July 12, 2019
The Solar Installation Process. Step by Step.

Once you have made a decision to buy, and accepted a solar quote, it can help to know what to expect, step by step. Here we break down the process of installing solar panels into five steps, starting with...

Step 1: Accept Solar Quote

When you accept a solar quote, you will normally be asked to pay a deposit, usually 10% of the final installed price. This gives the supplier the confidence to schedule your installation, and start the process of getting your system installed including approval form the local network company to connect your system

You will also be asked to confirm the following information:

  1. Your Name
  2. Property Address
  3. Your NMI - this is a “national meter identifier” - a string of numbers eleven that are unique to your property address. This is used by the local network company (the people that own and manage the “poles and wires” on your street) to identify your property, and update you as a solar customer in their systems
  4. The solar system design

Perhaps most importantly from your perspective is this last point above - you should be asked to confirm the solar system design. 

This should be an image of solar panels on your roof (see the picture below). The design will become the "source of truth" from no one, in case the design or price changes (it shouldn't).

If you ever want a second opinion on a solar design, just contact us here.

Need help working out if your solar system can fit on your roof? No problem, just message and we can check for you, no obligation no charge.

Solar system design

Step 2: Schedule the Solar Installation

Pretty straightforward - a bit of to and fro is required, before you can agree on a time and date for your solar installation.

Usually this will be scheduled for between 2-4 weeks, from the time your deposit is paid.

This gives the supplier time to organise paperwork required, including ensuring your solar connection to the local network is pre-approved.

Step 3: Network Pre-approval and solar connection agreement

Every time someone connects solar to the grid, the network company and the energy market more generally, needs to know about it, and needs to approve it. It sounds crazy, but there is so much rooftop solar now in Australia, we basically have a massive distributed power station on rooftops now.

As part of the pre-approval process, the network company will check how big your proposed solar system is, how much energy it will generate, and work out if there is any impact on their local network. Increasingly in Australia, network companies require customers to do something called “grid export limiting”. 

In short, this means your inverter - the technology that sits between your solar panels, your home and the grid, has to “limit” the amount of power (capacity, measured in kW, or kVa) being exported from your home, to the grid. 

For example, your export limit might be set at 5kW. This ensures that on a sunny day when your solar system is generating at its peak, the power output, combined with any other power being generated on your street or in your suburb, does not cause a problem in the local network.

Now, there is a whole complex debate that requires wearing a hat with a propeller, to work out if these grid exports are fair, or whether they are too harsh on solar companies. We will leave that debate for another day.

Thankfully, the connection process and agreements for residential solar are standardised thanks to the hard work and advocacy of some dedicated folk more than a decade ago (hint hint, the boompower team may have had a role to play in that in previous lives)

Step 4: Solar Installation - On the Day

Ok, the big day has arrived.

We strongly, strongly, like really strongly recommend you make arrangements to be home on the day of the installation. While not absolutely necessary, its a chance to give yourself piece of mind. 

Make sure the solar system is being installed as per the design you have agreed with the supplier. Ask the installers questions if you like, and just generally keep an eye on things.

You will probably also sign a bunch of paperwork on the day.

This includes signing over your “STC rebates”. Basically, this is a Federal Government rebate worth about 25-30% of your installed cost, recognising the value of your solar system contributing to reaching Federal Government targets set for renewable energy generation in Australia.

If you are 100% committed to reducing your emissions, you should probably choose to retain your STCs (rather than sell them to your installer) and simply destroy the paperwork. This ensures your contribution is "over and above" when it comes to cutting carbon emissions for Australia

Step 5: Solar Performance Checks and Feed in Tariff

Ok, your solar installation is done. Now all you have to do is make sure are getting the solar powered value you deserve ! Sometimes easier said then done...

First up, make sure you check your inverter is working. 

Most inverters will have a digital display set to provide real time feedback on how your solar system is going at that very moment. You may have to navigate the display, before the real time energy being produced shows up.

If you are struggling, google or youtube search is your friend - you will find a "how to" guide for all the major inverter brands.

For a fronius inverter, you are looking for something like this (below)

Fronius inverter display

If you are at home during a clear, sunny day, jump outside at around midday:

  • In summer, your output should be at, or very close to, your system size. That is, a 5kW system producing 5kW of power. A 10kW system producing 10kW of power

  • In winter, your output might be around 50-70% of your system size at midday. Say 2.5-3kW on a 5kW system. Or 5-6kW on a 10kW system.

  • In spring or autumn, it should be about half way between the summer and winter numbers above

Alternatively, if you have set up online solar monitoring at the time of installation you will be able to logon at anytime and check current and historical performance. The fronius monitoring portal will look something like this

Fronius monitoring portal

Is your system not performing? Contact your solar installer / retailer straight away and let them know what’s going on. You can also contact us and we will do our best to help you out (even if you didn’t buy using our service)

Ok, so your system is performing as it should....

Last step is to call your retailer directly, and make sure they have you registered as a solar customer. This can take a few weeks, it won’t happen immediately after you have solar installed. 

Alternatively, keep an eye out for your next electricity bill from your retailer. If you aren’t being paid for your feed in tariff, it’s time to get on the phone. 

Crazy as it sounds, sometimes it just takes a long time to process the solar paperwork, and on the very odd occasion, the paperwork is missed altogether by your retailer. Whops! Might be time to shop around…

Bear in mind, some retailers are more solar friendly than others. A retailer may adjust your tariff once you have solar installed. If this happens, and it makes you worse off, jump online and search “solar friendly electricity retailers”. There are a few out there, and you will be looked after if you shop around.

As always, if you get stuck and need help at any stage on your solar journey, just message and we will do our best to help, no obligation and no charge.