There are many business costs and considerations regarding solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, in addition to just the solar panel cost. Below we answer some of our most frequently asked questions…
How many solar panels do I need?
The goal for many businesses that choose to install a solar PV system on the roof of their property is to eliminate the need to pay energy bills. To do this, you need to ensure you install a system that meets the needs of your day-to-day energy requirements.
To do this, there any many things your business must consider.
Firstly, go to your office and pull out your most recent energy bill. Take note of the total kWh’s consumed during that period.
Secondly, take note of your peak times for electricity usage. Do you want to consider a system that allows you to store electricity for use at night and on days that are overcast?
Thirdly, you might want to do your due diligence and research weather patterns in your area. On average, how many days were bright and sunny?
With this information at hand you should then consult an accredited solar installer or an impartial comparison service who speak to multiple installation companies, ensuring you receive a wide sample of quotes with inclusions.
Who should I work with to install my system?
Primarily, and some would say, the most important, is that who ever you choose to work with should be accredited with the Clean Energy Council of Australia.
The Clean Energy Council is Australia’s renewable energy association and approves a list of installers who meet Australian Standards regarding design and the installation of solar PV systems. They ensure you only work with those who have demonstrated their commitment to the solar industry best practise by signing the Solar Retailer Code of Conduct. It also greatly reduces your risk of dealing with dodgy installers who talk the talk but might not be accredited.
If you have performed an independent search for your solar installer you can check their accreditation with the Clean Energy Council of Australia by performing a simple search using their retailer search tool. This search is free for consumers.
What should I look out for when choosing a solar installer?
When choosing a solar installer, anyone demonstrating the attributes below should be avoided:
- High pressure sales tactics. If you feel like you need time to absorb what you have discussed with your solar provider, ensure you do so. Also remember that once you agree on a system that meets your needs, there is a 10-day cooling-off period, during which you may cancel the contract without penalty.
- Avoid ‘One Size Fits All’ systems. Your situation is unique to your business and so should your solar PV system.
- A price that is clearly ‘to good to be true’. This should automatically prompt you to check their Clean Energy Council of Australia accreditation.
- Suggesting systems that are unnecessarily large. To avoid this, get multiple quotes from solar retailers.
What should I discuss with my prospective retailer?
Follow this checklist to ensure you have covered your bases regarding your new solar PV system installer:
- Are you an accredited Clean Energy Council of Australia Approved Solar Retailer?
- Ask for a complete solar PV system cost breakdown
- Why have you suggested this type of system to me?
- What is the warranty of this system?
- What is included in the warranty?
- Who is responsible for repair or replacement costs?
- What kind of post-purchase support do you offer??
- Who will service the system and at what cost?
- How long do you estimate the installation of this system to take?
- What are some of the most recent regulatory issues that have affected your business?
- How long have you been in the Australian solar PV industry?
How does the weather affect my solar panels?
It is important to note that your solar panels should be strong enough to endure the toughest weather conditions.
Strong winds, hail storms, torrential rain and lightening are likely to all occur during the lifespan of your solar PV system.
Any damage to the panels from these harsh weather conditions can affect the effectiveness of your panels and can be costly to repair. Ensure your panels can handle these intense weather conditions.
Do I need a battery for my solar PV system?
Solar panel systems can work without a battery but with a battery you are also able to store energy for use at other times of the day.
What do I need to look out for when purchasing a battery for my solar PV system?
- Review your last 12 months’ worth of electricity bills and determine your maximum daily usage (kWh) and peak demand (kW).
- How will you charge your battery and what are the costs associated with that?
- Does your council restrict the type of battery you can purchase, its placement or stipulate any noise constraints?
- How will you maintain the lifespan of your battery?
What does my roof style have to do with it?
Solar panels can be mounted on most styles of roof type however their effectiveness might vary depending on roof type.
Generally solar panels will not be at their most effective on a flat roof. To get the most out of your panels, a tilted roof is best.
If you do have a flat roof, ask your installer to talk you through roof mounts or tilt frames, which are discrete and lightweight.
Want to know more about solar? Check out our solar guide.