The arrest last week of a "pastor" and his wife who allegedly duped hundreds of people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars collectively in a scam involving solar panels provides a reminder to solar shoppers to carry out due diligence before forking out for a solar power system.
According to a Brisbane Times article, the pair came to the attention of the Queensland Fraud Squad after more than 150 complaints were made in relation to their company in 2011. The two are due to face Brisbane Magistrates Court on February 19.
Fraud and other issues relating to solar power systems are still unfortunately too common. While many solar cowboys and fly-by-nighters have fled the industry, aNews.com.au article states 1,613 complaints were lodged with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in 2012, up from 1,229 the year before.
As not all solar panels are created equal, or for that matter solar inverters, the number of complaints may continue to rise as cheap and cheerful solar components start failing under Australia's often harsh conditions and consumers find the company they purchased them from unhelpful - or now non-existent.
Price isn't always an indicator of quality however, and aside from the solar panels and inverters themselves, installation quality can play a major role in not only the performance of a system; but its durability and very importantly, safety. Also often glossed over is the quality of the mounting system. Considering it's what keeps the solar panels attached to the roof; it probably deserves more attention when making a purchase decision.
National solar solutions provider Energy Matters offers a plain-English 23-pageSolar Power Consumer Guide as a free download to not only help demystify solar power for those considering going solar, but to also assist consumers in avoiding some of the common pitfalls, tricks and traps when buying a system.