TÜV Rheinland Blog - Insights from Asia and Africa

Being Smart About Solar Investments

Posted by TUV Rheinland on Jan 23, 2017 6:00:00 PM
TUV Rheinland

Making solar power work for you

The trend toward more sustainable energy promises benefits for both the environment and consumers. Photovoltaic devices, in particular, are attractive to home owners and businesses because solar energy is cheap. However, don’t lose sight of the costs of installation, insurance and maintenance over time. These expenses add up, so be aware of the legal and financial implications of your investment in solar power and don’t ignore the small print!


Know your sources: manufacturers through installation

Making smart investments in solar generators and solar batteries includes doing pre-purchase due dilligence on manufacturers, suppliers, importers and installation companies. Your ideal partner provides recognized, name-brand equipment certified by TÜV Rheinland or another authorized inspection body for compliance with European standards. The company you choose should also speak your language, providing all documentation, warranty information and customer service, without the need for translation.

The warranty details are especially important, and go beyond legal requirements to include, for instance, promises of maximum energy output loss and guaranteed number of charging cycles for batteries. Make sure you have read and understand these details or have a company representative explain them to you. Take the time to imagine worst-case scenarios and how they might be resolved. For example, if any of the components are faulty and need to be sent away for testing or repairs, who pays for de-installation, packaging and shipping and re-installation later on?

Overview how to secure PV investmentsSpeaking of installation, good installation companies come with strong recommendations, good prospects for future solvency and easily accessible locations. In the best case scenario, you will be working with this company over the 10-20 year life cycle of your device, and person-to-person contact with company’s technicians means better service. Reputable companies employ knowledgeable technicians who know better than to mix and match components from different companies (a no-go!) and who can give solid advice on a range of issues related to your photovoltaic device.

In short, take a careful look at every company that has a hand in the production, delivery and installation of your solar energy system. Manufacturers and suppliers of all components should be well-established and able to continue to provide service even in the case of insolvency. Importers carry liability for the products they bring in to Europe, so their credentials warrant a second look as well. Finally, as we have seen, installation companies are extremely important, especially as they often also provide maintenance over the whole lifetime of the photovoltaic device.

Keep an eye on insurance and maintenance

Regular monitoring and maintenance of your solar power facility, along with proper documentation, is a vital part of protecting your investment. Without it, faults can go undetected until it is too late to take advantage of warranty provisions. Investors might also miss out on some of the expected returns, as devices don’t work to their full capacity. Just as with installation, monitoring and maintenance is a matter to be entrusted to the experts.

It also pays to put your insurance company to the test. Find out exactly how and if existing policies cover your photovoltaic installation. In most cases, property insurance does not cover additions to existing structures (i.e., solar panels), and you will have to take out a new insurance policy to cover your investment. Do your research and look for TÜV Rheinland-approved companies with suitable experience. Meet with representatives, ask questions and settle on a partner you trust.

Look to the future: end of life cycle issues

If you’ve made good decisions pre-purchase and kept up a regular monitoring and maintenance regime, you can expect your solar power system to function well for at least ten years. Eventually, however, the components will need to be disposed of and replaced, and there are strict regulations regarding how this is done. Storage units must be returned to the manufacturers at no charge to the consumer. Solar panels, wiring and inverters are electrical waste and are subject to applicable laws. Once again, choose an installation company you can rely on, and end-of-life cycle issues can be managed easily. 
For more information on our solar panel testing solutions, please visit our website or contact us to speak to one of our experts.

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Topics: energy, energy efficiency, PV, solar