Every industry has their marketing and advertising experts – and the solar industry is no different as reported by Roof Juice.
The most popular solar advertising seems to shout “5kW for only $4500” or “never pay an electricity bill ever again” or “save thousands off your electricity bill every year”. These promises may seem very enticing so it’s no wonder why so many people are very excited about the low prices of solar power systems. Many people get excited because at that rate, solar will pay for itself in no time at all and its an investment rather than a purchase. But unfortunately, poor quality remains long after the promise of a low price.
The reality for many solar customers is that when they start to research companies over the internet, they are faced with different price ranges between $900/kW and $2000/kW. Every solar company claims high quality and great service, but not all of them truly deliver what they promise from the start. So now, the question is, is there really a difference in performance if the system is cheaper versus more expensive?
According to Nigel Morris of http://roofjuice.com.au/ who’s been in the solar power system industry for 22 years, he has the experience, the know-how and the other stuff that the some of the solar companies are hiding. He is aware of how some solar companies can offer really cheap solar power systems:
One way to get your costs down is to pay really cheap or possibly pay almost nothing. Sales people who are commissioned-based will sell anything and at any cost because that’s the only way they will earn money and put food on the table. It’s a losing game for them if they don’t earn, but some of them are not truly interested in giving you the best service and products. Such salespeople don’t really care if your system is too small or too big, they just need to sell. If they don’t sell, they get axed. There are common stories of sales teams being abused, screamed at or belittled for failing to meet their daily targets.
How do these sales people find you? They buy a list of phone numbers and start dialling and making their offers. Yes, there are companies that sell phone numbers to sales people but by doing this, many solar companies can cut their spending in finding customers but the quality goes out the window. It also extends to contractors. How? The only way to get installation costs down is to cut corners – use unskilled people, compromise on safety and leave your customers with half-finished jobs. It happens, and there have been reports and complaints about unscrupulous solar power companies.
Exaggerate the Benefits
Less scrupulous solar companies will assume that you will use it all during the day, dramatically inflating your returns, only to leave you very disappointed after a year of paying bills. Exporting most of your energy not only makes bad financial sense, but it actually worsens the network issues many solar customers face because excess solar energy pushes up the grid voltage, leading to restrictions on the installation of solar in some places. Even if you don’t care that much about it, it’s best to know that theoretically, any excess power passed to the grid is then captured by retailers and then resold to other people or your neighbours at full retail price.
Now, in some cases, it’s logical to oversize. If for example, your daytime consumption is very high or your daily usage is above average, then it starts to work again. It’s also true that some economies of scale come into play so the price per wattage goes down as system size goes up.
Also, there are ways around the use of larger systems that can leverage the advantages. For example, smarter solar power systems use load control and detailed monitoring to manage consumption, shift loads and generation. But obviously, you don’t get smart solar systems at cheap prices.
Offering Low-Quality Panels and Selling Them as High Quality
This is something really scary because you’re not getting your money’s worth at all. Not surprisingly, the cheapest manufacturers are usually the smallest manufacturers. Their brand name is not known, they probably won’t have any offices or any staff in Australia. Stripping the cost of solar panels is quite easy and the latest statistics suggest that almost 60% of what is being imported into Australia doesn’t quite meet the international standards.