Installing a PV system

OK, so you're ready to install a solar PV system. Here's what you need to know:

For background information on solar PV, visit our solar PV explained page.

You can also read about how to maintain your solar PV system.

 

General considerations

Purchasing a solar power system is a major investment for your home. Alice Solar City encourages householders to undertake research to ensure that they choose a quality system, which suits their household needs and budget.  

When installing solar power system, it’s sensible to consider:

  • Household electricity use - It may not be feasible to cover your entire annual consumption with solar power. To get the most out of your generation capacity, it is sensible to make your home as energy efficient as possible before going solar.
  • Available budget - The price of a solar power system generally increases with the size of the system (capacity) and quality of system components.
  • PV capacity restrictions in your local area – power utilities may restrict the size of PV system you can install on your house to ensure the electricity grid is not overloaded. Talk to local installers for details or read the Power and Water going solar FAQs.
  • Available rebates.
  • Location- Different areas of Australia receive different amounts of solar radiation. Here in Alice Springs, we have one of the highest amounts of solar exposure in Australia. Other areas of the country might be better suited to wind or hydro-electric turbines than solar.
  • Roof space and structure - the optimal angle for PV panels in Alice Springs is around 23.5 degrees and North facing. If your roof is a shallow pitch you may need a frame to improve performance. When deciding on the position of your PV system, think about leaving room for the potential future installation of more PV panels or a solar hot water system if you don't have one already.
  • Shading- Even a slight amount of shade from a tree branch or a TV aerial will cause disproportionately large losses in the generation capacity of a PV system. Ensure you pick the sunniest spot of the roof or property.
  • Installation & warranty.
  • System components- Do some research on the manufacturers of the component parts such as the PV modules and the inverter. Again, cheaper isn't always better - high quality components may cost more but there is less likelihood of problems arising in the future.
  • System maintenance.

 

How to ‘Go Solar’ in 3 easy steps

Step 1: Read up on Alice Solar City resources

There's a bit to get your head around, and a read of Alice Solar City's factsheet and website material is a great way to start. Designed to help you understand the available rebates and incentives, think about the suitability of your house (including location, shading and available roof space and structure) and ensure that you understand the process involved with going solar. 

Step 2: Contact local suppliers for a quote

- Speak to one or more accredited solar installers to arrange a site inspection and quote. The site inspection is important to ensure that your house is suitable, to provide an estimate of expected output, and to identify any additional work which needs to be undertaken as part of the installation. Additional work could include an upgrade to the meter panel or switchboard, trimming of trees or moving antennas and other obstructions.

- As part of your decision on which installer or package to proceed with, refer to the questions to ask your solar PV installer.

Step 3: Go solar and start saving!

- Once you have accepted a quote and paid any applicable deposit, your installer will schedule an installation date.

- You will need to complete the necessary Agreements with Power and Water (Network Connection Agreement and Power Purchase Agreement) and pay the applicable fee before installation commences. Your installer can assist with this process. Also check out the Power and Water going solar FAQs.   

- Your chosen installer carries out the installation (usually completed in less than 1 day) and will require full payment. The installer should provide you with a system manual, commissioning sheet and Certificate of Compliance.     

- The installer provides the relevant documentation to Power and Water. Subject to the documentation being correct and the installation being in compliance, Power and Water will install the new electricity meter and the system is ‘turned-on’. Delays in turning the system on can result if the completion advice provided to Power and Water is incomplete, or the PV installation is sub-standard.

After your system is installed

If you have concerns with your PV system after installation, your first course of action should be to contact your chosen installer. Where concerns remain unresolved:

You can read more about installing solar PV here.

  • Complaints about accredited installers breeching the standards of PV installation may be directed to the Clean Energy Council;
  • Disputes involving commercial matters (including price or warranty) may be directed to Consumer Affairs (NT) on 1800 019 319;
  • Concerns about the safety and technical compliance of your PV installation may be directed to NT Worksafe on 1800 019 115.

 

Accredited Solar PV installers operating in Alice Springs

Please Note: Alice Solar City provides these names as a service to Alice Springs residents, but makes no specific warranty or endorsement of their goods or services.

The following PV installers are local to Alice Springs, or use local/NT based contractors:

Based in Alice Springs

Active Electrical & Air Conditioning
Mark Schild
8953 5329
0417 824 826
aeac@internode.on.net

Desert Power
Dave Recklies
0412 742479

Inland Electrical
Damon Michael
(08) 8952 2272

Ogden Power 
Renee Vincent / Rede Ogden
8953 4211
website www.ogdenpower.com.au
Email: renee@ogdenpower.com.au

Suntec
Chris Wallace
8953 4884
0488 400 081
admin@suntec.net.au

NT Based

Green Spark Energy
Travis Hayes
1300 132 314 website: www.greensparkenergy.com.au
Email: info@greensparkenergy.com.au

Eco-Kinetics
NT Office: Mark Hofner
1300 904 449

The following PV installers have, at some point during the Alice Solar City program, been active in installing PV systems in Alice Springs with our support. Contact details for these installers are provided to our customers in case of warranty, service or maintenance issues with existing PV systems.

Agnew Electrics (contractors for BP Solar)
Robert Murphy
0418 934 077

BP Solar
1800-802-762

Conergy
1300 CONERGY (1300 266 374)
info@conergy.com.au

Local Conergy Dealers
Ogden Power & Green Spark Energy
1300 551 303

 
 Questions to ask your solar PV installer

  • What brand of solar panels and inverter will be used? Are these brands guaranteed, or will the supplier substitute according to availability of supply?
  • If product substitution does take place, will the householder be informed in advance or given the option to withdraw?
  • What is the length and type of warranty?
  • Note: 5 year warranty on inverter, 5 year product warranty and 25 year 80% output warranty is recommended as a minimum.
  • What is the track record of use AND servicing in Australia of the major components?
  • What is the track record of the company itself (don’t be afraid to ask for references) and who will they use to do the install (are they local or fly in)? 
  • Does the installer come to site to do a formal inspection first, i.e. before asking for a deposit? Alice Solar City highly recommends site inspections prior to quoting/paying deposits.
  • How does the installer propose to provide local support for warranty and service claims?
  • Does the installer undertake a formal assessment of expected performance of the proposed system and provide a written quote to the householder which includes information on warranty, performance etc?
  • Where companies advertise package prices, are there any 'other' hidden costs involved i.e. for meter installation, grid connection costs (in these situations a final price may only be determined AFTER the proposed installer has actually been to your house)? 
  • Does the company manage the process of connecting to the electricity grid and the associate Power and Water paperwork? 
  • Does the installer require a deposit and what is the timeframe between paying a deposit and installation? 
  • Does the company provide a point of sale discount through purchase of Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs) under the Solar Credits scheme and if so, what price is paid for each STC?
  • Does the quote include the cost of meeting building regulations?