Solar power need-to-knows and the state of Solar down under … with Red Solar [Feature Interview #02]

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If you are looking for a solar system to offset or give rising electricity costs a lesson they will never forget, then Red Solar (based nearby in Brooklyn) might be a good place to look.

Red Solar - Living in Tarneit recommends Red Solar as your partners in renewable energy

My experience with them was largely a positive one. They set refreshing standards in customer service and clean energy domain expertise. It is a tough ask to blend these two together in a burgeoning renewable industry but Red Solar deftly combines the two together and this was critical in my decision making.So if you’re after a sales experience that is attentive, caring and flexible; a installation team that is friendly and capable, then Red Solar comes recommended. It is a big plus that they are also priced clearly and competitively. Based on my research, I find them to be the most affordable in the Victorian market, hands down.Their prices are indicated clearly on their website and there is no need to surrender your precious personal information in order to get a quote, which seems to be the norm for many other retailers.
Solar Panels on the roofs of Australian Homes. Photo Source - http://www.flickr.com/photos/thelastminute/7461522300
Solar Panels on the roofs of Australian Homes. Photo Source – http://www.flickr.com/photos/thelastminute/7461522300
After six months of thorough research and being confronted with numerous sales team snobs who automatically assumed potential customers were lay people who had to quiver under their pedestal of assumed knowledge (I run my own online solar newspaper here…), the nimble and attentive Red Solar convinced me they were the right choice for my household.

I managed to get in touch with a spokesperson for Red Solar who was gracious enough to take time off for an interview with ‘Living in Tarneit’.

1. On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate the state of Australia’s solar industry? (10 being in excellent shape)

6/10

2. Why should Australians convert to solar? Could you list down the top 3 benefits?

1. Save money.
2. Combat power price hikes.
3. Reduce carbon foot print.

3. This is a two-parter as we have both of these resources in abundance. What is holding Australia back from going full-solar? Would an integrated system of solar and wind be a step forward?

Full solar may affect the Australian economy. i.e; Power generating companies may fail due to lack of demand. Jobs will be cut and other associated companies will also struggle. This is not dissimilar to the legacy issues of the automotive industry.

Wind is more expensive to commission. Effects from wind turbines to the community. ie; vibration can cause discomfort to locals. You also need certain and consistent wind strengths to activate turbines. In certain regions of Victoria the winds average less than what is required.

4. Battery packs – it will make sense for solar systems to come with batteries especially during the sun-scarce winter months. Why aren’t battery packs being offered with solar systems at the moment?

Battery packs are available to purchase. We don’t offer it at this stage for a few reasons: In our opinion:-

1. Too expensive to justify viability.
2. Battery technology still needs to improve.
3. Battery longevity still too low to have a favorable financial return.

5. How does Australia’s solar industry stack up against the rest of the world?

Still a long way to go. The current government favors the mining industry and is constantly trying to slow the progress of the solar industry. Australia has the best environment and opportunities for solar. If you research the available capacity for solar installation in Australia, you will find it will be enormous.

6. What kind of challenges do you see for the industry ahead?

1. The current government policies.
2. Lack of private investment.
3. Dodgy solar companies building a bad reputation.
4. Weakening economy making it difficult for people to afford to take the punt on solar.
5. The push for Nuclear Power Stations in Australia.

7. How can Australian consumers make informed choices on choosing the right solar retailer?

1. Make sure that the solar retailer you choose is supplying what they are offing.
2. Check all Warranties offered are backed by the Australian distributors.
3. Check all specs of the products offered.
4. Check the internet for any reviews of the company.
5. Check all appropriate paperwork is completed properly and submitted at the times they say it will be.
6. Check that the installers have public liability insurance to protect you and your property.
7. Compare apples with apples with pricing. Many solar companies with try to build value in their products & services. Yes, in most cases you do get what you pay for. However, you must also consider living within your means. Most people would love to drive a Rolls Royce yet decide to drive a Commodore. Furthermore, solar products these days all perform very close to each other and warranties are the same. So, ultimately you must decide if purchasing a more expensive system is financially viable.

8. A solar system is a long-term investment as panels are designed to last up to 30 years. As the industry is so new, how can consumers be sure the warranty promises will be kept down the line?

Ultimately warranties are valid as long as the companies are operating. We cannot guarantee this will be the case. My opinion is this – with today’s global economic uncertainties not even multi-national companies can guaranteed to be operational forever.

9. For those who wish to enter the industry, how does one get educated or accredited?

CEC (Clean Energy Council) is the body you need to be accredited by.

10. Finally – some top tips for existing solar users to enhance their experience?

Consumption is the key, look at all areas that can be reduced:
a. Lighting.
b. Use high efficiency appliances.
c. Use electrical appliances while the sun is out, to maximise solar advantage.
d. On hot days (over 30dec), lightly spray your panels with a garden hose. The panels will perform better.

Visit Red Solar’s website here. Or give them a call at 1300 883 814.

For further reading, check out how Australia are world champions in terms of solar efficiency here. Proof that we’re not just good at sport and having a good time.

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