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The Vic Government Solar Rebate—don’t get taken for a ride

The announcement of the Victorian Government’s Solar Homes rebate package, along with the potential for half price battery storage, has created a stir in the renewable energy industry and among Victorian homeowners – who can look forward to the prospect of more affordable electricity, lower carbon footprints, and even the potential to make money off their solar power systems. Understandably, it’s an exciting prospect.

The solar rebate, officially known as the Solar Homes Package, will help Victorian homeowners with a significant chunk of the cost of a Solar PV system, comprising either a solar hot water system or a solar panel system. It is estimated to easily cover up to 30% of the total out-of-pocket cost in either case.

 

Many Victorian homeowners are getting ready to install solar – but need to be careful and avoid dodgy deals.

 

However, as with all good things, it seems that there is a downside: a surge in warnings about scam solar companies, or “cowboys”, coming out of the woodwork trying to take advantage of Victorian homeowners and the solar subsidy.

Now that the application process has opened, it’s important for homeowners to know what to look for, and how to read the warning signs that you are dealing with a rogue company. According to Scamwatch, an estimated $84 million has been lost to scams in 2018 alone.

Don’t be a statistic—here are 5 ways to ensure you are protecting yourself and are getting the best solar energy solution for your needs:

 

1. Look for an established history of operation.

Can the salesperson prove that the organisation they represent has been around for years, or have they just started trading recently? Door knocking or cold calling are often signs that a company is new in the industry – and more concerned with sales volumes than quality products and a high level of customer service.

Established, reputable solar companies often don’t need to resort to cold calling sales methods, because their reputation speaks for itself.

If cold calls and door-to-door salespeople aren’t enough to raise alarm bells, then see if you can find the company online. Do they have positive ratings on Google, Facebook, or unbiased comparison sites like Solar Quotes? Do they have a reputation for good, ongoing customer service and for quickly rectifying issues? If not, red flags have been raised.

 

2. Consider if you’re being pressured into making a quick decision.

Is the offering a “one-time-only deal” or at a “hot price only available today”? If so, be careful—an honest solar retailer won’t pressure you into making a decision on the spot.

A reputable seller is passionate about solar and their customers—they want you to get the best solution for your needs and are willing to take the time to work with you to find out what that is.

Another problem with one-time-only offers is that the whole tactic is to get the customer to sign up on the spot. This prevents the customer from doing any research, plus these sales are driven by financial incentives for the seller, such as commission. This can mean that when the sale is done, the chance of follow-up care, or support if anything goes wrong, is slim and/or the product is not reliable.

 

3. Look for well-known and reliable brands.

Have you ever heard of the solar panel, solar hot water system, or inverter brand the salesperson is pushing? If not, can you easily find the brand online?

Check to see for how long a brand has been around and if it has many positive reviews online. If the product appears to be relatively new, or has lots of negative reviews, then it’s a good idea to steer clear. All reliable, established brands have reviews online, no matter how cheap they are. You don’t want to be a guinea pig on new, unestablished solar products.

Other good ways to tell if a brand is high quality is if:

  • There are operational bases in Australia
  • The panels are sold by multiple distributors, not just one. A quick Google search will tell you this.

For us, the panels that have a proven track record that we like to work with include:

and our preferred inverter brands include:

 

4. Check to ensure that the seller knows their stuff and cares about your best interests.

  • Have they taken time to understand your needs?
  • Have they discussed your home’s energy consumption and budget?
  • Have they looked at the roof profile?
  • Do they have a range of products and price points to show you?
  • Do they have much experience in the product?
  • Are they or their installers highly experienced in installing the solar panels and inverters? (You might be surprised here to learn that many are not.)
  • And most importantly—are the installers and retailers Clean Energy Council (CEC) accredited? After all, there is a reason we have a Solar PV accreditation in Australia.

If you can’t answer “yes” to all of these questions, then it’s time for you to look elsewhere.

 

5. Get multiple quotes.

The best way to protect yourself is to get multiple quotes. If you are not given the opportunity to consider your options and shop around, don’t give the seller your time.

A good start is the SolarQuotes website, or similar sites like Energy Matters or Solar Choice.

If you would like a no-obligation quote for solar solutions in Melbourne, or even just some advice, we are always happy to help. You can contact us on 1300 93 14 24, or via our website.

Finally, if you’re concerned that we’re heading back down the path of the Pink Batts saga, don’t worry—the government has learned from the past and has put measures in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

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