Do You Really Need To Buy Solar From A CEC Approved Solar Retailer?

Is the Clean Energy Council’s Approved Solar Retailer program the be-all and end-all for selecting an excellent solar installer in Australia? Nope.

Just to clarify something very quickly, Approved Solar Retailer status shouldn’t be confused with “accredited installer”. All installers of grid-connected solar power systems in Australia need to be accredited.

Ronald goes into more detail about the difference between Clean Energy Council Accredited Installers, Approved Retailers and Members, but essentially an Approved Solar Retailer is a company that has jumped through a bunch of hoops to attain the status.

There are around 5,000 accredited solar installers across the country, but just 60 Approved Solar Retailers in Australia at the time of writing.

As we’ve mentioned previously,  it is quite time-intensive and costly both to attain and retain Approved Solar Retailer status. This can make it challenging  for some installers who also provide an excellent service to participate as they are out there, flat-out, boots-on-the-ground (or on a rooftop), putting all the energy they have into providing the best possible service to their customers.

These businesses may provide Approved Solar Retailer level quality of service, but they just don’t have the CEC badge to indicate it.

Trust, But Verify

The idea behind the Approved Solar Retailer program is very good – helping to assure potential buyers that a listed company should be a great one.

However, the Russian proverb “trust, but verify”1, offers wisdom for solar buyers.

Like any certifying scheme, the CEC Approved Solar Retailer program isn’t infallible. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that a listed company experiences a bumpy period that a buyer may wish to avoid; or worse still, has one foot on the slippery slope to chaos.

These situations could potentially fly under the Clean Energy Council’s radar for some time or it could take a while for the Council to be seen to react appropriately. Of course, it would be in the CEC’s interests to act as quickly as possible, otherwise such situations risk devaluing the program altogether through the loss of consumer trust in the Approved Solar Retailer concept.

If you’ve decided an Approved Solar Retailer is the course you wish to take, you should still carry out some extra due diligence. For example, it’s a good idea to check out recent reviews of the company (here on SQ and elsewhere) to get a general feel of how a company is currently faring or where it may be heading.

While on the topic of verification, SolarQuotes has hundreds of pre-vetted installers in our network. You can see a list of the top ranked installers here.

Some in the SolarQuotes network have Approved Solar Retailer status, others don’t. For the installers that don’t, that they have been accepted into the SQ network says a lot about their general quality of service as Finn is very picky about which companies he will allow to provide quotes.

Over the last nine years, Finn has steadily built a network of more than 290 trusted solar installers across the country – and has rejected hundreds more.

If you don’t want to limit yourself to just a small group of potential providers (some of which may not service your area anyway), submit for up to 3 quotes via our service. You’ll be able to check feedback on the installers you’re matched to right here on SQ (or anywhere else you choose) from fellow Australians who have had systems installed by the companies.

Pick up some important tips on choosing a solar installer.


  1. A bit of trivia:  the “trust, but verify” proverb became well known in English courtesy of U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Unfortunately for our industry, President Reagan really didn’t seem to like solar at all. In 1986, the Reagan administration had panels removed from the White House previously installed under Jimmy Carter’s presidency, stating they didn’t befit a superpower. We can only guess as to how much further the solar revolution would be along by now if those panels had remained.
About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.


  1. In the above article, is stated

    For example, it’s a good idea to check out recent reviews of the company (here on SQ and elsewhere) to get a general feel of how a company is currently faring or where it may be heading.

    Unfortunately, both the Solar Quotes Company Reviews, and, the CEC Accredited Retailers accreditations, appear to apply to installed systems, but, conspicuously, not to the process of attempting to obtain quotes.

    After a few months, and, contacting many, between 10 and 15, companies, to try and obtain a set of quotes, with three different options for a new system, the results are amazingly bad.

    The companies involved include both companies recommended by Solar Quotes, and, companies that are CEC Accredited Retailers, and, some are both.

    Amongst other things, after having got only two companies to provide quotes in writing, their quotes each include an option that involves, for a single phase grid connected system, in WA, over 11kW of panels, connected to a 5kW inverter.

    The whole process is amazingly bad, and, it is unfortunate that the process of obtaining quotes, is not properly regulated, and, that a system of reviewing the process of obtaining quotes from companies, does not exist.

    Unfortunately, now that the industry of installing domestic rooftop photovoltaic systems, has greatly expanded, over the last few years, the quality of the industry and the processes, has deteriorated significantly, showing a desperate need for proper regulation, and, for a process of reviewing the actions of companies in dealing with requests for quotes, apart from reviewing the quality of the installation and post-installation support.

    Apart from other bad aspects, the degree of misinformation, is disappointing, and, alarming.

    It all leaves quite a bitter taste in the mouth, regarding the experience of trying to obtain quotes for a new domestic rooftop photovoltaic system, without now even being able to get to the stage of getting a credible comparison of options, so as to be able to proceed to getting an installation.

    It is quite disappointing that an industry with so much potential, is so badly let down by the companies within the industry.

    And, no, regarding one or more of the posters in this forum, who might likely suggest such a solution, I am not interestested in a Do It Yourself, jerry-rigged system

  2. I should probably have included, in my post above, for the sake of clarity, regarding to which grid we belong, that we are in the Perth metropolitan area, of Western Australia.

  3. “All installers of grid-connected solar power systems in Australia need to be accredited.”

    Yet not according to the their (CEC’s) own information. Only necessary if you wish to obtain the credits rebate.

    • Michael Bloch says

      Could you point me to that information Chris? Also, I’m not aware of any network that will allow connection of a grid-connected system that hasn’t been installed by a CEC-accredited installer, but likewise, if you can point me to something that indicates otherwise, I’ll correct the article.

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