Boom-bust cycle creates solar panel traps

CHOICE advises Australians to reflect before they install

CHOICE says the rush to install solar panels before government incentives run out is creating potential safety risks for Australian homes. People should therefore do some basic homework before they commit to installation.

The consumer group says people are vulnerable to unscrupulous operators ready to make a quick buck and should think ahead.

CHOICE points to stop-start government solar panel incentives as the reason for a boom-bust cycle that creates an environment where ‘fly-by- nighters’ can take advantage of people keen to have the panels installed before incentives end. 

“Competition amongst solar panel installers is tight, because the profit margins for labour and components in this industry are small,” says CHOICE spokesperson Ingrid Just. 

CHOICE has uncovered evidence of widespread problems with solar panel installation, including the use of incorrect wiring and circuit breakers which may lead to potential fire risks. Incorrect installation can lead to electrical risks, reinforcing the need for the process to be done correctly from the outset.

CHOICE says people who ask the right questions will be in a stronger position to get the best product and service. Installers should come to a property to investigate details like roof angles and exposure to sunlight before giving a design plan and quote. Any quote should include grid connection and metering costs. People should also confirm the qualifications, licence and insurance coverage of an installer before signing up. 

CHOICE also warns consumers to be wary of very cheap quotes and short warranty periods. Most reputable installers provide a warranty of at least five years on workmanship and materials.

There are steps a consumer can take if a PV system is unsafely or incorrectly installed. If the consumer is unable to resolve the issue with the installer, they should contact the Clean Energy Council (CEC), an industry organisation representing Australia’s clean energy sector.

“If the installation fails to deliver the expected energy gains, or if you are concerned about safety, each state and territory has authorities who can assist,” says Ms Just.

For more information from CHOICE on solar panel installation and contact details for organisations and government departments who can provide advice, go to 
Media Contact:
• Ingrid Just, CHOICE, Head of Media and Spokesperson: 0430 172 669 

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