Cheap Solar Systems: A Costly Mistake You Should Avoid
“If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” We have heard this adage over and over. It applies to almost everything, including consumer products like solar panels. When people decide on going solar, they have a primary goal, which is to save money on power bills. But how can they start when these solar systems are extremely costly?
Enter cheap solar systems. They charge less than the top brands. Therefore, many consumers think they save more money. The truth is that they are falling into a trap. The solar system is an investment, so upfront costs may not be within everyone’s budget. However, it will surely pay off in the long run. Instead of buying these too-good-to-true offers, stay on the safe side. Choose brands that professionals endorse.
Why Buying Cheap Will Cost You More
The world of solar panels and systems is a tricky one. In the past few years, solar has become more affordable. However, some offers will blow your mind, which can quickly deceive you into buying almost immediately. In reality, the cheapest deal is hardly ever the best deal.
Google “cheap solar” or any related key phrase and you will find a list of discounted panels and systems. Most quality solar panels will start at $5,000 for a 6.6kW installation while others are priced $8,000 and up. As you can see, it is not entirely cheap. However, if you spot a deal that says the same system costs $3,000, you may genuinely be more interested in it than the other offer that’s double the price.
Solar is believed to pay off in a couple of years or so. In that case, doesn’t it make sense to go for the low-priced option so you can save more? To answer this question, here are compelling reasons why going cheap on your solar system will only cost you more:
The promise of a low-price point, along with the benefits of free energy, can quickly make these solar systems irresistible. Unfortunately, cheap solar will cost more over the years. Some would need repairs after a few months, which only means you have to shell out extra cash.
There is a reason why the panels are cheap, and it is because they are not quality-made. The materials are inferior, and the installation may be as well.
Substandard solar systems come with cheap panels or inverters – or even both. The materials used are inferior, which is why they end up producing a lower quality end product. Of course, it affects the lifespan of the system.
If you buy from these cheap brands, you will either experience poor output or the components will start degrading. It may be rare for them to stop working within a year. At this time, you may have already left a glowing review about how satisfied you are with the system. However, after a year more, you start experiencing troubles. Unlike TVs, you cannot merely throw the panels and buy new ones.
A 2019 report confirmed that cheap solar systems are much more expensive. You can get disappointing output, low-grade design, and inverters that require replacement at least three times.
Solar retailers that offer these low-quality systems will use all the tricks they can come up with to convince customers to buy.
An example is creating confusion regarding the warranty of the panels. They will talk to you about the 25-year performance warranty of the system, but will not discuss with you the five-year guarantee of the inverter or the panels themselves. Before you sign a contract, make sure everything is clear.
Be careful; solar sharks are everywhere, and they are ready to prey on uninformed customers. Solar is not always easy to understand. It can be quite complex with all its many components. If you are a beginner, you need a professional to advise you on what product to go for. It is not a simple decision to make, which is it helps to evaluate the available options first.
Poor Quality Workmanship and Installation
Just like with the system, there is a reason for the budget installation. If it is priced too low, it is clear that the installers are cutting corners. When the cost of installation is cheap, it can be attributed to inexperienced subcontractors, which may include backpackers. They offer attractive deals that are hard to say no to.
However, if a professional did not install your system, a lot of things can go wrong. Solar systems have an intricate nature. If there is an issue, you will end up paying more to repair the flaw. Many problems can be avoided when the installation is done right the first time.
In the end, you have to accept that solar systems are not created alike. There is a vast disparity between a cheap system and a quality one.
Think about it scenario: when you go to a store to buy a 60-inch TV, a good brand can cost around $10,000. On the other hand, you have a TV from a no-name brand that costs $3,000 only. You may think they are the same because of the size. The reality though is that a trusted brand has a good standing amongst consumers, and the products are built to last. The other brand that no one has heard about does not have to worry about its reputation. It is all about sales.
The same thing applies to solar systems. You get what you pay for in this industry. Instead of saving, you pay double (sometimes triple).
How Companies Trick Consumers with Their Ultra-Low Prices
Here is the awful truth about solar systems: one out of four cheap solar systems is bound to fail within the first few months of installation. Australia’s solar market is flooded with poor quality products, yet they still manage to mislead consumers, thanks to the attractive pricing.
High-quality products do not go as low as $4,000 even for a 5kW to 6.6kW system. Unluckily, many homes choose the system based on the cost, not the quality. The strange fact is that most of these buyers already know about the dangers of these cheap systems. From reliability to safety issues, the products have faulty components, along with dodgy installers and non-existent customer service.
But why do buyers still go for these inferior quality products? Below you will find some of the known tricks that companies have up their sleeves. It is your responsibility to be aware of them to avoid falling into their beguiling tactics.
Retailers are experienced salespeople. They know what the customers like to hear and what they want to know about. Techniques to sell more constantly pop up and most of them proved their efficiency – even the fraudulent ones.
One method is known as bait and switch where retailers would “bait” the customers by advertising low-priced solar systems, including both the panels and inverters. What the buyers do not know is that these advertisements have conditions of sale. Merchants are allowed to swap the products for their “equivalents,” which – as you may have already guessed – are inferior.
Another related method involves retailers listing a low price for the panels and inverters. However, they do not disclose the specifics, such as the brand name of the products.
When a customer enquires, the merchant endorses a better piece of hardware. The retailer will use the upselling technique on the buyer to generate a more profitable sale. It typically includes selling more expensive items, as well as upgrades, rather than just paying for the initially advertised product.
Finally, some companies make attractive claims about their panels being Tier 1. In reality, they are crappy and will not last when exposed to the harsh climate conditions, especially in Western Australia. A thermal fracture can result when the panel is of low-quality since it cannot withstand long exposure under the sun.
Just by looking up installation services, you will find different options available. Many consumers would look at the pricing first and then choose the most affordable. Unfortunately, these installers may not even be adequately trained. Add the fact that several are backpackers with no Australian Electrical Licence, and you can end up risking your safety.
The lowest rate offers when it comes to installations are just like those retailers that give substantial price cuts on the panels and inverters. The main concern here is to make a sale, not to ensure customer satisfaction. Most of these businesses do not have a good reputation – and they are fine with it because they still get calls from customers.
Solar power systems typically have direct current operating at a high voltage. In itself, it is dangerous, but a professional knows how to keep everything running safely. Without proper knowledge, a lot of things can go wrong, and you could put other people’s lives at risk.
Cheap Solar Panels
Cheap also means low-quality, which is what the solar panels are – and it is precisely why they are incredibly affordable. These retailers are good at hyping up their products. Most of the time, they give guarantees that they only sell top-quality solar panels. Sadly, these panels can only give you acceptable output and will degrade faster.
Since you need to replace them in a few months to a year, you can say that you are not exactly saving money here. The truth is you pay more than buying trusted Tier 1 panels that can last at least 30 years under the harsh Aussie sun. What is even more worrisome is that approximately 60% of panels in the country are not considered Tier 1. You not only have to deal with the stress of buying new panels, but also dodgy after-sales support from these companies.
Inferior Solar Inverters
Another big problem with these dirt-cheap solar sharks is that they give the worst inverters – yet they claim these products are the best.
These weak inverters may function for a while, but they rarely last more than three years. Perhaps the good news is that many companies will replace inverters more willingly than panels.
Nevertheless, it is still possible that you can encounter a manufacturer that will hold “grid spikes” accountable for the trouble. You may have to fight with them to get a replacement, or they will charge you an additional $1,500 for the new inverter.
The issue with cheap solar inverters is not the price but the quality. They are set to die within a year or two – perhaps three if you are lucky. When they stop working, you can no longer fix them. These inverters utilise those from China that only cost $500 or even less. A good inverter, on the other hand, commands at least $2,000. The price difference is often enough to convince some people to go with the cheaper version.
Top manufacturers, including Enphase, Fronius, and ABB, have best in class ratings when it comes to their efficiency. The reliability of these inverters is close to perfect. Plus, the massive difference between the manufacturers’ services is worth noting. The top brands only require you to make a call, answer a few questions, and they will instantly process your claim. You will receive the replacement quickly.
Many consumers are not aware of this fact, but solar rebate can be reclaimed. Retailers, on the other hand, know about this scheme. They replace all the panels and get the rebate once again. Think about how much they can earn out of the installation. With a rebate that is more than $600/kW and panels that are under $500/kW, you can already tell they are earning from this dirty tactic.
With all these tactics, do they confirm that two things like solar and affordability do not mix? The truth is that solar is expensive, but it has become more affordable over the years. There are so many options available, including high-quality panels and inverters. The only thing you have to avoid is an unbelievable offer, whether it is installation, the solar system, or both.
Here are ways on how you can get a good deal:
Look for a good quality solar system.
Solar is an investment, which is why you should not choose an inferior product just to save money. Reliable solar panels and the whole system itself can last several years. Plus, they come with extended warranties to put your mind at ease.
A big company, such as LG, ET Solar, Q-Cells, or Risen Energy, is easy to find, especially when you need assistance for a solar-related problem. You can claim the warranty if something goes wrong with the product, unlike with no-name brands that do not offer excellent aftersales service.
Good quality solar systems rarely require servicing. Some inverters may need you to replace them after 10 years or so, but poor ones will typically last a year or a maximum of three years. You do not get your money’s worth because you will need to replace them almost immediately.
Look at the value, not for a cheap option.
The good news is that solar is not that expensive as it was a long time ago. However, it does not mean you should spend too little. Believe it or not, you can save more if you go for a Tier 1 product. It may cost more than the best deal you may have heard of, but these solar systems will last for a lifetime. You have the chance to make the most out of your investment.
Plus, you do not have to worry when something goes wrong. Reliability of the manufacturer or the installer should be one of your priorities. This way, when you have a problem with the panel or inverter, you can easily contact them for assistance. Legitimate warranties are hard to find when you deal with these sketchy brands and manufacturers.
Ensure you get a decent aftersales service.
Before you get excited over a crazy deal that involves a complete solar package costing $3,000 or even less, you should do your homework first. In 2011, there were more than 700 installers that went out of business. They left at least 600,000 solar users worrying about how they could claim their now worthless warranties.
When you need assistance, you should get it right away. Time is money with your solar system. The longer it is down, the higher the power bills you will end up paying. Therefore, you need your claim to be processed quickly.
Only a trustworthy brand can attend to your concern and provide you with a replacement at the soonest possible time. With dodgy manufacturers, they will make you wait two weeks or more before you get an answer. Worse, you will simply get a request number, which you will need to hold on to for an indefinite period.
In the unlikely event that a high-quality solar system requires servicing, you can count on the company to give you a replacement in a matter of days. Some manufacturers will provide panel service or inverter replacement without extra charges.
Easy Solar are the experts you can trust, we use only quality solar panels and solar inverters from global and trusted brands. Contact Easy Solar today to discuss your solar home.