Solar Power Systems – How Cheap Is Too Cheap?

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If you’ve organised quotes for a solar power system installation and then found another company offering the same brands for half the price; how is that cheaper company able to do so? Finn explains what might be happening.


One question I get all the time goes something like this.

“Hi Finn, I’ve received all three quotes from the guys you referred, but I’ve also found this fourth company myself and they’re offering same brands as one of your guys, but for $2,000 less. Why the difference in price?”

Well, I tell them it can be for one of two reasons.

One, they’re a high-volume, low-margin installer whose business model is to buy in bulk and then pass those savings onto the customer to stay competitive in the cutthroat solar market, while still doing a compliant installation. Think Jetstar over Qantas.

Or secondly, they could be a high-volume, low-margin installer whose business model is to buy brands that may or may not be crap, do a rushed installation and then have no money left over to deliver after-sales service to the customer. So, the customer gets a cheap system, but who knows how long it’s going to last.

At this point, I’ll say that over the last 11 years I’ve gotten to know the Aussie solar industry pretty damn well, and I know the margins involved in running a sustainable solar installation business.

Often when a customer shows me a cheaper quote they found elsewhere, I simply cannot understand how the company can offer such a system at such a price without cutting corners.

Research Is Important

To people considering those cheap quotes, I beg you, do some research online. Search the company’s reputation in Google; see what reviews you can find, and also search for them in the Whirlpool forums. Five minutes of Googling can reveal a wealth of information on whether you should trust a cheaper company or not.

It’s trickier when the cheaper companies offer the exact same brands as a more moderately priced company, but trust me; using decent brands is only 50% of a system. It’s unfortunately all too common to take decent brands and make a dog’s breakfast of the installation.

I’ll sign off by saying the bitterness of low quality remains long after the sweetness of low prices is forgotten.

For everything you need to know about choosing a solar power system and an installer in Australia, check out Finn’s book, The Good Solar Guide, which is free to read in its entirety online.

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