Solar scams; how to see through them

Complaints about the solar industry have skyrocketed over the last years, mostly due to dishonest salesmen and solar scams trying to rip you off.

Here’s what you need to know in order for you to be able to see through the solar scams and choose a quality solar system that provides you with the maximum return on investment.

1. A system with a 4kW Inverter isn’t always a 4kW system

In order to make a system appear like a bargain, we have seen advertisements selling the size of the inverter rather than the output of the system.

This is misleading and against the guidelines of the Clean Energy Council. You must ensure you are not buying 5 panels and expecting the output of 20.

A solar inverter does not generate power, it simply converts DC power to AC power. Whether you have 5 panels or 15 panels, getting an big size inverter will not save you an extra cent off your power bill.

2. Performance warranties are not product warranties

Another tactic that solar scams use is not clarifying which warranties come with the panels and what these warranties cover. In reality, there are different warranties that you get with your solar system: the performance warranty, the product warranty and the warranty on workmanship.

What is the product warranty?

The product warranty guarantees that the solar panels are free from defects in materials and workmanship that have an effect on module functionality under normal application, installation, use and service conditions.

What is the performance warranty?

The performance warranty on the other hand promises that the performance of your solar panels doesn’t fall below a certain level. For quality solar panels the performance warranty should promise that your panels provide 80% or more of its initial output after 25 years.

Quality solar panels these days have a product warranty of 10-12 years and a performance warranty of 25 years.

3. Solar scams usually sell stock-standard solar systems

Reputable solar installers that you can trust will sit down with you, take their time and complete your personalized energy assessment. They analyze your electricity usage habits before they provide you with a quote.

Trustworthy solar companies will help you choose the right size system for your needs. They will consider your electricity bill, your property and your daily usage. A good solar company will never offer you a standard package advertised on a website. The system they sell you should be the one that is best for your particular energy usage habits.

Solar scams are typically systems sold at bulk, for one stock standard price.

4. Beware cheap quotes and solar scam tactics

Choosing solar systems on price alone is a recipe for a disaster. In the solar industry, margins don’t allow for big discounts. Getting a few quotes is a good start to get an idea of a reasonable cost for a quality installation. However, if you are receiving a quote that is much cheaper than others, this could be the sign of a solar scam.

Watch out for the following solar scam tactics:

  1. Promising you good quality components that the company will then swap for cheaper no-name ones. This will be covered by the conditions of sale which state that the supplier is allowed to swap the components for ‘equivalents’.
  2. Selling a low price system based on cheap no-name panels and inverters. Then try to upsell you to more expensive ones once you’re interested.
  3. Cutting corners with the solar system installation. Often the contractor is paid per job (not per hour) so they may rush complex or tricky jobs to maintain profitability.

5. Look at whether they train and employ licensed electricians

Many solar companies are project and sales managers. They don’t train and employ their own electricians.

By outsourcing installations to one company, engineering to another company and the electrical portion to yet another, you’ll never be able to track who did what. It also means the solar company you’re paying holds no responsibility. Just another solar scam…

How does this create a problem for you?

This ultimately puts the return of your investment at risk, as your solar installation is dependent on the performance and availability of subcontractors. Should there be system performance issues, outsourcing companies are pointing the finger at each other, leaving you with the issues unresolved.

With Econnect Solar we’re always just one phone call away. It’s just one advantage of choosing a solar company that does everything in-house.

If you want to find out more about the risks that come with a solar companies that outsource installation, click here.

Econnect Solar acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work. We acknowledge their continuing connection to land, rivers and sea. We wish to pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging.