SolarZero: is it worth it?
We unpack the terms and conditions of solarZero for you.
In the past month, our call centre has been running hot with inquiries about solarZero – it seems the company has been running a door-to-door sales campaign in some parts of the country.
So what’s the pitch?
It’ll offer to install solar with no upfront costs to you. The system has a battery so you won’t rely so much on grid power during the evening, and it’ll replace the battery when it conks out. You’ll pay off the system over the next 20 years (at which point the system will probably be due for replacement), but you’ll start saving on your power bill immediately. That all sounds great, and it can be, but there are certain things that homeowners need to take into consideration that muddy the waters.
What’s the catch?
You don’t actually own the system; they do. SolarZero peddle this as a positive thing, but we believe it’s the biggest drawback of the whole shebang. If you sell your home after the system is installed, the new owners will need to take on your agreement, or you’ll need to pay out the remainder of the agreement or have it moved to your new place (assuming it’s suitable for solar). It could make selling your house messy and expensive.
Make sure you really think that point over before signing up. We can’t think of many examples of things you bolt to your home that don’t really belong to you.
You’re locked into one power retailer
Once you sign up, you’re also locked into one power retailer. As long as the prices are good, it doesn’t really matter – but it also means you can’t shop around for a better deal.
If you aren’t locked in, you can opt to switch your electricity retailer at the drop of a hat if you find a better deal at powerswitch.org.nz.
It's not free
It’s a business and it’s going to make money from all this. While the repayments are spread over the lifetime of the system, you do pay for it in the end. It can still be good if you want solar now and don’t have the means to install it.
There aren’t many things you pay for over 20 years other than your mortgage. You need to be sure you can cover those costs if your financial situation changes.
Proceed with caution if you’re looking at taking up solarZero on its offer. If you don’t see yourself moving in the next 20 years, or can’t see a problem in moving the system or having someone else take it over, then you can sign up and enjoy the benefits of solar without the usual large upfront investment from yourself.
Sick of cold callers?
If you don’t want salespeople coming into your place, get in contact with us and ask for one of our “Do not knock” stickers. If you have one, door-to-door sellers can be fined up to $30,000, from 22 August this year.