Q
8 Reasons To Get A Site Inspection Before Buying Solar Power
A

If you are considering putting some solar panels on your roof, then I strongly recommend that you have a physical site inspection before getting firm quotes.

Since I started SolarQuotes many years ago, we’ve handled hundreds of thousands of quote requests and over those years the most frequent complaint I’ve had from people looking for quotes is:

“This solar installer won’t even give me a ballpark price for a solar system! He’s insisting one coming round to my house first!”

I understand the sentiment. If you want really ballpark figures, here are the approximate cost of solar systems. Just be aware that those prices can vary by thousands depending on your home’s layout and the condition of your roof.

If the prices on that page don’t have you running for the hills then the next step in all honesty is to have each solar installer/salesman come round and assess how suitable your home is for solar power.

A word about heavy handed sales tactics

A very valid reason for resisting a site inspection is that you have heard press reports of some solar sales people pressuring people into buying. I believe this is completely unacceptable. I work hard to try and keep solar companies that employ those tactics off SolarQuotes. But in the rare instance that someone referred through SolarQuotes tries to get you to sign anything without giving you the courtesy to go away and consider your options, just contact me. I don’t want to refer companies that use those tactics.

Oh, and whilst we are on the subject, if you ever come across one of the special breed of jerks who try to get you to waive your cooling off period, please kick them out of the door first, second, report them to ACCC, and third let me know so I can out them to the world.

The reality is that 98% of solar sales people and solar installers are really nice people who just want to come round so they can be sure that the recommend a system that suits your electricity usage patterns and your house. Of course they also want the opportunity to impress upon you why their solution is the best, but that is all part of the fun.

Rant over.

Here are the reasons why I recommend a site inspection if you want to end up with a  system that makes you happy:

1) You can look them in the eye and assess their competence by asking some tough questions like these. If they can’t answer them or look panicked, end the visit promptly and move on.

2) It weeds out the ultra cheap and nasty mobs who can’t afford to send someone round, they just wanna flog it, get someone to bang it on your roof and disappear.

3) They need to check the condition of your roof if it is more than 10 years old. It may need repairs before anything is installed. You really don’t want to have to remove your panels to repair your roof a few months/years down the line.

4) Shading. If you have any shade on your roof at all you just can’t assess how much that will hurt your solar power system from Google Earth or Nearmap.

5) Cable Routing. They need to assess how they are going to get the cables from the solar panels to the inverter with as little modification to your house as possible.

6) Your Switchboard. They need to look at your switchboard to see if it needs upgrading and if there is space inside it for an extra circuit breaker.

7) Inverter location. The need to scope out where the inverter can go where it will be nicely shaded, out of harms way, and ideally as close to the meter as possible.

8 ) Panel location. If you are getting a big system (3kW+) then roof space is likely to be at a premium. You should really get a more accurate measurement than Google Maps can provide. Also you may need to split your solar panels over multiple roof areas. If this is the case then you are much more likely to get a better designed, better performing system if the designer can actually visit your home.

Having said all that, you may want a small system, have a recently built home with a massive north facing roof, a modern switchboard and no trees or other shading issues whatsoever. In that case, you could reasonably argue that buying solar without an inspection is pretty low risk. And it is. But even if you are only paying $2,500 for your system, don’t forget that with the rebate, it is $5,500 worth of gear that you will use every day for the next 20 years and an inspection will hugely increase the chance that you get a system that performs well and makes you happy, then a quick inspection is kind of a no brainer isn’t it?

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