26 November 2020

Not all solar is equal

Submitted by Marc Ashton

Property owners considering an investment in a solar solution should conduct a structured due diligence before committing to any solar product or solar installer.

This is the opinion of Rein Snoeck Henkemans, the Managing Director of Solec SA who recently addressed this topic during a webinar aimed at residential property owners and investors.

“It is a perfect storm: Load-shedding is back, Eskom is pushing for higher tariffs and the COVID-19 pandemic has meant more people are working from home and they cannot afford to be offline without access to stable electricity,” says adding that there is a clear increase in the number of enquiries for residential solar solutions. 

“It is important to reiterate that your solar solution is an investment, and you are likely to get better returns when you invest in higher quality solutions,” says Snoeck Henkemans.   

He advises that the following should be considered when looking at picking the right solar solution and installer for your property:

1. Verify the supplier’s credentials and ask for case studies before committing

2. Confirm that they are in fact licensed to conduct solar installations and have a Wireman’s license, SAPVIA registration, PV Green Card and a “Working at Heights” Certificate if the installation will be taking place on a rooftop.

3. Understand the relationship between panels, batteries and inverters. Tier 1 rated solar modules would be the recommended standard, as they have passed rigorous testing and have the required certificates in place.

4. Ensure that your quotation and installation costs are broken down by individual parts. For example, labour and mounting structures should be clearly indicated in separate line items. This will assist in the process of eliminating any extra hidden costs.

5. Reputable installers will conduct a physical site assessment and plan – typically at no charge – to plan and design the solar system for your home and will indicate the layout of the system components. Solec SA also includes a sizing tool on their website for potential customers to establish what size system they will require to meet their electricity needs as each home req2uires a specific solution.

6. Find out how much electricity your system is actually going to produce. Quality installers should provide this as part of their initial analysis.

7. Confirm if your system is going to be monitored and  what tools will the installer make available to you to better manage your solution

8. Make sure that the installer supplies you with the original Electrical Certificate of Compliance. 

9. The installer should clearly outline the post installation maintenance and the costs involved with either an outright purchase or rent-to-own option.

10. Understand the warranties and guarantees on all the components of your solar installation as well as the installation itself – check whether there are any differences between the manufacturer and installer guarantees and query these if necessary. Some manufacturing guarantees are void if the installation was not conducted by a certified installer.

“For the majority of South Africans, their job is their greatest asset and with load shedding and the work-from-home trend both expected to play a major part in their lives. An investment in solar makes a lot of sense – it is important that you focus on making the right investment.” Snoeck Henkemans concludes.