Buying Solar Panels in The Netherlands
Of course, English is a second language to must Dutch people. Many people living here from abroad, have a semblance of understanding for Dutch. We want to make buying solar panels in the Netherlands as easy as possible for everyone. We therefore translated our proposal and most relevant documents to English.
Our website contains a function to change the language to English automatically, but please excuse the translation errors. If you are interested in knowing about the many details that go into a solar panel system, we would advise you to turn on this function and to dig into the content we’ve provided for the visitors to our site.
In this article you will find information about:
Incentives for buying solar panels in the Netherlands
You probably have heard that buying solar panels in the Netherlands is a good idea. However, you’re probably not too familiar with the exact reason why. Most Dutch people aren’t either. In the 1990’s the Dutch government decided that in order to make decentralized renewable energy production viable in the Netherlands, there needed to be some kind of exchange system on the grid. They decided it would be wise to make utility companies trade electricity produced at a residential and small commercial level for electricity consumed at a later point.
They called this measure salderen and it has remained in place virtually unchanged since the 1990’s. This is the strength of the current Dutch solar market, but also its weakness. The measure was designed for a different time with completely different circumstances. The lawmakers probably envisioned it would be modified or even removed as soon as the grid would get flooded with solar panel installations. It was not. Now the government finds itself in a gridlock situation in which it would become dreadfully unpopular if it reduced the salderen measure, but it cannot afford to keep it in place because the grid is becoming dangerously taxed. With other words, salderen will likely remain in place to one degree or another, because the government cannot afford alienating the Dutch voter. To this day, there have been no workable plans presented that there is a majority for in the Tweede Kamer.
VAT return (btw teruggave)
And that is just one measure which bankrolled the Dutch solar boom these last few years. The second is the tax rebate system, known to the Dutch as Btw teruggave. In 2013 the Court of Justice of the European Union determined in the Fuchs ruling that if a private individual has put a solar panel system on his roof, he falls under the rubric of an energy producer and is therefore liable to get the VAT over his purchase returned – in this case the solar panel system. In the Netherlands, where the VAT is 21% on regular items, this means that people save an additional 1/5th of the price on their investment. To be awarded this return for buying solar panels in the Netherlands, you must apply to the tax office to change your status to a business owner.
Since we have the KOR (Kleine Ondernemings Regeling) in the Netherlands, not only are you discharged from doing a tax return for the VAT produced by your installation, but you are also warranted to make the same purchase three years later or in the name of a family member and repeat the cycle. For those who already own a business in the form of eenmanszaak, we recommend making the purchase in the name of a partner or consider simply paying the VAT on your system and be done with it. At Triplesol, we include a tax consultancy service that makes applications to the tax office in your name completely free of charge.
Basic function of a solar panel system
Solar panels use the sun to convert solar energy into direct current (DC) through a chemical process in the solar cells. The DC from the solar panels reaches the inverter through cables and is than converted into alternate current (AC) by the inverter. The AC travels to the fuse box through an AC cable and is distributed there to the entire house. Once all the electrical equipment in the house is powered by solar, but there is still electricity left, the left-over power goes back into the grid and its value is generally speaking the same price as the price you purchase it for. That is the principle of salderen.
You can monitor the production of a solar panel system on your phone or on the computer using free apps provided by the manufacturers. Some manufacturers offer monitoring at a panel level. You’re able to see whether a panel is experiencing technical issues, wherever you may be in the world.
The three segments of the solar panel market
When you are buying solar panels in the Netherlands, there are many different brands of course and they’re all competing to dazzle their customers with high power, cheap prices, long warranty, and attractive design. The truth of the matter is that differences between solar panels are minimal. The most important from our perspective, is the subject of reliability. We recognize three market segments, budget, basic and premium. Our experience is that the panels in each segment do more than they promise. We only offer basic and premium. Budget is simply another field that is generally geared towards large projects of more than 100 solar panels. It is our strong advice not to focus too heavily on what solar panel you’re being offered. Just try and deduce which segment of the market the panels in your proposal fall into and then compare proposals on that basis.
Inverters and their functions
The most important part of the system is the inverter. Solar panels are the muscles of an installation, but the inverter is the brain. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to pick a better inverter for your installation than a decent consultant. But picking the best inverter when you are buying solar panels in the Netherlands can differentiate a decent consultant from a great consultant. The most important thing you need to know is that there are parallel systems, which are more expensive, and serial systems. The parallel systems mean that you will be able to monitor the panels individually. Parallel systems are more flexible and allow for using differently orientated roofs. Serial systems are old-fashioned but work fantastically. If you want great value and a reliable system, please, pick a serial system.
Warranty in solar
There are a few tiers of warranty worth mentioning. To start off there is the right to service. Dutch law stipulates that you have a right to service on anything you buy if a defect in the system occurs within certain period. At Triplesol we have decided to offer free service for 50% of the term of the product warranty. That’s a long time in comparison to our competitors. The second tier is that of the product warranty. The product warranty is provided by the manufacturer and is covered by the manufacturer. Generally, the length is about 12 tot 20 years. Within the service term, we will conduct any examination of the broken product and correspond with the manufacturer free of charge.
After the service period has ended, we may charge a fee, depending on the time needed to successfully place the claim. Finally, there is the production warranty, also covered by the manufacturer. This warranty promises a certain production after a certain amount of time. Most manufacturers offer 25 years warranty. The problem with this warranty is that it’ll be very hard to prove that a solar panel is missing production when you are buying solar panels in the Netherlands.
Return of Investment (RUI) on solar
There is no shame in admitting you are buying solar panels to save on your energy bill. Our consultants tell us only the smallest minority of our customers purchasing solar panels have any environmental motivations in doing so. Energy prices have been increasingly unstable over the years and on the rise. What better way to remove the panic of the markets from your bottom line by producing your own energy? An average-sized installation of 12 solar panels produces about 4000 kWh a year when you are buying solar panels in the Netherlands. With electricity prices at 30 cent p. kWh, that’s € 1200,- saved. An installation of € 5500,- means an RUI of less than 5 years. There are very few investments which are this safe with the same RUI. It is the reason why the Dutch solar boom continues to echo.
Choosing the right proposal
At Triplesol we believe that we have the know-how and experience to make every project a success. Our specialty is complex projects that set itself apart from everyday type of situations. That sounds like we only do custom work, but almost all work in our line of business is custom to a degree. We see other companies making the error to think is not and it often does not turn out well. Almost every house has something that sets it apart. Ordinary houses that look completely harmless in terms of complexity, suddenly have walls that are suitable for bunkers, and it takes a full day to drill through. To many customers solar panels seem like a fairly turnkey installation. Our challenge is to make sure that this impression remains intact by thoroughly identifying challenges before they occur.
It is our desperate advice not to focus too much on the minor differences in technical specifications between solar panels and auxiliary products, when you are buying solar panels in the Netherlands. The focus should be put on the expertise of the consultant and the quality of the installers. These topics will result in the best purchase you can make in our field.
Thankfully anyone with a solar panel installation on their roof can rest assured. They’ve made an investment that will pay off as soon as their house goes on the market. A study pointed out that people looking for a new house are prepared to mentally add the value of an installation to the bidding price for the house. At the same time, a house cannot be sold in Holland without an Energy Label. This label assesses the energy use of the house. Houses with solar panels get a much higher score with solar panels, than without. Therefore, you can confidently make this investment knowing it will pay itself off down the line. What we however do not recommend is taking an installation with you. Not only is this a very expensive procedure, you also risk damaging the panels moving them around like that.
A final suggestion to gather further information
It is incredibly hard to provide a comprehensive article about buying solar panels in the Netherlands for non-Dutch speaking residents. We thoroughly encourage you to please use the translation function and browse the rest of our articles. That way you can get a much deeper understanding of the products and services we offer. It is not necessary that you read everything; you can make a very good purchase with the help of a good consultant. We do, however, recommend at least understanding the concept of inverters and the pros and cons. The details of cable thickness, different kinds of fuses and different types of plugs are not for everyone. We do know that some customers like having that kind of information available to them. They have certainly come to the right place if that is what they are looking for.
Triplesol is located in Mijdrecht near to a few major cities in the Netherlands. Large groups of people have (temporarily) moved here from abroad. Our consultants are used to speaking English. They have no trouble explaining the most minute details involved in purchasing a system. We are happy to liaison through a third party if your level of speaking English is not sufficient to confidently follow our explanations. Our installation teams speak a reasonable level of English. You won’t have to discuss anything major with them. Should there be any kind alteration to the installation plan, that communication generally is mediated through the consultant. In the event of there being some issue with one of the products, we can offer technical support available in English as well.