What Happens AFTER Your Solar Installation: A Step-By-Step Guide
Congratulations! Now you have shiny new solar panels installed. You’re all excited and ready to eliminate your electricity bill for good.
Is it time for you to turn on that magic switch yet?
Well, not just yet.
First of all, we need to get you officially registered as a solar owner and connected to the system. And there is a little bit of paperwork that needs to be done.
It involves the cooperation of you, your solar installer, your energy provider, and Energex.
You probably know what Energex is. (Psst, if not: it’s an electric power distribution company owned by the Queensland Government.)
You need permission from Energex to connect to the network, change your meter at home, and to be allowed to feed your excess electricity to the grid.
Step 1. Submitting a Connect Application Form
Even though it happens before the actual installation day, everything starts with gaining permission from Energex to connect to the network.
It doesn’t matter if you’re going to export your electricity to the network or not, all solar power installations that have the capacity to export must go through this process and submit a Network Connection Application.
If you can’t be bothered to do this, then don’t. Your solar installer can do this for you.
We at InstyleSolar can submit a connect application form on your behalf as soon as we have your installation date and a copy of your contract and personal details.
Then Energex will determine the impact of your solar power installation on the network, and the size of the system you may connect.
If your solar system size is 5kW or under it is approved straight away.
Anything over the 5kW may take anywhere from 3-5 business days to approve.
Keep in mind: a connect must be approved BEFORE the installation process.
Step 2. Submitting Electrical Work Request
So this is what happens when the solar installation team leaves.
Even though your connect has been approved and solar system successfully installed, it doesn’t mean you can go ahead and turn it on just yet.
Your inverter will remain switched off until you’ve changed or upgraded the meter box.
This is to ensure that the meter doesn’t record consumption inaccurately and therefore impact your electricity bill. But the meter is a headache for later.
Now we need to submit an Electrical Work Request, or EWR.
This is to inform Energex that the installation has been done at your premises and that Australian Standards have been applied.
If you’re going to stay connected to the grid, the Electrical Work Request will also act as your application for the feed-in tariff (FIT).
Keep in mind: you can still shop around and negotiate feed-in tariff options directly with your electricity retailer.
On receipt of the EWR, Energex will send its copy to the electricity retailer nominated on the EWR. That’s when you’ll need to advise your electrical contractor who your electricity retailer is.
Once your EWR is sent through, they will contact your preferred retailer and ask for the appropriate forms, documents or information that they require.
Sometimes your retailer may be slow in processing this. Even though all forms have successfully been submitted at our end, we at InstyleSolar can see the status “Awaiting Retailer Request”.
Don’t panic. Simply wait for the retailer to do the paperwork at their end.
Step 3. Switching On the Meter
The reason why you couldn’t install the meter before is because up to this moment you had no EWR reference number.
But once your Electrical Work Request is approved, you’ll receive an email with this EWR reference number.
Now you can contact your energy retailer, tell them this number and arrange a technician who’ll come out to the property and do the meter.
Before this appointment, your electricity retailer will send Energex a request to conduct the necessary metering change at your premises.
This step may take up to 10 business days.
Step 4. Switching On the Solar System
Once a technician or electrician from your preferred electricity retailer (or from Energex) switches on the meter, your solar system will all be hooked up and will start producing.
Cheers, wine, confetti.
So now you can see that it takes more than just throwing panels on your roof and connecting the cords to start benefiting from solar power.
The process contains paperwork with the certain bureaucracy involved, but if you choose the right solar installer, they’ll do everything they can to ensure it’s smooth and easy for you.
Don’t be shy, and make sure you ask questions before you sign the contract. You have a part in this too.
Here are a few extra things to keep in mind:
Changing Energy Retailer
It’s your right to make the best out for your Feed-In Tariff. Do your research to see what’s available for you on the market and change the electricity provider, if needed.
But keep in mind that if you change retailers during the process or within the first week of having your solar installed, it will take longer for your EWR to be approved.
Speeding Up Your Meter Installation
During the stage of “Awaiting retailer request” of your EWR, it’s up to your retailer to complete documents or take action.
Everything at our end, as a solar installer, has been successfully submitted.
Remember: once it says it’s “Completed” it’s up to you to call up with the EWR reference number and arrange a meter installation.
It’s not because solar installers are lazy: the retailer will not communicate with anyone who isn’t the customer or the account holder.
Paying Extra Fees
Yes. Unfortunately, to connect the meter, you’ll have to pay a fee. Talk to your energy provider about the prices.
If you want to see how much solar or battery storage could save you over the next 5 years, then take our solar saving calculator quiz below!
Or talk to an Instyle Solar expert about the best solutions for home energy storage or PV-panels.
Otherwise, head back to the solar blog to find even more great educational content.