Top 5 questions to ask a solar retailer

As the solar panel market has grown in recent years, so has the number of retailers to choose from.

This guide lists some key questions to ask a retailer so you can find the right solar system for your home or business. We recommend seeking three quotes from authorised retailers to help you compare product, size, quality and price.

Only authorised retailers, installers and products on our product lists are eligible under the Solar Homes and Solar for Business programs. This ensures you receive a quality product, installed safely by a qualified professional.

Authorised retailers must fulfil our program requirements, including being a signatory to the New Energy Tech Consumer Code(opens in a new window), administered by the Clean Energy Council. Solar Victoria also manages an audit program to ensure solar installers and retailers participating in the rebate program comply with all required safety and quality standards.

Top Five Questions

1. What is the system's brand, type and where were was it made?

Always ask your retailer for details of both the panels and the inverter of the solar system they are suggesting for your property. You can also ask why they have selected those panels for you. If appearance is an important factor, ask if the installer can share any photos of complete installations featuring the panels they’ve recommended.

When comparing prices, a quality system may cost more, but will serve you better in the long run. So be sure to ask about how the quality of the solar system compares to others in the market. Other factors to consider include construction quality, frame type, colour and the dimensions and weight of the panels. Some panels may be more suited to your roof shape than others, especially when used on small buildings such as sheds.

Solar Savvy Tip: We recommend talking to your installer about systems that are battery capable. This means that you will be able to add a battery to your system in the future.

2. Will you organise connection to the grid?

Most solar customers choose a mains grid-connected system for reliability. This type of system lets your home draw electricity from the grid when insufficient electricity is being generated by the solar panels.

Approval to connect your solar system to the grid must be completed before installation. The Clean Energy Council recommends asking your solar retailer if they will submit the grid-connection application for you, what it costs, and an estimate of how long approval will take.

Solar Savvy Tip: Electricity produced by a grid-connected solar system but not needed at the time it is produced is fed into the mains grid, with a feed-in tariff paid to the system owner. Check your eligibility to export to the grid before you install.

3. How will you determine the size and placement of the system?

Most solar installers will conduct a site assessment to determine the optimal size and placement of the solar panel system. They should also consider factors such as your energy needs, the angle and orientation of your roof, and any shading issues.

When a solar installer conducts a site inspection, they can also check the condition of your roof, electrical switchboard and determine possible solar panel and inverter locations.

While a site inspection may not always be necessary – for instance if you’re purchasing a smaller system for a newly-built home with modern switchboards and no shading issues – it can ensure any potential issues are picked up before installation and increases the chances you’ll install a system that performs to its maximum capacity well into the future.

4. What’s included in my warranty?

A reputable solar retailer will provide you with clear information about warranties. This includes the details and warranties of the different components within the solar power system.

Your retailer should also provide you with an installation warranty. This covers any problems with the installation. It’s worth checking how they process warranty claims and whether the manufacturers have a contact number in Australia in case any problems arise.

Most panels now have at least a 10-year materials warranty and 25-year power warranty. If your solar retailer isn’t providing you with clear information about warranties, it may be a sign that they’re not the right retailer for you. Find out more information about panel and installation warranties.

Approved retailers are also required to have policies and procedures in place for dealing with faults, problems and any other issues. There are legal protections for customers if manufacturers, retailers and installers provide products and services that don’t deliver what was promised. Find out more information about consumer protections that apply when buying a solar panel (PV) system.

5. Is financing right for me?

Some solar retailers may allow you to pay through an instalment plan to lower the upfront costs of installing solar. It’s important to conduct your research before accepting finance and consider asking the following:

  • Is the total cost different if you accept financing
  • How much is the interest
  • Are there any additional fees
  • Are there any payment terms or conditions
  • Are there any additional fees charged for failure to meet the terms and conditions
  • Are there exit fees if financing is paid off early
  • What happens if you have trouble making a payment
  • What happens if the panels are faulty

To further reduce installation costs, Solar Victoria offers eligible Victorians interest-free loans of up to $1,400. The loan is offered as an option in the rebate application.

We hope this information provides some important insight into installing solar, to better understand how solar systems work, please review our buyers guides for homes and businesses. You can also find a list of authorised retailer on our website when you are ready to start your solar journey.


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