Consumer Affairs On Solar : ‘You Get What You Pay For’

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Shoddy solar products are in the headlines again after a major solar company went into voluntary administration last week and news other companies are in the spotlight for issues relating to quality.

According to AdelaideNow, two “significant” companies with a presence in South Australia have been called into compulsory conciliation meetings after a number of complaints relating to workmanship and materials.

“People get what they pay for … people need to do their research,” said Consumer Affairs Commissioner Paul White, who noted some cases of relatively low-quality inverters and panels being installed.

AdelaideNow says solar installations topped the list of complaints to Consumer Affairs last year.

The issues are by no means confined to South Australia and with tens of thousands of Queenslanders yet to acquire and install solar systems before a deadline for the state’s solar feed in tariff ; dodgy solar deals in that state are also expected to increase.

According to national solar provider Energy Matters, while the cost of solar power systems have dropped dramatically in the last few years due partly to increased competition; prices can only go so low before corners are cut on quality of materials and/or installation workmanship. Not all solar panels and solar inverters are equal – and the company has created a couple of videos highlighting some of the differences.

Differences in quality not only have an impact on performance; but at times on safety too. It was recently revealed up to 650,000 solar panels made by a single manufacturer may be a fire risk. From July 16 this year, all makes and models of solar panels installed in Australia will need to have passed a new fire safety test.

Energy Matters also offers a popular Solar Power Consumers Guide; a free 23 page electronic publication designed to help consumers select the right solar power system for their needs and avoid some of the potential pitfalls.