In a big win for Australian consumers, the federal government has a long awaited Overview of the solar sector on the roof, with new rules to root out shady operators. Solaray has been pushing this type of regulation for years and we fully support these new recommendations.
While these changes are welcomed by consumers and well-known industry players who have always operated to (and above) these standards, it will still not be enough to fully protect households from cheap solar energy.
First the good news.
The government has accepted the proposal that the Clean Energy Regulator now has the power to regulate both installers and the list of approved solar modules.
This is a big step forward to ensure that:
- An accredited solar installer is on site during the installation
- Super cheap solar panels with reliability issues are banned from the Australian market
Installers must also provide customers with a declaration that a solar system fulfills the offer made to the consumer (other than extenuating circumstances beyond the control of the retailer) and – that the system is complete, connected and generated.
This may sound pretty simple, but you will be surprised how many installers don't guarantee that their systems will actually work. We get a lot of calls from people trying to get their system hooked up and working properly after a dodgy installation.
Why is that not enough?
Aside from seedy operators who don't install systems properly, the biggest problem with cheap solar power is that the products are not reliable. You might be lucky and your cheap system will work for years with no problems, but statistically, cheap solar panels fail significantly more than high quality ones.
After a while, the service requests for installers selling these cheap systems pile up, and we keep seeing that solar installers can no longer keep the upcoming warranties or wait with the system.
The only option they have is to close their doors.
That sounds good in theory, but many of these companies open the next day with the same employees under a different trade name.
It's as questionable as it gets and unfortunately this practice is common with larger solar companies selling cheap systems and many of them are very well known for using Australian cricketers in their advertisements, which makes them look trustworthy and local.
You are neither.
Although individual installers are now at risk of consequences if they don't do the right thing, many solar companies will still be able to sell 6.6 kW systems for under $ 4,000, and today 10 kW packages are available for under $ 5,000. Dollar common.
Solar is much more than the number of modules
It is well known that products can be manufactured according to different standards. From automobiles to fridges, most home appliances are in fact.
Take a television, for example. The general idea is that the more you pay for a television, the higher the quality, performance, and lifespan.
Because of this, you would never assume that two TVs with different prices are the same just because they are the same size. It is clear that there are significant differences between the various price points, even if the screen is the same size.
Lots of people will take the risk and buy a cheap television.
However, with solar power, it can cost a fortune to fix if something goes wrong. In addition, most solar companies do not want to touch your system as in many cases the warranties are actually transferred to the new company that did the repairs.
For this reason, at Solaray we only offer a small selection of well-known brands (LG, Tesla, Enphase, SolarEdge, Trina, etc.) that will stand the test of time.
Solar costs a lot of money to repair
Cheap solar systems break a lot more than good ones. It's a simple fact.
Many people believe this is not a problem because they are told that solar panels have a 25 year warranty. However, what is often not explained is that if something goes wrong, your calls will go unanswered. Why? The company is long gone, and your guarantee along with them.
You could try calling the manufacturer in China, but we haven't heard too many success stories with this approach.
In most cases, a broken system leaves two options: Either spend thousands of dollars on it to fix it, or tear it down and buy a new one.
Both options are terrible, and so we see more of broken solar systems lying on the roof as a constant reminder of the bad choices people make when opting for a cheap system.
The numbers for quality solar add up
Solar power reduces your electricity bill so effectively that it makes sense to buy a high quality solar system.
If you can save $ 4,000 a year on your utility bills with a 10 kW system, you could buy a top of the line system for $ 16,000 and still get a 4 year return on investment.
Many customers choose to take a step or two below the top-of-the-range system to install a system for under $ 10,000. In this case, the ROI will be even better.
High-quality systems are designed for a service life of 25 years and are backed by rock-solid guarantees from the world's largest solar companies such as LG Solar, Enphase and SolarEdge.
Here's a graphic from LG Solar showing how much better you can be when your go for quality:
To be clear, this is not a worst-case scenario for a cheap solar system, it's very common and what's worse, a cheap inverter will almost never last that long. So expect a $ 2,000 to $ 3,000 exchange long before the plates break.
In conclusion, these new CER regulations will help clean up some of the seedy operators, and that's a good thing.
It will also be a big step forward when they start banning the cheaper solar panels, which have a terrible track record long before they should
However, this will not prevent cheap solar systems from being offered, nor will it prevent the installers from changing their name and leaving their customers by the wayside.
There are over 700 plumbers in Australia who went under since 2011 and the list will keep growing.
This is why we have always gone out of our way to educate the public to help them avoid the mountains of misinformation and to help them make informed decisions about solar so that their investment pays off in the long run, not so quickly is wasted like a few years later.
While these new regulations will help drive out many of the seedy installers in the Australian market, buyers will still need to be on their guard until these recommendations are fully implemented. But it's still a huge win for consumers and the Australian solar industry will benefit better from it.
If you want to learn more about how much money you can save (and cost) with a quality solar system, request a call back below: