COOLmob Chats: 101 on solar PV with Country Solar NT

We sat down with Sebastian Baust, Sales Manager at Country Solar NT, to cut through the jargon and see what’s involved in getting solar panels installed on your roof.

Turns out its pretty quick and easy! You could be living off the sun’s energy from within just 6 – 10 weeks of deciding to go ahead and live without another power bill!

We’ve cut all the details from our interview into bite size chunks for easy reading!

If you’re looking for even more information, head over to our Going Solar Guide!

COOLmob: How long has Country Solar NT been around?

Sebastian: We’ve been going since 2012 and are the largest locally operated, family company. We have installed over 2000 systems, ranging from 2kW – over 1 MW!

COOLmob: How long from when I first call you does it normally take until everything is up and going?

Sebastian: With Country Solar NT it generally takes around 6-10 weeks.

COOLmob: Ah ok how speedy! And what are the steps involved?

Sebastian:

  1. You make the call or come in to see us
  2. We either come to your home to do a free site assessment or if that’s not possible for you, we ask that you send lots of photos of your roof, bills, and switchboard
  3. We discuss what your options are regarding system size and components including panels and inverters
  4. We provide a proposal
  5. We install
  6. We organise your STC rebate, your certificate of occupancy and your connection to the grid
  7. You have ‘free’ power from the sun!

COOLmob: How much of my power bill can I expect to be shaved off by the solar panels?

Sebastian: Depends on the system size and system configuration. As a general rule, per 1kWp of panel capacity installed you save around $90/quarter. As an example, a 6.6kWp system covers the average Darwinian’s quarterly electricity bill in its entirety.

COOLmob: Ok wow! Love the sound of a non-existent power bill! What’s the average payback period for a 6kW system?

Sebastian: Between 4-5 years!

COOLmob: Can Country Solar NT handle STC certificates for the customer?

Sebastian: Yes, we handle everything, you just sign the paperwork! More info on these can be found here

COOLmob: What are the different documents I should make sure the installer gives me?  

Sebastian: You’ll receive all your warranty documents and a new certificate of occupancy once your new system has been certified by a structural engineer.

COOLmob: Does the installer organise connection to the grid? 

Sebastian: Yes we do this for you. When we quote your installation, we check what type of meter you currently have and organise if this needs to be replaced or just reprogrammed. All costs are included in your quote.

COOLmob: Are solar panels high or low maintenance?

Sebastian: Solar PV panels are maintenance free. You only need to clean them with water once or twice a year! Apart from that, you ought to keep an eye on your system’s performance by accessing your online monitoring portal if available or your inverter screen.

COOLmob: Are the products Country Solar NT install sourced from an Australian-based supplier? 

Sebastian: All reputable manufacturers whose products we offer have a local presence here in Australia which is important as it provides you with peace of mind given that warranty support and after sales service is crucial. After over 7 years of experience and thousands of systems in the field, we have a very good idea of which products work reliably in our harsh climatic conditions and which manufacturers meet our high standards when it comes to warranty support.

COOLmob: What different warranties do solar panels come with? 

Sebastian: Solar PV panels carry two different warranties. The most important warranty is the Product Warranty covering material defects. This warranty ranges from 10-25 years depending on the panel brand. The other warranty is the Performance Warranty that warrants the degradation of panel efficiency over 25 years.

COOLmob: Say I want to expand my system in the future? Is this easy?

Sebastian: Yes and no. It depends on a few factors such as the inverter topology and the panel array configuration. Some inverter technologies are inherently easier to expand than others – Enphase micro inverters are amongst the most flexible in that regard due to their modular and distributed architecture.

COOLmob: Post installation, can I still come and ask you questions and advice?

Sebastian: Of course! We love having an ongoing relationship with all our clients! Some of our customers come in and brag when they get a power bill of $0 – and we get just as excited as they do! Given that the solar industry and products as well as the regulations are changing regularly, it is worth sourcing regular updates.

COOLmob: Do you recommend batteries in Darwin?

Sebastian: As it currently stands, grid-connected batteries have no economic relevance in the NT due to the current 1for1 feed-in tariff offered by Jacana Energy. Instead of storing your solar excess energy in a costly battery you are better off selling it while the feed in tariff remains as generous as it currently is. Think of the grid as your battery!

Country Solar NT are a COOLmob preferred and recommended supplier. You can find them at www.countrysolarnt.com.au