Cheap solar systems, are they worth the risk?
The volume of fires from cheap solar panels and cheap inverters is unacceptable. Couple that with the thousands of solar installers going broke every year, leaving clients without any support, and it suggests to us that going cheap is not suitable for anyone.
You may think you’re saving a buck, but when you have to call China to get any support 18 months after installation because the company you dealt with went broke, the actual cost of a cheap solar system starts to become apparent.
If you can speak Mandarin and manage to speak with the Chinese manufacturer directly in mainland China you will hear, as one of my clients did, “take it off the roof, ship it back, and we will have a look.”
He said to me, “I’ve gone cheap once. I’m not doing that again!”
Unless you deal with a reputable business that recommends manufacturers with real offices and support staff in Australia, that is what you will have to deal with if the company you choose goes broke.
Other clients waited six months for the company they purchased from to get back to them, calling multiple times over the six month period and then, when they were out of warranty, they got their answer.
“Sorry, you are out of warranty. We can’t help you, click!”
The line went dead. A beautiful young family, they said to me “but I’ve been trying to call them for the last 6 months”
The company was still in business but never made enough to support their client and knew they had given them a substandard product. The system wasn’t even three years old.
Don’t get us wrong. There are some great companies and many great people in the solar industry. But, like anything, if it is too cheap, the numbers don’t stack up for the business or the installer to be doing the job properly or to even be around long enough to support you when you need help.
As a business and as people, we have a responsibility to warn you about the cowboys in our industry.
Solar shortcuts are dangerous, especially in the long run.
Let’s cut to the heart of the matter.
Your family, home, and business are too precious to take the risk of a cheap system or contracted installation.
In speaking with firefighters, it has become evident that there are certain brands that we would never put on a client’s home or business because of the fire risk.
One of the most significant reasons we only work with the proven and trusted brands in the industry is for your peace of mind and our own because we have families and a business ourselves.
Solar installations it’s the things you don’t see that make the difference.
Two screws fixing the tile feet to the roof truss is the minimum standard for cyclone rating.
This old system in palm beach had only a single screw in the majority of the feet, and the whole bottom row of 6 tile feet had a single screw for the entire row with five tile feet not being fixed to the roof at all.
They call these “phantom feet.”
The problem with the shortcuts cowboys take in our or any other industry is that they are hidden and often only discovered when something goes wrong, and by then, it is too late!
Cutting corners on things like the quality of wiring used to save a few dollars can lead to your home burning down; as an example, it is simply not worth the risk.
If they’re doing a solar installation on the cheap, they have to make money back somehow, a few screws missing here, swapping out what you ordered for cheaper panels, poor quality wiring, and a whole host of other shortcuts they can take to save money.
Quality tradesmen demand a fair price in the marketplace, and at Greenleaf Carbon™, we are building a culture attracting the best in the business.
We take care of them to ensure they are CEC Accredited Installers and have the proper safety equipment and training.
Working at heights and LVR/CPR training is essential to keeping our professional team safe while installing at your home or business.
We go a step further with our insurances to ensure you are protected while our staff work at your home, so you are protected if the worst-case scenario does happen.
We’ve heard the horror story of a cheap installer falling off the roof and suing his client for damages.
Those cowboy tactics don’t happen with Greenleaf Carbon because we want to ensure our team stays safe while helping you save money on your power bill.
If it looks too good to be true, it probably is, and you get what you pay for, especially with solar. So here are a couple of essential things to check. Charge You More On The Day
Another reason to always check your agreement is another hidden clause that lets contractors charge you more on the day.
Contractors are often paid peanuts and expected to make additional money on the day to cover the shortfall, and that money comes from your pocket.
We had seen firsthand another lady with a brand new townhouse where the electrician tried to charge her an additional $3,500.00 on the day for so-called “electrical works” when her meter box was perfect and as new as the home.
Our promise to you is;
“If there is anything extra on the day, that is on us and not on you.”
Bait n Switch
Many cheap installers will “sell” you on a quality system only to have a clause in their contract that lets them swap out what you thought you were getting for panels and inverters you would never want on your home.
We had a single female client who never got her deposit back because she told the dodgy company she had gone with initially to get lost when the contractors turned up with different brand panels and inverters.
They tried telling her it was of “comparable quality” as per her agreement, but she had done her research and knew the equipment was on her list of cheap brands to avoid.
You only get the quality equipment you purchased with Greenleaf Carbon™ because we ordered it, and it is our staff doing the installation, so we are in control and can stand behind our work.
The sales company is different from the installation company.
While bait n switch and charging more on the day are typical, some clients are savvy enough to catch it while most consumers, including people with industry experience, can get caught out by these companies.
Most people do not know, and we only discovered recently, that when the sales company is different from the installation company, there is no comeback on the warranties many of these businesses promise.
Once installed, do you know who will care for you?
It is vital to know your warranties mean something and that the business will care for you over the next 25 years.
- Contractors don’t care: Sadly, underpaid, they can’t afford to care for your system long term because it would send them and their family broke.
- The business never factored in servicing your system, so they blame the contractor. The contractor says your agreement is with the company leaving you in the middle with a power bill because the solar system you paid for isn’t working. No one will take responsibility for getting it fixed for you.
- With how many companies are you dealing? One of the oldest tricks in the book is just to shut down one business when the warranty risk becomes too high and start up another with a different ABN in the background while still trading under the same brand name. The other most commonly seen is to use one company as the sales arm and another for installation or a combination of both, leaving you without any real support long-term.
Companies like Bell Solar Pty Ltd t/a Sunboost and Arise Solar Pty Ltd, formally Eurosolar, who went into liquidation, operate using contractors and multiple background companies.
The real question is, why do businesses like this need to operate this way if they plan on taking care of people rather than dodging the liability that comes from doing business on the cheap. Instead, they’d be better off selling quality systems at a fair price and taking care of their clients.
We’ve also seen clients who had paid a $500 deposit to cheap businesses and never received their solar at all.
Greenleaf Carbon™ is the company that takes care of you from start to finish. So yes, there is a little more risk for us this way, but we aim to be here to take care of our staff and you, our client, for the life of your Brisbane solar power system.
Good businesses think long-term. The Japanese will work on a one-hundred-year plan, while the company that wants to make a quick buck won’t have a plan at all.
Thinking long-term means looking at the industry’s viability and how it will move and shift over the coming decades, consistently positioning yourself to explore new trends, like batteries, looking at how they can benefit your clients and, ultimately, the business.
We do this with the view that we can take care of our staff and clients when we are profitable. Hence we need to charge accordingly and put cash aside to ensure we can service our clients over the life of your system.
The easiest way to tell if a business is thinking long-term is to see if they are putting money aside from your solar purchase to serve you for the life of your system.