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.

Hi! I’m Finn Peacock, founder of SolarQuotes.com.au. Over the last 4 years I’ve noticed there are 3 distinct types of solar installation company in Australia.

Let’s go through them;

Number 1: The super expensive guys. I don’t know how they get away with it but they’re still going after 4 years. This breed of solar installer will come to your house, often via a door knocking campaign. They often prey on older couples. When they get into your front room they will insist that you are  there and your spouse is there.  Why? Because they want you to sign you on the dotted line, there and then before you get the chance to get another quote. They also don’t want you to use the excuse “I’ll talk it over with my other half”. Proper old-school hard sell tactics.

They start at a insanely high price.  We could be talking $20,000 for a system that others sell for $4,000. And then they’ll come up with all sorts of other old school sales techniques:

“oh if put you a sign on your fence, we’ll give you 5 grand off, oh I’ll call my boss up, oh yeah great deal we’ll get it down, we’ll get it down from 20 grand to 10 grand”.

So they will go from an insanely high price to a ridiculously high price.  Then they’ll hope against hope that you don’t get anymore quotes so you don’t know what the going rate for a solar system is. One way they’ll try and do that sometimes is, they’ll try and get you to waive your cooling off period! Disgusting! They’ll use an excuse like… “oh you get a quicker install if you don’t have a cooling off period”.   Obviously they don’t want you to have 10 days to go and find out that the price they’re offering is insanely expensive. They just want you to sign you up there and then. My advice: don’t do it.

They best way to insure yourself against that is to get 3 quotes so you always have prices to compare.

Number 2: The super cheap mobs. These guys are ridiculously cheap. So cheap, in fact, that if you know the cost of solar components and the cost of a good quality solar installation, you look at their prices and scratch your head and you go… “how on earth do they install a solar system for that price?”.  They almost certainly have to be cutting corners in the quality of the panels, the quality of the inverter, the quality of the racking, the quality of the isolators and the quality of the install. When was the last time you bought the absolute cheapest thing on the market, and it was good quality and lasted the distance? It just doesn’t happen. I would strongly advise against the really cheap mobs. Remember a solar system can carry very high DC voltages which, as a Chartered Electrical Engineer, I know can be very dangerous if not installed properly, with top quality hardware. Trust me, you don’t want a rushed solar install on your roof or cheap high voltage electrical gear.

Number 3: The happy medium. The third type of solar installation company, the guys I’ve tried really hard to get on SolarQuotes.com.au, are what I call the happy medium. They will use only panels that they trust, only use inverters that they trust and they’ll take a lot of pride in the installation.  They’ll do that because they’ve got reputations to uphold. And these guys, whilst unlikely to be the cheapest, will still be keenly priced because the solar market has actually gone from being a really high margin business 3 or 4 years ago to being really quite cut throat. Plus if they’re on SolarQuotes.com.au they are usually competing with another two companies, so they’ve got to be keenly priced to be in the game!

But generally, these installers won’t let a good price get in the way of a good quality system. This ‘happy medium’ is the type of installer that I think we’re doing a pretty good job of recruiting to SolarQuotes.com.au.

 

So those are the three types of companies, you’ve got the super expensive mobs, they’re just going to rip you off. You’ve got the super cheap mobs, who are just as bad because you’re probably going to end up with a system that doesn’t do the job, last the distance or even worse than that – is usafe.

And then you’ve got the guys that are the happy medium, and those are the guys that I’ve been trying, for the last four years, to recruit to SolarQuotes.com.au. And judging from the feedback that I’m getting, I think we’re doing alright.

So avoid the first two, go for the happy medium. Don’t get ripped off by the super expensive guys, don’t get a worthless system, pay a little more, a few hundred dollars more and get a good quality system installed by a company that really cares.

About Finn Peacock

I'm a Chartered Electrical Engineer, Solar and Energy Efficiency nut, dad, and founder of SolarQuotes.com.au. My last "real job" was working for the CSIRO in their renewable energy division.

Comments

  1. Allen Maciunas says

    Not sure where my choice fits but I can give you some feedback on Eco Kinetics.
    We went for a 3Kw system to hopefully be installed before June 2011 when the 60 cent tariff was to be abolished. We did a bit of research and were guided by solar choice – an independant mob that gave us some comparisons on price etc. Basically we couldnt afford the 10K outright and looked for interest free terms which eco kinetics offered. Long story short, mega delays with the install – despite tellng them we have a 2 stroey house a guy rocks up with a ladder to inspect! Install finally happenend in 2 stages did a bit then couple of weeks later came back to finish. OK I guess but ….I was the one who had to liase with the subby for the install? I dont have a relationship with the third party! Moving on cause that was Dec 2011… the invertor broke 4 weeks ago ( at least cause its not like you look at it everyday to check) Since then I’ve been accused of lying from their State managger about not recieving feedback & to top it off the manager tells me he’ll contact me “tomorrow” ( this is last Tuesday!) to let me know when I can expect it to be fixed. All I can say for m my experience is steer well clear of Eco Kinetics – no customer service, feedback & I’m still waiting for it to be fixed 5 weeks after I reported it. next step is consumer affiars to see where I can go from here. They dont talk to me & all I want is the 10K investment to actually start working

  2. Thanks for the positive comments Finn.
    I consult with a small Adelaide company (run by electricians) who only sell Tier 1 panels and decent inverters. We “love our customers but don’t want to see them again”. I spend a lot of time explaining the benefits quality will return over the years, and suggest people read the Whirlpool Forums, Clean Energy Council website and this site whenever I do a quote. We get about one-in-three success, loosing the smaller systems to cowboys because of price. The horror stories I hear about the cowboys amazes me, probably because I used to sell wine and that’s such a generous industry where the sales people know and recommend their competitors based on a consumer ‘fit’. Keep up the good work.

  3. Giddy Finn. Great sight mate for a Sth Aussie…lol…I am looking at selling Solar for a Melbourne company and there main panels are Winaico…I noticed you don’t leave them on your reviews…also there invertor is the Delta range….Any comment on these please mate. Cheers Brad

  4. Andre Wilson says

    We used Solar Depot for our installation of a 5 Kwh system late last year, at our house in Kapunda. I may have commented previously but we were very happy with the installation by their own employees. It wasn’t the cheapest of the quotes that we received but there were no hidden extras and the installation was without problems or hassles. We negotiated an extended 10 year warrantly on our inverter.

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