Ten Things to Ascertain Before You Call the Solar Installer
Installing solar rooftop plants is trending. The government is pushing for them. It is supposed to save the world while saving money for you. People want to be seen green. Its a hot topic for discussion in a number of housing societies, industrial units and commercial establishments which are burdened under high energy bills.
But stop! as a business owner or a member of a housing society’s committee, before you pickup that phone and call various vendors or post a requirement on indiamart for installing a plant, you need to ascertain certain things which will help you get a better deal out of what the vendor or installer offers. So what should you know before you speak to a vendor.
You need to ascertain certain things which help you get a better deal out of what the installers or vendors offer
#1 How much energy do you consume? You must be aware as to how much is your consumption and how much do you want to offset by using solar power. Which are the consumers using maximum energy and which you want to minimise.
#2 How much are you paying for the energy? In India there are slabs for energy tariff based on units consumed. But how much is the actual average per unit rate that you are paying? Also, which consumers contribute maximum to the energy bills?
#3 How much energy can your roof generate? This is a crucial question. Do you know how much energy can actually be generated from installing a rooftop solar plant on your roof? The energy generated is a function of the area of the roof as well as the geographic location of the building. Rules applicable for Delhi are not applicable for Chennai. So, do you know how much energy can be generated by your rooftop?
The energy generated is a function of the area of the roof as well as the geographic location of the building. Rules applicable for Delhi are not applicable for Chennai.
#4 Is the energy potential of your roof a significant fraction of your total energy consumption? If no, it may not be worth the effort and money you would end up spending.
#5 What are the local rules? Every state has a set of rules governing the size of plant that can be installed, subsidy available, availability of net-metering etc. These rules will significantly impinge on the amount of money that you can save by installing a rooftop solar plant.
#6 What is the plant size to be installed? Based on your energy consumption and the pattern for energy consumption, the potential of your rooftop and the local rules, you need to arrive at the plant size that is ideal for you.
#7 How much will this plant cost? Before you start talking to vendors, you must be aware of what cost to expect. Vendors can give you widely disparate quotations with very convincing sounding explanations. Can you see through their game? Are they giving you value or are they fleecing you?
Vendors can give you widely disparate quotations with very convincing sounding explanations. Are they giving you value or are they fleecing you?
#8 What model should you go for? You can buy a plant outright under the CAPEX model or you can lease your rooftop and buy power from a supplier under the RESCO model. Which model is most suited for you? Have you decided on that?
#9 What are the best value for money components available in the market? The market has all types of solar modules and inverters from cheap Chinese low quality products to expensive Chinese high quality products to Indian products to German products. Which products offer you the best value within your budget?
#10 What are the technical specifications of the plant based on which you ask for quotations? Because you need to compare and choose from amongst the vendors, it becomes easier if they all quote for the same quality products. For this to happen, you need to give the specifications of the plant components that you want installed. Do you have these available?
Does the list look intimidating? Well, many vendors will offer site assessment, bill assessment etc as complimentary activities. But, are you sure they will give the assessment keeping your interests on top; or will they keep their own interest on top?
Are you sure they will give the assessment keeping your interests on top; or will they keep their own interest on top?
In case of large plants, say 100 KWp and above, the above knowledge becomes important as the plant costs are significant. To overcome these issues, you need a technical person on your side. Yes you need an owner’s engineer who will provide you with all this data keeping your interest on top.