The 3 Types Of Solar Installer

Discover the 3 types of solar installer that you’ll find in the Australian Market. Learn which ones to avoid, and the tricks the bad ‘uns will pull to get your business.

Or if you don’t want to watch the video, here’s a transcript for your reading pleasure.
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Should you buy the cheapest solar system on the market?

(This post was written in 2012 – but the principles still hold true!)

Everyone loves a bargain. Especially me! But are those solar systems advertised at jaw droppingly low prices a great deal or a future headache?

I feel quite strongly about this – so I decided to make a video. Here it is.

And here’s the transcript if you prefer to read rather than watch: [Read more…]

The inflated STC Price Scam : The Solar Cowboy’s Favourite Trick?

a cowboy

Don’t fall for it!

I’m angry.

I get a lot of emails asking for me to look over quotes. I try to answer every one. Sometimes it takes a couple of weeks to reply, but generally I manage to reply.

Tonight I got 3 emails in a row with quotes from 3 separate companies which all appeared to be trying the same trick. They appear to be deceiving the customer into thinking they are getting a great deal and then hitting them with a bill for thousands more than the quoted price when the system is installed.

I love the solar industry, and to see these guys operating like this makes me so freaking angry I want to scream! [Read more…]

Old School Solar Sales Tactics That You Should Not Tolerate

Solar Power is a very new and very fast growing industry. That makes it an exciting thing to be part of, and attracts a lot of interesting, enthusiastic and hard working people, most of whom believe passionately in what they are selling.

Unfortunately it also attracts people and companies that appear to have no other motive than to make as much cash as possible in as short a period of time as possible. Now there is nothing at all wrong with trying to maximise the profitability of your business. That’s just good business. But if you are maximising your short term profits by throwing your ethics out of the window, then that is wrong, dumb and short sighted. In the 21st century your actions will catch up with you.

That is one of the main reasons I started collecting Solar Installer Reviews.

Over the past 4 years, I’ve found that the common theme amongst the bad ‘uns in the Solar Power game seems to be their old school, hard sell, sales tactics. If you’ve ever been cold called by a solar power company knocking on your door, you’ll probably recognise some of these tactics. I personally believe these tactics are wrong, counter productive, insulting to the customer and have no place in this industry. See if you agree:

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13 Solar Questions You Must Ask To Weed Out The Shonks

13 questions to ask about solar power

One of the questions that lands in my inbox almost every day is this:

“Hey Finn – I’ve been made a fantastic offer on a shiny new solar power system for my home. It is heaps cheaper than every one else on the market. Is it too good to be true or a genuine bargain???”

Here are 13 Solar Questions to quickly ask either yourself or the solar sales dude  that will help you decide. [Read more…]

Don’t Make these 10 Mistakes When Buying a Solar Power System

1. Buying the cheapest – because it is the cheapest.

If a solar system seems too cheap to be true, then it is probably is!

Here are 4 ways they get the price so low:

a) The solar company is buying absolute junk panels and inverters on the spot market in China

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How to Spot a Solar Cowboy

By Rich Bowden

OK so you’re almost ready to make that big decision to install solar panels to save on your sky rocketing power bills while doing your bit for the environment. But, mindful of recent poorly-regulated installation disasters (who remembers the Pink Batts saga?) you’re leery of the same type of dodgy operators who may operate on the fringes of the solar industry. Obviously safety and correct installation of panels are two of your main goals and you want to avoid the “solar cowboys” from getting anywhere near your roof.

Easier said than done (I hear you cry). What does a “solar cowboy” look like and how do I find quality solar installers?

Well one way is to seek the advice of an expert and I’ve managed to nail down SolarQuotes.com.au founder Finn Peacock to answer some common questions:

 

Can anyone install solar panels?

Finn Peacock: In theory yes – if you can climb on a roof, drill some holes, assemble the racking, screw the panels on to the racking and connect the panels to the racking, you can theoretically install the actual panels yourself.

But – and it’s a big but, working on a roof is really quite dangerous, and if you haven’t got a lot of experience drilling holes and/or lifting tiles etc, you may regret it when the rains come. Also when the solar panels are being connected up electrically (before they are even connected to the grid) you can have a voltage build up of several hundred volts and that can quite easily prove fatal.

Remember – solar panels will create a voltage even when they are disconnected from anything else – so you really do have to know what you are doing. Also there are certain ways you need to earth and protect the solar panels, which if done incorrectly will either leave you with an under performing or dangerous system, or both. And when it comes to installing the inverter, you start dealing with mains electricity and it is technically illegal in Australia for anyone other than a qualified electrician to do that. So, yes, if you live for danger and don’t mind breaking the law you could theoretically save a thousand dollars or so and go the DIY route. I obviously cannot recommend this though!

 

 

How do I know if a tradesperson is qualified to install solar panels?

FP: Ask them for their CEC accreditation number then go to solaraccreditation.com.au and look them up. Check that they are qualified to install systems. Some CEC accredited people are only qualified to design systems.

  

How do I find a reputable solar installer in my area?

FP: If you’ve got a friend that has got a system and they had a good experience, then find out who did it and get them to quote.

I’d also recommend getting at least 3 quotes to compare that one with, which is why I started SolarQuotes.com.au of course! Just go into the site, add your postcode, fill in the required details and up to three quotes from installers in your area will be made available.

 

What guarantees do I have that the work will be up to an acceptable standard?

FP: The install has to be signed off by a CEC accredited installer, so I’d hang around for the inspection and make sure that he actually has a good look over the system. Also be aware that technically the guy installing the system doesn’t have to be accredited as long as he is “supervised” by a CEC accredited installer. So make sure that the supervisor really does supervise the install (or ideally actually will do the install). There are some known cases where cowboys will leave the apprentices to do the install and just get a CEC accredited installer to sign the paperwork at the end with a very superficial inspection at the end – if at all.

 

Is there an overseeing industry regulatory body?

FP: There is the CleanEnergyCouncil, although some other industry bodies are trying to start even more stringent certification schemes, with AUSES and SEIA leading the charge.

 

Do you provide a rating system for solar installers?

FP: I think the best way to judge any company is to read uncensored reviews by past customers, so I publish thousands of these for all solar companies (not just ones in the SolarQuotes network).

 

 I’d like more information about the types of solar panels available. Where can I find this?

FP: I’ve brain dumped all my knowledge here and I’ve got a really cool solar panel performance comparison tool coming in a few weeks which will be able to be linked to from that page.

 

 I keep hearing that I may be eligible for state and federal government solar rebate schemes. Where can I find easy-to-understand information on this?

FP: I’ve explained the ins and outs of solar credits here and solar feed in tariffs here on the website.

 

Thanks to Finn for taking the time to share this information with us. But have we missed any important questions that you’d like to see answered? Please let us know and we’ll seek to answer them for you.

Also feel free to join in any of our discussions on our FacebookPage.

2 Reasons to be wary of Ultra Cheap Solar Deals

Thanks to Mark for sending these pics in from his “Great Value” solar install…

In a hurry to install this boys?

That might hurt your efficiency…

Installed with love?

Solar Power Installation Tale of Woe

I just received a long email in response to my blog post about what to watch out for with ultra cheap solar power systems.

After reading the email (published below) – It sounds to me (without knowing any other details) that the fundamental problem here may have been that the system was not properly designed by a CEC Accredited Solar Designer. (note: A CEC Accredited Solar Installer is not necessarily qualified as a Designer –  so always double check). If a CEC accredited designer had done the most basic calculations on this system initially – then the oversizing problem would have been avoided.

The moral of the story: Always ask to see the design document for the system you are about to invest thousands of dollars in. And make sure that that document is signed off by a real person who is CEC Accredited as a Solar Power System Designer.

Here’s the sorry tale as told by Phill in his email: [Read more…]

4 Ways to Know You’re Talking to a Solar Moron

The title of this blog post is not exactly accurate. “Moron” implies that they don’t know any better. In actuality, most of the people who throw these lines DO know better.

Much better. But they still use these lines because they help them to sell more product. Which makes them much worse than morons. [Read more…]

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