One in four solar panel installations faulty
COMPLAINTS about dodgy solar panel installations have skyrocketed in Queensland, with a new report revealing a quarter of all home solar installations are faulty.
While a record 6.5 panels are installed every minute in Australia, inspectors have found an alarming number failed basic safety measures.
And fraudsters are also taking advantage of a federal subsidy scheme, with phantom systems, non-licensed installers and poor quality panels disguised as approved products.
Queensland tradie Brett Stephen Muldoon was this week jailed for more than four years for a $400,000 scam in which he pretended to install 425 solar-heated hot-water systems but instead pocketed more than $7500 a week to feed a gambling habit.
Clean Energy Regulator inspectors audited 3678 home solar installations in 2018 and found 22.5 per cent were unsafe or substandard.
Information collected by the agency resulted in 590 installers having "enforcement action" taken, 173 had their accreditation suspended and five had it cancelled.
According to the Consumer Action Law Centre, "cowboys" have taken advantage of insufficient regulatory standards, ripping off families with unworkable and hazardous systems.
Chief executive Gerard Brody said they had seen examples of people's solar panels not properly connected to the grid, faulty products and a failure in the installation.
"There can be cowboys coming into the market quite easily," he said.
"Another problem is people have to deal with a number of entities when they get them installed."
Faulty products are also flooding the market.
The agency reported that the Clean Energy Council delisted 13 solar panel brands, suspended five and also delisted the brands of six inverters - the element that converts DC electricity to AC.
Master Electricians Australia chief executive Malcolm Richards said there was intense scrutiny of the solar sector.
"There has been an improvement in the industry, which has hunted a lot of the fly-by-nighters out of the industry," he said, adding some products made overseas did not stand up to local conditions.