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A local perspective on Solar – from Micro Energy Systems, Bodalla

We have always advocated for renewable energy in our community and contributed articles over the years providing practical and honest advice to consumers when considering effective and affordable solutions including solar.

Often however, this advice is usurped and or smothered by the razzle dazzle of large sales companies engineered for that ‘perfect sale’.

As a local business, we can tell you that each time a new sales company targets or moves into the South Coast, the industry loses some of the integrity that local trades based businesses who install solar have been building on.

In a recent article authored by a sales company protagonist which we were asked to review, the author highlights advice that customers should themselves work out if solar is right for them and determine where the panels should best be installed.

This seems to us to be a prime example of an office based sales tactic. One which places an unnecessary burden on the customer who should be able to anticipate reliance on the proven experience, expertise and qualifications of the individual tradesperson they have engaged to assist with advice and quotation for Solar.

Further the same article recommends that the reader should check out reviews to research the integrity of the sales business. In our view on-line reviews will never have the efficacy that parochial word of mouth offers to potential customers. In our experience, this has been a common sales approach to use social media mis direction to build an apparent integrity. Reviews by advocates on social media platforms are intrinsically worthless. They are easily self-generated or cultivated, with no oversight allowing potential customers to cross check their veracity.

Designing and installing solar systems is the province of an electrician with Clean Energy Council [CEC] accreditation. The electrician is a tradesperson; this is often forgotten.

A salesperson without electrical trade qualification and CEC accreditation is not competent to design a solar system installation regardless of any other industry qualifications they may hold.

The claim that the salesperson has an engineering qualification is also irrelevant. Unless they are actively engaged in the day-to-day installation activities and actually have qualification and experience as an accredited electrician, that individual is wasting their hard won degree, as in the sales application, they are only competent as a sales person, not an electrician accredited for Solar PV design and Installation.

So it stands that if the person at your door or on the telephone cannot furnish proof that they are an experienced CEC accredited electrician, consumers should not give any veracity to the advice or design incorporated in the quotation they are being offered.

There is often a disconnect between the customer and the installer when a system has been purchased via a sales company approach.

It’s irrelevant if a sales company using either contract or PAYG installers claims that they are local. In our experience, these installers often have no real concern or obligation for after sales support. They are in fact, usually too busy resolving issues at the time of installation, relating to incompetently designed systems sold by salespeople which have left customers with unrealistic expectations.

Consumers should remember that a successful sales person must be primarily focussed on “getting” a sale or “closing” a deal.

A good trades person is predominately focussed on creating a solution and solving a problem.

It is a conundrum that often a consumer will be seduced into engaging with a sales person to create problems for a trades person to solve, when they have the option to avoid the middleman and engage the problem solver in the first instance.

So now we have deconstructed the normal sales based paradigm for purchasing a solar panel generator, here is our simple list for sensible shopping when it comes to residential and small commercial Solar and storage systems;

  1. Avoid or refuse to entertain door knockers or cold callers or indeed anybody flogging ‘free energy’, ‘no money down, pay as you go’, get in quick otherwise you will miss out’ deals.

  2. If the business selling you a complex electrical installation that’s going to be part of your home for many years has its principal(s) living so far away that your never likely to meet them at the local beach or shops, perhaps you should ask around about local tradesfolk who can offer you a comparative quote.

  3. Don’t purchase site unseen; if there is no on site survey, there will probably be no warranty support either.

  4. Ask the person before or during the site survey to prove their credentials. If they are not CEC accredited for Solar PV system design and installation, ask yourself why you would take a risk on their proposal. If you’re looking at having a battery installed, that person will also need storage or off grid endorsement on their CEC accreditation to have any integrity.

  5. Don’t believe the hype. If you keep seeing online pop ups or advertisements selling specific solar products or sales companies offering cheap energy solutions or huge rebates (if you act right now) it’s really just a con. The principles are attempting to convince you to buy something based on emotive tweaks and repetition.

Trades work sells itself in a parochial environment. The business of designing and installing Solar Systems is trades work, first and foremost.

Therefore its a good idea to employ an experienced local trades company you trust to do good work and look after you, based on real world word of mouth referral not virtual world chicanery and sales hype.