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Going Solar
Questions to ask before choosing your Solar Service Provider

If the country’s loadshedding woes have also prompted you to consider installing solar power at your home or business, it is important to ask questions about the equipment, installation, and the after-sales service before you enter into an agreement with a service provider.  Although widely considered as a necessity, going solar is also a hefty investment and it is prudent to do your due diligence when selecting a service provider before you sign on the dotted line.

Here are our thoughts on the questions you should be asking your solar service provider:

 1. How long have you been installing solar systems?

If you're considering going solar, one of the first questions you'll need to ask your potential solar service provider is how long they've been in business. While there's no magic number of years in business that guarantees a quality solar installation, you'll want to make sure your provider has at least a few years of experience under their belt.

2. Can you provide me with reference installations which has been installed more than 5 years ago and where the same equipment is still operational?

It is important to ask for references of installations that the provider has done, preferably ones that have been operational for more than 5 years. This will give you a good idea of the provider's quality of work and whether they stand behind their product.

3. What are the product warranties on the equipment you supply?

Warranties on solar equipment can vary depending on the manufacturer, so it’s important to ask your potential solar service provider about the warranties they offer on the equipment they supply. Some manufacturers may offer optional extended warranties which sets them apart from other manufacturers.

4. What kind of protection do you install to protect equipment against external events?

Ask you service provider what measures are being taken into account in the design to protect the installation against uncontrollable external event such as wind gusts, lightning and electrical surges.

It is valuable too to understand what quality standards the equipment complies with which will dictate the possibility to withstand for instance hail stones and once again, power surges.

5. How long is the workmanship guarantee?

The workmanship guarantee from your solar service provider is important because it covers any issues that may arise due to installation. This includes making sure the panels are installed correctly and anchored securely to your roof. Additionally, if any problems occur with the electrical connections or other parts of the system, the workmanship guarantee will cover those repairs.

6. Can your systems be financed?

Be sure to ask your potential service provider about the different financing options they have available. This will help you determine which option is right for you and your budget.

7. What local support is available for the products you supply?

It is important to find out what kind of maintenance and repair services are available in your country for the specific solar products before selecting a solar system and whether stock is readily available. Some companies may offer these services for an additional fee, while others may include them in their standard warranty coverage. Be sure to ask about what is included in each company's coverage before making your final decision.

8. Please send / show me the NRS certification for the inverter(s).

As a safety measure, always ask to see the National Regulatory Code (NRS) certification for any solar inverters being considered for your home. This code was created by the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) nd provides guidelines for rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems. The NRS certification means that a product has been tested and approved by an accredited, independent third party and that the equipment Conform to the regulatory requirements for the Interconnection of Embedded generation.

9. What are the differences between 16-cell vs. 15-cell batteries and which option will be used for my installation?

There are several key differences between 16-cell and 15-cell batteries that should be considered when choosing a solar service provider. 16-Cell batteries typically have a higher capacity and can store more energy than 15-cell batteries which ultimately culminates in a longer battery life. This makes them ideal for use in high power applications. 16-Cell batteries tend to be more expensive than their 15-cell counterparts. 

15-Cell batteries, on the other hand, are typically smaller and lighter than 16-cell batteries. This makes them easier to transport and install. They also have a lower overall cost. 

10. Do your installations make provision for essential and non-essential loads and can solar energy be used to power non-essential loads even if non-essential loads are connected on the incoming wire?

Essential loads are those loads that need to be powered in the event of a power failure. Non-essential loads are those that you can easily get by without, such as the hot water heater.

Although not required to have such a split, generally speaking, an approach such as this ensures optimal capital expenditure for your solar system. This simply means that you get an optimal system according to the money you spend.

Ask your Solar Service Provider How his proposal makes provision for and essentials and non-essential split.

11. What adjustments will I need to make in my daily routine once a system is installed?

As you begin to generate your own electricity with solar, you may need to make some adjustments in the way you use and consume electrical power.  Your solar service provider should be able to offer guidance an advice on how your electricity consumption habits should be adjusted in line with the various options for solar solutions.

As the solar industry continues to grow, there are more and more companies popping up offering solar services. It can be tricky to navigate the different options and figure out which one is right for you and your home.

With 10 years of experience in the solar system industry, we are confident in providing advice and assisting our clients in choosing a power system that suits their needs. We believe in customer relations, quality products and service and we offer financial options! Contact Less Watts on info@lesswatts.co.za or visit our website www.lesswatts.co.za

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