How to Background Check Your Solar Installer
Back in 2012 - the early days of Goliath - I remember clients questioning us at virtually every job we quoted for, wanting reassurance that we would be around for the long haul, should they have a faulty solar system and warranty claim! Their concerns resonated with us, since a key reason for starting the business was to offer a reliable alternative to all the dishonest solar sales companies out there, who were just in it to make a quick buck.
Of course everyone will say they're reliable while they're in business, but as David found through years of working as a solar contractor for these fly-by-night solar companies, the reality is that many of them disappear when the industry goes quiet, usually after only being in business for 1 - 3 years.
Fast forward 6+ years and we are now one of the oldest running solar installers in Adelaide and ranked top 2 Australia wide via Finn Peacock’s www.solarquotes.com.au site, not bad for a small business whose own customers initially doubted we would be here for the long haul.
So what’s your secret? I hear you ask.
To be honest, not much has changed from day one to today except a few more grey hairs! We established the business based on reliable, trustworthy, quality workmanship and a service over sales focus! We genuinely care for our clients and are committed to providing quality solar systems at an affordable price. The key to Goliath Solar & Electrical thriving during the quieter moments in the industry has been our ability to go back to general electrical work.
The next question you’ll be asking yourself is How can I background check my solar installer? What should I be looking for? How can I ensure my installer delivers quality workmanship?
What We’ve Learned In Our Time
During our time we have completed a lot of repair work for people who originally purchased solar systems from other solar companies who are now out of business. We find the issues we’re called in to fix are mainly created by lazy, careless or rushed work. 99% of the time the system we’re called in to repair was installed by a sub contractor.
Sub contractors are normally paid per panel they install, so naturally they try to install as many panels in one day as possible, and this often means doing two install jobs in a single day. In order to do this they often take short cuts which include: not clipping cables in roofs, not cable tying up cables underneath panels and not cutting rails, amongst other things - the list goes on.
Sub contractors are also bullied by the larger solar companies and are often forced to do two jobs in a day or screwed down in price. This causes angst between the installer and the solar company and unfortunately it normally results in the end consumer getting a poorly installed solar system, or the customer missing out on having the operation of the system explained to them.
Another trick that companies use to get installations done cheaper is by using “roof monkeys” (labourers) to come and install the panels, then sending an electrician around later to install the inverter. THIS IS HIGHLY ILLEGAL!!! Only electricians or apprentices carrying an “n training" licence are allowed to run or install electrical cabling.
This is easy for a consumer to check, as soon as your installer arrives, ask to see their licence and also ask to see the apprentices in training licence. If everyone on site cannot produce a license, send them away and demand your money back!
The Goliath Difference
At Goliath Solar, we choose to only use our own employed electricians and apprentices to install our systems. We normally have 3 people to an install crew to ensure the job is not rushed and it’s very rare that we would ask our installers to do 2 jobs in a day. We encourage our team members to take their time and enjoy their work, to take pride in doing a great job. We want them to stop and have a coffee with the customer, our installers set up the web monitoring and and spend the time to run through the system operation with you. We care about our installers and do pre site inspections to make their job as easy as possible.
Our theory is pretty simple, if I was spending $5,000+ on any tradespeople, I would want their full dedication to the job, not someone who rushes to get to another job to make more money. Investing thousands on a solar system to be installed on my roof, I’d want to make sure that my roof was measured to ensure the system will fit.
Call me old fashioned but I don’t want to settle for a salesperson sitting in a office, quoting job after job and not willing to come and meet yourself to complete a site inspection, you’ve worked hard for your money! Anyone can draw some panels on a roof but do they care about you and building a long lasting relationship?
We see genuine opportunity in the future, once batteries are affordable, to continuing the relationship by being your battery installer as well as your solar experts.
Background Checking Your Solar Installer Yourself
Do your research, google can be a wonderfull tool! I suggest looking up your preferred solar company via the government ABN search site abr.business.gov.au. See how long the company has been around, many claim 10+ years however you will find this can be less than 2 years in reality!
Location, location, location! Why not find a local installer and visit their showroom for a face to face chat and get a free coffee out of it?! It’s great having our clients come and visit our showroom to see panels in the flesh and talk all things solar! If our owner David’s not on the tools with our installers he’s always happy to say hello.
In terms of products, in 2012 there were over 3,000 solar panels available now it’s under 400! Similar situation with inverters, so how do you sort through this volume of information? Thankfully there are many resources available online to help guide you through the details.
A great guide online to products on a ranking scale from budget to premium via www.solarquotes.com.au is www.solarquotes.com.au/solar101.html This external site has helped 350,000+ Australians over nearly 10 years through the maze that is solar. Use this to educate yourself and rest assured that here at Goliath Solar, although we custom design all our systems, we like to stick to reputable products.
So when looking for a solar installer, as confusing as it may seem, keep it simple - do your research, read the reviews and ask the right questions around the areas I’ve discussed here and it’ll be sunny days ahead!
Tom's passion is helping home and business owners by being client focused with honest advise. He brings 13+ years of experience in customer service management within the banking and finance industry, ensuring delivery of premium customer service. With over 6 years solar sales experience, his knowledge is as broad as any qualified solar installer.