Feeds

Solar vendors GOUGE non-US customers

Shining a light on a dark market

Mobile application security vulnerability report

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

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
For Lenovo US, 8-inch Windows tablets are DEAD – long live 8-inch Windows tablets
Reports it's killing off smaller slabs are greatly exaggerated
Microsoft unsheathes cheap Android-killer: Behold, the Lumia 530
Say it with us: I'm King of the Landfill-ill-ill-ill
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Seventh-gen SPARC silicon will accelerate Oracle databases
Uncle Larry's mutually-optimised stack to become clearer in August
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
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.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.