Solar a bright idea but do your research

DANNI BLOOMFIELDGeraldton Guardian
Neale Prior's rooftop solar panels.
Camera IconNeale Prior's rooftop solar panels. Credit: Neale Prior/The West Australian

Our sunny skies have paved the way for a booming solar panel industry in WA, as many households look for ways to cut their power bills while reducing their carbon footprint.

Rooftop solar has become so popular in fact, it’s estimated that 300,000 WA households already have panels installed, accounting for one-fifth of the electricity produced in our main network.

Even though there’s a lot to love about this renewable, some consumers have come to Consumer Protection with complaints about poor quality parts, companies going broke and pushy sales tactics.

If you’re considering installing rooftop solar, first ask yourself whether they are suitable for your needs, as solar often benefits consumers who use most of their electricity during the day. Also work out how much you will save by checking your energy usage on a recent bill.

Should you decide that the savings are worth it, it’s also important to consider the orientation and pitch of your roof to determine how much sun your panels would receive, as well as being across the total price of having all the components (panels and inverter) of a system installed.

Before agreeing to buy a solar PV system:

Get several quotes for the total cost. Make sure your preferred supplier is accredited by searching the Clean Energy Council (CEC) website.

If a supplier’s verbal claims are influencing your decision, have them included in the contract.

Make sure you understand the contract’s terms and conditions.

Check with your insurer as your home insurance may need to be extended to cover the system.

If you live in a strata scheme, check that you have approval to install a system; and

Read online reviews and feedback about the retailer.

Solar power providers are not allowed to use forceful or high pressure sales tactics to get you to buy something, nor can they provide you with false or misleading information.

They must also ensure their products and services meet the consumer guarantees.

For more or to find out where you should go to make a complaint, check Consumer Protection’s solar fact-sheet at www.commerce.wa.gov.au/publications/solar-panel- systems-factsheet.

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