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What are the key tips and questions I should ask before buying a solar system?

Roof space for your solar panels

1. Is part of your roof east, north or west facing and free from shade between 8am and 5pm?

2. Is there enough room on this part of your roof for solar panels? Also consider future solar needs to supply extra for storage batteries to cover your nighttime power needs and also in the near future, to charge an up electric car or two overnight.

You need 5m2 - 6.5m2 of roof space for every 1.0 kW of solar system depending on how much power each panel can generate per hour. For example the LG NeON 2 is a 320W rated panel compared to the standard 260W panel of same size. Use our roof space calculator on this website to check out how big the system on your roof can be roof space calculator.

3. Is your roof area peppered with chimneys and antennas which could pose overshadowing problems?

4. Is your roof strong enough to support the solar panels and racking? Most Australian roofs are of sufficient structure to support a solar panel system. Nevertheless have a site inspection and let the solar dealer check it out.

5. Have you set aside a budget to cover the costs of installing solar power for your home? A quality residential solar power system that will make a dent in your electricity bill starts around $5,000 and can go as high as $9,000/$8,500 for a 5kW system. As you want the system to supply you with reliable electricity for 25+ years, it's important that you choose a high quality system with minimal degradation over time.

6. Have the installer explain how much electricity your system could generate each year and also how the installation position of you panels affects the time of the day that the electricity will be generated. Make sure the panel positions match your consumption pattern. For example Eastern direction panels will produce most electricity in the morning, Northern facing will give you the biggest output of electricity in the middle of the day and North West facing modules will provide most electricity in the mid to late afternoon.

7. Do you know the process involved once you decide to go ahead with your purchase? Ask the solar system installer to outline all the various steps, including grid connection and any meter changes and precise warranty responsibilities preferably in writing.

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