The most important thing to remember is that not all solar is equal, sure the system size may be the same across all providers and their offerings, but that is where the problem starts.
Firstly, we hear and read all the time reference to TIER 1 panels as if this is saying well the cheapest, most basic solar system produced by a company with this rating is quality. The fact is, it does NOT reflect the quality or performance of a panel. This rating is a BLOOMBERG financial rating of the company (more so, the parent company and their ability to obtain financial credit/funding from a level one bank).
We would love to think that this reflects in panel quality, however, disappointingly it does not.
Reasons for price variance and not necessarily in the following order:
• The company;
• The installer;
• The panels;
• The inverter;
• The warranties;
• The guarantees (not the same as warranty).
This translates to:
1. Cheap panels;
2. Cheap installers;
3. Importing own panels;
4. Little customer service;
5. No after sale support;
6. No monitoring;
7. Back up service, you call if you require, and no return calls;
8. Very limited warranties or guarantees (We have seen Retailers offer as low as a 1 YEAR Warranty buried in the micro font fine print);
For a little extra you can invest in a very good system that will meet your needs, and will last certainly more than 3-5 years, have warranties and guarantees to 30 years, real-time independent monitoring, excellent back-up service, clear plain English agreements and a definitive in writing a guarantee as to how much your solar system will deliver in savings.
At the bottom end of the market a system (say 6.6kW) installed at circa $3,900.00 will be the most inexpensive panels and inverters, or really cheap panels paired with a good inverter, but with a limited warranty for example 3 to 5 years.
A tell-tale sign is these are sold over the phone, no physical site visit or detailed power review prior to purchase. It follows that inexpensive panels do not, cannot deliver the same level of performance and thus savings will not and cannot be the same as a quality system and thus you will not be provided with a power saving guarantee. Now that’s not to say inexpensive solar systems will not perform for a few years, but the market is littered with failed cheap rubbish and those solar owners are referred to as solar orphans. We dislike using the word “rubbish” but that is exactly what it is rubbish.
Unconvinced, then this report is well worth watching.
We all instinctively know that if a new Mercedes Benz selling at $85,000.00 and someone is selling a car that they say is a Mercedes Benz and the same engine size for $18,500.00, we know something is a fundamentally wrong. Same with solar.
So what is the correct price? The Clean Energy Council and other notable resources have some very good advice on price.
From lowest quality to premium solar the price ranges are as follows:
• 6KW range from $4,000.00 to $12,000.00
• 10KW range from $6,800.00 to $15,500.00.
In summary, low end solar will not include the following:
• Workmanship warranties to 25 years;
• Performance Warranties to 30 years;
• Manufacture warranties to 25years;
• 3rd Party System back to base Real-Time monitoring;
• Power Savings Guarantee (in writing that your savings will not be less than advised in writing or you are refunded the difference);
• Australian based enforceable warranties; and
• Plain English purchase agreements with zero convoluted clauses; and
• 10 day cooling off period.
Finally, always have the consultant complete a proper site visit ensuring that no hidden expenses materialise once your installation starts.