What To Do If Your Solar Company Is No Longer Around
Updated: Jun 12, 2019
Since the big solar boom in 2011 many Australians have found their solar retailer has gone into liquidation or simply stopped trading. This leaves them with solar systems that we call “orphans”. By orphans we mean that there is no one answering the phone and no one responsible for the solar system. The recent closure of two larger solar providers, True Value Solar and Energy Matters, has fueled this discussion.
Why have solar companies like True Value left the industry in the middle of a solar boom?
True Value Solar were established in 2009 and had a long history in the industry. They had a significant market position and were well advertised, which made customers trust in their brand.
However, in 2011, the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) reported that True Value Solar paid two infringement notices totalling $13,200 and provided a court enforceable undertaking to the ACCC regarding misleading advertising.
In 2013 True Value Solar switched owners and became fully owned by German-based M+W Group. This is an important factor you should consider before deciding which solar company to go with. In the end, M+W Group decided to discontinue operations in Australia. This was due to True Value’s focus on the discount end of the market, which left the company with very low margins. By focusing on the discount end of the solar market, the customer loses, the industry loses, and the companies with the thin margins lose too.
The True Value example shows just how important it is not to go with a budget system. By choosing a mid-range or higher price solar provider you have peace of mind since the company is built on a sustainable business model. So what price should you pay for a solar system? Find out about the price range for a quality solar solution here.
There is another reason why solar companies that are positioned on the discount end of the market go into liquidation. They have installed cheap panels and inverters. When they are faced with all the consumer claims and in case the manufacturer does not honor these warranty claims or the installer imported the cheap parts himself, then the install company themselves, as per Australian Consumer Law carries the repair costs.
When a cheaper built panel fails or an inverter stops, it is usually not a one-time issue, but many of these models then fail in a short period. So the install company might decide it is much cheaper to go bankrupt than replace thousands of panels and inverters.
What do you do when your company is no longer around and your system doesn’t work?
Contact the manufacturer of the broken system and explain the issue to them. Quality brand manufacturers have a set amount that they pay an installer to come and fix their faulty equipment.
If the problem is covered under the manufacturer’s warranty, then the manufacturer is obliged to find a local installer in your area and organise a replacement.
What if the manufacturer no longer exists or they don’t take responsibility for the issue?
In this case the last thing you can do is try to find and locate the Australian distributor that sold the product to your retailer. However, this is going to be very difficult. Unfortunately besides this there is nothing further you can do.
This is why we emphasise not to buy a budget system. By choosing a solar retailer with a higher price you guarantee your return of investment. This is due to the fact that the solar retailer has charged enough to sustain their business long term. Equally as important is that you choose brands that have been established for longer than their warranty.
So how do you best avoid the risk of your solar retailer going into liquidation?
Look for a solar retailer in your area with a local presence
Check on the customer reviews about the company.
Avoid ads that promise very cheap systems. Prices like these can only be reached when costs are cut so severely that you will end up with a low quality system installed in a rush which will likely cause you problems within the first few years. Read more about the problems caused by choosing a cheap system here.
Ensure a CEC accredited designer designs your system.
Ensure a CEC accredited installer sets up your system.
Ensure the panels and inverter models are good quality and specified in the contract, and check that the contract 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.
Choose a solar company that doesn't sub-contract installation and employs and trains their own staff.
Econnect Solar is an Australian solar company, owned and operated by electricians. We offer trusted and friendly advice without any pressure. Request a call-back for personalised advice and pricing.