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HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT SOLAR INSTALLATION PARTNER


Backbone Energy
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Compiled between Backbone Energy and Zeus Solutions.

With the current solar boom hitting the South African shores and the solar industry becoming a particularly lucrative market there is a sudden rise in the amount of companies offering solar solutions.  While this is a good thing as it does set a competitive market, meaning less companies are being able to get away with charging exorbitant prices on their installations, it also creates a new demand for solar equipment.  We've seen similar effects in the past when new technologies became wildly commercially available, such as television sets and cars for example where costs dropped significantly as they became more accessible.

There however a few drawbacks to this.  Due to the boom hitting the country as quick as it did South Africa is experiencing a problem with a lack of education and training on solar PV (photovoltaic or what you would know as a typical solar system).  So we're seeing far to many systems being installed that just simply don't meet SANS (South African National Standards) level of regulation, systems being poorly designed, systems that are installed in such a way as to become a literal fire hazard and just systems that simply don't work in general.

This has unfortunately led to a potential client having to do far more work than what is necessary in selecting a solar provider that they can trust and rely on to ensure they select the best provider for their installation.  It's become not as simple as just selecting the cheapest provider for their installation.

With a national footprint of accredited installers nationwide fit to install our products we decided to share what you should be aware off when selecting your solar installation partner. Below is a list of best practices to employ. You can also reach out to us to help you choose the best installer in your area.

 Do they belong to any form of governing bodies?

There are many solar PV governing bodies that exist purely to help ensure that industry standards are upheld and also to support a client in the event of any form of dispute on an installation.  Many of these bodies also require installers to pass very specific assessments to be able become listed with them, again, ensuring the installer responsible is familiar with regulations and is in their best capability of installing to an acceptable and professional standard.  Some bodies to look for that your selected company belongs to are PV Green Card, SESSA, SAPVIA and AREP.

Zeus Solutions is registered with PV Green card, SESSA and AREP.

Websites to check

>AREP

>SESSA

>PV Greencard

Are their installers trained and certified?

With the solar boom mentioned earlier and the industry becoming so much more lucrative we're seeing a massive rise in untrained and unqualified installers jumping on the wagon.  Its important to make sure your selected company has a team of trained and qualified staff.  A qualified electrician may be able to work with electricity but this doesn't mean they're trained in solar PV systems.  Solar PV systems are far more complex and require to be installed, configured and programmed to a very precise manor to be able to function correctly.  In the same way that someone who is trained in PV systems may not be a qualified electrician and would be unable to work on the electrical side of the installation.  
 

Are quality and reputable brands of equipment used?

Along with the boom bringing along a flood of flyby night, untrained and inexperienced companies, this has brought along with it an influx of cheap, poor quality equipment (specifically in relation to inverters).  Understanding the different types of inverters on the current market is one of the biggest parts of homework and research you as a client can do.  Many of the “flyby night” companies are simply out there to put together the cheapest system they can without being willing to offer the support on it due to the failure rates and poor performance just to be able to get the job and make a quick buck.  

The level and grade of equipment installed greatly indicates the companies intent and willingness to offer a professional level of after sales support.  Backbone Energy has done and continues to do a great deal of research and development into various products on the market and has selected only the best and value for money products to include in our installations.  Our technical support team undergoes regular training on our products to ensure they are up to date on any new developments and that they are at their best capability to provide the ongoing support on your installation that you deserve.

Do they supply a COC (Certificate of Compliance) of the PV System installed?

 A solar PV COC is in essence slightly different to a standard electrical COC you would get for your house and does require a few additions to be valid document.  Many factors of compliance typically get overlooked and ignored, essentially making the COC invalid.  This can cause problems when attempting to claim from your insurance company should something go wrong.  

Companies like Zeus Solutions ensures that specifically all earthing requirements fully comply to SANS standards, this includes to correct sizing of earthing cable, earthing is done in the correct placement, along with that we ensure the safety of your equipment by creating our own earthing point by using a series of earth spikes in the ground thus preventing a strike from running to the main DB (distribution board).  A full PV design in the form of a wiring diagram on how the system was installed is also required to be attached to the COC document, this ensures that no changes are made to the system after initial COC has been issued without a revised copy.

Are SANS standards fully adhered to?

 Professional installation companies need to continually keep up to date with the national regulations with solar PV installations.  Qualified electricians with the required legal certifications are employed to ensure all our installations are done to the standards required by SANS.

Do they offer after sales service and on going support?

A big thorn in the solar PV industries side is the complete lack of after sales support.  Research should be done to ensure the company you select is willing to go above and beyond in offering after sales support on your installation.  Many systems companies install are considered to be “plug n play” type systems, this is rarely ever the case.  Although there are no physical moving parts in a system there are many integrations of different aspects (panels connecting to inverter, inverter connecting to battery, battery connecting to inverter and inverter connecting to load), each being highly intricate and requiring a massive degree of attention.  

Do they have contactable references and good online reviews?

As is with any service provider, a good way to see what you're getting yourself into is to do some research in the company itself.  If you want to go a good restaurant, a good place to start is to see what their reviews look like.  If they are only rated one star with a series of bad comments you almost certainly won't be going there, if they are five star rated with a series of great reviews then it's almost a sure bet you'll have a great experience.  The same applies to solar PV companies.  Take a look at their Facebook and Hello Peter reviews, this will give a good indication of what the customer experience has been with using that specific provider.  

 Zeus Solutions prides itself in making sure the customer experience to our clients is as best as it can be, right from the sales process all the way to after sales support to ensure we continue to uphold the name we have worked so hard to achieve. Check our reviews

 Supplier support and guarantees

Consumers do have the right to ask the potential installer who is supplying the products. This is not to bypass the installer as there are wholesalers that do sell direct and others like Backbone Energy that only sell and support installation companies. Understanding the supplier allows the consumer to find out what the warranty on the products are and also have a secondary source of contact and support should something go wrong.

It is challenging to find the perfect balance of professional service at reasonable pricing. This is where Backbone Energy comes in. We offer the best to installers nationwide and because of this have a network of accredited installers you can trust. Simply visit our website and click on InstallerFind and leave your details. 

We support companies like Zeus Solutions and many others that are available nationwide!

Edited by Backbone Energy
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