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How to Spot a Solar Cowboy from a Mile Away

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How to Spot a Solar Cowboy Before It's Too Late

Cowboy builder with tool box

In the world of solar energy, not all providers are created equal. Some, unfortunately, are out to make a quick buck at the expense of unsuspecting customers. These so-called “solar cowboys” employ a range of tactics to pull the wool over your eyes. But fear not, because armed with knowledge, you can spot them from a mile away. Here are some key red flags to watch out for:

Pressure-Packed Closures

Solar cowboys are known for their high-pressure sales tactics. They’ll rush you to make a decision, employing all sorts of tactics to get you to sign on the dotted line. Remember, a reputable solar provider will give you the time and information you need to make an informed choice.

Mysterious Products and Outsourcing Labor

Watch out for those who dodge questions about the products they use. If they claim they “just book the appointments,” it likely means they outsource their labor. This should set off major alarm bells. Reputable providers are transparent about the products they offer and have their own expert teams.


Lack of Business History

A credible solar provider will have a track record. Check their Australian Business Number (ABN) online and seek out reviews. They should have been in operation for at least three years, proving their stability and reliability.

Zero Interest Solar Finance

As we’ve mentioned before, zero interest solar finance can be a deceptive ploy. It often comes with a significant markup and a lock-in contract, sometimes even tying you to a particular energy retailer. This is a classic sign of a solar cowboy.

Shady Contractors and Cookie-Cutter Systems

Watch out for providers who use no-name contractors. They might cut corners, use subpar materials, or install a generic system that doesn’t suit your specific needs. Reputable providers take the time to design a system tailored to your roof and circumstances

Outsourced Support and Lack of Accountability

Solar cowboys often outsource support, making it difficult to resolve issues. They’ll deflect responsibility and send you on a wild goose chase. This not only leaves you frustrated but can also jeopardize any rebates you were entitled to. It’s a tactic that’s bad for business and even worse for you.


In conclusion, the key to avoiding solar cowboys is thorough research and a keen eye for these red flags. At Lightning Energy, we adhere to four core values that set us apart:

1. We Don't Do Dodgy Deals

We offer fair prices, reliable products, and transparent financing options. No tricks, no hidden fees.

2. We Don't Deal with Solar Cowboys

Our installers are experts, committed to doing the job right. We treat every home as if it were our own.

3. We Always Do What's Best for the Customer

We recommend products that maximize savings and ensure the long-term viability of your system. It’s what we’d choose for our own homes.

4. Do the Job Once and Do It Right!

We believe in quality workmanship. Our installations are done right the first time, saving you time and hassle.

Don’t fall victim to solar cowboys. Choose a provider you can trust, one that’s guided by these principles. Your energy future is too important to leave to chance.

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Written By:

Luke Cove
Managing Director
Lightning Solar & Electrical

luke cove - Founder of lightning solar

2 thoughts on “How to Spot a Solar Cowboy from a Mile Away”

  1. Hi Luke,

    Would you define offering cheaper inverter options that come with increased cyber security risks (such as Huawei’s inverters) as Cowboy behavior?

    1. G’day Bryce,

      If you’re referring to the recent calls from US congress to block the use of Huawei’s inverters in the US under the guise of cyber security I would have to disagree, I think it’s a thinly veiled way to stop Huawei being competitive in the U.S. market. That being said there are some things to be wary of with Huawei Inverters, their main competitor in the inverter segment is Goodwe, another inverter we don’t carry and fit due to cases of them catching fire! Huawei is still very new to the solar industry so I would give it some time and watch Huawei if they seem to prove as good as they say they are. If the installer is offering this and no other options, I would definitely see that as Cowboy behaviour!

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