Solar Site Inspection | Green Energy Enthusiast

today is Sep 24, 2022

Solar power is accessible and growing in popularity in Australia. As at November 2021, 2.98 million homes and businesses use solar power, and tax rebates and other incentives make this option feasible for more people.

In addition to these incentives, the benefits of solar include lower electricity costs and a relatively quick return on your investment. On top of these financial benefits, solar power has sustainable benefits by limiting your carbon emissions in comparison to other energy sources, such as coal and natural gas.

If you opt for solar, you may choose to have an installer carry out a pre-purchase site inspection and a post-installation inspection. Here is what you can expect once you decide on either of these two types of inspections.

Reasons To Get a Solar Panel Inspection

Solar panel installation is straightforward in most cases. However, it is recommended you get a physical inspection of the site before moving on with the installation process. Here are the advantages of having a thorough site inspection before deciding to go ahead with your project.

  • Interact with the installer: An inspection allows you to make contact with the installation company, assess their professionalism, and ask questions.
  • Determine the feasibility of installation: An inspection allows you to see if a solar panel project is possible. A good installer will typically check the strength of your roof to see if it can support solar panels.
  • Get a more accurate estimate: An inspection will also help the installer calculate an accurate estimate based on the size and layout of your array. An accurate price tag is essential because it allows you to assess savings from rebates and calculate your solar savings over the long term to see when you will have a positive return on your investment.

Solar Inspection Checklist

You will want to make sure the person doing the inspection covers all the necessary aspects of the install. Furthermore, a post-installation review to assess the safety and performance of your system is recommended.

The image shows three booklets in checklist style with a tick over each. The three booklets relate to areas of inspection for solar panels and are titled: design, obstruction and placement.

Pre-Installation

An installer will look for a variety of different things when they come for the pre-sale site inspection. They should leave you with all the information that you need to make a firm decision about the solar panel project.

  • Permitting Requirements: To qualify for solar panel rebates, you’ll need proper permits which solar panel installers can either connect you with or provide themselves. An installer should also be able to tell you about the necessary arrangement with your local energy retailer so that you can set up net metering and arrange to receive feed-in tariffs.
  • Location: An installer will take the location into account during the inspection. The amount of direct sunlight and weather patterns can affect the feasibility of a solar project. However, they can easily address these issues by recommending a specific style or design for full functionality.
  • Size/Number of Panels Recommendation: Installers will also provide recommendations on the number of panels you need. Since solar power systems come in a range of sizes, you can use a solar power system size calculator to estimate your electrical needs beforehand.
  • Type of Panels: An inspector can also assess your energy storage needs and pick the type of panel based on these needs. You could opt for a hybrid grid and battery-connected system that saves some power for batteries and feeds the rest back to the energy retailer. Meanwhile, solar users who go off-the-grid completely need information about battery storage and hookups.
  • Cable Routing: An installer will also inspect the current electrical system and decide what cables are needed to connect the solar array to the building, the grid, and the grounding system. Depending on your needs, they may also consider running cables directly to major appliances.
  • Switchboard: A grid-connected solar power system requires a compatible switchboard and meter. An installer will check the existing system during pre-installation to determine compatibility. If you need a new switchboard or meter, it will factor into the overall price of the project.
  • Inverter Location: An inverter is a critical component in the solar power system. It changes the DC power generated by the solar panels to AC electricity for use in your home or business. An inverter also helps improve efficiency and track performance. An installer will need to choose the best location during the pre-sale inspection.
  • Panel Placement: Proper panel placement is essential. You do not want the sunlight obscured by trees or topography, and you want to tilt the panels at the best angle to catch the sunlight all day. The placement can determine the overall efficiency of the system. The inspector may also consider the slope of the roof and other factors when determining placement.

Once you have all these details in order, you can select an installer and begin the project.

Post-Installation

After installation, you will want to perform an initial inspection to ensure that the system is up and running correctly and safely. You also want to get the most out of your solar panels, which means you need to continuously assess performance and make adjustments if needed.

The image shows a man and a woman carrying out a safety check on an existing solar system.

Here is what you can expect for assessments and inspections after installation:

  • Future Battery Location: Hybrid and off-grid systems store excess energy with solar batteries. These batteries may become useful in extreme weather events or occurrences when your solar panels may be ineffective. A solar battery has a five to 15-year lifespan, depending on how often you use it and its initial quality. You can expand your off-grid capacity by adding more batteries in strategic locations around your property.
  • Energy Consumption: You can assess your energy use to see if your solar panels are covering your energy needs and taking full advantage of your net-metering arrangement. You can also have a technician look at your system to assess energy consumption and suggest changes if needed.
  • Upgrades: You need to perform regular maintenance to keep your solar panels running correctly. However, if your energy production needs a change, you may need to upgrade your system by adding more panels. You can have an installer assess the array and tell you if you could benefit from an upgrade.

You continue to monitor your system for its entire lifespan to ensure and improve performance and make changes, as needed.

How Much Does a Solar Inspection Cost?

The cost of inspections will vary from installer to installer. Most companies offer free pre-sale inspections where they can provide an accurate cost estimate for the install. Be aware, however, that a free inspection is not always the best option. You need to be sure that the installer is certified by the Clean Energy Council (CEC), otherwise, you will not qualify for government-sponsored rebates.

Though site inspections pre-sale are often free, you can still start the process by searching for an online quote. This will allow you to have a realistic price range in mind when estimators come for site inspections.

A system review and safety post installation will cost anywhere between $150 – $300.