Top 10 tips when buying solar and batteries

Fast read

When buying a solar system, knowing your rights is important in case something goes wrong.

Australian Consumer Law states that any written warranty information and exclusions are irrelevant if they contradict the law. A typical solar and battery warranty lasts 5-10 years for an inverter product, 3-7 years for installer workmanship, 12-40 years for a panel product, and 5-10 years for the battery warranty.

Do not rely solely on the fine print in the manufacturer's warranty conditions, and use common sense to judge if the conditions are fair. 

You should also note that the company you bought the solar system from must look after you when it comes to a warranty claim and cannot pass you off to the manufacturer. If the manufacturer or equipment has stopped trading, the warranty obligations move to the installer. 

Please note this FAQ is also available as a guide here.

What are the top 10 solar and battery tips?

1. When salespersons try to sell you a solar system, they often refer to the 15, 25, or even 30-year warranties, meaning the long-term benefits you will get with solar.

So as this seems to be a long-term relationship with a product you possibly do not know much about – it’s important you know your rights in case something goes wrong. So here are some important solar tips to know:

Any written warranty information and exclusions are irrelevant if they contradict Australian Consumer Law. For example, our Consumer Law says the warranty period for a product is as long as a reasonable person/the majority of Australians would expect the product to last.

Another example would be if the TV stopped after two years and three months and had a 2-year product warranty, but most reasonable people would expect a $1500 TV to last four years, you still have a valid warranty claim. Because many solar-related items give you very long warranty periods, you will likely not have to push for this clause.

Overall typical solar and battery warranties are as follows:

5 to 10 Years – Inverter Product Warranty

3 to 7 years – Installer Workmanship Warranty

12 to 40 Years – Panel Product Warranty

25 years – Panel Performance Warranty (quite a useless warranty – find out more here)

5 -10 years – Battery Warranties – also can be expressed in no of cycles or throughput power

2. Please do not just go by the fine print in the manufacturer’s warranty conditions, but use common sense to judge if the conditions are fair.

If you want to find out more about Australian Consumer law, you can find more details here.

solar edge monitoring app - another tip is to always get monitoring
Solar monitoring can be completed by electricians or by setting up a solar monitoring system

3. Some solar companies have a warranty clause that the warranty only applies if you have the system regularly inspected by them.

I do not know what a solar electrician will fix on a solar panel via an inspection, and salespersons of cheap solar regularly use such clauses to avoid warranty obligations. If you find such a clause in the contract, avoid the company.

If, on the other hand, it’s too late and you already purchased equipment with such a clause, then as long as you have a qualified person inspect the system in reasonable time frames – e.g. 2-3 years, the initial company can not push back on a warranty claim. As long as the person who inspected it was qualified, and you have proof of these inspection(s), that fulfils your obligations. The initial sales company can not insist that you always use their staff. Otherwise, the warranty is void.

4. The company that you gave your money for the solar system MUST look after you regarding a warranty claim.

They can not fob you off to the manufacturer. If it is a warranty matter, they must fix it and claim the cost of their time from the manufacturer. If you experience issues, please let us at Your Energy Answers know, as we would be willing to advise you. Also, contact your local consumer protection department to make a complaint. More details about contact info can be found here:

5. Should you find that the manufacturer or your equipment has stopped trading in Australia, the warranty obligations move to the installer.

If the installer has also stopped trading, you still have a chance for a valid claim if the product’s distributor and importer are still trading in Australia.

Unfortunately, you will have to research these import channels, but there are Facebook pages, such as “Crap Solar”, where one can ask questions to others who know more about solar than you might know. If all parties have left the scene, then unfortunately, despite what seemed a solid and extended warranty, you will have to pay for any repairs or replacements yourself. Unfortunately, this is a too familiar consumer burden for cheap solar systems.

6. Never sign a contract on the spot.

Please read it carefully in your own time, including all the fine print. Underline or highlight anything you do not understand and ask the installation company or independent third-party solar  & battery expert to explain these unknown terms.

man writing on a piece of paper
Do not sign a contract until you understand all the terms.

7. If a company puts high-pressure sales deadlines on you

Ask them to go away and go with a more ethical supplier. Usually, the cheap solar supplier uses deadlines and incentives to get your signature and money. There is a reason these systems are affordable and have a lot of promotions stuck to them. It’s Crap Solar – which will fail in a relatively short time. Do not buy headache solar – go for Quality Solar.

8 . The consumer law and guarantees only apply to products up to $100,000 and are intended for a consumer, not a business.

These consumer rights do not give you unlimited rights to replace a product.

You do not have the right to a product change/refund if you, for example, change your mind about buying the solar system after you signed the contract and the cooling-off period, which applies in some cases, has expired. You can also not return the product simply because you saw it advertised cheaper elsewhere. The manufacturer’s warranty doesn’t apply if you damage the product.

9. The consumer guarantees, which are part of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), give you a set of rules that businesses must abide by.

The consumer guarantees automatically apply regardless of any voluntary or extended warranty a salesperson gives for goods and services. It even still applies to warranties that have expired.

Generally, if the problem is minor, the seller can choose whether to fix the problem with a replacement item, a repair, or via a refund. If the decision is to repair and takes too long, the consumer can get someone else to fix the problem and ask the sales company to pay reasonable costs. Then, depending on the specific details, the consumer can reject the product and get a full refund or replacement. In the case of a solar system, the repair options are the most logical, as the item will not be easy to remove.

Australian Consumer Law (ACL)

The definition of a significant problem in the ACL is when a product:

  1. It has multiple minor problems that, when taken as a whole, would have stopped someone from buying it if they’d known about them
  2. It is substantially unfit for its ordinary purpose and can’t easily be fixed within a reasonable time
  3. Doesn’t do what the consumer asked for and can’t easily be fixed within a reasonable time;
  4. Has a problem that would have stopped someone from buying it if they’d known about it;
  5. Is significantly different from the sample or description, or
  6. is unsafe.

Even if the item and product came to you as a gift, the ACL rules apply, and you have the same rights.

10. The sales company of a solar system must not refuse to deal with a customer about warranty issues; in general, the seller cannot refuse to provide a remedy if the product is not returned in its original packaging.

The sign one sometimes sees near a checkout saying “No Refunds” is unlawful under the ACL, and if your solar system stops working for a prolonged period. The repair has taken a long time because, for example, the replacement inverter had to come from overseas, and there was a backlog; you have the right to compensation for the lost electricity.

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