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A guide to spotting solar scams and choosing reliable providers

By , Co-Founder and CEO, Versofy.
03 Jul 2024

A ray of hope amid risky unregulated solar providers.

Ross Mains-Sheard, Co-Founder and CEO of Versofy.
Ross Mains-Sheard, Co-Founder and CEO of Versofy.

With solar energy an increasingly popular (and vital) component of our national energy strategy, the simultaneous rise of unregulated and substandard fly-by-night service providers poses a significant risk to consumers. These providers often engage in deceptive practices, compromising the safety and efficiency of solar installations.

Says Ross Mains-Sheard, CEO of Versofy SOLAR, “Unregulated solar providers frequently employ dubious methods to reduce costs and inflate profits. These practices include using outdated technology, hiring unqualified installers, and failing to comply with industry standards.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.”

Find the right provider, and check their credentials

Reputable solar providers adhere to stringent industry standards and regulations, such as NRS, SANS, and IEC, to ensure the safety and performance of their installations. However, non-compliant providers who neglect these standards threaten the integrity of the entire industry. These providers often lack the training and expertise necessary to design and install systems safely and effectively, leading to potential hazards and increased rectification costs.

“Choosing a responsible solar provider is crucial,” says Mains-Sheard. Ensure the provider is registered, qualified, and experienced. A qualified and registered electrician should issue a supplementary Certificate of Compliance (CoC) upon completing the installation, certifying that all electrical work meets required standards. Verify that the provider is qualified and registered with the Department of Employment and Labour.

Reputable providers will use best practices

Reliable solar providers should adhere to industry standards and engage in thorough and consistent maintenance of the systems they install. This includes annual checks, infrared hot spot scanning for larger installations, and 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.

To further protect their customers, Versofy SOLAR offers a first of it’s kind comprehensive insurance product built into your monthly solar-as-a-service subscription. This coverage includes protection against theft, vandalism, and severe weather conditions such as hailstorms. Full liability insurance safeguards business owners against any mishaps or property damage during or after the installation.

The Future of Solar in South Africa, and Versofy’s role

For consumers exploring solar energy options, the availability of credit and the opportunity to rent through a solar-as-a-service model provide flexible affordable solutions. This model allows homeowners and businesses to benefit from solar energy without the upfront costs, offering an accessible path to sustainability - and is an inherent part of Versofy’s services (just ask the +500 customers on Google Reviews who have given us an overall 4.8 out of 5 star rating!). Working exclusively with approved and accredited installers and brands, Versofy SOLAR ensures that each system is installed to the highest standards. Versofy takes full responsibility for the system’s maintenance, supplying only the best panels, inverters, and batteries for optimal generation and storage of solar power. Additionally, our comprehensive insurance product offers further peace of mind, safeguarding against potential damages and ensuring long-term reliability.

The solar industry is poised for rapid growth, playing a critical role in our national energy mix. As it expands, it will inevitably become more regulated, which will be highly beneficial. Until that time, collaboration between providers, industry associations, government, and consumers is essential to ensure a safe and sustainable future. By choosing reputable and accredited providers, consumers can be confident that they are investing in high-quality, compliant, and reliable solar energy systems. This collective effort will help maintain the industry's integrity and promote the widespread adoption of clean energy solutions.

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