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Solar fakes , scams, phoenixing and GST fraud


Whether its substituting expensive panels for cheaper ones or even installing fakes, there are ways that unscrupulous solar installers can make back the money they gave away in order to win the sale with a cheap price. So, always inspect the labels on the back of the panels before they get installed on your roof.


The easiest way to cut corners is with labour. A qualified solar electrician earns about $80 an hour and his apprentice about $25. Starting the day at 6.30am to pick up your panels, rails and inverter and off-loading the cardboard and rubbish at the end of the day, it's normally a 10 hour day and a total of $1,050 in wages + super etc.


Instead of that, pay two young guys $25 an hour each to do all the work including running all the cables, fitting off the roof top isolators, mounting the inverter and all the electrician has to do is turn up at the beginning (sometimes) and the end to sign off on the paperwork. That way they can do three installs a day with one electrician, instead of three, and save $300 a job. It's not safe for you and your house, and its not legal. Ask to see the electrical contractors license of the guys doing your work before they start and make sure they stay on site the whole time. You don't want the 'B' team doing your job, and you don't want under-sized DC cable carrying your solar current through your roof either, but that saves $50 a job too. To say that this practice is common in the industry is a huge under-statement.


Cheating on GST is a very common way to bring the quote price down, and eventually it means the end of the solar installer and also your 10 year installation warranty. A solar sale as far as the taxman is concerned isn't the price YOU pay, it's the price + the rebate.

So if you pay $4,000 and the rebate was $4000 it's an $8,000 sale or more accurately

$7,273 +$727 GST. However, they record it as a $3,636 sale with $354 GST = $4000.

The taxman isn't the fastest of operators, but eventually their search of companies doing solar installs turns up these GST fraudsters and that's the end of them...and your warranty.


The good news is that it is relatively easy to weed out these installers. Firstly, get lots of quotes so you can get an idea of what is worth what. If any of the quotes seem unusually cheap then resist your initial urge to go with them, and do a bit of sensible due diligence. Check out how long they have been operating. The easiest way is to go to either Solar Quotes review site or Product Review site and see how far their glowing reviews (they are always glowing reviews) go back. If its only a year or two be very wary. A lot of those guys were something else two years ago before phoenixing, leaving their old customers high and dry, and they'll do the same to you.