This is our second edition of Solar Horror Stories. In our attempt to help consumers make solar decisions they feel confident and excited about, we believe it is our job as Solar Educators to outline a few of the common tricks, traps and scams so you can avoid them. Our last article spoke about sales tactics to be aware of. Today we focus on the technical side of solar.
Grey Market/Counterfeit Products
Although it may not be common, there are many cases where a company will obtain components on the grey market to save money. Grey market items are genuine components, but they did not necessarily become acquired through the proper supply chain channels. The problem with this channel of product acquisition is that manufacturers may not honor the warranty of the product.
It is important to check with the company you are hiring to install your panels that they are authorized distributors of the parts and pieces they are installing on your roof.
In extreme cases, counterfeit or ‘no-name’ brands will be installed on the roof. This may have a less expensive sticker price but end up being costly for a homeowner as the equipment will not perform as well and may present fire/electrocution hazards through shoddy workmanship. Ensure the panels being installed are labeled with the proper certifications.
Low Quality Components
Not all panels are created the same. It is true that under ideal conditions, most panels will perform as rated. However, low quality panels will result in large drops of productivity in marginal conditions. Additionally, low quality panels are known to use poor quality sealants, meaning after the first few years, the panels will start to degrade due to moisture entering the panel.
Another component of the solar system that is often overlooked is the inverter. This important aspect of the solar installation is a device that converts DC electricity from the panels into AC electricity that your home can use. Overall, a lower quality inverter will be inefficient and may have a shorter lifespan. It is an expensive item to replace – which is why lower quality solar installers will save money in the initial install with a low-end inverter to save money for high quality panels. Ensure you are asking for the brand of both the panels in your solar system and the inverters.
Photo Credit: U.S. Dept of Energy
A System with a 4kW inverter is not always a 4kW system
To make a system seem more powerful than it really is, some companies focus on promoting inverter size. A system wit ha 4kW rated solar inverter but only with 1.5kW of solar panels is only a 1.5kW system. The larger inverter will not increase the productivity of the electricity generated. The same sized system would function just as efficiently and effectively with a suitably sized inverter. The true benefit of having an oversized inverter is for system upgrades at a later date. If you do not have any intention of upgrading, ensure an appropriately sized inverter is part of your solar installation package.
Do Not Be Part of a Solar Horror Story
If you are finding yourself questioning the quality of the solar components your recent solar quotes have outlined, we invite you to reach out and work with one of our educated Energy Advisers to ensure that quality products you are expecting are the products that are ultimately installed on your roof. It is better to be educated than regretful of your solar investment.
Matt is energized by the dynamic nature of the solar industry and appreciates the constant need for education and quick action that success in the industry demands. Matt’s interest in the environment spans beyond the realm of green energy and enjoys raft trips in unexplored and hidden corners of rivers throughout the U.S.
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