A spike in complaints about shonky solar companies and unscrupulous sale methods has prompted a consumer advocacy organisation to call for regulation overhaul – so consumers beware!
Victoria’s Consumer Law Action Centre (CALC) has already received 50 complaints this year and wants a revision of regulatory framework to better protect consumers.
“The risks are that with this quickly-changing marketplace, poor business practices and selling practices can become imbedded and many people can get ripped off in the desire to save on their electricity bills and generate their electricity more sustainably,” CALC chief executive Gerard Brody told ABC news.
CALC gave details of two major rip-offs: A $14,000 system that doesn’t work and uses inferior solar panels and a $13,500 system actually worth only $7000.
Energy Rating Systems (ERS) is fully aware of this situation. We are increasingly being called out to fix underperforming systems that are the result of these “fly-by-nighters”.
ERS has worked hard to secure long-term partnerships with major industry suppliers to ensure a range of the best and latest technology is available to you. We are with you for the life of the system.
We realise there is a bewildering amount of information and misinformation on rooftop solar systems. Here are all the key facts you need to ensure you don’t get ripped off.
PRICE CAN INDICATE QUALITY: If the price sounds too good to be true it probably is. Cut-price solar systems are usually badly made, produce as little as 60 per cent of the energy they should and pose a fire risk. Often they do not meet Australian standards. Paying slightly more for one supplied and installed by a long-running, big-name company is future proofing your investment.
NON-COMPLIANT PANELS: Every solar panel should have the following clearly labelled on it: A brand name or manufacturer; Australian certification; a serial number; and a bar code. Unreputable manufacturers often obtain Australian certification for one of their panels, then return to their overseas factory and put that certification on an inferior, untested range. They also dodgy up serial numbers and barcodes. This means they are meaningless when consumers need to activate their warranty. The Clean Energy Council website has more information on Australian compliance standards.
WARRANTY ISSUES: A warranty means nothing if the consumer can’t trace the fault back to the manufacturer. If the serial number on the unit is written in another language and the installer has gone out of business the consumer has nothing to fall back on. Consumer advocate Choice released survey results last year that found 25 per cent of solar systems experience problems, mainly caused by low-quality components that cause a decline in performance, and shoddy installation, including incorrect wiring.
WHY YOU SHOULD DEAL WITH A LONG-ESTABLISHED COMPANY: Consumers expect a 25-year minimum lifespan for their solar panels. You need the reassurance that the company you buy off will be around that long. Energy Rating Systems has worked with Bradford, an 80-year-old Australian company, to provide solar packages to suit all budgets. This means we are telling the truth when we say: “We’re with you for the life of the system.” News reports have documented the failure of several solar companies. Some had a four-year business plan whereby they brought in inferior components, dumped them on the market and went bust. They made millions but also owed millions to the Tax Office, contracted installers and, ultimately, consumers.
THE DANGER OF SUBSTANDARD SYSTEMS: Fire. It can be caused by a cheap panel that ignites on the roof; or a faulty inverter or wiring that sets fire to a wall. Once a structure is ablaze it takes a lot of resources and time to extinguish. Firemen aren’t allowed to even access the scene until the mains power has been disconnected. They don’t rush into structures anymore, but are required to don breathing apparatus and carefully enter an internal blaze. Even if it is extinguished water damage to the property often will be extensive.
DON’T TAKE RISKS WITH YOUR MONEY OR PERSONAL SAFETY. Buy the best you can afford from a reputable, long-established company.
Please contact ERS to discuss your requirements, and receive honest information and pricing.