Alors que le risk of power cuts this winter is gradually fading , the importance of diversifying the electricity supply in France and Europe remains a key subject at the start of the year. This may be an opportunity to bring your solar installation projects out of the closet!! Especially since the advantages of this type of electricity: renewable, inexhaustible and storable, no longer need to be proven.
But then who to turn to for such an installation?
The realization of a solar installation goes through two essential steps:
- The purchase of equipment
- Installation of panels, supports, etc.
In the case of a network installation, ie connected to the Enedis electricity network, a third step will be added for the connection.
It is therefore essential first of all to define your expectations for these different stages in order to then know where to turn. For the purchase of the material you will have to define:
- The price you can put in your installation, of course.
- If the provenance of the materials is of significant importance to you. For the installation to be as ecological as possible, it is important to choose materials manufactured and assembled as close as possible to your home!!
- If you want to pick up your equipment at the factory or have it delivered to you. It is not always possible to pick up the equipment on site.
- The importance you place on customer service.
For the installation, you will first need to know if you plan to carry out the installation yourself or call on an installer (recommended if you are not a handyman!). If you use an installer, some suppliers sometimes offer the services of their own installer, which can be a good option since the latter will then know the equipment to be installed perfectly.
Good to know:
If the budget that you can dedicate to your solar installation is quite low, it may now be interesting to look into the re-use of second-hand solar panels!! This is for example what the Envie2E factory located in Saint-Loubes offers:
Who are the main suppliers of solar equipment?
With the democratization of the sector, suppliers of solar equipment are more and more numerous. It can therefore become complicated to know who to contact for a quality installation. At first it is necessary to distinguish the supplier who deals with selling the equipment from the installer who will take care of installing it at the request of the customer. Some installers will offer their usual product ranges, and some suppliers will offer the services of an installer, but the two can also be separated, and in the event that you assemble your solar installation yourself, only the use of a supplier will be necessary.
To choose the latter, several criteria can be taken into account. We have listed some of them in the rest of this article, with for each criterion a comparison of some suppliers currently offered on the photovoltaic market (including the 5 listed as to know by Engie). Of course, this list is not exhaustive and the data reported is given for information only but should be studied more closely for your solar project. Especially since what may be essential for one installation is not necessarily so for another.
Number of brands offered, a guarantee of quality?
When looking for where to buy solar panels on the internet, it is easy to be attracted by sites that display a wide choice of brands of solar panels, sometimes at prices that seem promising. However, is this the right way to obtain a quality product? It's quite random but overall, unless you know it well and are looking for the right price opportunity without being in a hurry in the delivery times, it does not seem wise to rely on this criterion!! Indeed, these "generic" sites tend to display less than optimal product availability, so the delivery time may easily be pushed back one or more times. Once the order has been received, the concern then arises to obtain assistance in the event of a problem during installation. However, the more brands there are, the more specificities they have to remember, and the customer service of these platforms is not always able to respond correctly on the entire range offered. Conversely, a site that only offers a few references generally knows them quite well. It is also often these smaller sites that offer the services of a dedicated installer.
Warranty period: an interesting criterion!!
Indeed, it is quite evocative of the quality of panels purchased. On average, the warranty offered by most solar panel manufacturers is around 25 years. If the warranty period is longer, then the panel is generally of higher quality (high end). For shorter durations, it will be necessary to check the profitability duration of the panels used for your projects. Indeed, the current solar panels often exceed the announced guarantee, but it is necessary all the same to take precautions when the guarantee too low seems to indicate a lower quality. However, it can also be hybrid panels whose development is less advanced than that of solar panels. These panels capable of providing both electricity and heat are not necessarily profitable at the present time. Improvements should take place in the coming years.
After-sales service and customer relations
Once again, these are essential criteria. A serious supplier must be able to support you throughout the implementation of your project. It starts during the phase of selecting the products to buy. If at this time advice is difficult to obtain, it is a rather bad omen. Indeed, as a prospect likely to buy, you are generally in the most interesting phase for the company. If the team is already difficult to reach, seems reluctant to advise you, or seems hesitant in the choice of solutions to offer you, what will happen in the event of a post-purchase need, when you are no longer their priority ? On the other hand, it can be very interesting before buying, to consult the customer reviews left on the supplier you have chosen. To do this, do not limit yourself to the simple site of this one, the opinions can easily be fictitious or sorted there. It is better to refer to certified review sites, and also review those left on google or the company's social networks. Be careful, however, not to give too much importance to the marginal comments of eternally dissatisfied people!! On the other hand, a supplier who takes the trouble to respond to negative opinions concerning him can be interesting. Indeed this means that he attaches a certain importance to his image online, and in case of concern, the comment solution can be used in the event that the technical service remains difficult to reach. However, the best advice is to choose a supplier whose customer reviews seem to indicate the seriousness of the contacts with the technical service and the after-sales service!!
Place of manufacture: essential to determine the carbon footprint
If, like us, ecology is close to your heart, then it is very likely that you will attach particular importance to the origin of your solar panels. Some companies are very competent, however their panels shipped from the other side of the world will have to travel thousands of km to reach your roof. Their high carbon footprint will then be difficult to offset, even by producing green energy for years. Fortunately, Europe is attaching more and more importance to renewable energies, and to photovoltaic energies in particular. Last month (in December 2022), a European Solar Photovoltaic Industry Alliance was also created. Its purpose is to promote European production initiatives, and thus to accelerate the deployment of solar power in Europe. This should contribute to the development of existing European solutions, but also bring new local players to the solar market!!
Finally, it may be useful to look at other criteria such as the availability of other elements of your solar system: batteries, inverters, cables, fixings or even intelligent managers. Indeed, being able to buy everything in the same place by obtaining the advice of a single technician who knows the equipment will often be easier than having to check the compatibility of parts and panels purchased separately. Some suppliers also make available on their site elements that can be very useful. This is the case of solar comparators or simulators that can help you estimate the performance of your future installation, but it can also be assembly instructions, specific advice in the choice of materials, or even very detailed technical brochures. . Again, the more the supplier cares about customer satisfaction by providing all these elements, the more likely it is that the after-sales service and advice will also be of high quality. Conversely, a simple “e-commerce” type site grouping together a large number of not very detailed references may not have your final satisfaction at heart.
Finally, for more information on choosing a solar equipment supplier, we invite you to watch the video below which condenses in about thirty minutes the majority of the elements to which you will have to pay attention:
Alma Solar, an example of a solar installer offering complete and easy-to-install solutions.
In this article, we have chosen to highlight Alma Solar, a supplier of solar equipment which, in our opinion, correctly fulfills many of the criteria mentioned above. This is not a single solution, but rather an example of what is being done positively in Europe.
Thus, the company Alma Solar, is from Luxembourg. It also has facilities in Eastern Europe, more specifically in Lithuania. On the site, two brands of panels are then available in several references that can meet different needs. These are the brands:
- I'm Solar, which we had already mentioned in our file comparison of solar panels
- And Meyer Burger, a benchmark for solar installers.
On their site, you can find everything you need to create an integral solar installation:
- Solar panels
- Batteries to store the energy produced
- But also electric car chargers
- Or even accessories and fixings
These different proposed elements can be found in the form of a graphic diagram: The Alma Solar house On its website, the company takes great care to facilitate the customer's choice. So for example the section solar panels allows a search by characteristic. It is also possible to consult all the panels available in an interactive gallery. Finally, at the bottom of this section, there is a lot of information about the characteristics and how to choose a solar panel. The only downside is that this last part does not seem to have been published since 2019, therefore not taking into account the most recent developments. However, it remains complete and detailed.
In the same way it is possible to find many elements about the technical specificities of each panel under its presentation. Finally, for each panel, the "configuration" section offers a help resource for installing the panel!!
The different resources mentioned above can also be found in one place: The Alma Solar Academy. For its less handy users, Alma Solar offers the services of its network of partner installers: Workee. Finally, the site also provides its users with a solar configurator accessible by creating a free account.
In terms of service quality, consumer reviews of Alma Solar are quite good. A point sometimes seems to cause concern: the quality of the packaging of the panels during certain deliveries, however this point is compensated by a good reactivity of the after-sales service in the event of a problem or replacement to be made.
So many good reasons to take an interest in this player in the solar industry.
To learn more
To end this article, we wanted to highlight some solar initiatives that you may also be interested in. To start: the solar tile!! Aesthetic, discreet, easy to install, it adapts easily to all types of roofs without degrading the aesthetics. She was the subject of a Néozone article at the beginning of January and although its use is not yet widespread, we can only wish it a sunny future.
To learn more about this, you can also watch the following video:
Solar is also gaining importance in agriculture. We mentioned it in a previous article on agrivoltaic. A video published at the beginning of the month on the YouTube channel "Le Monde de Jamy" gives us the opportunity to revive the subject:
Finally, still on this same channel, and in the field of solar-related innovations, it seems interesting to us to publish this second video highlighting the manufacture of solar ovens. An initiative taking place in the Var: