Seven electrical & solar mistakes that can cost you big

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1. When any electrical or solar work is complete, ask for a ‘COES’ form


When any solar or electrical work is completed at your home, you should receive a completed ‘Certificate Of Electrical Safety’ (COES) form, which details the work that has been completed and the licence details of the electrician, who should also keep a copy.


If you have any problems with the electrical or solar work in the future, your COES form is your proof of compliance and will ensure you avoid any liability or repair costs.


2. Having solar installed? Insist on a home inspection beforehand


Any reputable solar company will perform a pre-installation ‘site visit’, during which they can inspect your roof, check for shading, and plan the electrical work ahead of time.


It’s a key step to ensure that your solar installation goes smoothly and safely – and won’t require any costly repairs or re-wiring in the future.


3. Choose only a reputable brand of solar panel


Many solar panels sitting on Australian rooftops are already showing signs of damage and wear – generally caused by being made from cheap materials by unknown manufacturers. Many cheap panels have no Australian warranty and the installer is nowhere to be found – meaning homeowners will be forced to buy brand new panels at their own cost.


Be sure to stick only with ‘Tier 1’ brands of solar panel that have been in the industry for 10+ years. Top brands of solar panel (in no particular order) include Trina, Sunpower, LG, REC, Jinko, Hanwha, Canadian Solar and JA Solar.


4. Buy a good solar inverter – or risk having to replace it


The solar inverter is the heart of the solar system, and so trying to save money by choosing a cheap or unknown brand is simply not worth the risk. The two top European brands ‘SMA’ and ‘Fronius’ are the best you can get, and will give you the greatest value over the life of your system.


5. Make sure your air conditioner is serviced regularly


One common mistake that Australians make is neglecting their air conditioner until a problem develops – by which time the repair cost far outweighs the cost of a routine service.


Air conditioners that remain unserviced not only work inefficiently – their running costs can skyrocket.


6. Check that every light bulb is either CFL or LED


Most Victorian homes are now lit by either CFL or LED light bulbs, however many older ‘halogen’ or ‘incandescent’ lightbulbs still remain. Be sure to check that every bulb in your home has been replaced or is flagged to be swapped – as an older type of bulb can use up to 12 times as much power as a new LED globe.


7. Small heaters do not mean small power bills


A small heater couldn't use much power, right? Wrong!


Portable plug-in fan or bar heaters are not only very inefficient, but you will be amazed at the amount of power they require to run.


Your money is far better spent on ducted or reverse cycle heating that will warm your home efficiently, and will cost you far less in ongoing running costs.