Top 10 tips when buying solar and batteries

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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 a solar installer tries 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 energy 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 or service 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 extremely 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 – Solar 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 – learn 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

To learn 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

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.

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

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

Usually, the cheap solar supplier uses deadlines and incentives to get your signature and money. A reason these systems are affordable and have a lot of promotions stuck to them. Crap Solar will fail in a relatively short time.

8 . The consumer law and guarantees only apply to products up to $100,000

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

Consumer guarantees trump all warranties, even expired ones. For minor issues, sellers can choose between repair, replacement, or refund. For lengthy repairs, you can get it fixed elsewhere and seek reimbursement. If major, you can reject the product for a full refund or replacement (e.g., not relevant to easily removed items like solar systems).

Australian Consumer Law (ACL)

An ACL “significant problem” means:

  • Multiple small issues combined make it unsellable
  • Product unusable for its purpose and not easily fixable
  • Doesn’t do what you requested and can’t be easily fixed
  • Has a hidden issue that would deter purchase
  • Significantly different from description/sample or unsafe

These rights apply even to gifts

10. The sales company of a solar system must not refuse to deal with a customer about warranty issues

“No Refunds” signs violate the ACL. If your solar system breaks down and repair takes a long time (e.g., because of overseas parts and backlog), you’re entitled to compensation for lost electricity.

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