How to choose the right solar company & red flags

Published: 26 July 2021

In this article, we will discuss 5 red flags to look for when comparing solar providers. There are many installers in the market, and simply choosing the lowest quote can be a serious mistake.

To achieve the best results when going solar, you need high-quality products and a professional installation. Ideally, you should use solar panels and inverters that are approved by the Clean Energy Council, since only those are eligible for government incentives. However, even the best solar panels will have performance issues if they are installed incorrectly, and there is a higher risk of electrical faults and fire.

In this article, we will discuss five red flags to look for when comparing solar providers. There are many installers in the market, and simply choosing the lowest quote can be a serious mistake. The potential consequences can include early equipment failures without warranty coverage, minimal power bill savings, and even property damage due to fire.

1) Solar installers with a poor or nonexistent track record

Ideally, you should look for an experienced solar company who has already completed many installations successfully. You can conduct a quick background check in three simple steps:

Companies can no longer hide their reputation online in the digital age, even if they lack a website. You can use this information to avoid solar installers with a questionable track record.

2) Inferior solar products and unqualified installers

Australia has become one of the leading solar power countries, but this also means you will find numerous brands and installers competing in the market. As mentioned above, you can use the Clean Energy Council website to check if your provider is an approved solar retailer. However, that is not the only information provided by the CEC:

Beware if you cannot find the solar product brands or the specific installer’s name in the CEC database. You could be getting low quality products, an unprofessional installation, or both!

3) Solar offers that are too cheap or too expensive

Some price variation is normal when comparing solar quotes, but excessively low or high prices are a red flag.

  • According to the Clean Energy Regulator, solar systems up to 15 kW had an average installed price of $0.84 per watt in Q1 2021.
  • This is the average out-of-pocket price for solar owners, which means that incentives are already deducted. 
  • Based on the AER average price, you would pay around $5,544 for a 6.6-kW installation, and around $6,720 for an 8-kW installation.

Consider that prices can change depending on the solar brands you pick, and also if your roof has conditions that make the installation more difficult. Solar pricing can also be influenced by the combination of nationwide and local incentives. For example, the Solar Victoria program offers $1,400 in addition to the STC rebate – you can expect lower prices on average.

A 6.6-kW solar quote for $3,000 is probably using low quality components and unskilled installers. On the other hand, a quote for $15,000 is likely a rip-off, unless you added a solar battery system or other extra components.

4) No warranty coverage

Solar products from quality brands always come with a warranty. Any components that fail within their warranty period are replaced for free, and this protects your investment.

  • The specific terms may vary depending on the brand, but you will normally get 10-year manufacturing warranties for solar panels, inverters and batteries.
  • In the case of solar panels, a 25-year energy production warranty is also standard in the industry.
  • In addition to the normal manufacturer warranties, CEC Approved Solar Retailers must offer 5-year warranties with all their installations, as part of their Code of Conduct.

Be careful if you get any solar quotes without warranty coverage. If any components fail earlier than their expected service life, you must assume the replacement costs. Solar quotes without warranties also tend to be the ones using low-quality products, which means that malfunctions are more likely.

5) Getting solar quotes by phone or email

A solar power system can only be designed properly with a professional assessment of your home. Solar designers must consider factors like roof type, pitch angle, structural conditions and the presence of shadows. 

Getting a quote by phone or email without a visit is a definite red flag, since the provider has no way to analyse your site conditions – satellite images from apps like Google Maps are useful as a starting point, but not enough for a professional solar design.

Conclusion

Solar power systems offer an excellent return on investment in Australia, with a typical payback period of less than five years. However, this is only true if you look for a qualified solar provider. You should avoid products without CEC approval, and also companies and installers without CEC credentials. To complete the background check, you can also look for online reviews and the company’s ABN.

Solar offers should have reasonable pricing and warranty coverage, and your property should get a professional assessment first. Be careful when the quoted price is excessively low or high, and also if you get a phone or email quote without a previous assessment.

Interested in Solar?

Find out if you’re eligible for solar and how much you could save by switching.

Start Now

Get in touch with one of our experts

Contact Us