Beware the villians mis-selling SolarEdge upgrades!Stuart Reid
Every industry has its villains and the solar PV industry is no different. Many have been pushing voltage optimisers and all sorts of other nonsense products for years, and now their salesmen are overstating the benefits of SolarEdge in order to grab a bit more of your hard-earned cash.
As a SolarEdge Advanced Installer we have installed many SolarEdge systems, both for new installations and for upgrades to existing systems. For many, the benefits of improved yields (where shading is moderate to severe), detailed monitoring and long warranties are compelling.
However, in the case of upgrades to existing systems it can be quite an additional investment over and above the initial cost of the solar PV system. Scaffolding will usually be required and as it’s not a new installation the full 20% VAT rate is applicable. It is not uncommon for a 16-panel domestic type SolarEdge upgrade to be in the region of £3000. It is important therefore to ensure that you understand what you are getting for your money.
SolarEdge themselves state that the additional yield from a SolarEdge system compared to a standard inverter is from 2% and up to 25%. Only if your solar panels are badly shaded can an additional 25% yield be had by retro-fitting SolarEdge optimisers and inverter.
On unshaded systems the increase in yield is likely to be under 5%. The increase on a moderately shaded system will not be close to 25%. If your motivation for upgrading to SolarEdge is for the monitoring or long warranty then fair enough, but if you’ve been told that your unshaded panels will generate much more electricity then the salesman is deliberately misleading you and does not deserve your business.
We’re regularly hearing from people who have been approached by unscrupulous companies offering SolarEdge upgrades who are massively overstating the benefits and also charging ridiculous money. A recent caller told us that a certain Southport-based company had quoted £4500 to upgrade their unshaded solar PV system to SolarEdge and that it would boost their yields by 25%. Total bull and a complete rip-off. Another company based in Canary Wharf is actively cold-calling customers to sell SolarEdge, again with massive overstatement of the yields and a massive price-tag to boot. If you’re sure you would like an upgrade to SolarEdge, contact us for a competitive quotation and an honest appraisal of its effect on your system yields.
You should also be aware that SolarEdge optimisers are generally robust but no product is 100% reliable. It is not uncommon for an optimiser to fail, which results in a loss of yield until it is replaced. The system was probably sold on the notion that the end user can detect failure of a solar panel, but this is such a rarity that it’s not worth spending money on monitoring for it. Ironically, a system is actually made less reliable by adding optimisers. If one of your optimisers fails and the company that fitted them won’t help, or isn’t trading any more, you’ll need to pay someone else to replace it for you.
The golden rule here is that companies that buy your contact details and then phone you up out of the blue are all villains, regardless of what particular products they are peddling. Next time, tell them where to go!