When it comes to purchasing a Solar Energy System, buyers must be diligent and do their homework. This is true all over the world, and is not only applicable to Solar. It is, however, especially true in Indonesia, and we see the evidence every single day.
We specialize in Off-grid Power Systems (often referred to as Stand Alone Power Systems – SAPS), and our company and its Engineers have the technical knowledge on how those systems work. Our work takes us to many beautiful, remote and challenging locations with limited infrastructure and without power networks – there is no back up, so reliability is paramount. Issues such as remoteness, climate and wildlife all must be factored in when installing a System in one of the most challenging regions of the world. There are few companies in Indonesia that can currently offer the expertise to take on these challenges.
Which brings us to the next issue, and one that is becoming a problem for many customers. Some have discovered this the hard way.
If you are in a remote area without back up and your power system fails, you have no power. Typically, the issues we see with these power systems fall into three categories (or a combination of all three) – poor design, poor quality components, lack of back up service and support.
Poor design starts when power systems are not designed to support the power or energy demands of the business or residence (especially with new / inexperienced companies – usually only have on-grid power system experience).
Poor design often starts with inexperience and inexperience is a significant liability for new companies entering the off-grid market. Many of these companies are experienced and more than capable of installing a quality On-grid Solar Energy System. The issue, however, is that they have only ever installed ON-Grid systems and On Grid Systems are not technically complex, relatively simple to install, and at the end of the day, the Network operator still has ultimate responsibility for power reliability.
With an Off-grid power system, there is no back up and your system needs to be designed for reliable long term operation – our experienced design engineers will review your power requirements and energy usage patterns in designing a system to suit your requirements. There is no one-size-fits-all package when it comes to off-grid power systems. Buyers must be aware of this fact, and remain diligent when shopping around for someone to supply them with an Off-Grid system. Any trusted Off Grid Company needs to understand and design systems around loads and all generation sources, as well as the daily and seasonal variability of renewable sources.
Poor quality components
Poor quality components are at the root cause of many of the issues we see with off-grid power systems. All power system components have a life expectancy and even the best quality components can fail, but components that are not designed for the challenge of continuous operation in remote areas and built to a price rather than a standard are likely to fail at the worse possible time (i.e., if you are a business, this is when fully occupied with maximum load demand). A “good enough” inverter may be ok for on grid projects, but not likely to last the distance in challenging remote environments.
This is a common sort of issue that is faced by customers when they are convinced by “experienced” companies to accept their “cheaper” quotes. As any savvy consumer is aware, cheaper NEVER means better. Further, given the majority of our customers are also driven by a desire to live more sustainably, there is nothing sustainable about the planned obsolescence of equipment designed to fail.
Back up service and support
An off-grid power system is a long-term investment in your remote home or business. It is inevitable that issues will arise from time to time – even with well-designed power systems using quality components. This is why it is essential to check your Off-grid power system company has an active operating business with an in-house technical service and support team. The worst thing that can happen is to buy a system from a business without experience or active workshop and technical team in Indonesia.
There are many examples of this exact issue of poor service occurring in Indonesia, and here at Solar Power Indonesia we have been called upon on numerous occasions to fix issues that should never have arisen. One such system was installed by a reputable Australian Off Grid Energy Company. The company is experienced in Off Grid Power Systems in Australia, but have never worked in Indonesia before, and were not licensed to work here, so would have no capacity to offer ongoing support. Further, they significantly underestimated the capacity requirements for the system, resulting in the customer being left with an Off Grid System that was 3 to 4 times too small for the System Load. In many of these cases it is an instant red flag that the company is only just entering the market, and is trying their best to build their customer base as fast as possible. In this instance, the quote seemed too good to be true, and it was. The customer did not have a leg to stand on, and ended up footing the bill for the entire System to be rectified by Solar Power Indonesia.
The lesson is simple. Buyer Beware!
Do your homework and never, ever accept a lesser product just to save money, especially where your business livelihood is on the line.
SO WHAT CAN YOU, AS A CUSTOMER, DO BEFORE YOU COMMIT?
The Best thing to do is go to the company’s registered address, talk with the technical team and ask to see the workshop and meet the engineering and technical team.
Here are some questions to ask the company before you commit to an off-grid system:
- can you provide examples of currently operating off grid power systems you have installed? How long have you been in operation?
- can you provide testimonials?
- can you explain how you selected the sizing of components?
- why is the system more/less expensive than the competition?
- what technical support do you offer?
Some red flags/ things to avoid:
- sales reps rather than technical people doing the sales
- standard one size fits all packages
- component brands that don’t have local representation or that are much cheaper than equivalent products
At the end of the day, Off-Grid Power Systems are a specialist product, and you NEED it to be reliable. Going with a company that has a long list of successes in the field, with plenty of testimonials, data, and facts to back up their quote is the ONLY smart way to go.
If you want more information on Off-Grid Power Systems, then simply check out THIS link to the information available on our website. Alternatively, for a quote, or someone to talk to about any questions you might have about Off-Grid, then feel free to fill out THIS contact form and one of our specialist Engineers will be in touch.