Fly-by-night Solar Installers could come back to haunt you

How to save on your solar installation, and how to pay twice

“Fly-by-nights”, “cowboys” or just the “Bakkie Brigade”. They are known by different names yet we know them all the same. Let’s standardize on fly-by-night solar installers for now. Loadshedding in South Africa is no joke and there is hardly a person left that have not considered installing a solar solution at their home, office, or factory. Budget is almost always an issue and looking for better prices is natural. The reality is that you get what you pay for. With sometimes more unexpected results.

The Bakkie-Brigade to the rescue?

It’s the backyard electrician that always gives a price you can’t believe is real. The good guy in blue overalls arrives in a bakkie that has seen better days. The really scary alternative is the super stylish operators in the latest Hilux Bakkie. And when you ask when you’ll get the certificate of compliance, they just mention something about “CoC’s are for sissies”.

The lights are off and money is gushing to get them back on. Yet where there is light in the dark it will always attract mosquitos wanting to make a quick buck and leave the aftermath to you and your family to sort out. The Daily Maverick did an exposé on the so-called fly-by-night solar installers in their article Consumer Ombud warns on DIY solar installations and fly-by-night operators in February earlier this year. If this does not scare you into thinking twice about opting for the cheaper solar installation solution, I do not know what would scare you.

The Non-Compliance Issue

Faulty installation, damage to your property, subpar quality products, and the great headache of sorting out the admin of not having a non-compliant installation. Ina Opperman, Business Journalist at The Citizen reports in the article Installing solar panels? Watch out for fire risk that people are desperate and will jump at any option to save money on their solar installation, but it comes at the cost of damage to your property, no guarantees, and a host more ghosts waiting to jump out.

No CoC (certificate of compliance) means no rebate on your next SARS tax return. A bad installation means that value gets subtracted from your home instead of added. There is no consequence for the installer if you can’t find him and probably the largest concern is safety as a faulty installation risks an electrical fire putting you and your family at risk.

How do you avoid these “Bakkie Brigade” mosquitos?

Step one, and of course the bare minimum, is for your installer to have a PV Greencard. This indicates proof that the installer is a registered electrician that is qualified to do the work properly and can provide a Certificate of Compliance (COC).

Step two is verifying whether the installer has someone on their team that is a certified electrical contractor registered with the Department of Labour according to the director of ECA(electrical contractors association) Mark Mfikoe.

Step three, and probably the most important is to look into previous installations. The longer the track record the better you can sleep at night. Experience is cool again.

Track Record & Personal References

Thanks to load-shedding, solar installations are currently the big money spinner. From the backyard electrician that is seeing an opportunity to make a quick buck to the big shot investor sees the solar industry as the place to be right now.

Check the track records of the person in charge and the person on the ground. At NuEco Solar, our directors have been in the solar industry since 2009 & 2010 respectively. A combined experience of 27 years, with no plans to make a split to the next best flavor of the day.

Solar is expensive, but doing it right means paying once.

It would be highly concerning if you know that there is a massive risk in opting for the cheapest option no matter what the situation. Choosing a fly-by-night solar installer might come back to haunt you when you least expect it!

Contact NuEco Solar today to ensure you don’t get nasty surprises.

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