panels, allowing 1.7 meters for each row plus a little buffer, and 8 meters long. The panels in a row sit flush and they are just under a meter wide, so allowing one meter per panel works out to be quite accurate.
Our Solar Experts have the ability to draw proposed panel diagrams on the computer such as the one below. Because we use aerial maps that do not take into account the pitch of your roof, our estimates are not exact to the centimetre, but we can get pretty close! If it looks like a tight fit we will send an installer out before the installation day to confirm everything for you.
Once I sign the paperwork, what happens next and what is the lead time for my installation?
Once you sign up for a Solaray Installation, we immediately submit your grid application to the relevant energy distributor. For systems up to 5kWs this is a formality, for larger systems it can take a few days or more. Once we receive approval, your installation will be managed by our installation coordinator, who will welcome you to Solaray and book an installation date for you. This is generally booked Monday to Friday, weather permitting.
We endeavour to have your system installed within 2-4 weeks unless you request us to hold for whatever reason. Due to our strict safety policy, we do not install solar systems when it rains. In the event of inclement weather we will rebook your installation as soon as possible, and this may have a knock-on effect for other installation Because of this we appreciate it if you nominate days that suit you best as well as days when you are not available. We always work with your requests as we strongly recommend that someone to be home on the day of installation.
What happens on the day of installation?
You will receive a confirmation of the installation in the day or two prior to the planned day.
The installers will arrive on site and meet with you to discuss the insallation, confirm their plans (eg panel and inverter location, conduit paths etc) are all in line with your expectations, and answer any other questions you may have.
They will install the panels on the roof, run cabling to the inverter, mount the inverter on the wall and connect it to your meter box. They will also install isolation switches on the roof, next to the inverter and in your meter box.
Finally, they will test the system, demonstrate it to you and check everything is to your satisfaction. You will be asked to sign some paperwork to do with the system and the STC (rebate) application.
Sometime soon after the installation (usually about 3 to 10 days later), another electrician will replace your meter with the new digital meter.
Why Choose a Solaray Installation?
Installing any product on your roof is a job that needs to be treated with care. At Solaray, we pride ourselves on the quality of installation and workmanship. The quality of the installation can potentially determine both the performance and the longevity of your system. We apply years of project and implementation experience to our installation process and we are proud to set the standard for the industry for quality installations.
All Solaray installations include:
- installers are trained and supervised by our Operations Team to rigorous standards
- installers are Clean Energy Council Accredited
- installers have a track record of quality installations
- we do not contract installations to unknown or 'cheap' contractors
- installers are given enough time to complete every job properly
- all installations are planned using our industry leading project management methodology
- customers are kept up to date and informed at every step of the process
- we pride ourselves on rarely if ever needing to go back to a job to fix problems
Should you decide to go ahead, we will lodge an application with your electricity distributor for the connection of your new system to the electricity grid. We then plan an installation date with you for once the connection is approved. Our customer service team will keep you up to date as to the progress with your application and the installation day. On the day of installation, our team will arrive and install the system. This usually takes around 5 to 8 hours depending on size and complexity. Once installed, we demonstrate the system to you and arrange for the connection to the electricity grid (and the installation of a new solar meter). Naturally, our teams always clean up after themselves and are available to answer any questions you may have. Finally, we take care of any paperwork required to benefit from any rebates and bonuses.
Do I need to tell council?
In NSW, there is an exemption in place for solar PV systems less than 10kw as long as they do not alter the roof line and are not on a Heritage listed building or in a Heritage area.
You should check with your local Council as we cannot be responsible for the local rules in your area, however, it is extremely rare for a residential system to need Council Approval.
Do I need to tell my neighbours?
No, you do not need permission from your neighbours if you don't need Council Approval. Nonetheless, it may be worth asking them if they plan to add an additional storey to their house anytime in the future if that would result in the shading of your system.
What happens if my roof is damaged during the installation of the solar system?
We will repair any damage we do in the installation of your system, However, if you have roof tiles that are very old, it is likely that some of these will be damaged in the installation and we ask that you provide us with spare tiles if necessary. If you are concerned about the age of your roof, please discuss this with us first.
How does the mounting system work?
We have custom mounting kits depending on your roof.
For tile roofs we use brackets that fit between the rows of tiles and mount firmly onto the frame of your roof. We do not need to break or remove any tiles.
For Colourbond roofing we take out the existing screws and replace them with strong and stainless screws to ensure that the system is firmly mounted to the frame of your roof. Normally we only make one penetration through the roofing to run the D.C. cable, and this is fully waterproof- guaranteed.
For Kliplok we generally do not penetrate the tin because doing so voids your warranty. Because of this we use special clips that grip the ridge of the Kliplok to hold the panels firmly in place.
We then mount 2 rails per row of panels and then the panels are mounted to the rails. This results in the panels sitting slightly off your roof.
For more information please contact our Solar Team on 1300 221 586 or visit our website for a number of installation photos.
What angle do you tilt panels to on a flat roof?
Our main concern when our installers answer this question is your roof's exposure to strong winds. Wind can create a vortex as it travels over tilted panels and it can literally pull the roof off your house, using the same force that allows QF1 to take off from Sydney Airport. Because of this we generally tilt panels between 5 to 10 degrees, and we are happy to talk extensively about this issue because it is different for everyone and we are willing to listen to your point of view before making our recommendations.
I've heard solar systems are serious fire risk?
Not if the installation is done correctly and you use good quality panels.
The solar industry is heavily regulated, and installers that are members of the Clean Energy Council have strict rules by which they must adhere to. This includes precautions relating to safety switches and wiring. It is critical that the wiring is installed to the highest standards as when dealing with electricity safety is paramount.
As with any industry, no matter how heavily regulated, it is important you choose a reputable supplier and installer.
A Lateline report back in 2010 stated that "Up to 2000 Australian Homes might be at risk from poorly installed solar systems". Considering that over one million solar systems have been installed across Australia, this risk is very small and it is directly related to dodgy jobs done by unlicensed installers and cheap components, in particular the wiring as well as solar panels that do not meet international standards.
Please be careful of salesmen who are trying to sell door to door.
We do not have an issue with this practice in theory, however often the salesperson will be on a commission only payment arrangement and so they may be more likely to say absolutely anything to get a sale. Our Solar Team are constantly having to educate customers who have been misguided, and some of the things we hear almost defy belief. We will leave it at that.
Do you have a salesperson going for the hard sell?
Whether over the phone, or during a site visit, companies in the solar industry have been known to push for a quick sale. They tend to gloss over the most important questions such as the brand of your panels and inverter, spend little or no time looking at your energy usage and arriving at a solar system that is on sale until close of business Sunday!
Slow down! Sizing up a solar system and selecting the right components takes some research and advice from someone who is happy to make recommendations without constantly demanding for a deposit.
Our solar staff are trained extensively to ensure they are solar experts so that they can educate customers to make the right decision based on their unique situation.
A system with a 4kW inverter is not always a 4kW system
In order to make a system appear like a bargain, we have seen advertisements selling the size of the inverter rather than the output of the system. This is misleading... at best, and you must ensure you are not buying 6 panels and expecting the output of 16.
Let's be clear, an inverter does not generate power, it simply converts D.C. power to 240V A.C. power to be used in the home. Whether you have 6 panels or 12 panels, getting an industrial size inverter will not save you an extra cent off your power bill. In fact an inverter that is too large for the system's output can actually have a negative impact because an inverter needs a minimum amount of power to switch on. A small string of panels may not be enough to do this in low light situations.
Please think logically about buying an 'upgradable solar system'. This normally requires a larger inverter than what you need so that you can add panels to your system at some stage in the future. We are happy to quote you for this, and in some cases it can work well but there are a few points to keep in mind:• You will have 2 sets of installation costs. • Adding panels to an existing system requires matching the new panels with the old ones, including the panel's output. As technology progresses older panels are quite hard to buy from wholesalers. For example we are currently getting a number of enquiries from households with existing systems trying to find 190W panels from various brands and unfortunately in some cases we have been unable to source them for the customer. Even with brands that are still world leaders, they have moved onto 250W or 265W panels and they are not willing to ship a pallet of outdated panels around the world at a competitive price. Because of this please keep your own interests a priority, and don't take an upgrade just because it is part of a sale or it seems cheap.
Be sure to ask an installer if their quote includes absolutely everything. We will always put it in writing that our quote is an all inclusive figure and if there are any issues that need to be investigated we will book a site inspection for you with a relevant member of our team, whether it is a technician, an installer or even one of our directors.
It is important to read the fine print, or at the very least get an agreement in writing before you sign a contract. Be sure the following is included in your quote:
- Your roof type
- How many storeys your house is
- Access to the roof. It is not uncommon to need a crane if you have 3 or more storeys, which is why a site inspection is almost always needed before the installation date.
- Split systems
- Cathedral ceilings
- The replacement of your meter (this really should be included)
- Tilting for panels on a flat roof
- Travel charges
- Full installation including the mounting of the panels, inverter, cable runs and labour.
- Service checks post sale to explain how the system works and ensure it is running smoothly
Long lead times for installation
You should not have to wait more than a few months for your installation- at worst. If a company can't get their act together and have your installation booked for a date within a month or two, it would be wise to ask why and proceed with caution.
Even during the busy months when rebates are about to end and customers are signing up in droves, Solaray installers have always been able guarantee installation within 2 months.
Unusually high deposits
We ask for a deposit of $500 for our residential solar systems unless you want more than 10kW, and even then we will only ask for 10%, which is the industry norm. In many cases we will even refund a deposit if we find any surprises in your meter board, and even on the day of installation if we find a road block such as an unsafe roof.
We know of companies trying to secure more than 50% and even up to 80% for a deposit and then delaying the installation date, perhaps while the directors finish up their holiday in the Caribbean. In reality it may not be a scam, but it is wise to ask why they asking for so much more than the industry norm.
"We can only install your solar system after your roof restoration, in fact I can have my colleague quote you for it this afternoon"!
Some solar companies have 'close ties' with other industries or have diversified into these industries. This is a great business decision if they can make it work for them and their customers, but that does not mean you should bend to their rules so that they can sell you more than one product, especially if you don't want it or need it.
If you want a roof restoration, perfect. Get a quote for that as well as a Solar System and see if you can get a deal, but please note that it is very rare for our installers to walk away from a job because the roof needs restoring. If you have a salesman saying he can't install a solar system for whatever reason, get a second opinion from us because we only do solar power and we have no close relationship with companies in other industries.
Don't get ripped off!
We have seen quotes in this industry that are so overpriced it defies belief, and unfortunately it is a matter of 'buyer beware'. As a part of our product range we sell the best quality products on the market, so it is absolutely worth your while calling us for a comparison quote or advice on the brands you are looking to buy. If a competitor's price comes in more expensive than our comparative quote, or our top of the range system, it may be wise to do more research into what you are buying and even collecting a few more quotes.