Deciding on which way to go with a solar system can be a confusing task. So to help you with that, here are 7 questions I’d initially ask a prospective client, in order to design a suitable outcome to suit THEIR NEEDS.
- What are you hoping to achieve with a solar system?
- What is your electricity bill on average?
- When do you use the majority of your electricity? Is anybody home during the day normally?
- Do you have a preference as to where the inverter is located? (The inverter simply converts the DC power the panels produce into AC power your kettle and other appliances can use and is approximately 400mm square)
- Do you have any plans in the future to add a battery to charge and store any unused electricity your system has produced throughout the day?
- It’s hard to predict the future, but how long do you envisage owning this property?
- Did you have a budget in mind for this investment?
If you are interested in more information contact us today and with this information, we can do some research and provide you with an estimated proposal.
Then, if you’re happy with that, we’d come and do a site inspection to confirm some details, as google maps do not always reveal everything we need to know. It’s something we like to do to avoid any nasty surprises, rather than having installers turn up to reveal there are extra costs to what was quoted.
Our aim is to design and install a system to best suit YOUR situation, based on the information you’ve provided and after a thorough site assessment, so if that sounds good to you, we’d love to hear from you.
For those that are more inquisitive and want to read on, this is the sort of information we’d be looking at when we visit your site…
- Capacity to install panels (area) In some cases we may need to get clever with panel orientation and size to get the desired array wattage to fit into tight areas.
- Suitability of structure to take the weight of the panels
- The orientation of roofing to the sun
- Pitch of roof
- Type of roof
- Access to roof
- A suitable location for inverter allowing for appropriate air space around it and exposure
- Location of meter box & distribution boards if any and whether they are suitably compliant (If they’re not, the new meter will not be fitted, another hidden cost you want to avoid)
- Size of consumers mains (to determine if voltage rise and drop issues are applicable)
- Potential causes of shading that may dramatically reduce the performance of the system
From there we can design a system to best suit YOUR situation including a budget, performance expectations, and future scope for expansion if required.
But there is more to it if you’re still with me 🙂
Now some people get a bit caught up with what panels and what inverter to install. So let’s start with the panels
I would choose a tier 1 panel supplier, a company that has financial backing behind them because these companies will be around long after the warranty periods have finished. These companies are not fly-by-nighters like a lot of them on the market just wanting to cash in. These guys usually offer 10-12 years manufacturer guarantee, and 25 years performance guarantees and make it easy to deal with if there are any faulty issues. If a panel becomes faulty after installation, then these companies would ask you to follow some basic procedures, log a fault and they will notify you of what to do next. Eg whether they send out their warranty teams or they might get to offer us a fee to replace it for a fee they’d pay.
We also look for brands who have representation in Australia (offices/staff) or at minimum look at who are the importers of that product. We also want peace of mind that in 10 years from the date of install the manufacturers we choose from will still be able to honour warranties.
Now for the inverter
Again, we are not interested in fly by nighters but we want good value for money. Something with 10 years warranty, so if the inverter fails within the warranty period and is deemed faulty (not damaged by the form of a natural disaster) then a replacement product will be provided. Or if you want a true full warranty, so if the unit fails within the first 5 years of install, for example, some manufacturers will pay a contractor such as Reefcosa to replace it with a new one, after the 5 years, if it fails, they will provide you a unit free of charge to replace but at your own cost to arrange labour. Few suppliers do that.
We look for those that offer support. Support in Australia from one of our preferred manufacturers is second to none with four Australian guys running around. 1 ex contractor in technical, 1 x engineer who doesn’t sleep apparently. And 2 very decent management guys backing their every move. On the other hand, a recognised premium product has after sales that is only fair and they have supply issues.
You want to consider whether the chosen inverter can take on batteries, you would need a hybrid inverter to do this and we can install one of these if you wish so you could connect a battery to it down the track if you wish.
And finally and far from the least important consideration, the installation.
Choosing who installs your system should come down to these important factors in my view:
- What’s their work ethic like and will they install it in accordance with the CEC guidelines to ensure your safety? Fire & Shock are threats you don’t want
- Are they reliable?
- Will I get good honest information in a language I can understand?
- Are they informed and up to date with current installation standards in order to advise you and provide you the information required to make an informed decision? For example, a lot of people never get information like this when appropriate Based on the information that nobody is consuming electricity during the day, I’d recommend removing your off-peak meter controlling your hot water circuit and shifting it back onto your primary meter, and installing a time clock on the circuit so the consumption of heating your hot water system can be taken care of via your new solar system. Why not save about 75 cents an hour for each hour your water heater heats rather than paying for it via the off-peak meter, plus the charges for having the meter sit there?
- Is their reputation good for after-sales service?
I know you’re in good hands choosing Reefcosa to install your solar system, but check out reviews online about us and listen to what others have said about us. I’m a proud Gold Coast Community member with a good reputation I do not wish to tarnish.