Here, the top ten solar scams are exposed. Read this article and you will avoid the very worst. Our books explain even more. Some solar scams are widespread while others are rare. It’s vital to keep yourself informed. Many have headlines such as shown throughout this article!
The Most Common of all Solar Scams – seeking a large deposit
Installers seek a 10% deposit with installation promised within four to six weeks. Don’t pay more than that. A few ask for up to 50% – and then postpone installation as long as they can. If an installer seeks more than 10%, find another. It is one the most common of all solar scams
Number Two of the Top Ten Solar Scams – solar output is only 71% -80% of that claimed
This is another of the top ten solar scams.
The solar industry worldwide uses two sets of scales. One, Standard Operating Conditions (SOC) is for development and selling. SOC is measured as if the solar module is horizontal on top of an equatorial mountain in mid-winter at midday but simulated in a laboratory. Fine for development – but it is not how solar modules are used.
Solar reality is NOCT (Nominal Operating Cell Temperature). It replicates more typical usage. The NOCT is typically 71% of sales claims. A typical ‘3.5 kW’ system rarely exceeds 2.9 kW. The industry does reveals this – but only in its technical data. A data panel on the rear of almost all solar modules reveals both. To stave of lawyers there’s a photo of one here. (The NOCT output of this ‘120 watt module is shown as 85 watts).
Here, the actual typical output of this high quality ‘120 watt’ solar module is disclosed (in the third column) as 87 watts. Pic: An actual solar module once owned by the author. Copyright: solarbooks.com.au
The industry ‘excuses this extraordinary practice as being ‘historical’ (but so is theft in the burglary trade).
Number Three of the top ten solar scams – oversized inverters
This is less common but nevertheless happens. A 6 kW inverter is specified and the system sold as being of 6 kW. But only (say) 4 kW of solar modules are installed..
Four – low output/low quality solar modules
The 2018 top ten solar module makers (in terms of sales) are JA Solar, Tongwei, Trina Solar, Hanwha Q-Cells, JinkoSolar, LONGi, Shunfeng (Wuxi Suntech), Canadian Solar, Aiko Solar, First Solar. None is cheap but unless the supplier uses one of these, buy elsewhere. These companies make their own solar cells and supply complete solar modules. Virtually all others buy cells and use cheap labour to hand-assemble the modules.
Five – ‘your roof needs fixing first’
This too is one of the top ten solar scams. It is often a joint scam with a roofing company. Have an independent roofer check and quote independently.
Six – maintenance contracts
In this top ten solar scam, an installer may offer a ‘bargain contract’ (up to 20 years) for yearly ‘maintenance’ and solar module cleaning. Solar modules either work or not. No ‘maintenance’ is needed. Rain adequately cleans them.
Seven – exact solar module alignment
Installers may insist exact alignment of your solar modules is essential – requiring costly adjustable brackets etc. Having solar modules face due north (or in the southern hemisphere due south) maximises daily input. Errors of even ten degrees, however, do not matter. The difference is tiny.
Also, having them tilted at (your) latitude angle maximizes yearly input. This too is not critical. Errors of plus/minus ten degrees barely matter. You can use solar even on east or west facing roofs. The loss is still only 15% – 20% You can compensate this by having 15% – 20% more solar module capacity. This costs little for most systems.
Eight – pay over time at zero interest
Paying over time is (usually) by far the most costly. The amount (otherwise charged as interest) is simply added to the payments. Such schemes are scams!
Nine – replacing solar modules at ultra-low cost (or free)
This is an offer to replace your solar modules by ones claimed to have ultra-high output. This may be at very low cost, and even free. It is often offered to buyers of large recently installed systems. The scammers replace your likely high-quality solar modules by ultra-cheap ones of low output and reliability. The scammers re-sell your good modules.
Ten – save money by adding solar
There are ample reasons to have solar power. Saving money is not one of them. Solar costs are falling and electricity prices are rising. In most countries, however, electricity latter needs to be about A$1.30 per kilowatt/hour to be equal. Thereon solar will be cheaper. Do however install it for environmental reasons.
HINT – how to truly reduce solar cost
Virtually all solar installers visit your home or business. They check your existing electrical consumption and quote accordingly.
It is far better to initially do all you can to reduce that usage. This is readily possible (and by as much as 50%) substantially at zero (or little) cost. And only then seek quotes. Doing so can literally save you thousands of dollars. Our associated book $19.95 book Solar Success shows just how. If it does not we will refund that amount at any time – without questioning.