Cheap Solar? Don’t Fall For The Spin!

If you’ve started your research into solar, no doubt you’re now being bombarded by online ads for solar. You might even be reading this blog because of one.

 While some ads might seem like a great deal, here’s 6 Solar Sales Tactics to watch out for…

 

1/ Limited Time Only Specials

 A Limited Time Special is just a marketing tactic used to create a sense of urgency and a fear of missing out (FOMO). Likewise, high-pressure salespeople will often offer a “Today-only Discount” if you sign up quickly.

 

Our Advice: Solar is a significant one-time investment. Take your time, do your research, and don’t be rushed into a decision by dodgy high-pressure sales & marketing tactics. If a solar company is willing to offer you a discount today, but not the same discount next week, then take your business elsewhere.

 

 

2/ Meaningless Superlatives

 We often see dirt-cheap systems advertised as the latest & greatest. But is that really possible? Can the cheapest also be the best? Of course not. Here’s a couple of meaningless superlatives often used in solar advertisements:

 High Efficiency” – Most solar panels have a similar Module Efficiency of 19 – 21%. It’s on the datasheet. This is the percentage of light energy converted into electrical energy under Standard Flash Test Conditions in the factory.

 However, the actual efficiency of solar panels in real-world conditions (lower light or higher-temps) can vary greatly depending on panel quality and cell-tech. Don’t believe us? Check out our blog on the Alice Springs Desert Knowledge Field Test

 

Tier 1 – Is a term created by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) and is based on a set of financial criteria to find the most “bankable” solar brands suitable for utility-scale solar farms.

Due to the massive number of panels required for a solar farm, it is a financially sensitive market segment dominated by high-volume / low-cost solar panel manufacturers.

However, it’s important to understand that BNEF do not assess the quality of solar panels or the factories that make them. In fact, BNEF state…

 

We strongly recommend that module purchasers and banks do not use this list as a measure of quality” and go on to say…

there are many documented examples of quality issues or bankruptcy of Tier 1 manufacturers”

 

Our Advice: Choosing a “High Efficiency” “Tier 1” panel isn’t a bad thing, but it’s certainly not a guarantee of quality like the solar advertisements are hoping you assume. 

 

3/ Famous Brand Ambassadors

 Cricket players spend all day in the sun, but they don’t know solar like we do. If they did, they wouldn’t be representing solar companies with a history of phoenixing and using the lowest-paid sub-contractors.

 At the end of the day, famous brand ambassadors have been paid a substantial amount by the solar company to endorse them. Not very credible.

 

Our Advice: A more meaningful endorsement is one from the Clean Energy Council (CEC); the governing body of the Australian solar industry.

 

A CEC “Approved Solar Retailer” is a solar company committed to a higher standard of quality and service, and must pass annual audits to prove it. Choose a solar company with this stamp of approval.

 

  1. Don’t mistake this for other similar CEC logos such as ‘CEC Member’ or ‘CEC Accredited Installer’. Check out this blog to understand the differences.

 

4/ Free Panels

 Aside from being a bogus marketing tactic, there’s another sneaky reason why some solar companies include extra “Free Panels” when quoting a system…

 Sometimes when roof space is limited, and the salesperson has provided an unrealistic panel layout, the solar installer may not be able to fit the number of panels you were hoping for.

 If you purchased an 18-panel system, but the solar installer could only fit 16 panels, you would expect the price payable to be reduced, right? Sorry, not if those 2 panels were quoted as “free”

 

Our Advice: Simple, avoid these companies.

  

5/ Interest-Free Finance

 How do Interest Free Finance providers make money? By taking a cut of the sale. Usually around 20% of the sale price, charged as a confidential ‘Merchant Fee’ to the solar company. This is a significant cost that a solar company cannot absorb.

 The reality is, solar companies who offer “Interest Free” finance, simply inflate their prices by ~20% to cover the secret Merchant Fee. And a discounted “Cash Price” can be offered to those not wanting finance.

 What’s worse, solar companies who inflate their prices for Interest Free finance, often cut costs elsewhere in the system so that the advertised price is still competitive.

 

Our Advice: An over-priced, low-quality system is hardly a great deal. If finance is required, we recommend sourcing a low-interest Green Loan from Parker Lane. Alternatively, even lower 0.99% Green Loans are currently available to eligible Commonwealth Bank Home Loan customers.

 

 

6/ Low Low Prices

 If you were wanting to buy a new microwave, had done your research, and decided on a particular make & model, you might go straight to RetraVision to buy it. After all, they have a “Best Price Guaranteed” policy.

However, shopping for solar is much more of a minefield. You’re not just buying 1 product in a box. A solar PV system consists of solar panels and inverter, but also many other important Balance of System (BoS) components including:

  • Mounting system
  • Dektites
  • Cabling
  • AC and DC isolators
  • Circuit-breakers
  • Connectors

It also requires a days’ worth of electrical and roof work, ideally performed by a team of competent installers following best practices.

Unfortunately though, many solar companies are competing in a ‘race to the bottom’ by cutting costs on the cheapest BoS components and low-paid installers encouraged to cut corners to get the job done quickly. Their goal is to have the lowest price. As a result, nearly 25% of solar installations inspected are rated Sub-Standard or Unsafe

A true quality-focused solar company can never make claims such as “Best Price Guaranteed” or “We’ll Beat Any Price”. It’s just not possible without cutting corners.

 

Our Advice: There is nothing in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and he who considers price only is that man’s lawful prey

For an obligation-free quote for solar, contact Positive Energy today. Rest assured, our approach is honest, informative, no-pressure.

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