RESIDENTIAL solar panels are becoming a must-have for homes across the Central West, with a reported 17 per cent of Western NSW homes now having solar panels installed, up from 9 per cent five years ago.
Solar panels can save you thousands of dollars in the long term and help your home be more eco-friendly and efficient, however many people are not doing proper research before having systems installed.
Kent Pomare, Co-founder and Head of Technology at National Grid Support Service, said it was great to do internet searches for basic information, but that people needed to validate that information and find the right solution for their needs.
"The main issue is a lot of bigger suppliers try to keep things simple and just provide the same system to large numbers of residents, and this allows them to bulk order and save costs," he said. "The end result is people end up with systems that don't suit their needs."
"There are many variables that anyone getting a solar system needs to take into account including when and how you use electricity, physical aspects such as the size of your roof and direction it faces, local weather and of course your future requirements."
Of course residents should compare other factors including price, solar system size and capacity, but Mr Pomare said that one thing people should always look at is quality.
"There is a lot of varying quality in solar panels and technology, and customer service, and while there are programs like the Government's STC rebates, people shouldn't use those funds to pay for the majority of a cheap system," he said. "They should use them as intended, to help subsidise the cost of a good, quality system that suits their needs."
"It's also vital to make sure you good get customers service, before, during and after your install, as there is nothing worse than having a solar system installed only to find out months later you have an incompatible smart-meter and you have missed out on hundreds of dollars in savings."
Robert Biviano, owner of Central West Solar, agreed saying that potential savings depended on individual circumstances, but there was a major focus on providers.
"What people save really does depend on the size of their solar system, when they use electricity and whether they have battery back up," he said. "A major factor is who your electricity provider is because the feed in tariffs and buy back limits have a big influence on exactly what financial return you receive."
"You need to make sure the plan you choose is right for you and be prepared to shop around to find a better deal."