Did you know, in Australia, every 3.5 business days another Solar Company ceases trading?
A colleague called this morning to check the trading status of a solar installer. This prompted me to revisit the list we keep of solar companies ASM Money have accredited for finance.
I also occasionally check the list Marcus Lambert, of LG, keeps. His list includes a staggering 654 names of solar companies which no longer trade. Based on this list a solar company ceases to exist every 3.5 business days. (link to the LG list)
Choice recently completed a survey of 1,000 solar owners and found about 30% had problems with the solar company and 4% had problems having warranties honoured. (link to choice article)
With large direct Government subsidies now being available, and the price of solar at its lowest point, we are seeing a rush of new entrants to the market. At ASM Money we are struggling to keep up with requests for finance accreditation with many of these companies either directly or indirectly controlled by operators who have previously been named and shamed.
Sorting out the legitimate from the dodgy can be a challenge. The quote I like is “If you want quality oats you need to pay a fair price. If you are happy with oats after they have been through the horse, that comes a bit cheaper.”
How to avoid a dodgy solar company
- Look for a CEC-approved solar retailer in your area.
- Check the status of the company by doing an ACN, ABN or business name search on the ASIC Connect website and at the ASIC register of insolvency notices or phone 1300 300 630.
- Search reviews, articles, comments and recommendations about the company, the panels and the inverter on Solar Quotes.
- Avoid ads pushing very cheap systems with ‘offer ends soon’ lines. Industry sources we spoke to say that prices like these can only be reached when costs are cut so severely that you’ll likely end up with an inferior quality system installed in a rush – and likely to have problems within the first few years.
- Look for a company with a local presence that has been around for a while. Seek testimonials directly from local people who’ve had their solar installed for a number of years, not recent installations that may yet fail.
- Ensure the panels and inverter models are good quality with the brand and model specified in the contract, and check that the fine print doesn’t allow for them to be swapped.
- Be wary if the company asks for a large deposit (more than 10% or 20%), or if they ask for full payment before the installation is completed and functioning properly.
- Use finance for a no deposit installation and only sign off when the installer demonstrates the system is working. (Link to Consumer Finance Page)
- Choose a solar company that doesn’t sub-contract installation.
- Don’t sign up to annual maintenance service agreements that cost you money and purport to void your warranty (they don’t).
- Don’t be baited by discounted prices (check current average solar system prices at Solar Choice).