Solar Installation Fail. Problem after problem.

Hi everyone. I just had my solar panel system installed today. Things didn't go well. My ceiling was damaged because they had accidentally dropped a tile on the roof. The installer said he will send someone to fix it.
After they left, I was clearing the rubbish and stuff, I find a cut plastic pipe dumped in my recycling bin. I don't know what that is. I only knew they did not installed the panels according to the proposal plan. Instead of installing a panel around that pipe, they simply cut it off and installed the panel on top of it to save some time.
The outstanding balance is suppose to pay on the day of installation. I don't know if I should pay today. Should I pay after they fixed my ceiling? And can someone please tell me what that plastic pipe is. Thanks.

Update The big boss called me last night to handle my complaint. I requested to move the panel and restore my venting pipe. He didn't say yes. Only said he will think of a solution and call me back today.
Update 2 The plaster guy will be coming tomorrow to fix the ceiling.
Update 3 The installer is currently on my property fixing up. He asked for the vent pipe that he cut off yesterday so he can put it back on. Is that ok?
Update 4 The installer had moved the panel and installed on the other roof. The vent pipe is now restored. But there's another problem. I've just discovered a fine line on one of the solar panel. I don't recall I've seen that yesterday. I tried to clean it with a cloth and soapy water but can't wipe it off. I'm not sure if it's a crack because I can't feel the crack on the surface. Now what do I do?
Update 5 My broken ceiling is finally patched and painted, although the paint job is imperfect because the plasterer did not paint the whole ceiling sigh
I've uploaded some photos of my solar system. Feel free to comment to below.
Inverter
North roof 1
North roof 2
North roof 3
North roof 4
West roof

Comments

  • +114 votes

    Do not pay till the work is completed to your satisfaction.

    Once you pay, they will not come back to fix anything.

    • +5 votes

      Yes that's what I thought.

  • +7 votes

    It's a roof vent pipe (exhaust) for things like heating, cooker top, fire chimney (but not this one) etc. Really odd to be cut off and placed panels over. Could be redundant though.

    I think you need to have an informed discussion with them on what's happened before paying. There may be a logical explanation. Or not.

    •  

      That's where my kitchen is. Hopefully it's a redundant one as there's a bigger venting pipe on the left. I will send a email and ask.

      • -5 votes

        That's where my kitchen is.

        Likely a rangehood vent? If so, you may get a build up of grease under the solar panel which will eventually combust, burning your house to the ground and voiding your insurance.

        •  

          The rangehood vent should be the to bigger pipe on the left.

      • +34 votes

        A stink pipe, it gets the toilet smell above your house, or now under your solar lol

        • +1 vote

          I used to have to work on shopping centres roofs at times. The smell of cooking donuts coming out of some vents were great, the stink pipes, not so much.

      • +14 votes

        I wouldn't agree to any vent pipe being cut off
        They are there for a reason and NO it wont be redundant
        How would they know anyway?
        They should have installed the panels around it

        Now it will vent inside the roof cavity instead of outside
        Not a good idea

    • +36 votes

      Toilet waste vent. Must of been in the place where they wanted to put a panel, cowboys!

    • +24 votes

      Nah this is a stink pipe vent. Here's how it works: https://lopcocontracting.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/nl09...

      Honestly, it's probably not the worst thing that it's cut because it'll still perform its job, but it's still a hack of a job by the installer.

      • +2 votes

        This, as long as:

        the vent still has a mesh on it so stop things entering
        it's high enough not to have water run off from the roof go into it
        it's not completely blocked by the panel

        then it's probably fine. You might even prefer all your panels to be in a neat row and not waste space by having to gap where this pipe is

      •  

        Just off topic, do all houses have stink pipe vents? I dont see any at mine..

        •  

          All house drainage needs to be vented, there are methods to do so without the traditional vent pipe called air admittance valves which serve the same purpose but enable venting internally via a one way valve.

          •  

            @Kikkoman56: You can use air admittance valves, but every drainage system must have at least one vent to atmosphere.

    • +2 votes

      That plastic pipe is a Soil Waste Vent, to ventilate the house drains, it serves to emit sewer gases, so if removed, those same very dangerous sewer gases will be exiting within the residence.

  • +4 votes

    looks like the top of a wastewater or stormwater vent, they may have needed to shorten it.

    https://www.hunterwater.com.au/building-and-developing/plumb...

  • +5 votes

    That looks like a stink pipe OP

    •  

      Any bad effect on a cut/shorten stink pipe?

      • +4 votes

        Make sure they put a cap on the pipe, like the old one has, to stop birds and mice from getting into it, and that it's still outside (i.e.: above the roof tiles).

        If so I think it's OK?

      • +3 votes

        your panel will go smelly overtime then, don't try turn the back and smell it.

        • +15 votes

          Dam, nothing better than smelling the back of a solar panel. Will have to find a new hobby….

  • +2 votes

    that is certainly a vent pipe , looking at the pipe size it is either greywater or sewer. is there a toillet on that side of the building .
    in regards to payment do not pay a single $ till they come back and fix it. if you are good with gyprock it is an easy fix. i am struggling to understand why an electrician can't get a bit of selleys no gap from bunnings and fix that hole in the ceiling . just wondering who is the solar company you went with

    •  

      That's where my kitchen is. And regarding to which solar company I went with I'll keep that as a secret for now.
      P.S. I'm in VIC

      •  

        that should be a grey water vent then, i have got one the same on the greywater line that comes out of the laundry

        •  

          So it's ok to trim down?

          •  

            @Emojii: Yes, but get them to do it and don't pay anything until they've cut it down and re-affixed

          • +17 votes

            @Emojii: no it is not okay to trim down a vent pipe, they should have followed the plan . they were trying to save 4 extra tile clamps. dont let it go , these shody solar guys need to learn a lesson

          •  

            @Emojii: Before you jump to any conclusions, check around the house to see if you can see where that pipe may have been removed from, it shouldn't be too hard to find just look for a similar diameter pipe running up a wall somewhere. They may have had to shorten it and move it slightly. If they have done that then it shouldn't be an issue but if they have just hacked the top off and left it like that then I would ask them to come back and fix it.

      • +1 vote

        Was the price ‘lower’ than alternatives?

        There’s a lot of cowboy solar companies out there getting the government kickbacks with subpar installs.

        You get what you pay for certainly rings true for solar installs!

        •  

          In this case the installer sounds like he won't get paid unless the job is done properly. That should slow him down a bit. However, the job sounds suspect to me, perhaps a full inspection by an appropriate building inspector maybe indicated?

  • +10 votes

    They need to re-instate the pipe otherwise I would expect that the house may not be compliant with regulations about waste water or sewage depending on what it is connected to.

    Do not pay until they finish and make everything correct otherwise you will not get the repair work done.

  • +1 vote

    Looks like the sere stink pipe that would have protracted through the roof. They would have cut it off in order to lay the solar panel on the roof.
    Far from ideal and the stink pipe (vent) is essential and a building requirement.
    A seemingly very shoddy and lazy move on the part of the solar installers as they should have cut the piping and redirected same with new fittings.
    If the piping on an external wall - likely to be where a toilet is located

    • -1 vote

      they should have cut the piping and redirected same with new fittings

      We don't know that they haven't done that already, all we have seen is a pic of a cut off pipe.

      •  

        Hence the opening of the sentence " A seemingly…." That is, I didn't say it WAS a shoddy move, I said it is SEEMINGLY a shoddy move

      •  

        I don't think the installer had redirected the pipe. I don't see a new pipe on the roof.

    •  

      No pipe on the exterior wall.

  • +24 votes

    Who did you use? Remind me not to use them, ever.

    •  

      Would like to know too

  • +7 votes

    shonky installer

  • +3 votes

    I'm assuming this was a very low priced solar deal company installation? Looks like what you'd expect from a Steve Waugh or Allan Border kind of solar installer.

    Definitely dodgy.
    I'd be curious if they even capped that vent pipe they cut.

    Likely plenty of other issues with the install if they have done something like that without discussing it with you.

    •  

      It's underneath the panel so I can't see whether they capped it or not. Very unlikely though.
      The price for the 6.6kw solar system is $7285 before all the rebates. I'm using Sungrow inverter with Jinko panels.

      • +1 vote

        Yes, does sound like a cheap installer at that price.

        Hope you did your research into the installer using solarquotes.com.au beforehand.

        • +4 votes

          Why do people try to save a few bucks on what is going to be a long term investment…. Does my head in. That aside. That is a stink pipe vent and it needs to be a certain height above the roof so all gasses can expel into the air above. If they did not cap it properly you can have water/bugs etc get into the pipe. Who knows really. Get them back to do the job properly. You had an agreed set up and the person who quoted knew what they were doing but the crappy third part installer well…. Now you know.

        • +3 votes

          I had a few other quotes which are about the same price. I chose them because they have the longest years of ABN and in the contract it states that they're liable for the warranty even if the job is subcontracted.

          • +6 votes

            @Emojii: The longest years of an active ABN is not an effective way to "vet" a company.

            The fact they mention in the contract they will warrant the work even if they subcontract simply means they will subcontract to the next cheapest bloke, effectively making the first statement of the longest ABN pointless.

            Take it as a lesson learnt. Any modification to a house should be done based on an understanding of scope and these points:

            • who - will do the work? What trades Licensed, accredited, completed similar work etc.
            • what - work is required and what options do you have
            • when - will the work occur and how long will it take. Important to plan other trades or your own sanity if it's intrusive loud work.
            • Escalation - this is the most critical point. Who do you call if things go wrong?

            Never accept a larger company to subcontract any works that are <$100k. You are paying margin on margin and basically getting the cheapest trades to complete the work but paying a middle man a "management fee". Personally, I'd rather go to a smaller company and deal directly with the main man who quotes and installs knowing he needs my reference for future work.

      • +1 vote

        If it is underneath the panels then I highly doubt it would be capped - there would not be enough room underneath the panel.
        From what you say then on all accounts there is no way I would accept what they have done without the expert opinion of another party - a licensed plumber.

      •  

        They can’t recap it under the panels. If they do where will the stinky smell go? They need to re-route the pipe within the roof cavity to another area of the roof/tile.

        If possible, where they cut the pipe, make sure they replaced it with a tile. If not, you’re going to have water leak issues when it rains. What you can’t see, you won’t know until it’s too late. You may not know water is leaking through your roof until you see stains on your grypock.

      •  

        I don't think that's a cheap installer. I went for cheaper 6-7 years ago and even they did a good job without any issues. Just because it's cheap, doesn't mean they can get away with damage.

    • +2 votes

      You’d bloody hope they didn’t cap it! The vent needs to vent.

  • +9 votes

    Name and shame mate

    • +3 votes

      I don't think we have enough information for that. The damaged ceiling is a pain but accidents happen and as long as they fix, we shouldn't throw them into hell and throw away the key, just saying. Also the vent pipe may have been capped and still be within regs and the op just hadn't bothered to check.

      Most people talking shit on this forum have probably never done a job like this and wouldn't understand the first thing about large projects and the potential for damage during the project. The company just needs to fix the damage, issue an apology and maybe a small rebate or something and there is no problem here.

      •  

        Fair call. I agree. Lets see how they handle the situation then name and shame if necessary.

        There are so many yahoo solar operators, its good to weed out the bad ones.

      •  

        Given the panels are probably a few cm above the cut off vent, does it need to be capped? The chance of something getting in is now small given there is a panel right over the top.

        Im curious as I think my solar installation had the same thing happen. I had roof photos before and after and I have panels right on top of my old vent pipe but I can’t tell if it’s been recapped.

        •  

          Do you want your solar panels to have a weird gap for probably no real practical reason, it's not like airflow is diminished too much? It sounds like a non issue to me.

  •  

    As above, just a stink pipe. You're not meant to do it but it's not a big concern, the panels should be more centred now and not overhanging like they look in the photo.
    Tile through the ceiling is just unlucky /crap

    • +1 vote

      I do concern with the cut down vent pipe. They've cut it really short, looks like about 10cm with no cap on.

      • -2 votes

        If that's the case, just put the original vented cap on and have some stinky solar panels instead of a smelly roof.

        •  

          It's just wether it fits back on under the panels or not

    •  

      Agreed mate. As long as it can still vent, she’ll be apples.

  • +9 votes

    The plumbing code, AS3500 is very specific on sewer vent pipe locations, how far they should project above the roof, where on the roof they are placed, where in the sewer pipe system they are connected etc.

    Some are suggesting it'll be fine, it wont. Several things can happen, not least of which is nasty smells in your yard. Also the airflow over the vent is changed so it may cause water traps to empty leading to very nasty smells inside.

    Others are saying to just cap it. This is terrible advice. Vents are a critical part of the sewer drainage system and without them the system will perform poorly and in an unsafe, unhygienic way.

    You likely won't notice the effects immediately, the vent in a sewer system is pretty passive, but over time through changes of seasons and weather patterns there is a good chance it'll cause you problems.

    • +2 votes

      I've checked the AS3500 but couldn't seem to find the minimum height of the venting pipe. Only stated the maximum is 600mm.
      I've emailed my council for informations about the regulations on venting pipe. Waiting for reply.
      And for the cap I mean these kind of caps

      • +1 vote

        I don't know where you read that, but it's wrong. Minimum height is 150mm, 600mm is applicable in a few circumstances, but your interpretation is incorrect.

        6.9.4 Termination
        Vents shall terminate as shown in Figure 6.9.4 in the open air outside the building and in a
        location not less than—
        (a) 600 mm above any opening into any building that is within a horizontal distance of
        3 m from the vent;
        (b) 150 mm above its point of penetration through any roof covering;
        (c) 3 m above any trafficable roof deck that is within a horizontal distance of 3 m from
        the vent;
        (d) 2 m above or 600 mm below any chimney or similar opening within a horizontal
        distance of 3 m from the vent;
        (e) 5 m in any direction from any air duct intake; or
        (f) 600 mm above any eaves, coping or parapet that is within a horizontal distance of
        600 mm from the vent.

  • +3 votes

    And the holes in the vent are what let gasses out and stop little critters going in.
    Burping sinks, dishwashers, toilets, floor traps are unpleasant and can be dangerous.
    Do not seal that vent off.
    They are not allowed to fiddle with this unless they also include a plumbers ticket in their many skills!
    You should not pay them because you have very good reason to consider the work is illegal.
    You are also within your rights to get another sparky to look the job over prior to payment. if the cowboys that did this job cut a vent pipe off who knows what other stunts they have pulled.
    Once the job is satisfactory and legal to the best of your knowledge, and with a written assurance from them, then pay.
    Don’t give them your only real lever here.

    •  

      I agree. If they can't even follow their own proposed plan, then they don't know what they're doing.
      Pay them after an independent assessment and remediation, less any expenses.
      I wouldn't let them touch anything else.

  • +3 votes

    i thought of getting solar put the quality of work being done by the industry put me off. there are literally thousands of them and all got reviews (most likely fake) and you just don't know who to trust, those few good ones also charge way way more. also how do you know the guy charging more will actually do a good job? he is probably doing so for those thinking more = better

    isn't there like a middle ground? and there is a dozen sites claiming they vet these solar installers like a search engine but highly doubt those claims as i think its just a search engine to generate money and they offer that service to installers for a monthly fee, and i think there is a like a top tier for installers like monthly plans and the more expensive plans they get recommended more often. so really its not at all based on the quality of work and hardware.

    does anyone know any current 2021 sub forums whirpool/ozbargain for NSW solar installers where people have actually used them and based on quality of work and price recommend them?

    there are people who get solar installed once, and they assume the quality and cost was good and they start recommending the company that did it, but how would they know the quality of work is good professionally? it might look good from the ground level looking at the roof but what goes on behind the installed panels and the cabling?

    • +2 votes

      Finn Peacock, SOLARQUOTES. Here’s your goto man for solar.

      • +5 votes

        That site is recommended a lot but I honestly wouldn't recommend it, at least not to find an installer. The general solar info on the site is great but the solar quote isn't. I was referred 3 companies who honestly were a completely mixed bag. One quoted me without visiting my house and they suggested panels go on parts of the roof which weren't possible. A second one wasn't interested and another would visit but had so many hoops to arrange the visit. I ended up finding a local installer who was great. So, good site for info but I recommend people find their own installer.

        • +3 votes

          I was referred 3 companies who honestly were a completely mixed bag.

          Every single one of the three installers in my quotation were complete tool bags.

          One of them didn't even pick up the phone.

          Second one: "Nah, mate! We won't waste time with micro-inverters. Too expensive."

          Third one: We don't service your area any more. (facepalm)

      • +2 votes

        Finn Peacock of Solar Quotes knows his stuff BUT he also makes money by charging the 3 companies you get the quotes from a significant fee for giving those companies your quote request.

        That is a complete conflict of interest because you don't necessarily get quotes from the best companies (as Solar Quotes would have you believe), you get quotes from the ones willing to pay the highest fee. And guess who will pay the highest fee? Often it's the ones that have the most trouble generating their own business and have to buy leads because they're not good companies…..

        •  

          To be fair though, he makes it very clear up front that this is his business model. I got 3 quotes from him, and went with another that we found was better for us. Absolutely no coercion to use any of the quotes.
          The info from the website gave us no bs info to know what we needed to look for. And in terms of OZB has saved us literally thousands of dollars.

          So I’m very positive for Solarquotes - the guy needs to put bread on the table somehow…🤷‍♂️

    • +3 votes

      Similar thing happens when any large scale government incentive of this type is rolled out - cowboys invade the industry looking for a quick buck. Same thing happened with pink batts.

    •  

      If you're in Sydney, Penrith Solar Centre is the way to go.

    •  

      The middle ground is to pay for a company that doesn't subcontract out the work or at least has a company employed foreman onsite before and to tick off the job. What happened to the OP wouldn't have happened if that was the case because the foreman would have discussed the need to cut the pipe and fix the roof immediately on site.

      Volume companies are cheap cause they're busy middlemen that are basically on selling the job to subcontractors. Then it's just a race to the bottom for the cheapest subbies who don't have the time or motivation to deal with irregularities.

      I would say if you really want to save money and go with the subbies you would need to completely plan out the project yourself. Eg panel placement (potential shadow objects), rack placement, string configuration. Then know how to assess the job afterwards.

      Personally, I went with the first option and have no regrets about paying the extra cash. The boss came initially to assess the site and gave me very good suggestion to alter the panel orientation. Oversaw the unloading of the panels to check they had no physical defects. Left the site during the installation, then came back to do take me through a thorough walkthrough of the installation. Done once, and done right.

  • +1 vote

    Wow, I guess they needed to save the 1m of rail and DC cable to install a panel 500mm further apart to avoid the vent. Seems dumb? They also probably didn't want it casting a shadow on the panels :P

  •  

    Stink pipe. Classic dodgy installer move, cut if off as it was going to shade the panels. (edit: OK, I see from your comment wasn't shading, was in the way of the panel. If the panel fit, they probably would have left it and then you would have had shading issues anyway) How much conduit did they use on your roof while we're at it?

    By the sounds of it, you're gonna need to post pics of it on here

  • +2 votes

    Yep just don't pay until the work is complete, or hold out as long as possible. The second they have your money they don't care anymore.

    I had the same thing with my solar install
    https://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/514029

  •  

    Do you have photos of the completed install? Or did they show you the panels before they were installed? Common scam is to install random cheaper panels. Kind of afraid to check mine as the installer did a few dodgy things as well.

    •  

      I did climbed up the roof yesterday but forgot to take photos.
      The panels were delivered 2 days before the installation date. I don't think there's brand name printed on the panels. I doubt they give me cheaper panels as the Jinko is already a budget one.

  • +2 votes

    That vent pipe dose 2 things. 1 it vents gases built up in your sewer line and 2. It creates a low pressure system so the high pressure system which is the main line can easily syphon your sewer line as required.

    If this wasn't installed then it's like drinking through a straw with you squeezing the straw.

    This is an actual statutory requirement in the plumbing trade and by cutting this off they could compromise your system.
    It actually has to be over roof line and not cut at roof line. The cap is to not let birds nest or vermin get in and to limit water ingress.

    Edit: don't pay until all works rectified and your satisfied with the commissioning results.

    •  

      Do all houses have this? I dont see any on mine

      •  

        They should.

  • +1 vote

    so out of 64 recommended installers in Sydney 22 are SEC approved, does that stand for anything or is it another membership fee gold start bullshit sticker tactic? https://www.solarquotes.com.au/installers/cities/sydney/

  • +1 vote

    Your power will stink 😅

  •  

    100% stank pipe

  •  

    Others have mentioned it, but do not pay until you're satisfied and they have fixed everything. The moment you pay they will stop caring.

    Also, check if your sungrow inverter emits a high pitched buzzing noise when you use appliances in your house (while it's sunny outside obviously). We got a sungrow, and when running the TV, microwave, and other various appliances, there was a distinct buzzing noise that didn't bother my parents but gave a headache to anyone who could hear it.

    We ended up getting a more expensive inverter put in by the installers that didn't generate "noisy" electricity.

  • -1 vote

    Hi there
    In my case the guy installed solar and did not get feed in approved. So i contacted solar victoria and send all the details and they suspend his licence so that guy contacted me after and apologise as well as offered me some compension.
    So even if you pay him they can not escape. Solar victoria is there to help you and you will not loose anything. They take this things very seriously.

  • +1 vote

    $7285 for a 6.6kw system doesn't sound overly cheap and you have mentioned the products are low end.

    I had a 9.1kw system installed for $12k 6 months ago incl. micro inverters, quality brands (Q Cell / Enphase) and a quality install.

    The company I used probably wasn't the cheapest around but hearing stories like the OP's I am glad I paid the extra $$ !