Feeds

Solar vendors GOUGE non-US customers

Shining a light on a dark market

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

The infamous “Aussie Tax” might be getting squeezed in the IT industry, but it's alive and well in other tech markets.

A bolt of lightning – a literal bolt of lightning striking a roof and smoking some solar control kit – led Vulture South to investigate prices of solar inverters. And as we discovered, while public pressure, press exposés and offshore competition has squeezed the margin gouge in the computer industry, over in the solar power market, some vendors are as brazen as any of the IT sector's most egregious offenders.

Happily, the “Aussie tax” isn't uniform – but there are factors in this market that would prevent the ordinary consumer from gaining the benefit of comparison shopping.

First, let's look at the prices. The products The Register price-checked were:

  • Outback Power Systems – FX2012ET 2000W, 12V inverter, Australian price here, American price here.
  • Aurora – PVI 3.0, Australian price here, US price here.
  • Sunny Boy – 5000TL, Australian price here, US price here.
  • Xantrex – GT.28, Australian price here, US price here.
Solar Prices

Price comparison with $AU1 = $US0.92

Props to the two vendors in this too-small-to-be-scientific sample that aren't ripping off Australian consumers. However, for the consumer, there are significant barriers to shopping around.

First: this isn't just a hard drive or a graphics card you're buying. Whether you're buying a new system or replacing burned-out components, getting the specification right requires knowledge and skill.

This puts the consumer utterly in the hands of a very local channel: the kit has to be installed by an electrician who's in the right location and understands solar power. Most such people have an affiliation with a supplier, and will refuse flat-out to install something that the customer bought.

Apart from the question of margin protection, there's a good reason to maintain a single supplier relationship: it's easier and cheaper to train on, certify with, and support a single vendor. But it creates a market structure in which competition is kept to a minimum.

Which is why El Reg thought it was worth shining a bit of light on the market. We'd love to see more examples of unreasonable mark-ups in the solar tech space in the comments. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.