Don’t get left in the dark: Avoid solar scams to protect your property and you pocket

If you are thinking of installing at your property it is essential that you use a credible solar provider. Picture: File

If you are thinking of installing at your property it is essential that you use a credible solar provider. Picture: File

Published Jul 8, 2024


The solar power industry in South Africa is poised for rapid growth, playing an important role in the country’s national energy mix.

This is according to Ross Mains-Sheard, CEO, Versofy SOLAR.

However, as solar energy has become a popular and essential component the South African energy strategy, there has also been an increase in unregulated and substandard fly-by-night service providers that pose a huge risk to consumers.

These scammers use deceptive practices that compromise the safety and efficiency of solar installations.

“Unregulated solar providers frequently employ dubious methods to reduce costs and inflate profits,” Mains-Sheard said.

According to Mains-Sheard, unreliable practices that unregulated solar provides use include:

– using outdated technology

– hiring unqualified installers, and

– failing to comply with industry standards.

“In extreme cases, some providers disappear after collecting large deposits, leaving projects incomplete. The influx of counterfeit and stolen components further exacerbates the problem,” Mains-Sheard said.

Finding a credible provider

By choosing reputable and accredited providers, consumers can be confident that they are investing in high-quality, compliant, and reliable solar energy systems.

Reputable solar providers will stick to stringent industry standards and regulations, such as NRS, SANS, and IEC, to ensure the safety and performance of their installations.

Non-compliant providers who neglect these standards often lack the training and expertise necessary to design as well as install systems safely and effectively. This can lead to potential hazards and increased rectification costs.

It is crucial that you select a credible solar provider that is registered, qualified, and experienced.

A qualified and registered electrician should issue a supplementary Certificate of Compliance (CoC) upon completing the installation that will certify that all electrical work meets required standards.

You should also verify that the provider is qualified and registered with the Department of Employment and Labour.

Reputable providers will use best practices

Mains-Sheard said that reliable solar providers will comply to industry standards and will do thorough and consistent maintenance of the systems they install.

This includes:

– annual checks

– infra-red hot spot scanning for larger installations

– regular cleaning of solar panels according to manufacturer guidelines.

“They should ensure compatibility with existing systems and conduct thorough inspections, especially in coastal regions prone to corrosion and high-wind areas requiring additional structural integrity checks,” Mains-Sheard said.

Insurance for solar panels

Having a credible installer is important for insurance purposes too, according to Sumarie Greybe, co-founder, Naked Insurance.

Greybe said that insurers are strict about compliance, so you need to ensure that your solar provider has the correct certifications and gets the necessary paperwork from your municipality.

“Insurance companies will want to see that you haven’t exposed yourself to unnecessary risk by being reckless or negligent - for example, installing a system with faulty wiring that could be a fire hazard,” Greybe said.

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