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Home > Solar Hot Water > Information > Choosing an Installer

Choosing an Installer


How do I choose the best Solar Installer?

Confused

There are many things to consider before you choose a solar installer for your house or project of any type. You need to ask yourself some questions and answer them before making the decision.

We have compiled a list of questions you should ask yourself before choosing an installer. We tried to make it as impartial as possible and generic to all solar installations.

 

1. Am I going to buy the cheapest system I can get for my money?

If the answer is YES, then you don’t need to read any further. Go to Google and find as many solar installers in Ireland that you can, get quotes and order from the cheapest guy.

More often than not, people don't buy an engineered product, with a technical design and installation requirement from the cheapest guy. This can lead to cheap goods being installed in the easiest or cheapest way. The result is; the system only works “OK”. It may work fine at first and you hand over your cash. 6 months down the road is that company/person still going to be in business and is there a warranty service that you can make claims due to bad installation or faulty goods?

A professional solar installer will have all the latest solar installation tools and fittings. Ideally, pre-insulated flexible stainless steel piping will be used, as it only has connections on the roof, pump and cylinder. No hidden fittings in the walls and less chance of leaks. Special tools are required and this is what scares many installers away. Specialist training from Kingspan should also be taken. This is a higher level of training when compared to simple SEAI registration.

 

2. How many installations has the company completed, and can I phone or see some local installations before proceeding?

A good solar installer will have thousands of installations completed and should have no problem putting you in touch with a local customer.

Beware of domestic plumbers who claim to be solar specialists. Plumbers are great at what they do – installing heating and water systems, but when it comes to a knowledge of software for designing solar systems, roof work, working with specialist solar issues or problems, many of them rely on the guy working behind the counter in the hardware store to solve their problems over the phone. This is not the case with all plumbers, but there is an element of it out there as general plumbing work has dried up with the reduction in home building.

We have fixed many installations where the plumber has walked away as he was unable to solve issues on site. Also, AEI has almost 6 years experience installing solar throughout Ireland.

 

3. My house is a new build and therefore not grant eligible. Do I need to choose an installer that is not registered with SEAI, as I'm not getting the grant?

This is where the self builder see's an opportunity to save by using a installer and product, not registered with SEAI.

First things first, why are they not registered with SEAI? Common reasons are; the panels were not up to EN12975 standards and failed the test. Now there is a 40’ container of these that need to be sold, so they go for cheap or “cash”. Your system will cause more headaches down the line than the saving is worth.

Also, where is your warranty if no receipt has been issued? The installer may have failed the SEAI training exam as he was deemed unfit to install solar system due to his lack of knowledge of solar system design, or his installation skills.

 

4. Local installers

Try to choose someone with a local presence. If there are issues with the installation (even the most professional installer can get teething problems with a system) you want to be sure that the company will be in the area again to drop by and assess your system. We mainly cover Leinster, but we have done many jobs outside this area also.

 

5. Will the installer complete ALL the work or will I have to arrange some work myself?

This is becoming more common. The installer quotes for the work and the price looks favourable.

The problem is, he is only quoting for the panels, pump and piping to be installed and is not quoting for the cylinder to be replaced or the electrical work. This needs to be arranged by you. He will give you a list of people to do this work and it will all be made nice and easy.

Problem is, “The Blame Game”. There is a leak in your hot press, who is responsible? The pump is not working. Is the pump or the electrical connection faulty? My roof is leaking. Was it the panel installer or the person who did the piping? We cover ALL the work required for total system installation. We replace your cylinder and recycle old one. We perform the electrical work to connect solar to mains power for pump. Roof work, plumbing work and we even hoover where we worked in your home.

 

6. Does the company have insurance and what are the payment terms?

Normally a deposit is required and public liability and product liability are required by an installer. AEI has both insurances and a deposit is required to book you in and begin manufacturing of your “hot press specific” cylinder.

 

7. What is the warranty with the system and am I given it in writing with my T&C’s?

You should only use a panel with at least 15 years warranty. This is generally manufacturer’s warranty and covers the cost of the parts. There is also labour warranty. This is the cost for providing the labour to replace the part. We provide 20 years warranty and 1 year labour warranty on Thermomax systems. The warranty on a very basic system will only be 5 years.

Our system has a life expectancy of 25-30 years. After a month or so, if there are no issues, we don't expect any with our method of installing.

 

8. How do I compare different panels?

This is not as easy as it seems. Panels are not black and white and easy to compare. There are test reports issued for all panels that are SEAI registered, but the results can be interpreted differently.

Most testing is done with the sun facing the panel at noon (if south facing). This is known as peak output. What this way of testing doesn’t take into account, is how the panels will perform with the sun at 45° to the panel, or at 6pm or any other time except noon. We use a solar simulator program to compare different panels at different conditions and this helps us to update the panel design to better suit Irish conditions. There are many other variances and factors in deciding what installer you will choose.

 

If you think there are other topics we should cover in this section, please let us know

 

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