How to buy and install a grid connected solar system: a quick guide.
This quick guide covers the most important steps and considerations for buying and installing a grid-connected rooftop solar PV system for you home.
Step 1: Do you research
- Is solar power right for you? You can make an initial assessment yourself about whether solar power is a viable power source for your home. North facing roofs with few or no shade obstructions can be a good prospect for a solar power installation
- Research how solar power works. There are a number of good sources on the internet, especially what’s been provided by government bodies and industry authorities like the Clean Energy Council. Read up on how solar power works here.
- Electricity consumption. How much power does your household use now? Are there are any steps you can take to increase your energy efficiency?
- Research PV solar sizes. Have an idea about the size and price of the system you need to cover your household energy use.
- Finance and pricing. Will you pay for your system upfront or you will you need to enter into a solar leasing agreement. Also read up on small-scale technology certificates and government rebates you can use to reduce the cost of financing a solar power system in your home.
Step 2: Shopping around
- Contact your electricity retailer. Contact your current electricity retailer to find out how solar power and a feed-in tariff arrangement will reduce your energy bill.
- What will they pay your per unit of energy you export back to the grid?
- Will you be paid cash or will the energy distributor give you credit on your energy account.
- Do you keep your off-peak energy rates if you install solar panels in your home?
- Finding an installer. Make sure you only use a Clean Energy Council (CEC) accredited solar installer or approved solar retailer to install your solar power system. You can find a database of accredited installers and approved retailers on the CEC website. You can read more about how to choose a solar and supplier on this page.
- Get a quote. Once you’ve found a certified or accredited solar retailer and installer, you can get a quote and start talking system and prices. An on-site inspection is essential for a tailored quote. The solar retailer should design a rooftop PV system specifically for you home. Watch out for the one size fits all approach. Every home has different energy requirements and capacity to produce energy. You can read more about finding the right quote on this page.
- Compare quotes. Once you have a quote make sure you get a second, third and even fourth quote from a different retailer or installer to ensure you’re getting the best deal you can. Which quoted PV solar power system is going to best suit your needs? Have a look at performance guarantees for the different suppliers and solar power systems and what the payback time is for each system.
- Investigate the solar retailer and installer. Make sure you have a look into the work completed by the solar supplier or installer. Pictures of previous jobs or view client testimonials can help you find out about the reputation and quality of a solar supplier and installer.
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Step 3: Contracts
- Approval. Before you sign a contract make sure you have approval to connect to the network.
- Contract. There are a number of items that must be included in a contract to install PV solar panels, you can read up on solar contracts on our checklist on buying and installing grid-connected systems.
- Warranties. Make sure the supplier or installer has made clear the details of the system guarantees. How long is your PV solar system covered for damage and are there any system performance guarantees?
Step 4: Installing the system
- Connecting to the grid. Has the solar installer met the electricity distributors conditions to connect to the grid? Work must be carried out by a CEC accredited installer to claim government rebates.
- Metering configuration.
- Inspections. Inspect the site once work is completed. Make sure there is no damage to your home or the PV solar system and that the work area is clean and tidy.
Step 5: After installation
- Tariffs and rebates. What is the feed-in tariff arrangement. Have you applied for government rebates already like small-scale technology certificates?
- Inspection. Depending on your location, the local council may inspect your solar installation to make sure it compliant.
- Complaints. If you’re unhappy with the service provided by your approved solar retailer or accredited solar installer, you can file a complaint using the dispute resolution services available on the CEC website.
- Monitoring. Make a note of the day you were connected to the grid and be sure to check the meter at least once a year. Check your actual electricity output against the quoted estimate. If there’s a major discrepancy between these two figures, there may be a problem with your system.
This is just a quick guide, you can find out more about these steps by reading our checklist for buying and installing a PV solar grid-connected system.