Why You Shouldn’t Buy Cheap Solar Power Systems

Solar panel innovation has boomed in recent years, offering home and business owners an abundance of options to meet their solar energy needs, at price points that suit all budgets. And while that brings many advantages, it also comes with potential pitfalls—particularly around the dangers of cost cutting.


The main principle to consider is that cheap solar panel deals are rarely the best solar panel deals. From poorly built panels to questionable warranties, contracts, and installations, there’s often a lot hiding behind the low-ball price tags.

Pulling from our 30 years of combined experience in the industry, these are the common hazards to avoid when shopping for solar panels, and why cheap panels may cost you more in the long run.

Cheap panels plagued by performance issues

The lower end of the solar panel market is flooded with low-end retailers in a race to the bottom.

When their only goal is to compete on price, their only option is to cut costs wherever possible. Unfortunately for you, that usually starts with their solar panel components, using the cheapest possible wiring, panels, racking, mounts, cables, and connectors—often paired with poor quality inverters.

Cutting corners on build quality runs a high risk of faults occurring, especially when exposed to prolonged periods of extreme weather. In hotter climates, high heat can create issues like cracking and hot spots, while in cooler climates (or during winter), cheaper panels rarely have the performance capacity to generate energy at the same rate as higher-quality panels.

On top of those issues, the cheapest panels are only expected to last between three-five years, with faults costing you a small fortune to fix in the short term, and performance issues slowing your return on investment in the long term.

Fly by the night providers

It’s not just cheap components that cause issues, it’s also the low ball manufacturers and retailers themselves.

Most end up going bust within a few years—and take your warranty down with them. In the meantime, they need to keep their operating costs low, so they extend their misleading tactics to their marketing and offers.

Many will overpromise on performance, offering unattainable energy production for the capacity of their products, often because of some ‘secret sauce’. It’s common to find these retailers using obscure technical jargon to also make unrealistic claims around their panels and inverters outlasting higher quality panels, which again, is rarely the case.

Another common trick to watch out for is the claim around country of origin. Many low ball manufacturers and retailers will claim their panels are made in countries that are highly-respected for their engineering, for example, Germany, but in reality, they simply hold a PO box in that country and manufacture their products overseas.

To reduce your risk, we recommend finding a solar panel manufacturer that has a dedicated presence in your own country. For our local clients, that means finding an Australian solar panel manufacturer, where service and support is handled locally. This offers you greater legal protection and spares you the difficult, time-consuming process of claiming a warranty from an overseas supplier should anything go wrong.

Misleading T&Cs and warranties

If misleading offers and poor quality components weren’t enough, there’s yet more to be wary of hiding behind the low price tag.

Pursuing the cheapest solar panels often means you’re confronted with terms and conditions that contain a minefield of questionable clauses, designed to help the provider makeup for their unsustainable retail prices.

First, be wary of T&Cs that suggest the installation contractor your provider hires is liable for damage or defects. If something goes wrong, the provider no longer has to offer you support or reimbursement (regardless of warranty), and you’ll have to take on the contractor yourself—which can be an expensive headache.

Another tactic is to have your solar panels installed by roofing contractors, but signed off by an electrician. This is the provider’s way of saving a few bucks, but at the cost of your safety, as an incorrect solar panel installation can put your home at risk.

Installers often cut corners

Unfortunately, it’s not just cheap providers that look to cut costs, but some contractors too.

Solar panels require an intricate installation process, adding a live power system to your home that’s expected to withstand the weather—and perform to a high level—for the next 25 years. So it’s important your installer doesn’t try to cut corners.

At the cheaper end of the market, installers may outsource the job to an inexperienced or unqualified subcontractor—running away from post installation support and voiding your warranty, while scraping a few dollars off the top. They may even hide behind a ‘bait and switch’ tactic, where you’re talked into buying higher quality panels than what they actually install, with many customers only finding out they’d fallen victim to this scam when something goes wrong.

Solar installers going bust is also a serious issue, especially in Australia. Over the past ten years, over 700 solar installation companies went into liquidation or stopped trading, leaving over 700,000 home or business owners without business to contact if there’s a problem with their solar panels.

Why higher quality solar panels pay off

From dodgy terms and conditions to low quality components and poor—even dangerous—installations, choosing the cheapest solar panel deal comes with huge risk to both your bank balance and your safety.

Unfortunately, the market is flooded with low end retailers, with offers that seem too good to be true—because they often are.

In our experience, Renew Energy customers who choose mid to premium-quality solar systems to find they pay for themselves in as little as just three to four years. For peace of mind, our own team provides the installation, all covered by a full warranty, setting you up with high-performance panels that last for years—without needing to take unnecessary risks.

Contact us today to find out how our solar panel installations and full warranty services offer a better bang for your buck, with better peace of mind.

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