2018 Solar Survey-Choice
1,028 Choice members across Australia have been surveyed about their experience buying and owning a solar power system – and the results are quite interesting.
Carried out earlier this year, the latest results were published by the consumer advocacy group on Friday. Here’s a look at some of what was revealed.
While 61% reported receiving between two and five quotes before making a purchase decision, 34% received a quote from just one installer. 22% of survey respondents said they chose a company based on price – this is concerning as there can be a high cost associated with very cheap solar.
Solar Panel and Inverter Brands
The most commonly installed brands of solar panels were Suntech (7%), followed by Trina (6%) and LG, Jinko and Sunpower (5%). The prevalence of Suntech indicates many of those participating in the survey have had their systems in place for some time.
With regard to inverters, Choice notes the most common “brands” were SMA (14%), Sunny Boy (14%) and Fronius (12%). However, what wasn’t noted is that Sunny Boy is SMA – it’s part of the SMA product line, not a brand.
On the battery side of things, only 9% had energy storage; with 24% choosing a Tesla Powerwall, 17% had a LG Chem battery and 11% installed Enphase. These home battery systems were among the first to be available in Australia.
On average, respondents gave a rating of 72/100 for solar installer satisfaction. Choice notes the results indicate smaller independent providers delivered a better service and generally experiences improved where systems were installed after 2016.
30% of respondents reported having a problem with the installer, with the most common issue being delay in installation. Around a third indicated experiencing problems with their system post-installation, with the largest portion of those problems (20%) related to the inverter.
Questions were also asked about payback times – 47% stated it was the same or shorter than detailed by their installer and 10% said it was longer.
Further results from the survey can be reviewed here.
The breakdown of when systems were installed wasn’t clear in Choice’s summary, but given some of the brands mentioned, various notes and statistics, a number of systems were installed prior to 2009. The Australian solar industry has greatly improved since that time and in particular in the last few years (Australians have also become more solar-savvy), but there are still traps and pitfalls for the unwary.
Potential solar power system purchasers can minimise the risk of problems through careful research of installers, solar panels and inverters. Other useful resources include The Good Solar Guide, a step-by-step guide to installing solar energy systems in Australia that is free to read online.