Australia has a climate that is “solar-perfect”. However, for years, the desire for reliable and affordable solar power has only been a distant aspiration. This is because those aspirations were far ahead of the slow pace of innovation in the photovoltaic cell technology.
Now those innovations have caught up with the aspirations. It is now possible for the average Australian homeowner to invest in a reliable solar power that can supplement and eventually replace their existing mains power supply at an affordable pricing.
Solar power offers several advantages for many Australian homeowners and business owners alike. For one, it is clean and “free” energy. You only have to pay the initial cost of installation of the solar panels. Afterwards, you can generate free energy for the lifetime of the panel and even sell some of the power generated back to the national grid to generate more income. Solar panels eventually pay for themselves after a decade or two and this makes them an affordable, profitable and sustainable energy solution for many people.
The efficiency with which you will generate solar power will depend on several factors such as the size of the panel, the capacity of the panels as well as the orientation among other factors. The installation has to be done right in order to optimise the efficiency of your solar panels. Here are some of the factors to keep in mind before solar panel installation on your roofing:-
Ensure Your Roofing Can Support Solar Panels
Not all kinds of roof are suited for solar panel installation. Some types of roofing, because of their pitch, orientation and the direction which they face are better suited for solar power generation. If your roofing is covered in shade for most of the year, then it may not generate solar power to its full potential and it will not justify the cost of the installation. Before you go ahead with the solar panel installation, talk to solar panel installer to assess the suitability of your roofing.
Ideally, the right roofing should be one that is structurally sound. It will need to support the solar panel structure. Most installations generally have very generous warranty typically in the range of 20 to 25 years. If your roofing is not in the best shape and might need renovating a few years from now, it is advisable to work on the renovation first before proceeding with the solar panel installation. If you install solar panels on roofing that is in poor shape, you will have to disconnect the panels a few years down the line to carry out the roof renovation before reinstalling them back and that represents an additional costly repair.
The best way to go about this is by determining the age of your roof and calculating how much time is left before the warranty expires. For example, if your roof is 21 years old and it had a 25 year warranty, it may be prudent to carry out a roof replacement or renovation first before proceeding with the panel installation.
Factor in the Direction of the Slope on Your Roof
Before proceeding with the installation, determine the direction that your roof slope is facing and whether this is the optimal direction for panel installation. A solar installer can assist you with these initial assessments. The direction of the roof will have a direct correlation to the amount of power that your panels can generate. Take a professional opinion on the best direction that your panel is supposed to face. Don’t go with a gut feeling or aesthetic considerations.
Will Your Roof Handle the Extra Weight?
Keep in mind that solar panels are fairly heavy so they will represent extra weight that your roof framework has to support. If the weight is too much, the roofing structure will give way and your roofing is likely to collapse. This will be both costly and dangerous. Talk to a roofing expert and let them assess the integrity of the roofing framework and determine whether they will be able to support the panels or whether they will need reinforcing before the panels are installed.
Factor in other vagaries of weather
Your panels will not just be exposed to the sun’s bright rays. You also have to factor in the impact of other vagaries of nature such as storms, hailstorms and lightning and put in place sufficient precautionary measures. The best way to protect your panels from the impact of nature’s destructive forces is by insuring the panels especially in areas where these are most likely to occur.
How Will You Connect the Panel to the Grid?
Apart from the roofing structure considerations, you need to also look into how you are planning to connect your solar power to the main grid. To make the most of your solar panel, it will be necessary to interface it with your local utility system. Determine the procedure that needs to be followed for the interface along with any fees that you may be required to pay. Determine also how and when you are going to be credited for the power generated by your solar panels.
Shop around for the best deals in the market
Don’t just rush into signing a contract with the first solar panel installer that you run into. Instead, shop for value. Ask for multiple quotations and see where you can get the best value for money. Remember that it will take you at least two decades to recoup your solar panel investment so you need to work with a reliable installer that will offer you a durable installation. Carry out an extensive research and determine the reputable local companies that carry out solar panel installations.
Check out the warranty
This is critical. Look at the duration and the content of the warranty. What does it cover? Solar panel warranties can cover anywhere from 20 years and 30 years. In case you run into any problems, you can always hold the manufacturer and installer accountable based on the terms of the warranty. There are various kinds of warranties for solar power installations that you will need to take a close look at. These include the following:-
- Solar panel warranty: – Look for a warranty that offers you coverage of between 25 to 30 years. This range is usually the industry standard so you have to ask questions if a solar installation company offers you anything lower than this. The solar panel should give you an efficiency of 80% for the duration of its warranty.
- Solar panel installation warranty: This is the tradie’s warranty and covers any situations that may arise during the installations such as incorrectly installed components. The longer the better. The installation warranty varies widely and can range anywhere from 2 years to 10 years. The installation warranty will also cover the labour and the parts used in installation, shipping, roofing etc.
- Inverter warranty: The inverter warranty should last anywhere from 20 to 25 years. However, this will depend on the individual company.
Learn about the relevant rebates
Before you invest in the solar panels, you need to familiarize yourself with the various state and federal rebates that you might qualify for and take advantage of these accordingly. These will help you cut down on the cost of installation. Talk to your contractor and ask about the various incentives that you might be eligible for.
Take time to learn about the approximate solar panel prices and the amount of capacity that you can get at every price point. This will help you budget for the installation accordingly. Ask for multiple quotations from installers and compare the prices to see where you can squeeze the most value for money. Don’t buy cheap and don’t overpay as you might end up never recouping your investments.