Home Solar Panels - Independent Buyers Guide For NZ
This guide provides the information you’ll need to help make informed solar power investment decisions. From what questions to ask the solar companies, to figuring out what are the best solar panels to buy.
This solar buyer’s guide aims to assist customers who are looking to install grid-connected solar power systems, or for customers looking to have solar power with batteries installed.
If you have any questions at all, please feel free to ask me directly - [email protected]
How Do I Choose The Best Solar Power Installation Company?
- Seek Professional Advice – Your chosen installation company will be well educated in all things solar power and able to answer any questions you may have. Professional installers should be able to answer questions, both technical and simple, with competency. A little basic knowledge about the industry goes a long way, and keeps the cowboys at bay.
- Focus On Quality - Solar installation companies should explain why their products and services are the best, as opposed to simply pricing out competitors. Solar power systems are a decent investment and assurances are needed; is the system going to perform well? Will the system last for a long time? If in doubt, ask more questions!
- Ask For A Reference – Solar installers may have written references. While it is important that these companies keep customer details confidential, enthusiastic solar power customers are usually happy to share their experiences to new customers.
- Expect Excellent Service - Choose an installer who will wholeheartedly commit to your project, both pre-installation and post-installation. Commitment to service is key, no matter how long you plan to enjoy solar.
- Request A Site Visit - Most companies offer site visits, and we recommend you take advantage of this service. The company will access your roof and make notes on your electrical set up. Technical competency will also be displayed when having your site checked and approved.
- SEANZ Membership - Membership with SEANZ is the stamp of approval for quality solar installation companies. SEANZ has developed rigid requirements for members, ensuring only professional and qualified installers are allocated SEANZ memberships. Be sure that your installers are certified SEANZ members. You’ll find the SEANZ logo on the company’s website, if not - find certified installers here SEANZ directory.
- We Won’t Let You Down - At My Solar Quotes, all of our reputable solar power installers are certified SEANZ members; certified and professional installers will be providing quotes, (requested from our online quote request form).
How To Avoid Dodgy Traders
Be Cautious Of ‘Too Cheap’ - An offer that seems too good to be true, could be just that. There have been complaints of dodgy companies bringing containers of solar panels into New Zealand that are low quality and come without warranties.
Pushy Sales People - High-pressure selling techniques are always uncomfortable, no matter how well-meaning a salesperson might be. If they are after a quick deal, chances are they are in the industry for a quick buck and a short time.
Do Your Own Research - If customers experience less than satisfactory service they’ll share their story with 10 friends and negative reviews will appear online. Start with a google search of the company names in question, then check out other websites like reddit that have half a dozen forums about NZer's experiences with going solar.
Choose SEANZ Approved Installers - The association does their due diligence before bringing on board any new solar company. They are picky and often turn down membership applications. They also remove solar companies if they don't live up to the SEANZ code of conduct.
Solar Panels; How Many Should Be Purchased?
Choosing the right amount of solar panels and the size of the system is completely up to you. However, you need to ask yourself what your solar goal is. Maximising roof space? Reducing carbon emissions? Installing a system that meets your budget or reducing or eliminating your power bill? Maximising your return on investment? A solar power goal helps determine the right solar power system purchase.
If you let a solar installer professional know what your goal is, they can recommend the perfect system size (i.e. the right amount of solar panels) that is best for you. When requesting 3 free quotes via My Solar Quotes, please write a note in the comment section letting the solar companies know what your solar goal is.
Maximising Roof Space - Before purchasing a solar power system solar companies should provide a no-obligation, solar array-roof design. Solar power companies can determine the number of panels that can be installed on your north and/or west and east-facing roofs.
Reducing Carbon Emissions - It’s obvious; the more solar panels creating clean energy, the better! Read more about the environmental benefits of solar here.
Maximising Your Return on Investment - To figure the best ROI, solar experts look at power bills, they’ll also dig for details about your energy consumption habits, and once the solar professionals have completed their research they’ll recommend a system that offers the highest return on investment.
Eliminate Your Power Bill - This might not allow for the highest ROI, but it will get power bills down to $0 monthly. A power bill will still arrive each month, but it will either be in credit, $0 or only a few dollars if consuming extra power that month.
Read more here about figuring out how many solar panels you need.
What To Check For When Reviewing Solar Quotes
These are the four critical elements to analyse in your three, free solar quotes: cost, component brands, installation details, warranty information.
- Cost - Companies offering the best price are usually the first port of call when looking at solar power systems. However, it’s worth spending a bit of time researching as to whether the best price company is really giving you the best value for money.
- Component Brands - It’s important to note that solar panels are fairly standard these days, the differences between brands are small. Most use similar technologies and many brands produce their panels in the same factories. Independent research is always a great idea, but if in doubt My Solar Quotes has a guide for choosing the best solar panels here.
As mentioned, standard solar panels are very similar. Inverters are different, they are critical for the ultimate long-term solar panel experience. It’s advantageous to know which inverter brand will be used in your installation. If in doubt, search online for reviews, or phone around for advice. The longer warranty on a solar inverter the better! Good brands aren’t necessarily well-known names in this industry. Specialised companies with cryptic names are often behind some of the best inverters.
- Other Details To Look For - Be sure that the quote received for your installation includes all costs for all components and labour (cables, inverter, installation fees etc). The total cost should also include administration work. Including the installer’s fees helps to shape the complete price of the systems installed. The chosen solar installation company should be able to calculate these costs. Costs include the following:
• Council consent (only some councils in New Zealand require building consent).
• Lines connection fees (not all lines companies have connection fees).
• Meter install fee (approximately $100).
Does the quote include GST? Ask!
- Investigate Warranties, Thoroughly!
• Solar panels should have a 25 or 30 year performance warranty. The manufacturing warranty ranges from 10 years to 25 years.
• The inverter should have a minimum 5-year warranty, some offer 10. Consider paying for an extended warranty for this component; it has the shortest life expectancy out of all components. A longer warranty could save you from buying a new one down the line.
• Installer workmanship should have a warranty of at least 5 years.
• Solar panel mounting should have a warranty of 10 years. The mounting should be able to withstand New Zealand’s harsh and sometimes relentless environment.
The Solar Power Installation Process; From Start To Finish
Having selected a professional solar power installer and the system size you wish to install, these are the steps you can expect from point of purchase through to completed system:
Some solar companies may complete some of the following steps for you:
- Signing a companies contract and paying a deposit, normally between 10% and 50%.
- The form for the lines connection is sent (either by yourself or the solar company).
- Once you have lines approval, send the request to your energy retailer, they will supply an export meter.
- Four to eight weeks is the average wait time for a system to be installed (date of deposit through to having the system installed). Note: Due to shipping supply issues currently facing 2021/2022 there could be some long delays.
- A 1.5kW to 2kW system can take a half-day to install. A 5kW system can take one to two days for installation.
- Once the system is installed then an electrician will commission the system. The system can only be turned on once commisioned.
- The electricity retailer can install the export meter should you require one.
Good luck with your solar journey. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at [email protected]