3 min read

What To Consider When Switching To Solar Power

Getting power from solar is now becoming the most popular choice around the world and has gone up by 20% every year. In Australia, 1.4 million households already have solar power systems and if you’re thinking about getting one installed on your roof, you need to consider some things before switching.

1. Check Your Roof

Take time and check your roof. Some rooves will offer a better return as compared to others. In general, the roof should not be blocked by shade, trees or other buildings. If your roof has lots of angles, ensure that all of them receive sunlight at some point throughout the day.

2. Think of Your Energy Needs

All solar power systems provide power during the daytime, but without battery storage installed, the system will not be able to provide electricity to use at night. Therefore, considering your energy needs during the day and night. You should be able to estimate the amount you need to power your home and understand the savings you could make in the future.

There are a number of options available that include:

  • An outright purchase or financing scheme of the solar power system.
  • Buying a solar power system through a Solar Power Purchase Agreement (SPPA), which is a contract where a business provides, installs and maintains the hardware in agreement to buy the energy produced by the system at an agreed price for an agreed period.
  • Solar Leasing Agreement (SLA) on the other hand is a contract where the solar provider installs the solar PV system and then you agree to make periodic payments on the system for an agreed time period (pay-to-own) scheme.

3. Know the Available Plans in Your Area or State

According to a survey made by the Alternative Technology Association (ATA), many households invest between $4,000 and $8,243 after incentives and rebates, depending on the solar power system size. The good news is that there are offers by many solar energy retailers that remove the system purchase cost, which means that the user will only be charged for the solar power generated from the solar PVs on their roof.

There are also government incentives for solar that can help minimise the up-front cost of new solar power systems. The size, location and the certificate cost will vary once the system is installed.

4. Go For A Trusted Solar Retailer

Most Solar PVs have an expected lifespan of 25 years, thus you should go for a trusted solar energy retailer and installer that will be around the lifespan of the solar PVs. Regular maintenance of all the hardware should be looked after by your retailer. Always check the warranty details and make everything clear with your chosen retailer. Always purchase solar power systems that are accredited by the Clean Energy Council. It’s always good to do some research on your chosen retailer.

Download this free brochure from the Facebook page ‘Crap Solar‘ and Solar Trust Centre titled ‘Cheap Solar – A Cautionary Tale’. Learn the signs of cheap solar and don’t fall for a less than quality deal when you purchase a solar system.

5. Check The Options Available

If you want to get the full value for your solar power investment, talk to your chosen retailer/provider about your state’s feed-in tariffs (fits) and plans available to you. Every state will have different FiTs and retailers will have different offers, so go to the trusted one and they will give you the best deal for your energy needs. You can contact your state’s Energy and Water Ombudsman for the updated FiT.

Click here to read a sample Feed-in Tariff basics as provided by Energy and Water Ombudsman Victopria (EWOV).

Click here to read about the jurisdiction of the Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria (EWOV) regarding solar power issues. This is just one example as the links for each state energy and water Ombudsman are shown below.

Know Your Rights

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), a solar provider should not:

  • Deceive or mislead a customer by providing misinformation in adverts, product packaging, contacts or by their own personnel and staff.
  • Force you to sign up for SLA or SPPA or buy solar panels from them.
  • Require you to buy energy services from a third party retailer unless notified by the ACCC.
  • Breached any contract or consumer agreement.
  • If somehow you have experienced or someone you know has complaints regarding their solar services, contact the solar provider directly and have the dispute resolved. But if the issue cannot be resolved by the provider, you can contact your local state solar or energy ombudsman.

Below is the list of agencies you can contact in case of unresolved complaints with a solar provider.

Clean Energy Council

NSW Fair Trading

Office of Fair Trading QLD

Consumer Affairs Victoria

Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading Tasmania

Consumer Affairs NT

Consumer Protection; Department of Commerce WA

Consumer and Business Services SA

ACT Office of Regulatory Services – Fair Trading and the ICRC

For complaints about your solar account connection, or metering that you could not resolve directly with your energy company or distributor:

Energy &Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON)

Energy &Water Ombudsman Queensland (EWOQ)

Energy &Water Ombudsman Victoria (EWOV)

Energy Ombudsman Tasmania

Energy & Water Ombudsman Western Australia (EWOWA)

Energy &water Ombudsman South Australia (EWOSA)

Some parts of the article were posted on XEN Life, click here to read the full article.

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