Saturday, February 21, 2009

Quick observations on the solar industry

I've just spent a piece of today costing out solar systems for home use, because soon I'll be starting to build a holiday shack on a little plot in the Southern Tablelands.

I settled on price per watt as a handy benchmark because it was easy to calculate, and there were some surprises.

The first is that the price variations are huge - the most expensive at retail are twice the price of the cheapest, even though I found the range of brands available quite small (so it can't be put down to the old "quality" standby excuse for high prices).

The second is that eBay isn't a great place to buy solar. Only a handful of prices on eBay for stuff that was sold were much below normal retail, and many of the cheapies could not be identified by brand.

The third is that I went back over some old prices, courtesy of the Internet Archive's Wayback machine, and have come to the conclusion that the solder industry knows a boondoggle - courtesy of government subsidy - when it sees it. So much for saving the planet; we're really about stripping the punters, and who's going to notice a price hike when the government's picking up 2/3 of the tab?

Finally, I really hate the sorts of companies that run the same business under 20 domain names just so they can drag Google searchers. Once I've dismissed someone as overpriced, I'm not going back under some other domain name.

I will be able to put together a solar system I can afford, but the industry doesn't make it easy. Three out of ten, solar industry, and try giving up the extra fat and getting rid of the ripoff merchants.

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