Solar 101

What to expect and what to ask your installer

Solar 101

Solar 101

What to expect and what to ask your installer

What should I know?

Choosing the right solar installer is a crucial step in ensuring a successful solar panel installation for your home. Here are some important questions homeowners should ask their solar installer before proceeding with the installation:

System Design and Installation

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How many years of experience does the company have in solar installations?

Many companies in the solar energy industry are reputable and have a company history that indicates stability, which means theyll be there for you in the future if you need to contact them. Unfortunately, there are also many upstart companies that dont have an established presence, so think carefully about who youre partnering with.

Can they provide references or examples of previous installations?

One red flag to look for is a company that has no one willing to act as a reference. You should ask about examples of previous installations and see if you can speak with someone whos bought from the company before.

What factors are considered in determining the system size and design?

An installer should talk to you about your typical energy usage and battery backup needs to make an appropriate calculation for how much energy your system will need to support. Panels are only part of the equation as an inverter and battery also need to be sized accordingly to ensure the system will work the way you want.

Can they provide a detailed overview of the installation process from start to finish?

Ask your installer for a detailed overview to better understand the process. Ideally, ask for credible references to better understand what the installation process is like and to learn about the experiences of others.

How long will the installation take, and what is the expected timeline?

A detailed site inspection should take a few hours, and generally, installation takes about 2 to 3 days.

Will they handle the necessary permits and approvals for the installation?

Your installer should help you with this. Generally you will need an SSEG Application (Small Scale Embedded Generation) as well as a signature from a professional engineer. (PRNG)

What local regulations or codes should be considered, and how will they comply? How long will the installation take, and what is the expected timeline?

You should refer to your specific municipalitys guidelines, but it is common to see requirements for NRS and SANS certification.

What is the total cost of the solar installation, including equipment, labour, and permits?

Make sure the cost you receive is comprehensive and includes the cost of equipment, labour, and permits. Theres a significant cost each time someone needs to go and do work on the roof, so ask about whats included and what isnt to avoid surprises.

How does the system connect to the grid, and is net metering available?

Understanding how your system connects to the grid and whether or not youll be compensated for excess energy generated is important to clarify. Each municipality can have slightly different processes and offers, so it is important to ask about it.

What happens during power outages, and is there a backup solution?

Just having a solar energy system is the first step to achieving backup during load shedding, but to have seamless backup you need a backup interface in addition to a battery to make use of your reserves during an outage.

Equipment and Warranties

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Are they licensed and insured?

Check that your installer is a qualified electrician and SAPVIA (South African Photovoltaic Industry Association) accredited. While many installations happen without issues, ensure your installer is insured in case of possible damage during the installation process.

What brands of solar panels, inverters, and other components do they use?

When it comes to solar panels, youre looking for equipment produced by tier-1 manufacturers. Research the difference between brands and look at technical capabilities as well as warranties to understand what youre buying.

Are the components covered by warranties, and what are the warranty terms?

Different components in a solar energy system can have different warranties. For example, SolarEdge Power Optimizers come with a 25-year warranty, and Inverters come with a 12-year warranty. Ask questions about how long different parts of the system will be covered to be better informed.

How long is the installation workmanship warranty?

Generally, installers should offer at least 2 years on their workmanship.

Costs, Incentives and Financing

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Are there financing options available, and what are the terms?

Cash purchases are one of the more common ways that people purchase solar energy systems, but bank financing is also a common option. Make sure to review interest rates, origination fees, and early repayment terms carefully.

If youd prefer another alternative there are also PPA or rent to own style agreements where the installer will take the risk of the upfront installation cost in exchange for a monthly fee and generally the benefit of excess power generated that can be sold to the grid among other conditions.

Can they provide information on available incentives, tax credits, or rebates for solar installations?

Available incentives, tax credits, and rebates change often, so it is important to ask about what benefits you may be entitled to.

How will they assist in maximising available financial benefits?

Installers should supply a simulation with an ROI Calculator that will help to inform you of what you can gain.

What is the expected lifespan of the solar panels and other components?

Solar panels generally have a 25-year lifespan and you shouldnt accept anything less than at least a 10-year product guarantee. For reference, SolarEdge Power Optimizers have a 25-year warranty and the Inverter comes with a 12-year warranty.

Is there a performance guarantee, and what does it cover?

Theres no standard for performance guarantees, so ask your installer for more information.

Performance and Maintenance

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How will the solar system be customised to meet the specific needs of my home?

It is good to ask for a detailed site analysis and simulation to back up any installers recommendation on system size. The size of the recommended system should be supported by data to verify what the installer is saying.

Can they provide estimates of how much energy the solar system is expected to generate?

Getting an estimate of energy generation is an important factor in understanding how well the system will meet your needs for running your home and for backup, but it is also important to help understand your future savings and ROI.

How do they calculate these estimates, and what factors are considered?

Is the installer just doing a broad estimate? SolarEdge installers have access to information to check the irradiance in your area, typical weather, and other factors to provide a more accurate estimate.

What kind of maintenance is required for the solar system, and how often?

With SolarEdge, the monitoring platform is designed to provide the appropriate alerts when something needs to be repaired. For a traditional string inverter system, you may not have any information at all, so you will want to ask if they will perform routine inspections or cleaning of the system to ensure optimal performance.

Is there a monitoring system in place to track the performance of the solar panels?

With a SolarEdge system, the Power Optimizers also enable panel level capabilities like monitoring that will provide you more information on the performance of your system over time. Be sure to ask about similar features if this is something you want.

What level of customer support is provided during and after the installation? And for how long/how many years?

This depends on the installer, so ask them to get the details of what they offer. It is also crucial to ask about what the equipment manufacturer offers for after-sale service.

How will they communicate with you throughout the process, and who will be your main point of contact?

Each installer will also take a different approach with this, but there should ideally be a project manager. Be sure to ask them for details of how they will update you throughout the process.

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SolarEdge offers all of its employees an exciting work environment and provides career opportunities in a continuously growing company.

Stay Up To Date

SolarEdge offers all of its employees an exciting work environment and provides career opportunities in a continuously growing company.

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