How do I Know I’m Getting the Solar Panels I Paid for?
Although there are many solar companies that provide high quality solar systems, there are also quite a few dodgy operators who’ll happily bait and switch to increase their profit margins.
According to the Consumer Action’s Sunny Side Up Report (2019) around 700 solar companies have gone out of business since 2011, leaving over 650,000 Australians without warranties if their systems fail. For this reason, it’s important to do your research on your installer if you’re planning to install solar panels on your home.
The Solar Bait & Switch
There are a variety of ways a company may sell a solar system at a high price, while increasing their profit margins by installing a poor quality product. Examples include:
- Swap high quality brands for low quality brands. Advising customers that the brand they paid for is unavailable, and offering a comparable brand for a few hundred dollar discount. In some cases, these switches may be inferior panels which are worth thousands of dollars less.
- Advertise a low cost system then upsell to a higher priced system. Often cheaper systems may not include the specific brands on offer, which gives a salesperson the chance to upsell the customers to a much more expensive system, with a higher profit margin.
A common tactic is to claim a panel is made in Germany, when the panel is actually a low efficiency panel manufactured in China. Although 90% of Australian installed solar is made in China, the quality varies greatly by manufacturer and location, with some Chinese panels known to fail within shortly after installation.
If in doubt, always do your own research on the brands and products you’ve been offered, checking how independent solar websites rank them for efficiency, quality, warranty and reliability.
Fake Solar Panels
There are panels on the market which don’t feature all the parts required, or which have had fake labels applied to confuse customers about their origin, brand, and quality. This means you may be paying full price for a lower quality product which may not last as long, produce as much energy, or be eligible for a warranty.
Because of this, it’s important to know how to check the quality of the solar panels being installed on your home.
How to Check Your Solar Panel is the One You Paid For
There are several ways you can check that your solar panels are the genuine product that you paid for, or a suitable quality alternative.
- Check the label – the label on the back of your panels will show the make, rating, and a unique barcode. Check with the manufacturers to verify that the barcode is in fact one of their products.
- Check the STC Certificate – the STC Certificate will include the barcode labels for your panels.
- Ask the Installer – Ask the installer to supply the barcode labels, which will be something they have to check as part of their installation process.
- Solar Validation Program – the SVP is an initiative by the Clean Energy Regulator to ensure modules are genuine, backed by warranty, meet Australian standards, and are eligible for Australia’s STC government incentive system.
- Check the brand reviews – once you’re aware of which brand is being installed on your property, search for third party reviews to see how the brand compares to
So what do you do if you’ve been stung?
Many homeowners don’t realise they’re in the position of power; the installer needs your signature to receive the Government rebate. With the rebate standing at between a third and a half of the price of your system, a customer refusing to sign the STC certificate costs the installer money.
If you’ve had a bait and switch installed, you can hold out on signing the certificate as well as paying the price of the system, until you’ve received either the solar system you’ve paid for, or an appropriate discount.
If you’re unsure about the system or installation’s quality, you can contact a third party installer for a second opinion, or in cases of severe negligence, contact the CEC or the ACCC.
We regularly work with low quality systems and help fix issues left by low quality installations or products. If you have doubts about your system, and you’re based in Southern Queensland, you can contact us for professional advice.