Solar Products Services and Warranties
Solar products manufacturers offer additional warranty to project the image of quality with their products, and to stay on par or ahead of competitors.
Regardless of solar system warranty and solar products services provided by your installer or products manufacturers, all consumers are covered by Australian Consumer Law, of which certain automatic rights are guaranteed (visit http://consumerlaw.gov.au/ for more information).
As a matter of fact, depending on products and services purchased, consumers would get up to 3 different types of warranties. Take example a solar power system:
This is to guarantee performance of a certain product with degrading performance over time, like a solar panel. Over many years, unavoidably the performance of the cells would degrade, and manufacturers or engineers allow certain margin of degradation before the solar panel is deemed underperformed, and to be replaced under warranty.
This warranty covers any defect in material, factory assembly, and workmanship that might occur and result in operation failure in a shorter period of usage than designed. Your solar panels and more importantly your inverter will be covered by product warranty. This is arguably the most important warranty among all, as replacing the panels or inverter can be costly, especially if they were defective to start with.
Product warranty is typically provided by the manufacturers themselves, so it is advisable to purchase products with local representatives, agents, or service centre, especially if they are imported products. As example, you do not want to be caught having to post your faulty inverter halfway around the world, and get a replacement 1 year later.
Perhaps the second most important type of warranty, as the name suggests this warranty is given by your installer to guarantee their workmanship and quality of their installation. The length of warranty period varies between installers, factored by whether they have their own manpower, or the service is outsourced. It also indicates the installation quality you are getting, as good installers who are highly confident in their performance would not hesitate to give longer warranty period, over their less performing counterparts.
If you have complaints of workmanship that you are unable to resolve with your installer, and you have checked that they are accredited installers, you can lodge your complaints with the Clean Energy Council (CEC). Solar installers approved by the CEC are committed to solar industry best practice, therefore any breach of Solar PV Code of Conduct by them will not be tolerated.
If for any reason you are unable to contact the vendors / manufacturers / your installers for warranty enquiries, your next course of action would be to contact your local Fair Trading office or Consumer Affairs, which would take the necessary actions on your behalf.
In the extreme case of bankruptcy, or that the manufacturer has gone into administration, you would need to contact the manufacturer’s administrators to resolve your dispute. If that fails as well, your last option would be to lodge a complaint with Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
In the instance that your dispute is still unresolved, even after the assistance from either the CEC or the Fair Trading office, you can take your case to your state’s applicable Small Claims Tribunal or Court.
We hope with these tips and pointers, you are more confident in investing and venturing into the path of clean energy. Rest assured you are adequately covered, and should you need advice on complaints, or simply to understand better your rights as consumer, we at Brightcell Energy are happy to assist, simply contact us.