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New lifeline for solar customers amidst growing maintenance woes

The explosion of people climbing on the solar bandwagon has been called the “new gold rush”. Unfortunately, many of these outfits are fly-by-nighters, or are not ethically sound. With some solar installers, once you’ve been sold your goods, you’re waved off, never to hear from the company again – warranty or not. But as with any installation, these systems are subject to wear and tear, and require general maintenance, or potentially even repairs and replacements. It’s at this point that many consumers are left feeling as though they’ve been set adrift in hostile waters, unsure of where to go and whom to trust.


Let the buyer beware


As a result, the Consumer Goods and Services Ombud (CGSO) has seen a dramatic uptick in the number of complaints about solar systems and generators, and, alarmingly, almost 50% of suppliers refuse to cooperate with the office’s investigations.

Common complaints range from installers failing to demonstrate compliance with safety regulations to suppliers refusing returns on unsuitable equipment. Misleading advertising about technical specifications, poor workmanship, unfulfilled warranties, and a lack of aftersales service are likewise frequent grievances.


A one-stop solution 


In response, Alumo Energy has launched a new Maintenance and Repair division that will not only provide backup service to its own clients, but will even service and repair most reputable systems that have been bought from other outlets.

 

Andre Groenewald Director at Alumo Energy, explains that as many of Alumo’s service calls were coming from clients who had their installations done by other companies.  “Unfortunately, there are widespread gaps in aftersales support in the industry. So, with the launch of this service, we aim to give all consumers access to reliable maintenance and repair services, regardless of where their solar system was originally purchased.

 

“We want Alumo to be where the buck stops as a one-stop solution that covers household’s entire solar backup journey. That way, people won’t be left running between retailers and service agents to address failures in their system or the need for maintenance.”   


The essential role of annual maintenance


He adds that because solar installations don’t have moving mechanical parts, and they’re always working quietly in the background, people tend to think that they can just run forever, without requiring any attention.

 

“The truth is, they do need regular maintenance to ensure that they derive the maximum benefit from the available sunlight. Although things may seem just fine from day to day, your energy savings might not be at their maximised best.” In other words, a clean panel will generate more electricity per hour than the same panel that's been left to accumulate grime and dirt. The panels are expensive and delicate pieces of equipment, however, and need to be cleaned with the proper tools, care, and chemicals. As far as your inverter and your wired network is concerned, there is always the possibility of connections loosening, corrosion, and component malfunction. An annual maintenance visit would ensure that your entire system not only runs efficiently, but could further enjoy a longer lifespan. “At Alumo Energy,” Groenewald continues, “we have an affordable maintenance package that will take care of everything.



The 911 of power services


To the hard-pressed consumer, almost everything seems expensive these days, so, if we’ve invested in any device – be it a TV, dishwasher or power backup system – we expect it to deliver the goods. Unfortunately, no device or installation can ever be guaranteed to be glitch-free, and this is where the homeowner needs to know that he can turn to someone who is reliable and responsive. Groenewald adds that its Maintenance and Repair division will offer a 24-hour telephonic tech support line, backed up by the promise that the Alumo team will be on site within 48 hours of receiving the call*.

 

“It’s bad enough that the power grid is letting us down, so we don’t want our clients to then feel doubly betrayed by a backup power system that is out of action for days or weeks. South Africans are short of patience these days, so we’re looking to change the energy status quo with end-to-end solar solutions.”



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