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Tips to Avoid Mistakes with Solar Systems

Looking to purchase a solar system? We here is some common-sense tips to avoid making a mistake in your decision process:

1) Putting off buying solar because you are waiting for batteries to drop in price

Despite the hype about solar battery storage, batteries will not pay for themselves in 2017. At present, something like the Telsa Powerwall will cost you around $10,000 to install, and will take about 15 years to pay back. And the unit is warranted to last 10 years.

You do the maths… Unfortunately, all the hype in the mainstream media about batteries has made people question the viability of solar without batteries - to the extent that people are waiting for 'affordable batteries' before they invest in solar.

But even though the cost of solar battery storage is projected to decline year-over-year, it makes no sense to wait to get solar.

Every day you don't have solar is another day you do have to pay high electricity bills. A well designed solar system without batteries can give you tiny bills.

Waiting 2, 3 or 4 years for batteries to become affordable means another 2, 3 or 4 years of high bills. One day, batteries will make lots of sense - and when that day comes they can easily be added to any existing solar system using a method called AC coupling.

Conclusion: Don't lose years of savings waiting for cheap batteries to arrive. Consider going solar now - with the knowledge that you can easily retrofit batteries later when they will pay for themselves - not before.

2) Get multiple Quotes

It’s critical to get multiple quotes as there are unscrupulous installers going around charging people $20,000 for a $5,000 system.

By having multiple companies give you a breakdown on how much solar will cost you, you can gain a real understanding of whether solar is right for your budget, and whether you are getting value for one in terms of price, performance and quality.

3) Rebate Paybacks from Solar

Another big mistake can come from misunderstanding of how the solar ‘rebate’ and feed-in tariffs (what you're paid for sending excess solar energy back into the grid) work.

To summarise, the solar ‘rebate’ is a federal government financial incentive and the feed-in tariff is a state government financial incentive.

The main misunderstanding about paybacks from a solar system comes from one of two erroneous beliefs:

#1: People think that having a decent-sized solar system means that not only will they never have to pay an electricity bill again, but they’ll also get a fat cheque in the mail every quarter from their electricity companies. This will only happen if you were lucky enough to sign up to a gross feed-in tariff 4+ years ago.

With net feed-in tariffs hovering around 6-8c per kWh mark around Australia, the days of a solar system being a license to print money are in the past.

This doesn't mean that you can't significantly reduce your electricity bills with solar - my latest power bill was only $33 for a 6-person household.

#2: "The only benefits of solar are what your electricity company prints on your bill." Most people don’t realise that the true benefits of a solar system are ‘invisible’ – that is, not written on your bill – and don’t understand that paybacks for solar systems are faster than what they initially seem.

4) Australian Consumer Law

This may come as a shock to some people, but you shouldn’t believe everything a solar salesperson says! So be careful an make sure you verify any pre-sale claims that are made by any salesman.

There are 4 separate warranties that you get with your solar system - the ‘performance warranty’ being one of them. The other three are for your inverter, the panels themselves, and the workmanship. In terms of warranty, what you really want to look for is:

· A 10-year warranty for your inverter

· A 10-year warranty for your solar panels

· A 5-year warranty for the workmanship

Check that the warranty is backed by an Australian Entity. Don’t go with a deal where the Chinese manufacturer’s warranty states that the owner must post the panels back to China at the customer's cost to get them tested! If you're looking to get quotes for solar from installers make sure you do your homework first.

5) Wheat from the Chaff

The only thing shonky installers hate more than an ACCC investigation is a customer who knows their stuff! With knowledge comes power, and if a shonky installer realises that you know solar, their ability to rip you off just took a nose dive and they know it. Always, always, always independently verify information, whenever possible. There are numerous resources available to help you verify what solar salesmen tell you (Whirlpool forums are a good source of such information), but if Google can’t help you, maybe you need to consult an appropriate solar consultant.

6) Size is Everything

This one is easier to solve, because most reputable solar installers will sit you down and do a full analysis of your electricity usage habits before they provide you with a quote. They will ask you what your financial goals are and how much you’re willing to spend to accomplish those goals – because it’s not as simple as purchasing a solar system size that matches your energy usage.

7) Roof and Optimal Direction

Solar panel efficiencies have reached the point where, even if your panels aren’t facing north, you only lose 10-15% of your solar system production – which means that the system is still well worth the investment. Depending on the time of day you use your electricity, it may make more sense for your solar panels to face east or west (for morning or evening heavy electricity usage habits, respectively).

There you have it use you common-sense and do your homework and you will make a great decision!


This information is current as at 06/06/17. This article has been prepared by Heart1Stop, a social media brand owned by Heart Mortgage Services and Heart Financial Advisers. The information contained in this article is an overview or summary only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter nor relied upon as such. The views expressed here are not those of Heart1stop, Heart Mortgage Services, Heart Financial Advisers, shareholders, directors or staff and associated contractors and business associates. This article has been prepared without taking into account any person’s objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this, you should, before acting on any information contained in this article, consider its appropriateness, having regard to your objectives, financial situation or needs. Any taxation information contained in this article is a general statement and should only be used as a guide. It does not constitute taxation advice and is based on current laws and their interpretation. Each individual’s situation may differ, and you should seek independent professional taxation advice on any taxation matters. While the information contained in this article may contain or be based on information obtained from sources believed to be reliable, it may not have been independently verified. Where information contained in this publication contains material provided directly by third parties it is given in good faith and has been derived from sources believed to be accurate at its issue date. It is not the intention of Heart1Stop or Heart Mortgage Services and Heart Financial Advisers that this publication be used as the primary source of readers’ information but as an adjunct to their own resources and training. To the maximum extent permitted by law: no guarantee, representation or warranty is given that any information or advice in this publication is complete, accurate, up to date or fit for any purpose; and no party of Heart1Stop or associated entities as mentioned is in any way liable to you (including for negligence) in respect of any reliance upon such information. This article may also contain links to websites operated by third parties ("Third Parties") who are not related to Heart1Stop. These links are provided for convenience only and do not represent any endorsement or approval by us.

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