A honest solar installation with Scott Mason

Fast read

In this interview, Scott Mason, a quality system installer, discusses the solar industry's challenges. Mason stresses the importance of understanding where a solar product one recommends comes from.

He also emphasises the need for warranties from established companies to ensure long-term reliability. Mason highlights issues in the industry, such as cutting corners and unethical sales tactics.

He suggests the Clean Energy Council and Smart Energy Council introduce more training and licences for solar sales staff. Mason criticises the zero-dollar electricity bill promise as misleading, advocating for a thorough analysis of customers' needs instead.

Honest solar selling – is this a good idea?

Markus Lambert: Scott Mason is a quality system installer from Nowra who runs Platinum Solar Design with his wife, Kirsty. And yes, maybe I was a little bit provocative in my questions playing the devil’s advocate. You judge.

Scott Mason: I believe a lot of brands these days actually sell quite good products (panels). As you know that a lot of them are OEM-manufactured panels. So it’s really finding out where the product comes from, who they’ve aligned with, and coming up with that relationship.  I mean, you see it everywhere, like Trina makes Jinko, Jinko makes Trina. 

Interview with a solar installer Scott Mason
Ethically solar selling is important to improve the industry

Markus Lambert: So you’re saying there’s one company that makes it and then other companies actually brand it and then distribute it that way? So you could actually have two products with two different names looking the same.

Scott Mason: Is it 100%?

Markus Lambert: Oh, I didn’t even know that.

Scott Mason: I’m sure you did.

Markus Lambert: No, I really I didn’t. I thought at least that changed the color a little bit.

Scott Mason: Maybe they change the label at the back. 

The Performance Warranty!

Markus Lambert: I was always wondering a little bit about that thing called the Performance Warranty. I’ve seen it, it’s 25 years, it’s 30 years. That’s a long time.

Scott Mason: My advice is sticking with companies in regards to performance warranties that have been around for 25 years and not nine years. heny you know the warranty will mean what it says. 

Markus Lambert: Most of the solar manufacturers are only ten, 15 years old. But my question is, if you’ve got a performance warranty for 25 years, how do you find in somebody sitting in an office for 23 years when you make 2.50 on the panel?

Scott Mason: That’s a problem, the price per outlay. What you’ve got is you’ve got a lot of people in the industry trying to survive. It’s all about low-balling. So at the end of the day, they’re not selling performance guarantees anymore, it all comes down to a bottom line figure. And that’s a problem this industry has cutting corners, not not letting experts do their job, shonky second grade salesmen, too many in the industry. That’s the problem we have in this industry. It’s very cutthroat, It’s very snaky.

Scott mason interviewed about the solar PV industry
The dog eat dog mentality in the solar & battery industry does not create the best end customer outcome when it comes to selling solar honestly.

Licences for solar sales persons?

I believe the CEC (Clean Energy Council) and SEC (Smart Energy Council) should be coming out with new rules and regulations about how to sell solar, not trying to improvising around installers. We as installers, we do an electrical trade. We should know how to install solar or how to install batteries.

The biggest problem we have is salesmen out there selling a product unlawfully (meaning promising outcomes that are not possible) as well, sometimes pushing that then onto the installer and then install the wears all the brunt of it.

Markus Lambert:  The people who who do the Uber driving and work in petrol station a lot, I mean it’s not fair that you want to take that solar sales door knocking job away from them.

Scott Mason:It’s not about door knocking and taking away that job, I think  I have a licence, and I believe that solar salespeople also should have a license. So I believe we should be all educated and be on the same level playing field in regards to how we sell our product.

Zero dollar electricity bills – true or a con?

Markus Lambert: So if I walk up to you and say, listen, I can give you a bill free, no more electricity bills system and you have a relatively small consumption, but I give you a ten kilowatt  solar system because I get more rebate for that. You don’t think that’s the right way to do it?

Scott Mason: No, because you should be asking the customer 1st of all – how much is your electricity bill and not start with the whole zero dollar electricity bill slogan.

Markus Lambert: But that’s what will sell it to the customer.

Scott Mason: At the same time, it’s destroying the industry and destroying the market, isn’t it? So we don’t want that. We actually want the other way around. We want experts to actually analyse electricity bills, analyse the customer’s needs, analyse how much power the use in the house, where they use that power, their consumption, how they’re going to export and we should sell solar the right way.

Markus Lambert and Scott Mason talk about the solar industry .Installer interview
Zero dollar bills, what a joke, but it’s used as a slogan to sell solar & batteries instead of selling solar honestly

Markus Lambert: Yeah, but hang on a second. If I can convince the customer to buy the system off me because I’m the only one who promises a zero dollar bill, by the time the customer finds out it’s not true, I’m gone.

Scott Mason:How can you say they will have a zero dollar bill. What’s your expertise? What software are you going to use to calculate this?

Markus Lambert: I just say it

Scott Mason: (exasperated) Exactly right.

Markus Lambert: As long as the customer believes it.

Scott Mason: As long as you get the sale. Yeah, that’s about right. That’s the that’s the industry at the moment. Look, Markus, you know more than me, you’ve been in the industry a long time.

Selling solar ethically

Markus Lambert: Initially we sold ethically for the benefit of the environment, but now we just sell it. And if in three or four years times it goes bust and goes in the tip, we just sell another one. 

Scott Mason: And do it twice.

Markus Lambert (to camera): So I suppose Scott didn’t take the bait and is still out there selling ethically. But this interview doesn’t shy away from the fact that unethical solar salespeople are out there. Where it’s all about the promise and not really about the long term outcome. Scott’s idea of some kind of obligation for solar sales staff to have extra qualifications might actually have some merit.

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