Alan Kemp presents Solar Outsiders – Episode 5 – Solar Inverter December 18 2021 Approval list
Welcome back to another episode of Solar Outsiders with Alan Kemp from Queensland Solar and Lighting. In this episode we’re going to chat with Louis, he’s a wholesaler for all your Growatt needs and we’ll discuss inverters.
Our Chat with Lewis
Lewis from Go Solar.
What’s going on with solar inverter sales and installations?
A lot of DC isolators are not approved, which influences supply. Currently, every inverter but Fronius was not approved for installation. This may vary based on your region, some areas allow certain limitations. For example, certain inverters may be permitted if they are not in direct sun. But for most Australian regions, Fronius and microinverters are the only inverters permitted.
Two or three of the large inverter manufacturers are allegedly joining together to take legislation against Energy Safety Victoria (ESV). They believe ESV has given Fronius a significant advantage in the market. inverter companies can’t find a laboratory to certify their inbuilt DCI isolators so they can test them against extreme temperatures, but Fronius can.
Are these criteria new?
These criteria did not exist before, they are new criteria. There has been a lack of communication from ESV regarding appropriate next steps for companies. There have only been a small notification on the ESV website. At this point, they have not offered any kind of solution, long-term or short-term, for companies struggling to earn certification in laboratories.
What’s going to happen?
Lewis thought it would be fair for ESV to say all inverters need to be installed out of direct sunlight until the certification process is available to all major inverter companies. That hasn’t been the case.
He fears some people will be noncompliant, which is a risk for the business. They may take a chance that they won’t be inspected, or they’ll have to put the brakes on their business and thus the industry. The impact of the new criteria is industry-wide.
How are companies coping with the changes?
Growatt’s solution is to manufacture their approved inverters until the new standards change or they have a newly approved isolator. Growatt will be sending more units to Australia, but that won’t offer a solution until mid to late January, possibly even February.
Growatt may have known about the new criteria ahead of time. They were hoping to have the tests done but no one is available to conduct the necessary tests. They were able to have some models tested by TUV before August 4th. However, ESV notified everyone on October 29th that they would no longer accept testing done by TUV after August 4th. This was because TUV doesn’t have the proper equipment for safety testing.
Are customers prepared for price increases?
The lack of availability of new inverters will lead to a price increase on available models. You can expect to pay upwards of $500 or more once most models become hard to find.
Panels may go up, but at the time of publishing, they are sold for less than the manufacturing cost. This may be a result of too much stock, but Louis isn’t sure.
The Solar Industry Needs A Voice
Currently, there isn’t a unified voice that represents the solar industry. For example, unions are often in the media and correspond with the government on behalf of the construction industry. The solar industry doesn’t have the same representation. Louis calls for a unified voice.
Customer Complaint Call
Last on this episode is a call with an unhappy customer. This customer received a quote they weren’t happy with and called in to let us know. The following is a transcript of how the conversation went:
Caller: Did you ring me with a phone quote about a week ago?
Daniel: Oh, I could have.
Caller: You didn’t follow up with anything and you never actually came here.
Daniel: I think I sent a quote to you, did I?
Caller: No, I didn’t get anything in writing from you. You quoted me quite a lot more than anyone else’s. I want to know if you looked at it online or if could you look it online and tell me, was there anything involved in the pitch of the roof in your entire quote?
Daniel: No. Ours was the most expensive?
Caller: Everybody’s quoted me on the same thing and what I wondered is had you even looked at the house online? Do you know?
Daniel: I’m not sure. Was your house the one that was for your daughter?
Caller: Yes, that’s right. Daniel, I’m saying it’s all too vague and if you quoted me that and you never even came here, you wouldn’t have even known that the pitch of the roof is 45 degrees. So you would not have included scaffolding in that quote would you?
Daniel: No, did they include scaffolding?
Caller: No, it doesn’t. The other two companies have both got scaffolds. I just wanted to speak to you because it really isn’t good enough. You were my first choice, initially, but now I’m going to go with one of the others. They’re your opposition. I’m just giving you feedback; I’m trying not to be critical here.
Daniel: I love the feedback.
Caller: Good, because you needed to come here. What happens in the situation where your guys turn up and say, “Oh my God, we can’t walk on that roof. We need protection.” What happens with the job when you’ve given me a quote?
Daniel: Yeah, I would just do it for you.
Caller: Okay. I know you had good reviews, that’s why I chose you initially. But I just think that you should have put yourself out to come here and to have a look. That’s all. You just made a phone call; you did nothing else. Daniel, we don’t need to talk anymore. Goodbye.
Daniel recognizes he dropped the ball and needs to be more diligent in the future. If you happen to find yourself in a similar situation, we recommend following in Daniel’s footsteps:
- Stay calm.
- Take responsibility for your mistakes.
- Listen to the customer.
- Be honest.