Despite the unpredictable nature of renewable policy settings many folks like yourselves are jumping on solar. Done well, the finances are compelling, and getting better. But there are some things to watch out for. Things to think about are:
Obviously the cheapest approach will be to reduce consumption, these savings are being called ‘negawatts.’ Watts that don’t get used so don’t need to be generated! A good first step is to reduce consumption loads. There’s tons of info around on this but a good starting spot to get help is at; http://www.yourhome.gov.au/energy
Once you have a handle on what a ‘base level’ of consumption might be (after any efficiency measures) it would be good to chat with a few installers. There are heaps of these around on the Border and we are reluctant to guide you on one in particular. No doubt your neighbours and friends have experience with the range of companies.
There’s a good range of reliable and honest installers nearby. Whilst it might well be possible to buy a very satisfactory system from a travelling solar salesperson, there are a number of possible concerns. Someone coming from out of the region may not need to be so concerned about quality systems as they are less likely to be around for follow up care.
To increase the security of your purchase our suggestion is to ensure the company you choose has:
- A long term local presence (to increase the likelihood of warranties / follow-up care);
- Preference for higher quality panels rather than cheapest – like most things you get what you pay for;
- Panels have a ‘Tier’ rating, Tier one is theoretically the highest quality, through to Tier lowest. It’s worth keeping this in mind when comparing quotes. If you google solar panel Tiers you can get a sense of what it means. For example: http://www.solarchoice.net.au/blog/what-is-a-tier-1-solar-panel-tier-2-or-3/
- Average yields in this area are usually calculated at 4.3kW/h per day per kW of installed panels.
It is possible to get some desktop, no obligation, estimates of costs by visiting a variety of websites. For example there is an online form at;
Indigo Shire Solar Guide
Clean Energy Council Guide
We encourage people to look at hybrid systems which means there is a small back up of batteries. This provides some small supply during power outages, but more importantly, it can mean you can choose to avoid buying power during peak demand times, which is likely to be more expensive at some point in the near future. The price of batteries is dropping quickly and the technology is improving quickly and is very exciting…
Congratulations on taking this first step of being better informed!