Solar made simple: Your 10 Top 10 questions answered by Sean Barry!
When you’re new to solar, getting your head around the savings on offer, choosing the right company to work with, and then the right system to install can easily leave you suffering from a condition we call “solarwhlem” — so many questions, so many options… HELP!
Every day our team at One Power is fielding questions and guiding our customers through the process of investing in a solar system that matches their priorities in terms of budget, power usage, the style of your home and after-sales care.
To save your time and sanity, we’ve put together the Top 10 most-asked questions to simplify this process for anyone who is new to solar and feeling overwhelmed.
The man with the answers is Sean Barry, a One Power owner and Technical Director. Sean’s been a licensed electrician for 10 years and has specialised in solar for the past 7 years.
“My role is really to make sure that the right products go in, the right guys are installing them, and make certain that everything’s up to scratch legislation-wise. I also help the Post-Installation Care team with customer enquiries and system performance.”
Ready to get solar smart? Let’s go!
1. How do I save money with Solar?
You’re now buying the power off your roof instead of from a network provider. An electricity retailer charges you for each kilowatt that comes off their network.
When you go ahead with a reputable solar company, you draw solar power from your own network, so to speak, or you export what you don’t use to the grid for a feed-in credit, which is the second way you save with solar.
2. What is the average solar system worth?
The Clean Energy Council states that, on average, you’ll pay around $9,000-$11,000 for a 5-6 kilowatt premium system, while smaller systems are around $3,000-$4,000. When you’re comparing systems, be sure to ask exactly what’s included both in terms of the product itself as well as after-sales service and warranties.
Be wary of really cheap options because the price often doesn’t include any maintenance and the company are often not interested in helping you when there is an issue. These systems are often sold over the phone by a sales company offering a “short time only offer” and the person can’t really tell you what the products are. You want someone to come to your house, meet the people paying the bills and talk to you about how you wish to spend your money.
**3. Am I eligible for the government rebate?
To receive the rebate you must own your home and ideally be planning to stay there long enough to get money back on your investment. The government pays a certain number of credits per panel, so the number of panels determines the size of your rebate. The average rebate is between $3,000-$4,000 — that represents a third of the cost of the average premium system. The rebate is legislated to decrease, year-on-year, since 2017 at a rate of 15% per year until 2032, so the sooner you purchase your system, the higher the rebate you’ll receive.
At One Power we take care of the rebate application process for you. Once you’ve signed up for a system, on the day of installation we provide the relevant forms for a customer to sign off on. It’s a really easy process.
**4. How can I make solar even more affordable?
Partnering with company that’s got a finance package makes solar a more affordable investment for a lot of people. The finance package is appealing because there are no upfront costs — there’s no deposit and no payment on the day of installation. You’ll only start paying for your system once it’s up and running, and producing power. Be sure to use a company that has responsible lending practices. This involves coming out to your property to assess your power needs, instead of just providing a generic quote over the phone or by email.
You can set up your loan so that the money you save off your power bill is used to pay off the solar system. Once your system is paid off, it’s only savings from there. It’s wise to look at your solar system as an investment that you’re paying it off in the short-term, with savings that will go back into your pocket in the long-term.
**5. How do I choose the right solar company?
Do your research and look into who owns the company. One Power is a family-owned business and we’ve been in this game for 10 years. We employ around 50 staff across our areas and we know that we’re supporting a lot of families, so we’re in it for the long haul. Being a part-owner and a Clean Energy Council qualified electrician, there’s no value in me selling a product that’s going to need fixing because that is coming out of my pocket.
Take the time to understand whether you’re dealing with a sales company (who then farms the work out to someone else) or if you’ll be purchasing directly through a licenced contractor. A lot of the cheap systems you may see advertised on TV have no allowance for follow-up customer service or warranty care. Here at One Power we are members of Master Electricians Australia, we have electrical contractors licensed to work in both NSW and Queensland, and use Clean Energy Council approved installers.
**6. How do I choose the right system?
At One Power we send one of our in-house Energy Assessors to your property to go over your power bills to see what you’re using in a day. We also look at your lifestyle and what your future plans are (you may be thinking of adding a pool or an air conditioner because you’re sick of sweating through the summer!). Then we design a system that’s going to offset those costs.
There is a wide range of systems to choose from — anything from 7 up to 46 panels on some residential properties. We’re a bit different in that if someone doesn’t need more panels, we’re not going to sell them. What we’re looking to achieve is a system that will save you money and pay back the cost of your system.
**7. Will the solar system produce enough energy to cover all of my usage?
The laws of electricity are that solar will be the first power used during the day. If the solar is off or it’s overcast, the grid comes into play without any delay. The most common system is connected to the grid (so no battery) which will cover all of your daytime usage and offset a certain amount of night-time usage via your feed-in credits. This means that the power you don’t use during the day, your retailer will make an arrangement to buy that back for between 6-20 cents per kilowatt, depending on where you live. So for example, if you send back 10 kilowatts a day off your own system at 10 cents per kilowatt, that’s $1 of power you’ve got in credit. You may then use that $1 of credit at night, which is how you offset your usage without a battery.
**8. Is my house suitable for solar?
Solar technology and its applications have evolved to the point where they can be designed to work in almost any set up. If you’ve got the right installer, regardless of your house type, you’ll have a suitable solution presented to you that will save you money and take control of your power bill.
**9. How long will the system last?
That depends on the warranty and who is supporting the system. Our standard systems are warranted for 10 years, so if something breaks down in that time it would be fixed at no extra charge. One Power is now also able to offer a premium product[Link to Peimar blog once it's live] that’s made in Italy and backed by a 20-year warranty on workmanship and 30 years on the output/production — those warranties are the longest in the world.
With a lot of the cheaper panels you’ll see micro-cracking, delamination, and plug failure within the first 3-4 years, which is also often within the term that the system is being paid off by the customer. Any good panel will outlast its warranty, and be well supported by a company that’s got the long-game in mind and not just the short-term turnaround of clients.
It’s a good idea to have an electrician come out and check your system every two years, but in general the maintenance is very self-caring. The rain will wash most dirt off on a pitched roof but using a company that will pop out and check your system is the key.
**10. Do I need batteries and are they really expensive?
Batteries are the next evolution in the solar industry. Lithium is becoming the go-to battery technology and, like all new technology, the price is still quite high. As the price comes down — just as solar has done over the past 5 years — it’s really going to become a wise investment.
Right now, if you do the numbers and you’ve got a skilled energy assessor, you’re going to see that the feed-in tariff is the better return on investment. That scale is sliding and once that hits parity you’ll find that any good solar installation company will be following up with their existing customers, asking for their bills, and seeing if there is more money to be saved by using a battery. Batteries can be added on to any system down the track, as long as you’ve got the right designer working on the job.
Still got questions? Contact our friendly team today on 1300 568 589 or book an in-house assessment here.