PIA’s: Is Your Solar Installer Checking Before Installation?
Buying solar is a big investment. As with all big investments, it’s important to be sure that what you’re buying is correct for your needs and you’re not paying hidden costs at a later date.
Proven Energy always sends a Clean Energy Council accredited and experienced solar qualified electrician to check all installation sites thoroughly before installing a solar system. This check is known as a Pre-Installation Assessment (PIA).
Depending on the angle of your roof, its condition, nearby shading, the age of your switchboard, and mains cabling, to name a few, there may be extra costs to ensure a quality installation that will be compliant and have no surprises.
So what exactly do we check for and why?
Switchboard & Meter
Depending on the age of your property and the type of installation, your switchboard may not be up to scratch. It’s a legal requirement that all electrical work needs to meet current legislation, so switchboard upgrades aren’t optional. Older switchboards were often made of flammable wood or chipboard, backed with asbestos or contained outdated porcelain fuses. They also occasionally don’t even contain a safety switch, designed to save people in the event of a fault.
Upgrading a switchboard can be done before the installation or on the day.
We also check to make sure that the correct meter is installed, so your solar system can be connected to the grid and you can receive money back for excess electricity you produce. Fortunately, as of late 2018, Ergon and Energex both cover the meter replacement charge, which means that if you also need a new meter, it won’t come at an additional cost.
Unfortunately, it is common practice in our industry for unscrupulous salespeople to ignore the switchboard question altogether. Customers often don’t realise they are up for extra costs until they find out the bad news a frustrated Ergon or Energex meter installer. No solar today…
An important step in undertaking a PIA is to check that all electrical wiring has been correctly installed. Not only is this a legal requirement, but messy or badly wired houses can lead to problems with how your solar system works, as well as increased risk of future electrical problems and accidents.
Roof position & condition
It’s surprising how often it’s a close fit, not an easy fit. The skill and care of the installing electrician is tested in this situation. You need to ensure issues such as obstacle shade and correct wiring configurations matching your inverter’s requirements are planned for.
With solar panels needing a specific minimum area, angle and the correct fittings, it’s important to make sure the roof meets the needs of your new system.
The size of the roof will impact the size of your system and the amount of power it can produce.
The angle that panels sit at, in addition to the direction they face, also impacts on how well they produce.
Panels also need to be a minimum distance from the edge or peak of your roof, to meet wind speed ratings in your area.
In older houses, the roof may also be in poor condition or contain asbestos, which can occasionally be a deciding factor on whether the solar installation can go ahead.
It’s important to be aware of whether overhanging trees, roof arches or other buildings will cause shade during the day. If they do, you may find yourself with a system with much lower efficiency.
Our qualified electricians have the training to estimate the shade that will cover the designated system area in the early mornings and late afternoons, as well as during both summer and winter.
If one cell in a solar panel is covered by shade, the whole string of panels won’t work and your solar system will experience reduced power.
There are two main reasons Proven Energy undertake a Pre-Installation Assessment; firstly to minimise risks associated with unknown electrical factors, and secondly, to avoid any hidden costs to the customer when installing the system.
When the installer has to come up with fixes on the day, compromises are often made. It’s not easy if you find out there is extra to pay on top of the solar costs. We believe in doing a thorough check while you still have opportunity to pull out, postpone the job and save some money.
With CEC Accredited Installers checking your property before installation, you can have the peace of mind that you’ll have a quality and affordable installation that will stand the test of time.
We believe it is better to know ahead of time about additional problems and costs, instead of on the day.