The following chronicles my futile attempts to get Solara AG, a
manufacturer of Solar Panels in Germany, to live up to their warranty
obligations. My panels failed and it appears that Solara AG has decided
to ignore me as well as the dealer and the distributor. While this
problem relates to marine panels, Solara AG is also a large provider of
land based panels.
In 2003 I moved my sailboat to from the Caribbean to Ft. Lauderdale, FL
in order to do some extensive equipment upgrades. One of the projects
was the installation of two solar panels. After a lot of research I
decided upon Solara AG's SM225M solar panels as they provided the
highest output available per their footprint and their flexibility
allowed them to be mounted on my hard dodger. The following link
provides a good view of the panels as well as information on the
panels:http://www.barden-uk.com/semi-flexible-panels.html . I ordered
two panels at almost $000/ea from SE Marine in Oregon. After
completing many projects we moved the boat back to the Caribbean. The
panels functioned fine during the next cruising season, but upon return
to the boat in 2004 they were no longer functioning. One provided no
output and the other would only provide output first thing in the
morning when the panel was cool.
The panels carry a 20 year warranty, so I felt secure that my problem
would be quickly resolved. I contacted SE Marine and they put me in
contact with Peter Burcat, who is a founder and executive VP of Solara
Energy, Inc. Solara Energy is the primary US distributor of Solara AG
solar panels. Solara AG is based in Germany. It was clear that there
was no way to get replacement panels down to the Caribbean, so I decided
to wait until we passed through the US again. In July of 2006 we once
again brought the boat back to the US and I began writing to Peter
Burcat even before we arrived. Peter tried to direct me back to SE
Marine, but that didn't go very far as they said they had purchased the
panels through Peter's company and they couldn't do anything to help me.
After some more finger pointing, Peter had me contact Frank Heise
(email@example.com) at Solara AG in Germany. Initally Frank and I had
very good communication. Frank, who is the export manager, was asking
me questions about the installation and the problem that I was having.
We exchanged multiple e-mails and I provided photographs of the
installation. On July 24th, 2006 I received my last e-mail from Frank.
All of my many e-mails to him since then have gone unanswered. I've
also called and left voice mail for Frank, but I haven't had any calls
I asked Peter for a list of contacts at Solara, AG and all that he
provided was a copy of contacts from Solara AG's web site. This list
seemed rather thin as Solara Energy was the exclusive distributor for
Solara AG panels. Peter has forwarded copies of my e-mails on to Frank
Heise, but apparently has heard nothing from him. If that's true, then
clearly something has gone very wrong in the business relationship
between the primary distributor and the manufacturer.
I eventually found the e-mail address of Solara AG's CEO, Thomas Rudolfe
(firstname.lastname@example.org) and e-mailed him. I didn't hear anything back. I
also tried email@example.com, which is listed as their information contact
e-mail address on their web site and received no response. SE Marine
has sent several e-mails and received no response.
This has been going on for 5 months and I've gotten absolutely nowhere.
Further, I don't see any resolution forthcoming. The bottom line is
that if you're looking for solar panels, I would stay clear of Solara AG
panels. Their products may have excellent specs, but they don't stand
behind them. The US distributor has done little to help me resolve this
problem and the German company seems to feel that they don't need to
resolve foreign warranty claims.
-- Geoff Schultz
Well they should all be getting some junk mail from posting their
email addresses here.
I shall leave them on the reply to help you out. I was ripped off by
SC Solar of South Carolina on a solar panel also. They sold me phoney
shipping insurance, dragged the case out over a year and then said the
company is in new hands.
I doubt there are ever long term warrantees on solar panels. If yours
goes bad then they all probably will and the company will not exist in
twenty years. Long term warrantees are not worth the paper they are
Geoff, have you tried the small claims court in your area? These courts
are limited to claims of $,000 to $0,000, but its just you and the
vendor before the judge. The nice thing is that the judge can, and in
most cases will give you a judgment even if the "contract" has a
disclaimer of warranty on page five. If the vendor still won't pay you
can have his assets attach by the sheriff.
Some say we must tax corporations more. What they do not understand is that
corporations do not pay taxes. One of our governments conditions for their
existence is they collect the taxes from their customers and pass them to