Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re a little confused about how solar works, what to expect on installation day or how to set up your smart meter, our FAQs have you covered.

How does solar work?

How do you turn sunlight into power?

When you see a ray of sunlight, you’re actually looking at a stream of photons. In order to turn sunlight into power, these photons need to be converted into electricity.

The Photovoltaic cells in a solar panel do just that. This electricity is Direct Current (DC), but in Australia we power households and appliances with Alternating Current (AC) Electricity. In order to connect the panels to your home switchboard, we also install a solar inverter to change it from DC to AC.

How do solar panels work in three simple steps?

Step One: Sunlight, a stream of photons, hits the solar panel and photovoltaic cells.
Step Two: Photons cause the electrons to come loose from atoms within the semiconductor, forming a Direct electrical Current (DC).
Step Three: An inverter converts DC to Alternating Current (AC) electricity, and connects to your fuse box to power your home.

If I’m not home during the day can I still benefit from solar?

Yes, but you need to be clever about it.

If you search for a competitive Solar Feed In Tariff (FiT), the rate you’re paid for your unused solar power back from your energy retailer, you should cover the cost of your electricity usage at night.

Is it worth getting a solar battery in Australia?

This is a difficult question to answer, as there are two ways you can go about it, depending on what you can afford.

  • You buy a battery, that will cost between 6k – 20k (~$1000/kWh), to store the energy that your solar panels create in the daylight hours when you’re not home. These batteries are expensive as they’re a new technology,and there are no government incentives or rebates. As batteries can store 3-18kWh, and the average Australian daily household usage is 19kWh per day, this should be enough to cover night usage.
  • You install a battery ready system (as we do here at Econnect Solar), so that when batteries become more affordable, or the government creates a financial incentive for homeowners to install them, you’re ready to go.

Do solar panels last forever?

Solar panels are generally expected to last around 25 to 30 years, depending on the brand and model. As a rule, most solar panels come with a 25 year product warranty, which guarantees the quality of the materials and workmanship, but performance warranties, that focus on panel efficiency, are more varied.

Cheaper solar panels from lesser known brands typically have a 10 year performance warranty. Larger, more premium brands like Hyundai and LG offer both a 25 year performance warranty and a 25 year product warranty.

Can I get solar if my house is shaded?

‘Bobs’ and solar companies looking out for profit may tell you otherwise, but the truth is solar panels do not perform if your roof is shaded. In fact, that’s why we use Nearmap OpenSolar software to check Winter shading on your home before designing your customised solar system.

If your rooftop is shaded, we will investigate the source of the shade and solve the problem by organising the removal of shade sources or redesigning your system. If your shading issues cannot be resolved, we will not sell you a system.

What kind of maintenance do solar panels and inverters require?

You may need to clean your panels once a year, but that depends on where you live and how much dust is in the area. The cleaning can be done by a professional, but it’s cheaper, easier and better for the planet to do it yourself. All you need is a squeegee and some homemade solar panel cleaner.

As for inverters, leave that to the experts. If you live in a very dusty area you may need to call someone to clean the inverter’s air intake filter but that’s about it. The inverter requires airflow so do not cover it at any time.

Can more solar panels be added to an existing system?

You can, but it’s cheaper and more effective to replace a system entirely if it is under performing due to poor quality.
The reason for this is that you cannot claim the $3000+ Government Solar STC Rebate on panels that are being added to an existing system.

Paying the full price for panels and installation generally ends up more costly than claiming a new system with a substantial government incentive and new 25 year warranties.

Your Free Energy Assessment

What is a Free Energy Assessment?

When you book your free energy assessment, our in-house Clean Energy Council accredited electricians use OpenSolar software to design a custom, true-to-scale rooftop solar design. On the day of your assessment, you’ll have instant access to these sparkies for electrical tech support and any necessary design changes.

Your specialist will work with you to create a unique ‘Match My Bill’ plan, based on your daily kWh usage or electricity bill size, to ensure your savings cover your system cost. Then, if you’re happy to go ahead, they will process a finance application for you on the spot.

Am I obligated to buy solar?

Absolutely not. Solar may not be the right choice for everyone, and we understand that with so many ‘bob’s out there, you may want to meet with a few companies before making your decision. All our energy assessments are free, no obligation meetings to show you why we’re different and how affordable solar can be.

What do I need to bring to the assessment

Make sure you have your most recent energy bills on hand for your specialist, and access to your electricity switchboard. If you haven’t got a bill yet, your daily kWh usage can help the specialist create a custom plan.

If there are two or more homeowners for the property, please make sure all parties are present. We understand if this is not the case, but unless all homeowners are present we cannot provide the quick and efficient service we pride ourselves on. Finance applications and Government Rebates must involve all parties to be considered.

What is ‘Sparky Support’

It’s our way of communicating what you get in your free energy assessment; access to support from qualified sparkies. We understand the value of a licensed electrician in every initial assessment, so our dedicated specialists always have access to qualified electricians.

Do you offer virtual energy assessments?

Yes we do, however we do find that in person we are able to provide a more detailed overview of how it works, and explain the complexities of solar in a more simple way. Your specialist also likes to sit with you and work out your calculations, so you can be involved in the process.

Is Finance approved on the spot?

Yes, if you meet your chosen solar finance provider’s eligibility criteria.

What to expect on installation day

What time will the installation team arrive?

This will depend on what time you have booked your installation for. Typically the team will either arrive in the morning, or the early afternoon. You will always receive clear communication from the Econnect Solar team as to when they will be arriving at your property.

Does someone need to be home for the entire installation?

This is dependent upon the size of your home, roof type and a variety of other factors, and as such we prefer the homeowner to be there throughout the installation.
However, if you do need to leave or do not feel you can stay for the entire installation, give us a call on 1300 047 889 and we’ll see what we can do.

How long does a solar installation take?

Our solar installations can take anywhere from four to eight hours, depending on the roof type and the difficulty of installation. When you book your installation, our friendly team will let you know an estimated time for completion.

Will the installation team clean up after themselves

Yes, without a doubt. If you have had an installation with us that you do not feel was adequately cleaned after completion, please call us on 1300 047 889.

What if the roof tiles crack or there is any damage to the roof?

Due to the different roof types, from tile to tin, certain installations may impact existing roof materials. If we predict there will be alterations, we will advise you of how we will be dealing with these changes during your first energy assessment.

For example, if you have a tile roof, we may order extra replacement tiles in case the solar panel mounts damage the existing ones.

How to set up your smart meter

Do you need a smart meter for solar?

When you get solar installed on your roof, you become your own little energy provider, who both uses and sells the electricity you generate. To sell your solar energy back to your retailer, you need a device that monitors and controls the two-way electricity flow of both using and selling.
That device is a smart meter. It is the only way to make sure you use the solar power you have generated before needing to pay for energy from your retailer.

What are the advantages of a smart meter?

Smart meters can be controlled remotely, which cuts out meter reading, connection and disconnection fees. It provides real-time data on energy usage for transparency, flexible billing options and if you ever need to move or swap retailers, you can sort it all remotely and avoid delays.

When you go solar, the smart meter gives you complete insight into your panel performance. It shows you how much energy you’re selling to the grid, how much solar power you’re using, and can provide insights into how to reduce your CO2 emissions and energy consumption.

How does Econnect Solar help with the smart meter?

When your system is installed and we have the CCEW, typically within 48 hours, a member of the Connects team will be in touch. They’ll check you’re happy with your system, ask for the name of your current energy retailer, and explain how it all works. The Connect teams will then submit your meter application and give you a few tips on the best times to contact your retailer so you can speed up the installation process.

Why can’t we submit the Smart Meter Application before the installation?

When a Smart Meter Application is submitted that specifically relates to a new solar system, your Energy Retailer requires a Certificate of Compliance for Electrical Work (CCEW). This cannot be completed before your install is complete. The CCEW certifies the solar system is electrically safe, and that the Australian Standards have been adhered to. Frauding this certificate is a criminal offence, so if you have seen solar companies offering this, be wary.

If you want a smart meter for your home installed before you get solar, you can organise that with your retailer, without a CCEW. However, if you decide to install solar, you will need to submit a new Smart Meter application as the meter must be reconfigured for solar, with the two-way electricity flow.

What happens if I have an existing smart meter?

Regardless of whether you have an existing smart meter, you will need to submit a new Smart Meter application after your solar system is installed. Your Energy Retailer requires a Certificate of Compliance for Electrical Work (CCEW) for all new solar installations, before configuring smart meters for the two-way digital communication system needed to both sell and use solar energy.

What if I have an issue with my retailer?

Although we do our best to help you sort your smart meter paperwork and application, any issues with the smart meter installation must be addressed by your retailer. If you are having trouble resolving a smart meter issue with your retailer, contact the Energy Ombudsman in your state.

The meter installer came and didn’t install the meter

There may be several reasons why the meter installer did not put the meter in. Access issues, safety concerns or a lack of isolation device can impact the ability of a meter installer to configure the smart meter, so it’s best to contact your Energy Retailer directly.

What if there is an issue with my meter board?

Our in-house team of qualified electricians will most likely be able to help you with any electrical issue, but as electricity is complex, we assess this on a case by case basis.

We offer a standard range of electrical extras for system upgrades and cabling, so please don’t hesitate to call us on 1300 047 889 if you are thinking about hiring an Econnect Solar electrician.

How long until my meter is installed?

The responsibility of your smart meter installation is in the hands of your energy retailer. Once we have completed your solar installation, we notify them that the work has been done and that it is time for them to install a smart meter on your property.

We will help you try to speed up the process, however we have no authority to control when this installation occurs, so it is important you continue to follow up with your retailer.

Will my rate change when my meter is installed?

Yes. However, this is a tough question to provide a general answer to, as every state is different and retailers have complicated plans with rates that vary based on time, location and usage.

How your rate changes will depend on the solar plan you choose, and how well you negotiate with your energy retailer. Check whether the plan is time of use or single tariff, and make sure to check who has the highest Solar Feed-In Tariff (FiT). Only by shopping around can you calculate the costs and the benefits of switching or staying.

Is my smart meter information privacy protected?

Your energy data and personal information is classified as confidential information under the National Electricity Rules and the Privacy Act 1988. There are safeguards in place to protect you from unauthorised access to metering data and its services. Access to metering data is limited to registered energy market participants, such as retailers and meter providers.

I have health concerns about my smart meter, what can I do?

There have been claims that the electromagnetic field emissions (EMFs) from smart meters can cause health problems, but mobile phones also emit EMFs. There is no established scientific evidence that the low levels of EMFs from smart meters cause any health effects.

Solar Finance & Payments

Can I pay for my solar system upfront?

In your free energy assessment, your solar specialist will ask which payment plan suits you best. If you can afford the initial outlay for solar, you can definitely pay for your solar system upfront. However, if you want your solar savings to cover the cost of your system, and make fortnightly repayments over five years, our Match My Bill plan is best for you.

How do I make an upfront payment?

If you want to pay for your system upfront, we require 10% deposit at the point of sale and the final balance is due on the day of your installation.

Our accounts department does an audit of your installation after completion, to ensure accuracy before sending the final invoice. We accept bank transfer to the details provided on your invoice, or you can call us on 1300 047 889 and make a credit card payment. All credit card payments are processed through Square and have a surcharge of 2.2%.

What is the Match My Bill plan?

If you own your own home, work 25+ hours per week and are over 18+ you may qualify for our Match My BIll plan, which uses your solar savings to cover the cost of your system so you pay no more than your current energy bill.

Created using the Econnect Pricing Formula, your dedicated solar specialist matches the cost of your solar system to your current energy bill and predicted savings. For five years, you pay the same as your current bill, but after five years you reap the rewards.

Will I receive a receipt of my deposit and final payment?

If you are paying upfront, you will receive a receipt of your payment via the nominated email address you provide to your solar specialist at the time of sale.

If you are on our Match My Bill plan, you will need to contact your solar finance provider for your payment history. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to access private information about your account.

What if I have a question about my final bill?

If you have any questions about your payments, call 1300 04 889 and a member of the team will be happy to help you.

How do I get solar finance?

If you own your own home, work 25+ hours per week and are over 18+ you may be eligible for solar finance from one of our solar finance providers; Brighte, Solaris Finance or Humm.

Your dedicated solar specialist will discuss the best option for you during your free energy assessment, and if eligible, your solar finance will be approved on the spot.

How much is the government rebate?

The Australian Solar Rebate, also called STC Rebate, is a part of the Australian Government’s Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES). STC stands for Small-scale Technology Certificate. It is essentially a “coupon” that gives you a discount off the total cost of your solar system. Calculating the discount you will get on your system is a combination of four factors:

  1. The size of your solar system in KW
  2. The number of years left in the scheme
  3. The location that the system is being installed in
  4. The current value of STCs

Specifically, the formula for calculating how many STCS you will get is: Size of System in KW x Years Left in Rebate x Area

How do I claim the Australian Government Solar Rebate?

The solar rebate is provided at the point of sale, and the amount you are credited with will depend upon your individual situation. Claiming the solar rebate is only available to homeowners who have a system installed under 100kW by a Clean Energy Council member. The system must consist of solar panels and inverters approved for use in Australia by the Clean Energy Council.

How much does solar cost, can I get a quote for solar?

The price of a system depends on power consumption, system size, shading, panel brand, inverter brand and a range of other factors unique to you and your home.

If you have been offered a solar quote without a visit from a solar specialist, or a virtual energy assessment that looks at your usage and your switchboard, be very wary.

How much does it cost to install the smart meter?

Most retailers do not charge for the installation of the smart meter, however due to energy privatisation there are now a multitude of different retailers, all with different policies.

We can not guarantee that your retailer will not charge, so it is best to contact your retailer one week after we install your solar system to double check their rates and their policies. As there are no lock in contracts with energy in Australia, you can always change retailers to avoid a smart meter installation fee.

Aftercare & Support

What is Econnect Aftercare?

When you get a system installed with us, you can trust in Econnect Aftercare to give you the support you need to make the most of your solar system throughout warranty periods.There is no such thing as a stupid question, and we pride ourselves on our old fashioned customer service.

Our team is always on hand to provide technical advice, support with solar monitoring, system performance and advice on current solar feed-in tariff (FiT) rates. We’re also on-hand if there are any technical glitches, system faults or performance issues with your system.

What do I do now that I've got my solar installed?

Once we have installed your solar system, your next step is to set up your smart meter. After your smart meter is installed and configured, you can monitor your energy usage and solar power generation. Depending on your inverter model, you can also access your own solar power dashboard, to see how well your panels are performing.

If you’re happy with your system, you can also earn $300 by referring friends and family.

How do I know you will be around if my system breaks down?

With so many solar companies in the industry, it can be difficult to know who you can trust to be around for the lifetime of your system.

That’s why we choose to work with a network of trusted supply partners and source products from world-renowned solar technology brands, with the best product and performance warranties on the market.

Econnect Solar acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work. We acknowledge their continuing connection to land, rivers and sea. We wish to pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging.