A lot of solar installers make a big fuss about their teams being in-house, and they’ll tell you to watch out for subcontractors.
So what’s the big deal?
It’s a smart one-liner that they use because it lumps in all the solar installers that use subcontractors, from the Cowboys all the way up to Australia’s leading solar companies.
The rest of the industry is then trying to play catchup to explain how there are subcontractors, and then there are subcontractors.
Most Large Solar Installers All Use Subcontractors
The solar industry uses subcontractors for a number of reasons:
- It’s the individual that is accredited by the Clean Energy Council to install solar, not a company. Therefore, a lot of solar installers work for themselves, and as they grow they bring on more staff. They typically work with one or two solar companies and have firm agreements in place including costs
- On rainy days, the installers can do other work such as electrical work
- The solar industry has big peaks and troughs. Larger installers would have long lead times during the busy periods if they weren’t able to quickly subcontract more installers. During quiet times, the installers can do electrical work. This is much more difficult to manage with in-house installers
- In-house installers require a large upfront cost including a van, tools and training
So What’s The Risk?
The problem is that the Solar Cowboys exclusively use subcontractors, and in our opinion, it can appear to be for nefarious reasons.
Often, the responsibility for the entire installation, including warranty obligations is passed on to the subcontracted installer. This makes it difficult to get any proper service because the company you bought the system from won’t help you if things go wrong.
It appears to be an attempt by the Solar Cowboys to avoid one of the main pitfalls in the solar industry, which is where solar companies install cheap brands that are notorious for high failure rates. By not having to honour service or warranty obligations the solar company is able to stay in business.
This type of company will often sell door to door or use telemarketers.
The problems don’t stop there, however.
We have seen ads on Gumtree looking for backpackers to install solar.
The Solar Cowboys will get one accredited installer to sign up on multiple jobs each day, but it’s unaccredited labourers actually installing the system.
The Clean Energy Council are trying to crack down on this, which is great, but this type of things happens with solar companies that use their own in-house installers as well, which leads us to the main point.
Quality Installations From Reputable Solar Companies
The main point with choosing a solar installer is that it doesn’t matter if the installers are subcontractors or in-house installers.
What’s important is that the team installing your system is experienced, professional, well-trained, and generally people who care about doing a good job.
Solar companies that use subcontractors will typically work with the same teams for many years. The installations will be of the highest quality, and all service enquiries are made directly to the solar company that you bought the system from, not the installer.
In summary, the reputation of the solar installer is what matters the most. If you choose a reputable solar company, you will be looked after.