Feeds

Solar vendors GOUGE non-US customers

Shining a light on a dark market

Security for virtualized datacentres

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. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.