Consumer Guide /Complaints & Pitfalls to purchasing a "Solar Grid Connect System"


 Much of the Australian Solar Industry is a Train Wreck Waiting to Happen

 SWR

BE AWARE THAT THERE ARE A LOT OF SOLAR DEALS THAT APPEAR TO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IN MOST CASES YOU WILL BE PURCHASING VERY POOR QUALITY PRODUCTS THAT DO NOT HAVE A REAL WARRANTY, INSTEAD THE WARRANTY IS SUPPORTED BY AN INSURANCE POLICY, AS SOON AS THE RETAILER OR IMPORTER STOPS PAYING THE PREMIUM THERE IS NO LONGER A WARRANTY.

Where do you start when you want to produce clean energy from your rooftop? Here are some of the top considerations when choosing a solar power system. Firstly consumers must be aware many of the cheaper panels on the Australian market have been dumped here by Chinese manufacturers that no longer exist or who have been absorbed or hidden away into other companies, these panel are quite often constructed using "B" or "C" grade quality silicon materials that would be lucky to last 10 years under our harsh Australian conditions, they have lower outputs and many fail due to poor human workmanship rather than being constructed by a proven mechanical process. Likewise the inverters used will have similar issues and in most cases are not sophisticated enough or compatible with much of the new trickle feed and battery back up storage technology that is about to be introduced to Australian consumers.

Read more: http://www.pv-magazine.com/news/details/beitrag/solar-industry-set-for-renewed-oversupply-and-shakeout_100024833/#axzz4MyGjY3bB

Read more: http://reneweconomy.com.au/2016/quality-concerns-solar-module-prices-hit-rock-bottom-85293

YOU MUST PURCHASE ESTABLISHED BRANDS WITH LEGITIMATE WARRANTIES

1. Is now the right time for me to install solar power?

Whatever stage you’re at in investigating solar, reducing energy consumption is often the simplest, easiest way to start reducing carbon emissions and lowering bills.

There are many actions you can take to improve the energy performance of your home. High priorities include:

  • ensuring your building insulation is appropriate
  • using energy efficient appliances
  • installing solar heat pump hot water systems not gas boosted traditional solar products

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Financial incentives often play a role in the decision to install solar power and these incentives currently reduce the cost of installation dramatically, the paybacks on the premium solar power systems sold by the "Enter Shop" are around 5-6 years and return around 18% so its much better than bank interest. While the rebates are in still place, installing solar power is a very worthwhile investment.

 

2. Choosing the ‘size’ of your solar power system

You should consider what your main aim is in installing a solar power system. Do you want to reduce your electricity bills to zero? To offset all your energy use? Do you simply want a small budget system? Or perhaps you’d like a small system now with the ability to be expanded (adding solar panels) later on?

You don’t need to buy a system to supply all of your use, although you may wish to. If the electricity your system is producing doesn’t cover what you need at any point in time, enough electricity will be taken from the grid.

Limiting factors on your choice may include your budget and the available unshaded roof space for panels. Discuss the options with an installer(s) and when you have made up your mind be clear with the installer what your aim is.

We believe you should not be attempting to install a system so that you can put the extra additional power back into the grid, this return is currently only 8 cents per Kwh in Victoria and you purchase power from the grid at around 27 cents per Kwh, have a look at your power bill establish what your average consumption is in Kwh per day and give us a call to help you work out what size system will do the job.

3. The cost of your solar power system

There are a few main components of the cost of a solar power system – the solar panels (also called modules), the inverter, the installations cost, a ‘tilt frame’ (if required) and other costs (including wiring and small components).

Often you will also require a new meter to be installed, but the type, costs and installation of this will be at the discretion of your electricity distribution network provider, and will be an additional cost often not included in the cost of your system. Check on the quote you receive. The cost of a new smart meter will be covered by the provider in Victoria however you will need to pay for the service call generally about $200, this will be invoiced to you by your provider and is not included in the installation quote (this is the only extra cost you will have to pay)

The cost of quotes will depend on the different components offered. There are different types of solar panels, monocrystalline, polycrystalline and ‘thin-film’ (also called amorphous). There are many different brands of solar panels and inverters.

You should also be aware that a company that conducts a site assesment prior to quoting and customises a system to your unique circumstances will be preferred generally more than one who does not offer the same level of service. (this would include a suggested panel location mud map and output documentation)

 

4. Choosing solar panels

The best solar panels (also called modules) for you depends on your budget, whether you want to buy a certain brand or Australian made and the type of site that you have – how large it is and whether it is shaded.

Thin-film panels are better for shaded sites and in general are a little cheaper, however they also require more space. Polycrystalline and mono-crystalline panels are more efficient and need less space but are not suited to sites with extended shade periods. Panels also come in different sizes (wattages) and many brands.

Panels must comply with Australian Standards and you’re installer should ensure that only approved panels are offered. Over time panels lose some of their performance. Warranties reflect this, with a guarantee of 90% of stated output (in watts) over 10 years, and 80% of state output for a period of 25 years.

 

5. Choosing an inverter

Inverters vary widely in design, quality and features. Some of the tasks an inverter performs are:

  • Monitoring and optimizing the system voltage to gain the best conversion of solar energy to electricity;
  • Converting this d. c. current to a. c. (electricity grid) current with as little harmonic distortion as possible;
  • Safety features to prevent a dangerous situation if a fault is detected;
  • Monitoring and displaying or broadcasting system performance

Your electrician must ensure that your inverter is on the CEC list of approved inverters and meets the requirements of your electricity distributor.  You may want to know the length of warranty, where it is manufactured, and if there is an Australian distributor in case of repair or replacement. Be aware that most of the cheap inverters on the market will not be compatible with the new trickle feed storage technology that is coming that is why we only sell the german SMA inverters

You want the best quality and reliability within your budget and may want to consider how much monitoring of performance the inverter (or associated equipment) allows.

 

6. Siting your solar power system

Your designer/installer should, in consultation with you, optimize the site of your solar power system to maximize its benefit. The ideal site for a solar power system is a north facing section of your roof with no shading. Unfortunately not everyone has such a spot.

If you don’t have a suitable north facing roof, alternatives may be to use a north-west or north-east facing roof, and/or use a “tilt-frame” to mount the panels reoriented to face in the correct direction.

If there is any shading on your optimal site then the installer may recommend a different type of panel (e.g. thin film) that is better suited. A small amount of panel shading can cause significant losses in the output power.

Sometimes two differently roof areas with different orientation may be used to maximize the solar energy throughout the day. A special type of inverter is then used to combine the two sources. Our SMA inverters offer this option

 

7. Design of the solar power system

Your installation company or system designer should optimize the overall design of the system to suit your needs.

We at enter will provide you with a system expected output document and design see typical document

here More Info

It is important to note that your solar panels will never generate quite as much power as they are rated for, as they are rated for performance at optimal conditions.

In the design process, allowances are made for losses that occur at each stage and variations due to external factors such as temperature.

Australian Standards specify many of the requirements for safe design and operation of a system. These include correct cable types and wiring conventions, fuses and placement of components.

 

8. What Should I Look for in an Installer?

You must use a CEC-accredited installer. Look for an installer who takes reasonable care in recommending a system for your needs. See our installer details here More Info It is worthwhile getting 2-3 quotes so that you are making an informed decision.

A site visit may not be essential for an initial cost estimate but it is important that an installer inspects the location before you commit to an installation.

You want to be sure that your system is specifically suited to your location and takes all of these variations into consideration.

Find out what warranties are offered on panels, inverter, any other equipment, as well as any guarantees the installation workmanship itself.

 

9. What Subsidies and Financial Incentives are Available?

Installation of renewable energy generation systems are helping Australia to move towards targets of clean energy generation and therefore credits are awarded when a system is installed. This is acheived with certificates (STCs) created under the Federal Government’s Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme and the value of these certificates is determined by a market price recently varying between $20 and $40 each.

The number of certificates generated depends on your location (see our zone map corresponding to climate variations) and the system size in kilowatts.

How much rebate/discount you will receive elegible will depend on whether you are eligible for ‘Solar Credits’. 

State governments control the minimum feed-in tariff that electricity retailers will pay you for the power you supply to the grid. This may be based on the gross or total power your system produces, or the net energy after power you are consuming at the time of measurement. Tariffs vary widely from state to state and purchase and feed in rates from retailer to retailer shop around for the best deal. 

 

10. What is the Payback Time for a System?

The payback time for a solar installation will vary dramatically depending on the your location and unique situation.

An installer should be able to give you an approximation of the time it will take for a solar power investment to pay for itself. This calculation will take into account your past energy use, the system cost and production capacity, as well as feed-in tariffs that affect the savings you make. The "enter shop" will provide you with pay back data and a % return on your investment based on the premium systems we sell. Remember you will need to pay a little more for quality.

 

Bonus Answers

11. Will Solar Power Mean I Have Power When the Electricity Supply Fails?

If your house is connected to the electricity grid, you can install a grid-connect system, as described above, that will feed the solar-produced power into the grid when you are not using it and will draw more power from the grid when you need it. However, it the grid power fails you cannot use the power generated from the roof without it.

If you want to have a power system that will keep giving you power when the electricity grid fails, you will have to install a battery backup system, also known as an Uninterruptable Power System (UPS). This also demands a different system design, a regulator, and a specific inverter for this purpose. These products are on the market now however they are still over priced and many are unproven, if you purchase a cheap inverter the chances are that it will not be compatible with this new technology

 

12. Solar Power Without Grid Power

Many people live comfortably without being connected to the electricity grid. This does require a reasonable sized solar power system (~2-5kW) complemented by some good energy efficiency habits.

Some installers specialize in off-grid or “standalone power systems” (SPS). The design process is very different from grid connected systems as the system  size must be calculated using the household power demand at the time of year when the solar power system is producing the least, i.e. winter.

Commonly, a diesel generator will be part of the system so that batteries can be charged, and appliances used, at times when the solar power output is not keeping up with demand. Contact us if you wish to go down this path we have very experienced installer in the specialist area.

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COMPLAINTS MANAGEMENT PROCEEDURE & RESOLUTION PROCESS ENTER ENERGY & WATER

 Eco Investment Group Australia

10 Frankston Gardens Dr, Carrum Downs
VIC 3201
ABN: 88 153 040 281

Eco Investment Group Australia P/L Trading as www.enter-shop.com.au & www.enter-energyandwater.com

At Enter Energy & Water we are committed to responding to customer feedback effectively and efficiently. Feedback assists us to improve our services and deliver better outcomes. While we strive to deliver best of service to our customers, there may be times where we may receive customer complaints. We have set up this page to help manage and resolve complaints.

Scope of the Complaint

Complaints managed under this policy:
• Solar PV System
• Service within Enter Energy and Water
• Employees or Installers
• Warranty
• Rebates

Enter Energy & Water’s Complaint Procedure

We will always try to find a resolution to all complaints at the time they are raised. However, if we need to investigate the complaint further in detail, we’ll aim to resolve it. We will ensure to have an outcome within ten working days of receiving the complaint in writing.

For any reason the complaint resolution is not going as fast as we set out we will communicate the need for more time and request a new time frame. During the resolution time our customer will be provided with updates via phone calls and emails about the progress.

If our customer is not satisfied with the decision, we will escalate and expedite the request to higher authority depending upon the nature of the complaint.

First point of contact for complaints will be handled by our post installation team if no outcome has been received then the post installation team will redirect the complaint to the management team who will be able to review and find the required resolution.

Enter Energy and Water Requires the following Information:
• Name and contact details
• Job/ contract number
• nature of the complaint
• remedy requested
• copies of evidence that supports your complaint
• details of conversation you may of had with the relevant people

In the case you would like to escalate a complaint within Enter Energy & Water or outside Enter Energy & Water, please use the following details:

Enter Energy and Water
Phone: 1300 141 455
Email: admin@enter-energyandwater.com
Website: www.enter-energyandwater.com

Clean Energy Council
Phone: 03 9929 4141

Australian competition and Consumer commission
Phone: 1300 302 502

Consumer Affairs Victoria
Phone: 1300 558 181