If you’re going to DIY solar, make sure you read our guide for buying the right solar panels.
Bypassing a solar installer and going solar alone is an extremely technical process that requires intimate knowledge of not only the electrical system, but also of where they should be placed.
Do your homework
As solar panels grow in popularity, more and more types of solar panels have been developed that have different strengths, suit different properties and have different ratings.
Figure our your usage and research the type of panels you think you will need. You should know the strengths, the ease of installation, whether the panels are expandable and how the panels are rated by other users.
Research the different manufacturers and stockists, read plenty of user ratings and reviews and if you need assistance with setting it up, you can use the services of an energy consultant.
Buy online or offline
You can buy direct from the major manufacturers or from home fitting or hardware stores. There are also plenty of online outlets that have great panels at competitive prices. Try not to be too tempted by low prices though. Remember, these panels are going to be sitting on top of your house for the next decade, so go for quality over price.
In order to qualify for solar credits or state incentives, you may have to prove that your panels meet Australian or international standards (another reason to stick with well known brands and chase quality, not price).
Your inverter must meet the Australian Standard AS4777 and have a Certificate of Suitability. Both of these are Australian set standards, so it will often be easier to find an Australian manufacturer or retailer, who can help you confirm certification and ensure you’re buying what you need.
Get some help
Although it might be tempting to go it alone and save a little money, it is often much easier to work with a registered solar agent to instal your panels. In Australia, the Clean Energy Regulator has a database of Registered Agent who have been accredited to manufacture and install PV solar systems. If you’re looking for discount or a solar credit through the small-scale technology certificate (STC) scheme, then you can check with your solar manufacturer before you engage their services if they are registered and able to provide your certificate.
A solar installer should also be able to help you to calculate your bills and tariffs, and recommend the best energy provider to register with. This is especially useful if you’re planning on signing up to a feed-in tariff and re-selling your surplus electricity back to the grid for a profit
If you’re working with a registered solar panel installer, then you won’t have to worry too much about the panels, as most of them work within fairly tight guidelines and aim to maximise your available solar credits by working with registered manufacturers. If you’re going it alone, then you really need to be prepared to research brands and manufacturers, as well as the solar credit or incentive laws in your state. It is doable, but it will take a lot more work and a lot more know how.