Australian households looking to install rooftop solar will now have access to an independent consumer guide, to help ensure they install the PV system best suited to their needs.
The guide, produced by the Clean Energy Council and launched today at Clean Energy Week in Sydney, takes prospective customers through a seven-step process to help them choose the appropriate rooftop solar system and avoid common pitfalls.
Clean Energy Council acting chief executive Kane Thornton said the free guide would walk consumers through the entire process of installing rooftop solar, from finding the right system, to negotiations with electricity retailers, to connecting to the grid and signing contracts.
“With the recent rises in power bills and solar power systems falling in price over the last four or five years, solar power has never been more appealing,” Thornton said, adding that it was more important then ever that people did their due diligence.
The CEC’s Guide to Installing Solar PV for Households would help ensure consumers invested in a high quality solar power systems that would serve them for many years to come, he said.
The CEC guide comes just months after the Australian Solar Council launched its new panel audit program – Positive Quality – to test the quality and composition of photovoltaic panels where they are made, and ensure the final products being installed on Australian rooftops are of a consistently high standard.
The program – launched on in May with the backing of PV market leaders Yingli Solar, Trina Solar, JA Solar and locally-based company Solar Juice – is an independent, industry-led initiative that aims set a new standard of quality control in the Australian market, and increase public confidence in switching to solar.
And though voluntary – companies will have to opt in to the program to be part of it – Positive Quality will see random audits conducted on solar manufacturers who export their panels to Australia.
The tests – conducted four times every year, with just half an hour’s notice – include audits on all company certifications, a 60 point factory check, detailed random testing of solar panels, and financial verification, to ensure a manufacturer is not on the brink of collapse.
Speaking on the sidelines of the 2014 Solar Conference & Expo in Melbourne in May, ASC chief John Grimes said the audit program filled a worrying gap in industry regulation.
“There has been no way (until now) for the public to identify genuine quality solar panels,” Grimes said. “Instead, we see disreputable manufacturers ‘gaming the system,’ substituting cheap materials and pricing quality manufacturers out of the market.
The Clean Energy Council has also taken steps to monitor solar company standards, with its Solar PV Retailer Code of Conduct, which helps consumers identify companies “prepared to go the extra mile,” while the organisation’s solar accreditation scheme ensures installers are up to date with the latest technical standards for solar power.