With relentless load shedding and increasing electricity costs, the small light at the end of the country’s energy crisis tunnel is, for those who can afford it, solar.
Motivated by a global drive towards renewable energy and with a local electricity supply that is unreliable and increasingly expensive, many residents are joining the energy revolution and switching to the sun.
“The cost of embracing solar energy was prohibitive a decade ago, however, the steady drop in solar panel prices has resulted in the current boom in home solar photovoltaic (PV) roof installations,” says Peter Olyott, CEO of financial services provider, Indwe Risk Services (Indwe).
“While solar power has emerged as a viable solution for those seeking reliable and cost-effective energy alternatives, we urge all homeowners to choose reputable installers who adhere to industry regulations and ensure proper insurance coverage for the safety and protection of your property,” says Olyott.
Home solar systems offer several benefits, including consistent power supply, long-term electricity cost reduction, and a reduced carbon footprint. Additionally, installing solar panels can increase the resale value of a property by between 4% and 8%. To further incentivise solar adoption, Finance Minister, Enoch Godongwana, announced a 25% tax rebate on the cost of new PV rooftop solar panels, up to a maximum of R15 000, available for one year from March 1, 2023 to February 29, 2024.
While embracing solar energy presents numerous advantages, improper installation can lead to significant risks, including fire hazards and potential insurance claim repudiation. Indwe has observed an increase in fire and explosion claims mainly due to the use of unlicensed installers. The result is incorrect and dangerous installations, use of poor-quality materials, and unsafe storage of lithium-ion batteries used with inverters.
It is vital that you are aware of the risks that come with installing alternative power supplies, and the importance of taking reasonable precautions which is a requirement on your insurance policy. To ensure a safe and reliable solar installation, Olyott advises homeowners to take the following steps:
- Use licensed/accredited suppliers and contractors for the purchase and installation of solar power systems.
- Only allow certified electricians to work on the electrical system of your home, especially when connecting external systems and devices to your primary circuits.
- Ensure that the appointed contractors have undertaken an evaluation of the suitability of the roof to carry the additional weight of the solar system being installed.
- Verify that appointed contractors provide proof of contractors liability insurance, with a recommended minimum cover limit of R10 million.
- Keep all relevant documents, including warranty documents, original purchase invoices, and signed contracts.
- Obtain a Certificate of Compliance (CoC) and ensure compliance with the latest edition of SANS, as these will be requested during the claims process.
- Understand the maintenance and servicing requirements of your solar system and ensure that these are accounted for in the pricing.
Choosing the right installer is paramount to the success of your solar project. Olyott advises homeowners to check the installer’s qualifications, accreditation, and industry experience. “Request references from current or previous customers, read online reviews, and seek recommendations from friends, family, and neighbours who have installed solar systems,” says Olyott.
A valid CoC will need to be issued to guarantee that the electrician who performed the installation complied with rules and regulations, ensuring a safe installation and so homeowners don’t run into issues with their insurer down the line. As solar systems tend to be expensive, ask what warranties come with the equipment.
“A solar system is a costly investment, which is why it’s crucial that your insurance is updated to cover the system, and for any damage or events that could cause damage. We suggest you contact your insurance advisor to review your existing coverage and ensure that you are adequately protected,” says Olyott.
Indwe is an authorised Financial Services Provider. FSP: 3425