Important questions to ask your solar company … and why you need to ask them!
You’ve done enough research to know that ‘going solar’ makes good business sense. Yet finding the time to properly research solar companies can be a struggle, especially if you’re not sure where to start.
That’s why we’ve come up with this comprehensive series of questions to your prospective solar partner, and more importantly, we’ve explained why each question is relevant. We’ve also included Solargain’s responses, because we believe we’re a benchmark for what you should be looking for in a reputable solar company.
Questions to ask about the solar company.
Solargain was among the first solar energy companies to obtain an ISO AS/NZS 9001:2008 Quality Management Systems accreditation. In 2012, Solargain also obtained its AS/ANZ 4801:2001 Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems accreditation.
These ISO accreditations are recognised across a number of industries (not just the solar industry).
Our ISO certifications cover all facets of our business, from installation through to sales and service. We believe external certification backs up everything we say about the quality of our company and provides added confidence for customers seeking a committed, compliant and secure solar energy installer.
Solargain has Installed systems for a number of councils and companies (including mining companies) that require high attention to safety practices.
- ABN Group brands such as Webb & Brown-Neaves and Celebration Homes
- Momentum Energy
- The Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA)
- The Western Australian Department of Housing
- Australian Hotels Association (VIC)
Questions to ask about their experience.
Solargain is proud to have grown our commercial division to a market-leading position nationally. We have installed and commissioned approximately 9MW of commercial solar (10kW to 100kW) since January 2013, one of the highest volumes for any solar company in the country.
Solargain has been in the solar PV industry since 2008. Our Commercial division has over 10 staff dedicated solely to delivering large scale commercial solar projects who have been in the industry for a number of years.
Our Commercial sales consultants are backed up by professional technical support, with a number of Solargain Commercial staff with not only industry experience but formal qualifications in renewable energy and/or electrical certifications.
We also engage a number of consulting engineers with long-term solar experience for large scale projects at Solargain.
Questions to ask about customer service.
Solargain has established direct warranty relationships with a number of inverter and panel manufacturers. We are also a preferred service agent for a number of these suppliers due to our experience and expertise.
Our service technicians and team are comprehensively trained in fault-finding, internal inverter repairs and solar power design. In addition to our onsite capability, our branches are also equipped to conduct a number of internal inverter repairs in-house and we also maintain a stock of repaired and/or replacement items.
Solargain has a mix of both internal (employed) and external (contractor) installation teams, the vast majority of which have been with Solargain for a number of years. Irrespective of whether Solargain contracts out the installation, all system design, approvals, engineering and project management are the responsibility of the Solargain project team. We also supply our installation teams with key components like switches, connectors, and isolators to ensure the right quality for these smaller value but important components.
All our installation team members (whether internal or external) will be:
- Clean Energy Council accredited;
- Licensed electricians & electrical contractors (with working at heights competencies);
- Inducted into both our accredited Quality Management & Health & Safety management systems;
- Overseen by a senior, experienced Installation Manager;
- Subject to spot checks by our National Manager of Health, Safety & Quality;
- Given a work pack which includes all of the customer details, site notes, system design drawings, panel layouts, safe work method statement (SWMS), and project timeline.
Questions to ask about the products.
Your inverter should come with a minimum of a five-year warranty, with quality suppliers offering extensions to 10 years free of charge or with minimal additional cost.
Solar panels or modules come with two types of warranties. The first is a performance warranty, which is a minimum guaranteed output from the panels, generally over a 25 year period. The second is a warranty on the manufacture of the module itself, which is for 10-12 years, covering items such as the glazing, framing and wiring.
Also very important is the workmanship or installation warranty – Solargain offers a five-year installation warranty.
Solargain chooses supply chain partners that are large, international, well established manufacturers who support their products locally in Australia with their own staff and offices.
The products that we recommend are not only used for many other commercial systems, but also for large international solar projects, including both rooftop and utility scale projects.
This is important from a quality point of view and also from a financial stability point of view. The warranties provided for the core products extend over many years, which means we need renowned manufacturers who are able to stand behind their warranty obligations for the long term.
Solargain does not supply panels that are not independently assessed by peer reviewed organisations such as Bloomberg Energy Finance US and therefore appearing on their Tier 1 solar panel manufacturer list. Such accolades recognise the manufacturer’s commitment to quality manufacturing processes, independent testing and certification, longevity and stability in the market, and after-sales service.
We also assess the manufacturer’s global reputation – proved track record in markets that they have been operating in for longer than in Australia.