Submitted by Andrew on Thu, 28/07/2016 - 00:00
What It Takes To Be A Quality Solar Supplier


Eggs, milk, flour & butter. If you gave those ingredients to a toddler, would you expect them to make a delicious soufflé? Or a mess of your kitchen? Plenty of customers shopping for solar go through hours of research to identify good panel and inverter brands, but then make the mistake of choosing a solar company to install those products for the cheapest price. That's a recipe for disaster!

Choosing good solar panels and a quality inverter is only the first step towards a smooth experience.

In a recent study by CHOICE on solar power installations, 25% of people said they had to report faults with their system and needed support. Interestingly, less than 20% of these were due to faulty panels or inverters. Low quality equipment like breakers, cables and isolators are often to blame, as is poor workmanship.

When solar power systems are not installed properly, you risk roof leaks, poor system performance, and even fires. Also worrying, is when product warranties are unknowingly voided because manufacturer's installation instructions were not followed.

Think you’re covered by workmanship warranty? Hundreds & hundreds of solar companies have disappeared over the years, leaving customers up the proverbial creek when it comes to after-sales support.

People searching for a long-term solar power investment, need to identify a quality-focused solar company– not just quality products.

Here’s what you need to know about what it takes to be a quality solar supplier:

1. Solar power companies come and go, as do warranties

Countless solar power companies have disappeared in the last few years, and when they vanish so does their customers warranty support. These customers now have to try deal directly with the manufacturer if one of their components fails. Australia purchases less than 2% of China’s PV production, so it’s hard to imagine these large manufacturers (some with no Australian subsidiary) treating Aussie customers as a priority when it comes to faulty equipment.

At Solargain, we’ve been installing solar power for over 19 years. We’ve seen every rebate, downturn and shake out. We’ve proven we’re capable of honouring long-term warranties and we’re here for the long haul.

2. High voltage DC electricity is not safe

Electricity in general is not safe, and in solar power installations, it’s not uncommon to have DC string voltages over 500V. This is more than double the standard voltage in your house.

High voltage DC power is the primary cause of fires in solar power installations, as it has an increased chance of electrical arcing caused by low-quality components and poor workmanship. As such, experienced electricians and high quality components are a must if you want to keep your home safe.

Solargain is one of the most experienced installers in Australia with over 88,000 installations under our belt. We audit many of our installations in accordance with our Quality ISO 9001 certification. This is part of our quality process and helps us deliver high quality installations, consistently.

Additionally, to further protect your system from DC arcing, we recommend inverters with the latest Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) technology

3. There’s a right way to install (and a wrong way)

A government audit of 36,956 solar systems determined that over 21% were sub-standard or unsafe. Pretty shocking stats! On the 'Crap Solar' Facebook page, you'll find some of those dodgy operators named & shamed, along with numerous examples showing the risk of choosing cheap solar.

Following correct installation practices is critical to the overall safety & longevity of any solar power project. At Solargain, we put great emphasis on:

  • Using AC cabling and wiring that’s compliant with AS/NZ 5033 and AS/NZ 3000 quality and safety standards - including AC breakers, switchboard wiring and switchboard identification
  • Using DC cabling and wiring that’s compliant with AS/NZ 5033 and AS/NZ 3000 - including DC isolators, DC cable in roof, module cabling and configuration
  • Ensuring all inverter products are compliant with AS/NZS 4777
  • Mandating that PV arrays comply with solar panel clamp zones, and frame manufacturer specs, including the correct mounting feet spacing and edge exclusion zones.

4. Everyone claims "High Quality" – sort fact from fiction.

There’s not a solar energy company out there that doesn’t claim to do high quality work, so you need to seek independent proof. There’s no higher independent quality certification than ISO9001 which scrutinises every aspect of a business.

ISO9001 Quality Assurance certification ensures installation audits are taking place and records of these audits are kept. Our commitment to maintaining ISO9001 standards is so great, we employ a Quality Assurance expert to ensure ongoing compliance. If you are truly insisting on a high quality company and installation, look for a Quality ISO9001 certified company.

Another step you can take when choosing a solar provider is to check whether they are a New Energy Tech Approved Seller - Like Quality ISO9001 certification, New Energy Tech Approved Sellers must pass annual audits to prove they comply with industry-best-practices.

5. Everyone has thousands of happy customers, so find them online

So many companies boast about their countless happy customers. When this is true, they should be easy to find online. Seeking the opinion of previous customers is a great way to understand more about the company you’re considering, and we highly recommend you take a moment to uncover them. If you can’t find many reviews on a company, then perhaps they haven't been in business very long.

Solargain has consistently scored around 4.5 out of 5 stars on Product Review, Google & Trust Pilot from over 3,300 reviews. The opinions of our customers and other industry experts on independent forums is also something you should consider, and we encourage you to do so.

6. Service departments are rarely as good as they claim

Over 800 solar companies in Australia have failed, leaving over 650,000 "Solar Orphans". For those customers who chose a reputable brand, they can fortunately seek warranty support from the manufacturer's Australian subsidiary.

Manufacturers of solar products know the industry very well, and they know the companies they can rely on to service their equipment. For this reason, it’s no surprise that so many manufacturers choose to partner with Solargain for their servicing needs. 

No other company in Australia commits more to assisting these Solar Orphans than Solargain. We have performed more service calls to solar owners around Australia than any other company, and buying from Solargain gives you priority access to our dedicated Service Team & Service Technicians. This is peace of mind that no other supplier can provide.

7. The Bottom Line: Choose A Quality PV Company

For the reasons listed above, we can’t stress enough how important it is to choose a quality-focused solar provider. This will ensure your solar energy system provides you with the best ROI as well as many years of reliable operation.

With a proven track record for safe and compliant installations, be sure to get a Quote from Solargain.