Why $0 Cost Installations Aren’t All They’re Cracked Up to Be


When it comes to $0 cost solar installations the old adage “free is expensive” can really ring true. There’s no controversy surrounding the fact in a free country businesses can put forward whatever kind of offer they want to the market, provided it doesn’t break any laws. But that doesn’t mean a lot of the offers out there are actually a good idea for you to take up. Unfortunately, many keen to get solar products at a cut-price cost have been stung by this reality.


It’s not hard to understand why. While most solar installers in Australia are quality businesses that seek to really deliver for their customers, unfortunately, there’s a small but noticeable number of operations that engage in some questionable practices. For any of our readers currently considering a solar installation, it’s important to know some of the issues that can exist surrounding $0 cost installations. 


A Cloudy Future With Low-Quality Solar 


Australia is right now in the midst of a massive solar installation boom. We’ve seen installation records broken from one year to the next. It’s held we have the highest uptake of rooftop solar globally. But sadly for no small number of Aussies who’ve encountered a dodgy installer, there’s been little cause for celebration. 


With a new rooftop solar system in place, you should be looking forward to all the benefits that can flow from having panels generating power on your rooftop. But for those who’ve gotten a low-quality rooftop installation from a questionable installer, a different journey can unfold. 


Often before long – and sometimes even immediately following – a low-quality rooftop installation, a painful process kicks off. One where the system fails to perform properly – and perhaps even at all! – and the installer is no help in addressing the customer’s concern. This can effectively leave the household stuck with a junker of a system. 


Sometimes a quality solar installer may be able to step in and help correct some problems. But often, the only way for a household with a low-quality solar product to have one that performs well is to simply rip out the previous installation and get a new one in its place from a quality solar installer. This is not a pleasant path, but it’s commonly the only option available if the customer is intent on (finally!) getting a solar installation that works properly.


Questionable and Quality Solar Installers Compared


There’s a number of signs to watch out for that could point to a questionable solar installer:


  • If $0 install offers are tied to low-quality products. 
  • If the business is flippant or disinterested when it comes to any queries about meeting electrical standards. 
  • Also, if the customer service is poor. 


Unfortunately if any of these signs – and certainly all of them together – are present, it’s an indication the solar installer could be sub-standard. 


By contrast, a quality solar installer will:


  • Offer quality solar products exclusively. 
  • Look to ensure their customer service is great all the way through – not only when they’re discussing a sale! 
  • Be happy to answer any questions. 
  • Be pleased to tell you about how they’re a Clean Energy Council accredited installer. 


Finally, if there are any issues that arise after the solar installation – and this can happen in very rare instances due to an installation mistake or a manufacturer’s defect that results in improper performance, leaks, or similar issues –  a quality solar installer will be happy to discuss the ways to try and address it.


Soltek provides quality brands, expert advice and consultations on solar solutions in Sydney for commercial and residential properties.


The Foundations of a Great Solar Installer


You may be tempted by a $0 installation because you are keen to get solar, but are finding the upfront commitments a challenge. If this is the case for you, it can be useful to learn about green loans. A number of them exist across Australia. They could offer you an avenue to explore in seeking to obtain a solar installation while avoiding the issues that can accompany a $0 installation offer.


At the end of the day, a quality solar installer will not cost $0. But that’s the whole point. We deliver excellent service and products. What we will not deliver is constant headaches and frustration to solar buyers. So in an industry where “free is expensive” can really ring true, a quality solar installer will always represent great value. 


Soltek Energy strives to achieve excellence in total solar solutions in Sydney and we focus on delivering the highest quality of professionalism to our customers. Contact us today!

Are Solar Feed-in Tariffs in their Twilight Years?


There are many reasons you might be wanting to install a solar system. First, there’s the desire to make a little contribution of your own to a cleaner and greener future. Second, there’s been enticing installation incentives like government rebates on solar panels. Third, there’s the recognition a solar setup could help maintain access to electricity in the event of a grid blackout. Fourth, there’s no shortage of residents across the Great Southern Land who love the feeling of having a cutting-edge solar system!


But for all motivations that exist for getting solar, there’s no doubt gaining access to a feed-in tariff (FIT) is top of the list for many. This pathway allows a solar system owner to get some income from the excess energy their system generates. This has been very appealing to solar system owners currently paying off their system, and also those who’ve already done so. That’s why the suggestion that FITs are entering their final years is a very important issue. Let’s unpack it now.


Solar Popularity: The Necessity of Solar ‘Crowd Control’


Because solar installations are proving so popular in Australia there’s a new need to accommodate demand. For governments of all political persuasions across Australia, this is no easy task. The huge demand for solar installations that has seen successive record-breaking years of solar uptake is set to continue. It’d be a bold move for any leader to stand in front of the public and tell them ‘no more solar’ – and also it’d be foolish! The key problem certainly isn’t more people wanting solar – it’s how to effectively manage the power new installations generate.


It’s indeed necessary to make some significant adjustments to the sector. It’d  quickly become a big problem if everyone with a solar installation now and in future was able to feed excess energy into the grid all day long. Accordingly, for some in the energy industry, winding back the FIT altogether in the years ahead would be a way to slow the increase of solar installations. But in the meantime, the impact of solar’s popularity is already visible in policy decisions. 


For example, Victoria’s minimum FIT rates are set to drop sharply in July. It’s necessary to note the minimum FIT isn’t mandatory. Energy providers are able to offer a higher rate if they choose to do so. Whichever way you look at it there’ll be a clear-cut reduction to the VIC minimum in the new financial year. There can also be the expectation similar moves will occur across other states.


More than Feed-In Tariffs: Increasing Options to Tackle the Problem 


Taking action to address a problem is the right course – but that doesn’t mean there’s only one road to travel. There’s scope for multiple pathways to be pursued when it comes to managing solar’s ongoing popularity, and to encourage existing solar installation owners to look to other methods for utilising their excess energy. It’s clear the Australian Energy Market Commission [AEMC] has been thinking along these lines recently. 


They put out a proposal in March that’d redefine the relationship between a typical rooftop installation and the grid, with ‘two-way pricing’ a key component of it. The AEMC argues the best path ahead would be to change the rules to incentivise solar owners to send power to the grid at night, instead of during the day. These new rules would incentivise solar owners to buy batteries, reward them for exporting energy when demand is high, and encourage them to utilise their own power when demand is low. 


Increasing choice like this is surely a better approach than simply slicing and dicing FIT rates. Yes, managing solar’s surging popularity is a complex challenge. But any move to disincentivise solar uptake is a big misstep. That’s why if an eventual phase-out of FITs occurs, it must see new incentives replace it. Any alternative approach that opts for scaling back current incentives instead of creating new offerings can only be counter-productive in the long term.


But for now, what do you need to know about navigating this current chapter of solar’s growth?


Solar Policy: We’re in the Era of Constant Adjustments 


The reality is the speed of expansion and change in the Aussie solar sector has been hard for authorities to keep up with. It demands regular adjustments. Just consider South Australia. In recent years it’s seen such an increase in solar power that the state’s been pursuing numerous virtual power plant (VPP) projects to help ensure excess energy residents generate with their solar systems doesn’t go to waste.  


The experience of South Australia is illustrative of an important lesson here. Effective solar (energy) policy requires regular – and sometimes swift – adjustments. For our readers and customers, trying to keep up daily with every little change made in the sector would be impossible. But keeping an eye on the bigger trends can help anticipate a major change on the horizon – like the winding down of a FIT. So being proactive instead of reactive is key in order to maximise ROI on a solar system amidst an environment of ongoing change.


Taking Action Amidst Change


There’s no question solar will continue growing fast in Australia, and sometimes that growth will be faster than authorities can keep up with. Accordingly, really eye-catching headlines will occasionally circulate saying it’s time to ‘slam the brakes on’. As aforementioned, it’s true the rapid national increase of rooftop solar power must occur alongside careful management.


Ultimately, while solar enthusiasts must sometimes be ready to encounter a dramatic headline – and perhaps be patient as policymakers tweak some settings – at the end of the day, solar owners will benefit from diversification instead of diminishment of energy export offerings. So authorities should preference that path instead of constantly tinkering with FIT rates. 


The key tasks for solar system owners are:


  1. Understanding what current options are out there
  2. Understanding what options could be made available in the future
  3. Which option best aligns with your goals for your solar system going forward.


We specialise in solar energy systems in Sydney areas. Contact Soltek Energy for more information and advice or to discuss your solar needs.

How to Keep Solar Batteries Warm and Functioning Effectively During Cold Weather in Sydney

Across Australia, there’s a solid understanding that weather conditions can impact solar installations. After all, it’s understood solar panels need sunshine to harvest energy, so the night time hours won’t see solar panels charging up like a superhero before a final battle with the villain! The same principle also applies to the winter months, where a reduction in sunshine throughout the days will diminish what the panels can harvest. For many solar panel owners, the gains they get year-round from having a solar installation – such as having no energy bill in summer and a significantly reduced one in winter – illustrates these limitations on solar are very small.

Nonetheless, taking steps to maximise the performance of a solar installation is always wise. There’s a big difference between a reduction in performance, and letting technology outright lag and underperform. That’s why when it comes to solar batteries and their performance during colder conditions, it’s essential to know how to keep them warm and functioning effectively.

Why Batteries Can Underperform During Wintery Weather

Like solar panels, solar batteries are designed to withstand tough conditions 365 days a year. Among the various types of batteries out there, there are even some Lithium options in the US that can perform in cold weather. But while Lithium batteries offer additional benefits in this area, they can also be far more expensive than the lead-acid types that have been more commonly used in years prior. In turn, regardless of whether a battery can perform in the cold, maintaining an ideal temperature can of course help achieve optimum performance.

It’s necessary to note in some respects cold conditions can actually be best for battery storage because the cool climate helps a battery hold its charge longer. But this isn’t the case when it comes to deep-cycle batteries that are charging and discharging regularly. For a regular Aussie household going about their business with a solar installation with battery storage, the latter is going to be getting an ongoing workout.

Obviously, there’s no ability to control the elements, so the only way to prevent underperformance by a solar battery vulnerable to cold weather is to recognise with clear eyes the challenge winter brings. In turn, to then take steps to minimise the impact of chilly conditions on a solar battery.

Warming to the Idea

There are many ways to protect a solar battery from the cold depending on the battery and particulars of conditions in a local area. But there are common principles found in use from one locale to another that can serve as a blueprint.

1. First, it’s important to consult with a trusted professional regarding the particulars of your solar battery, where it’s currently installed, and how it could be shielded from wintery weather.

2. Second, to recognise numerous options could be available depending on these factors.

3. Third, that depending on the change in environmental conditions from one season to the next it may be necessary to adjust a battery storage structure a little now and then. Once again, we can advise on this too.
Yet as an example of the potential solutions on offer, the best remedy can often be the storage of a solar battery with insulation, within an enclosure. An insulated box that fits a battery’s characteristics can allow for temperature regulation, wherever a battery is ultimately located on a property. Ideally, it may be an insulated box that is easy to remove, so if the need arises once warmer months roll around, the box can be taken off.

Regular Maintenance for Reliable Outcomes

It’s certainly important to see a solar battery stays warm and continues to operate effectively during winter. But it’s useful to keep in mind that while maintaining a solar battery is indeed a key element of keeping a solar installation in good working order year-round, it’s not the only one. In fact, there’s a number of steps that should be pencilled in to-do throughout the calendar year to see a solar installation’s performance is at optimum. For example, checking an inverter is working, and getting the panels cleaned.

Staying Power in Winter

Solar panel installations are terrific pieces of tech, but they’re also not static. Unquestionably, getting the actual installation done of a rooftop solar system is the biggest step in the process – and choosing to work with a quality solar installer makes this step much easier. But ongoing upkeep will be necessary following the installation to get the most out of the system. Keeping batteries warm during winter is an essential part of this for installations that make use of battery storage.

Understanding how batteries perform during different seasons is the first step in this process. Then consulting with a trusted professional regarding what solutions will be available follows (keeping in mind enclosing a battery in an insulated container is often the best option). Finally, it’s wise to be mindful slight adjustments may need to be made to a battery storage process in future when changes in seasonal weather occur. But this notwithstanding, usually once a battery storage structure is in place it should be able to serve the system well from one year to the next with little hassle. That’s surely a solution to winter woes we can feel charged up about!

We provide expert advice and consultations on solar power solutions in Sydney for commercial and residential properties. If you are interested in installing solar, contact Soltek Energy for a quote.