Solar scams and how to avoid them

  • The number of unregulated and sub-standard solar service providers is on the rise says Versofy SOLAR.
  • This endangers not only the solar industry but home owners as well.
  • Customers have to do due diligence and verify the credentials of installers and find out more about the equipment that will be installed.

Eskom appears to have bolted the wheels back on to the car and South Africa is enjoying its longest stint without loadshedding in years.

However, one should be cognisant that power cuts could return at any time and with power increases and a new R200 service charge for prepaid electricity customers in Johannesburg, exploring alternative energy sources is still a good idea.

For many this means investing in solar power but sadly – as with most things – there are people looking to take advantage of buyers who may not know all that much about solar power.

According to Versofy SOLAR, there has been an increase in the number of unregulated and sub-standard service providers.

“Unregulated solar providers frequently employ dubious methods to reduce costs and inflate profits. These practices include using outdated technology, hiring unqualified installers, and failing to comply with industry standards. In extreme cases, some providers disappear after collecting large deposits, leaving projects incomplete. The influx of counterfeit and stolen components further exacerbates the problem,” explains chief executive officer of Versofy SOLAR, Ross Mains-Sheard.

Regulated solar providers and installers must adhere to industry standards and regulations include NRS, SANS and IEC. Ignoring these standards and regulations can not only threaten the industry, but the safety of your installation as well. As such, one should use a provider who is registered, qualified and experienced. Upon completion, an electrician should also present you with a Certificate of Compliance, insuring that all electrical work meets the relevant standards. You can check if your electrician is registered and compliant using this portal.

When it comes to what gear your installer is using, this is also important. While there may be many manufacturers producing solar panels, batteries and other solar power equipment, it’s worth knowing what is going into your installation. Do some leg work and find out more about the manufacturer and what it offers, some suppliers may try to cut costs by opting to use substandard equipment which may not hold the same guarantees and warranties that other manufacturers offer.

We also highly recommend that the installer provides the exact equipment you have been quoted for. It’s also a good idea to check the solar panels and batteries for any sign of damage that could compromise their effectiveness.

A reliable solar provider should adhere to industry standards and engage in thorough and consistent maintenance of the systems they install. This includes annual checks, infrared hot spot scanning for larger installations, and regular cleaning of solar panels according to manufacturer guidelines.

They should ensure compatibility with existing systems and conduct thorough inspections, especially in coastal regions prone to corrosion and high-wind areas requiring additional structural integrity checks.

As a user it’s also a good idea to keep tabs on your energy usage and expand on your system as needed.

“The solar industry is poised for rapid growth, playing a critical role in our national energy mix. As it expands, it will inevitably become more regulated, which will be highly beneficial. Until that time, collaboration between providers, industry associations, government, and consumers is essential to ensure a safe and sustainable future. By choosing reputable and accredited providers, consumers can be confident that they are investing in high-quality, compliant, and reliable solar energy systems. This collective effort will help maintain the industry’s integrity and promote the widespread adoption of clean energy solutions,” Verosfy SOLAR adds.

It’s best to take your time, do due diligence and verify that everything meets your needs before handing over any money to a solar installer or service provider. If you’re opting for a pay-as-you-go solution, be sure to read the fine print and make sure you aren’t going to be shocked by additional costs.


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