Key Questions to Ask When Searching for a Quality Solar Installer

Solar Trust Centre Team
Solar Trust Centre Team
April 15, 2021

Australians love rooftop solar systems. Just as many Aussies have already gotten a rooftop solar installation done, many others plan to in future. For all solar enthusiasts there’s no doubt such interest in solar is fantastic, but unfortunately there’s some negative consequences to it too. Any time a (relatively) new industry pops up and sees great demand for its offerings, the reality is some unscrupulous people will eye a chance to make a quick buck at the expense of quality.

Given Australia’s love of solar is only expected to grow – and so many Aussies who’ve been working-from-home over the past year are now interested in an installation that could help them save on electricity costs – it’s never been more important to have a clear-cut guide of what to ask when searching for a quality solar installer. Let’s go through the key questions now.

What’s Your First Contact Like?

A quality solar installer won’t just roll up one day and ring the doorbell with solar panels on the back of a truck. Instead, they will want to learn in-depth about the property they’ll be installing on. This process may involve an in-person visit and inspection before providing a quote, or the utilisation of satellite photos to get a bird’s eye view of your roof, or perhaps another method. Whatever the case, if an installer takes the time to really understand a property and its particular features it’s a good sign they’re a quality solar installer.

Do They Provide a Quote with Key Information?

A solar installer that is vague about the costs of the installation, the timeline, and the solar tech used should be treated with caution. Ideally you should get a clear-cut quote, and – given rebates and other items may be involved – a breakdown of all key financial information surrounding the installation. You should also get specifics surrounding the equipment – such as the brand and model number of the solar panels, the inverter, and the battery. It can be a bad sign if an installer is reluctant to provide this info and tries to do the job with minimal paperwork.

It’s also necessary to keep in mind a quality solar installation will cost more than one that is offered with affordability prized over all-else. So just as some installers out there may appear too pricey, if one offers a solar installation at a cost too good to be true? It’s because it is! Ultimately it’s in the industry and the customer’s best interests to have businesses who seek to ensure the solar products they provide are properly installed, effective, and long-lasting.

A quality installer may cost a bit more than some competitors, but the work they do should be great from the get-go and last for many years to come. There’s no guarantee that will be the case if an installation is done that maximises affordability at the expense of quality.

Do They Take a ‘No Pressure’ Approach to Sales?

In every industry a little sales spin can be expected. Once you’ve contacted a solar supplier,  you may get a follow up call or email from time to time after you’ve first made contact. This isn’t unusual, and it’s part of a normal strategy many businesses look to use so they don’t lose your custom to a competitor. But if an installer is constantly contacting you all the time – and using phrases like ‘act now’ and ‘limited time only’ in their materials – be weary. A quality solar installer believes in their business, and the quality of the work they do – so they’ll give a potential customer the time they need to consider a quote.

Do They Explain the Timeline Clearly?

A quality solar installer will provide a customer with a clear timeline regarding the steps for installation. So they can know the date their actual installation is coming. It’s necessary to keep in mind we right now exist in a pandemic era where timetables can suddenly get thrown out of sync due to a snap lockdown or delay in the supply chain. But even so, ideally during this situation the installer will remain in touch with you and provide you ongoing updates so you know the installation is progressing.

Do They Have a Decent Online Presence and Area for Feedback?

A business with a strong online presence is more likely to be a quality solar installer than one who is not. This may sound a little harsh at first – after all there are many good professionals who even today in 2021 don’t maintain a website – but the reality is a business that has a modern, properly working website and an active social media presence clearly communicates they care about the customer experience and the businesses’ reputation as a whole.

Of course, exercising some judgement here is prudent. For example, a solar installer’s website that looks flash but has scant information is less appealing than one with comprehensive information about the solar installations they do. But either way, a look at a solar installers social media presence – such as their Google Reviews – can give a good insight. A business that has avenues open for customers to leave online feedback knows their good reputation must be maintained from one job to the next.

It’s true given the freewheeling nature of the internet that anyone can get a bad and unfair review sometimes. So if a business only has a very small amount of negative reviews they could still be a quality installer, but take note of whether they responded to the comments and sought to address the criticism in a professional way. In turn, you can ask the business directly about the bad reviews on a call or email. Any organisation that is committed to doing a top-notch job will always be ready to deal professionally with customer feedback that isn’t glowing, and discuss how they proactively address any problem that arises.

If They’re New, Are They Good?

Key Questions to Ask When Searching for a Quality Solar Installer Content Image

While it’s always ideal to chat about a potential solar installation with a business that is well-established and can evidence many happy customers, at the same time every business at some point had to have their first day of trading. So notwithstanding the caution that should be exercised surrounding installers that appear to have popped up overnight, if a business is new but can evidence their team are quality installers who use quality materials? Then by no means should they be ruled out.

Ultimately the old adage ‘success leaves clues’ is applicable here. Even if a business is new, they should still be able to show (such as by providing testimonials and references to previous customers) the quality of their work.

Bringing Daylight to a Difficult Issue

That the solar industry has come under critique for some bad practices of a few businesses is very unfortunate for everyone (except those bad apples profiting off less-than-stellar service).  Especially because there’s so many terrific solar businesses that’ll not only provide a professional installation of a quality product, but are also genuinely passionate about solar.

They’re the sort of people that’ll be installing solar systems each day, and then head home to sleep under a roof that’s got their own solar system on it. But the reality is that calling out these issues in the Aussie solar industry does no harm to quality providers and customers – in fact it helps minimise harm. That’s why it’s important to make this distinction between how quality solar installers operate, and how the other bunch do.

Supporting Quality Installers Makes Aussie Solar Stronger

Data shows by mid last year Australia had over 2.5 million rooftop solar installations. In 2019 it was projected the nation on course to be 50% renewable-powered by 2030, and it was claimed in 2020 by GlobalData with regulatory changes we could actually be as much as 75% renewable-powered by 2025! So there is no question the road towards many more rooftop solar systems is going in just one direction. This is great, but it’s essential customers obtain quality solar installations to ensure ongoing confidence in rooftop solar technology, and the solar industry in Australia as a whole.

For any provider of quality solar installations we say keep doing what you’re doing! For any potential customer may this list of questions help shine a light on how to pursue a solar system with a quality solar installer.

For more information on solar and renewable energy, contact Solar Trust Centre now.

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