Feeds

Solar vendors GOUGE non-US customers

Shining a light on a dark market

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Xperia Z3: Crikey, Sony – ANOTHER flagship phondleslab?
The Fourth Amendment... and it IS better
Microsoft to enter the STRUGGLE of the HUMAN WRIST
It's not just a thumb war, it's total digit war
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.