Solar Buyer Beware – Parallel Imports

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Another important point for solar shoppers to be aware of is the issue of parallel imports.

A parallel- imported panel or inverter is brought into Australia outside of established supply lines – through unofficial channels that do not have the approval of the manufacturer. These are also referred to as “grey market” items.

While the solar inverter or panel may be the genuine item; unlike some goods where parallel imports cause little concern for consumers, it’s unwise for purchasers to buy outside of official supply lines.

There are 2 very important reasons:

Warranty

A “grey market” item’s warranty may be voided by the manufacturer. The consumer will be totally reliant on the seller to replace or repair the solar panels. If the seller should go out of business; the consumer may be left with a very expensive repair or replacement cost – or a lengthy battle for compensation.

Compliance

There are often variations in the same model of solar panel or inverters to cater to the regulations of different countries. A solar panel that may be fully compliant in country A may not be compliant in country B. Non-compliant items are also not eligible for subsidies in Australia.

According to solar provider Energy Matters, pricing on genuine brand-name solar products that appears to be too good to be true should act as a flag there may be a parallel import issue – and the provenance of the components should be questioned. The seller should be asked if the reseller he or she sourced the panels or inverter from is an official supplier of the company in question.

Energy Matters offers a popular 23-page Solar Consumer Guide – a free publication designed to help consumers select the right solar power system for their needs and avoid some of the potential pitfalls.