Presented by One Energy

Choosing the right solar partner to get off the grid

Here’s what you need to know and ask of your prospective solar energy partner

Given the strategic importance of the decision you are making with regards to your electricity cost, supply and safety, as well as the quantum of your financial investment and expected ROI, it’s important to understand all the important aspects of your solar journey, as well as the key things you should be looking at when assessing a solar energy partner to work with.

One Energy provides an important checklist of what to know and check when assessing a solar partner to work with:

Track record

Choose a partner with the technical expertise and proven track record over time so that you get it right first time, for the long haul. No one becomes a specialist in 6 months. Ask for references and do the necessary due diligence.

Think carefully before working with solo operators – what is the succession plan to provide ongoing back-up and support on your system which has a 20+ year lifespan if the original installer is no longer around, for whatever reason?

How prepared are you to pay upfront deposits of 70% or more to solo operators where you have no recourse if things go awry?  Whether you intend to finance your deal or pay upfront for it, consider working with bank-approved solar providers who have been through the stringent vetting, quality and compliance checks in order to become bank-approved solar installers.

On-site consultation and audit

Before any installation happens, does your installer provide an onsite consultation and energy audit at no charge to you?

Has a site assessment and energy audit been done to ensure that your proposed solution is fit for purpose and your needs. Does your installer fully understand your expectations and are the capabilities of your proposed system aligned?

Finance options

For many homeowners the upfront capital outlay of financing a solar PV system upfront is not manageable. But be circumspect on the type of finance option you go into.

There are many solar rental options that have sprung onto the market offering incredibly low monthly instalments, while the contract fine print leaves you cold with hefty initiation fees and above inflationary annual escalations, never-ending ‘ever-green’ rental terms for systems you will never own, hefty penalties for early cancellations, and are simply not financially sound.

Rather finance your solar PV system for your home, in the same way that you finance your car or other asset with trusted financial services providers, taking full ownership of your system after the loan is repaid.

One Energy is a Nedbank-approved solar supplier, which means that you can apply for finance with MFC, a division of Nedbank, for your residential solar solution. And unlike many rental options, there are no penalty fees should you choose to settle your loan earlier.

You also have the peace of mind of knowing that you are working with a solar partner that has been thoroughly vetted by Nedbank and adheres to the highest standards of quality installation, tier 1 products, workmanship and after-sales support.

We also provide finance options for commercial clients through Merchant West with a fixed-term rental option whereby you own the equipment at the end of the finance term.

Scalability

Many people start with a scalable solar hybrid solution that takes care of immediate needs for back-up power during load shedding and power failures and allows you to scale up in future to self-generation by adding solar panels and additional batteries if needed.

However not all inverters offer this scalable functionality so it’s essential to work with a solar partner who is experienced in this field and understands your objectives.

NRS-097 regulations

Check that the inverter specified is on the list of Inverters/Equipment in terms of NRS 097-2-1 and that they can be legally connected to the grid. Do your research on the proposed components and be comfortable that the products are best-in-class.

SSEG Registration

All councils require you to apply for authorisation of an embedded generation system such as a rooftop solar PV.  Check with your installer if and what the requirements are for your installation.

As the property owner, you would need to make this application in person, or your installer may offer to do this for you at a fee to handle the documentation and application process on your behalf. It is one of the reasons why we only install inverters on the NRS-097 list so that you are compliant with any registration process that may come.

Safety and Compliance

A non-compliant installation has significant implications for your safety and your insurance cover if things go wrong and you need to claim.

Make sure that you receive an electrical COC for your installation from a qualified electrician – this will be a supplementary COC for the installation only and is in addition to your initial COC for your home or business premises, which you should already have.

Does your installer comply with relevant health and safety regulations during your installation?

Membership of a Professional Industry body

Check whether your provider is registered and a current member of professional industry bodies such as SAPVIA.  Is your installer a certified PV GreenCard installer?

Insurance

Does your installer have the requisite business insurance such as public and contractor’s liability and goods in transit cover to insure your goods while in storage and transit to your site?

If your contractor is involved in an accident or their vehicle is hijacked and your equipment is damaged or lost, are they suitably insured for the hardware which you have likely paid at least a 70-80% deposit for?

Once the equipment is delivered to your premises, remember then that the liability for its care and safe keeping then sits with you, and needs to be added to your insurance cover.

Warranties and product quality

Does your installer have the financial backing and proven reputation of standing by all product warranties and money-back guarantees? What are the warranties on the equipment?

Be especially wary of pricing on equipment that is too good to be true – it probably is. Theft and resale of stolen equipment is rife, as is counterfeit/rip-off goods – those rock-bottom prices are often indicative of the many cheap, counterfeit goods flooding the market from dodgy importers.

Quality Management

Check whether your provider has a CRM system which records the detailed installation and service history of your system, which means consistent quality control, warranty management and business continuity for you.

Is there the back-up of a national franchise or branch network if your original installer is no longer around in a few years time?

Handover

What is the handover process of the solar plant once installed? Typically this will involve an overview or induction of how your system operates, details regards monitoring and maintenance and setting up of your details for remote monitoring, handover of warranty documents and the COC once checked and signed off by the electrician and establishing any service requirements.

Back-up and support

Check that your solar installer provides ongoing support, annual site inspections if needed and services – solar geysers and heat pumps require an annual service as just one example, and inverters and batteries will need firmware updates from time to time.  Does your provider offer remote monitoring, maintenance and technical support to keep your system working optimally.

The journey to grid independence is a big and important step and you need to be sure that the steps you take today are right for your needs down the line.

Visit our website and download our comprehensive checklist of all the considerations you should be looking at and the important questions to ask of any prospective solar installer.

One Energy is a multiple award-winning and market leading solar energy franchise established in 2011 with a national footprint. We have completed over 13 500+ perfect installations and our ethos of perfect installations backed by quality work, service and products means that every one of our clients is a contactable reference.

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Choosing the right solar partner to get off the grid