Our very own accredited electrician and certified installer, Todd Stephens, shares his top tips for solar panels including the biggest mistakes that people make and the best things to ask when considering getting a solar system installed.
MOST COMMON CALL OUTS?
The most common call-outs I receive are for service, maintenance and cleaning. This includes testing voltages, checking for water ingress, making sure the brackets are ticket and that everything is working properly. We also give the solar panels a good clean because this can affect the performance of the system.
YOUR FAVOURITE TOOL?
My favourite tool is the 18V Makita cordless drill. It’s a great tool with a long battery life and has many different uses from screwing down railing systems and panels, to installing electrical accessories below.
Performance is the most important factor concerning effective generation of power from your solar system. Keep a log book of your system’s output and compare this with your design readings to check that your system is working at its peak. This way you will notice if there are any problems. A system can underperform simply from panels not being clean. If people this their system is underperforming, contact the company that installed your system and tell them your concerns. If the company isn’t helpful or if they’re no longer in business, Suntrix can help. We can check your inverter and wiring and help you analyse your power bill. Suntrix can also check to see what you should be generating monthly based on your system size and installation.
BIGGEST MISTAKE PEOPLE MAKE?
The biggest mistake people make is purchasing undersize solar systems. Homeowners should get a system designed so it will completely cover their electricity bill from the start. Adding on additional panels is not cheap and it may be difficult to match the new panels to existing panels – not to mention you may lose your existing feed-in tariff entitlements. Usually the solar consultant can help you determine what size system will suit your needs. Talk to someone who is experienced and knows what they are talking about. They should be checking your electricity bill and looking at your house orientation and shading.
BEST THING TO ASK?
Ask what brand of components will be used in the installation. Good quality components are a must, as a solar system is a long-term investment. You must ask about the warranty arrangements; most panels will be 25 years, inverters 2 to 5 years and some components offer extended 10-year warranty on inverters, which is highly recommended. Be sure to ask about the performance of the system.
This article appeared in The Sunday Mail on Sunday 24th February, 2013 (pg19). To view the full Adelaide Advertiser Sunday Mail Smart Edition, click here.