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Choosing a cheap solar PV system might seem like the easiest way to embrace renewable energy at your home. Unfortunately, poor quality solar panels could actually end up costing you a lot more in the long term. 

Solar panel longevity counts. Customers who choose the cheapest solar panels can be stung by much higher costs later if they are poor quality solar panels and later need repairs or replacement. It’s worth investing in high quality solar inverters too – or you could be like the customers who end up with the cheap solar systems which don’t generate anywhere near as much solar energy as they expected.

When you’re researching the best solar inverters and doing your own solar panel quality comparison, here are some reasons a cheap solar PV system might not be your best option. 


High quality solar panels come with solid warranties

When you’re trying to find quality solar PV systems, look closely into the retailer and manufacturer warranties. It’s not enough to simply have a warranty – check on the solar panel longevity and what that warranty is likely to cover. 

The rooftop solar industry is competitive – so there are many solar providers that can seem like great options at first, based on price alone. However, when you dig a little deeper, you might discover they may have some tricky tactics in place to avoid covering their warranties. 

For example, watch out for any solar PV system provider who will void your warranties if you don’t follow the regular solar panel servicing and cleaning schedule that you pay the same company to complete. Good quality solar PV systems actually need very little maintenance because they don’t have moving parts and it’s usually quite easy to clean your solar panels yourself. Paying for solar panel maintenance and cleaning, and having this built into the warranty of solar panel systems, is generally not necessary.

These warranty conditions have been used by some companies in the past. For example, their solar panel performance warranty becomes void if you don’t pay for servicing once every three months, with an extra service every one and five years, which most is often unnecessary. Some solar installers can use these tactics to reduce their liability for their products, and you may find that a cheap solar PV system comes with these conditions in the fine print.


Good quality solar has quality modules

Your home is one of the most valuable assets you’ll ever own. Choosing high quality solar panels and the other components of your solar PV system is an investment in your future, which you want to last for decades to come. 

The different components that make up your system can vary quite a bit – both in price and quality. With high quality components from reputable brands, your solar PV system is likely to last and provide you with effective solar electricity generation for many years.

Look closely into the quality and reliability of each component, including:

  • Good quality solar with an Australian presence

    You should consider the local presence of your solar panel supplier. When your solar component supplier has an Australian presence, it can be easier to claim any warranties, if you have any issues with your system.  This is because an Australian presence generally means that your service and support are handled locally, rather than overseas. Claiming a warranty from a manufacturer or supplier located overseas can be time-consuming and difficult. If solar panels are cheap because they have no local presence and something goes wrong, the cheapest solar panels could turn into a costly headache.
  • High quality solar panels

    Choosing cheap solar panels could mean your solar PV system operates inefficiently and, in some cases, could fail completely. Here in WA, you need quality solar panels built to withstand our extreme conditions and still perform well. Cheap solar panels can often have issues such as hot spots or cracking because these have not been designed to survive in our hot Australian sun.
  • Quality solar inverters

    Your solar inverter is the part of your solar PV system which converts the DC (or direct current) solar energy from your rooftop solar into AC, (or alternating current) electricity you can use in your home. Some solar inverters are considered low-quality and unreliable but continue to be sold because they are part of a cheap solar PV system. Poor quality solar inverters can fail not long after installation, putting your investment at risk. To avoid issues with your solar inverter, choose a reputable solar inverter manufacturer with Australian support. 
  • Balance of System components

    Balance of System (BOS) components include your racking or solar panel mounting, cables, connectors, electrical panels and wiring. Watch out for cheap solar PV systems with poor quality Balance of System (BOS) components. When companies cut costs on these parts, they can increase the risk of faults and reduce the performance of the system. If you’re getting several quotes as part of your solar panel quality comparison and research, you can often spot where companies have tried to cut costs by comparing the prices of your quotes with similar solar panels and inverter brands. When you weigh up the impact that cheap BOS components could have on your solar panel longevity, it’s not worth trying to cut costs here.

By selecting solar components from reputable and high-quality manufacturers rather than opting for the cheapest solar panels and system, you’ll know your solar PV system is more likely to provide you with long-term savings. High quality solar panels and other components can have a lot less chance of failing and are likely to have more support from your manufacturer and your solar installer if you do have any issues.


Watch out for solar installers with dodgy conditions and clauses

If a price seems much too low compared to what other providers are offering, take a closer look at the solar provider’s terms and conditions. These can be a minefield of dodgy ‘Gotcha’ clauses, where solar providers try to make up for the money they’re not getting by selling the cheapest solar panels.

For example:

  • Some solar companies resort to a ‘bait and switch’ scheme, where they talk you into purchasing a supposedly high-quality panel for a low price but will install cheap solar panels instead. 
  • Instead of using qualified solar installers, you might have your solar energy system installed by roofing contractors and only signed off by an electrician. This is extremely unsafe and puts you and your home at risk. It’s also likely that your solar PV system won’t be installed to correct standards, which can impact how much solar energy your system can generate.
  • Some solar companies might include in their conditions that the contractor they’ve assigned to your installation is liable for any damage or defect in the installation of your system. This means they are passing all liability onto the contracted solar installer, rather than taking responsibility themselves. If something goes wrong with your installation, your solar provider would not be required to offer you any assistance or reimbursement and  you would have to take on the contractor by yourself.

To make sure you’re choosing a quality solar PV system, always make sure you read and understand the conditions and clauses in your quote. A reputable solar provider should be happy to talk through any questions you may have about your purchase and the installation. 


Consider solar company longevity and reputation

Across Australia, many solar companies have gone bust in the last 10 years. This has left customers without any support or warranty to fall back on. 
Choose good quality solar panels from a reputable provider with many years of experience. This means there’s likely to be less risk of them going out of business and leaving you with a worthless warranty for your rooftop solar PV system.


Look for a high-quality sales experience

Trust your instincts when you’re getting quotes for solar PV systems.

Some solar companies hire salespeople that only work on commission, rather than a standard wage. If your salesperson is relying on selling you the cheapest solar panels so they can get paid, they might not have your best interests at heart. Beware if they exaggerate the quality of the cheap solar PV system they are selling – make sure you do your own research.

Watch out if you feel that a salesperson is overselling the benefits of solar energy. For example, don’t believe anybody who tells you that you can say goodbye to any future electricity bills by having solar. You’ll still need to use power from the grid when the sun goes down or on cloudy days. 

Door-knocking and “buy-now” offers are some of the others tactics that solar companies might try to pressure you to sign up with them. A reputable solar provider should be happy to let you think over the decision, do your own research and should be able to answer any questions you have to help you make your decision. You may also have 'cooling off' rights. Good quality solar is a significant investment in your home, so it’s a decision you’ll need to consider carefully.


How to choose good quality solar

Like any major purchase, don’t let price be the only factor when investing in a solar PV system. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

One of the most important things to consider when looking at investing in a solar PV system is how and when you use your electricity. If you can switch some habits to use most of your solar power during the sunniest times of day, rather than exporting it to the grid, you could make the most of your solar energy and help to keep WA’s electricity network stable.  

Most homeowners invest in a solar PV system to make the most of renewable energy and save on their electricity bills. Remember that payback periods for most solar PV systems can be anywhere between 3 and 5 years, if you can shift your electricity usage to consume all or most of the solar electricity your system generates, so it could be a few years before you see a return on your investment. 

Always look closely into any contract and do your homework on your solar provider before you decide. Look at how long they’ve been in business, if they’re part of the Clean Energy Council (CEC)'s Approved Seller program, their terms and conditions – and watch out for any high-pressure sales tactics. 

A cheap solar system could be risky. Ultimately, a solar PV system is a power station attached to one of your most valuable assets, your home, so a quality solar PV system is worth the investment.

If you want to learn more about tips for choosing a solar PV system installer, learn about the red flags you should watch out for when shopping for solar.