The unspoken issues with illegal solar "installers" in South Africa

Posted by SAPAC Reporter on

The unspoken issues with illegal solar "installers" in South Africa  

Prepared by : SAPAC Reporter
Article Classification: Assessment
Image courtesy: SAPAC Professionals and Contractors


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Executive summary

This information is to provide factual information, on the current status (as identified by SAPAC) on the electrical discipline in South Africa that is in-acted in the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 and the Electrical Installation Regulations. A holistic approach has been taken to provide a top view of the current situation. And to provide normative references through a risk based approach to provide factual information on the current status. Where information is lacking is the quoting of specific SANS regulations pertaining to the installation of hardware components. 

Information on the silent solar issue

The public and business sector is currently experiencing a plethora of illegal solar installation companies, and other non electrical registered companies that is providing non-compliant assistance with regards to solar installations. This is evident from Open-source intelligence (OSINT)

Solar installations (Inverters and lithium batteries) is fast becoming a sought after commodity that is being explored by organized crime and fly by night operators "self named contractors" in all provinces in all major metropolitan areas. The commodity of electricity in South Africa is a major motivator for the trade in illegal and nefarious business practices behind the scenes.


The correct control of these electrical hardware is only being controlled by a small percentage in the Electrical Solar industry. Subsequently this small percentage then also follows the correct importing principles utilizing the correct HS Codes for the identification of controlled approved electrical hardware that is currently available in the international market and that is entering onto South African shores. 

The - Who, What, When, Where, and Why ?

In line with this "assessment" it must be noted, that there are those that are importing under the guise of importing the correct electrical hardware, but it is well known that certain look alike electrical hardware products and components is currently flooding the market as well. And that certain importers is selling just for the sake of selling to anyone. (i.e. the Public)

Electrical Products and Electrical hardware

Stronger emphasis on these electrical solar products and electrical hardware should be done by Government and associated government agencies (hypothetical risk).  And the correct Solar and electrical hardware importers should be identified. Stricter enforcement is a requirement to ensure the safety and health of the citizenry of the country. 

Proposed solution

When an importer wishes to import electrical solar or electrical hardware and associated electrical products the only foreseeable solution besides being registered with revenue services is that authorities requires these importers of these electrical hardware to register with the Electrical Authority. Better control methods with regards to the electrical industry is required to be enacted. The sooner the better.


In doing so these "importers" must then therefore be held accountable to whom they are selling this electrical and solar hardware too. They must then therefore commit towards compliance audits. Through a systematic unbiased process. 

It is noted that capitalisms in this instance can be argued, however the question arise to the severity of this electrical hardware in the incorrect hands. A lithium battery actually does act under the correct incorrect setup conditions as an initiation device. 

Hypothetical Risk awareness

Security agencies should consider the feasibility of such. ISO 31000 The ANSI/ASIS/RIMS Risk Assessment Standard provides guidance on developing and maintaining a proper risk assessment program. 

Lines of thought

In this instance there are two lines of thought. One is the hypothetical risk mentioned above.

The other line of thought diverts to what is currently experienced in the South African market, electrical hardware i.e. lithium ion batteries and inverters is imported in an uncontrollably manner. Most is sold to non - electrical contractors. And the purpose of this assessment will predominantly focus on this and not on the later i.e. the hypothetical risk. 

Controlling the renewable energy market is paramount

Only a handful high end electrical importers and electrical hardware suppliers is selling to registered electrical contractors and not directly to the public or others. The emphasis towards the powers to be is to allow for the Electrical Suppliers of  the electrical hardware industry to be controlled in the manner towards the likeness of the firearms industry. We refer to the Firearms Control Act 60 of 2000 as a blueprint. From a normative administrative reference the control will obviously not be performed by an organ of state. But rather by an independent authority. 

It has been shown with the Firearm industry that poor administration can cause backlogs and create frustration.

However by allowing a systematic approach trough an international recognized standard with all role players initiating and contributing, such a system is not only feasible but is actually achievable and conceivable.    

Registered Importers will need to declare their stock, buyers that is only registered as Electrical Contractors will be able to purchase this stock and better control from the top down will contribute to a better control of Electrical hardware i.e. Solar and Lithium batteries.

Reasons to control this market so staunchly 

In the industrial and the private sector many importers is thriving under the guise of the load shedding dilemma facing South Africa. However this issue has opened up a market of fraud including misrepresentation that is starting to seriously and negatively affect the backbone industry of South Africa.

This industry is the Electrical Industry with all its role players. From the top down right down to the registered laborer known as an Elconop.

Part 2 - Context

In essence the electrical trade industry is faced with a plethora of issues, here is just a few high risk issues to take note off. 

1. Importers selling to unregistered electrical contractors (And the Public)
2. Persons utilizing the effect of load-shedding promising the public installations and absconding with deposits - Civil issues which is referred to the authorities. That ends in court cases and civil law suits.
3. Fraudulent electrical certificate of compliances that is issued by non electrical contractors. Causing the public to question the entire electrical industry. 
4. Substandard electrical solar hardware that is being installed and endangering the citizenry safety in public places (businesses and homes)

Some electrical hardware from China does comply to international and South African regulations, however knock offs and copyright infringement does happen within China. 

Fact - South Africa Imports from China of Electrical, electronic equipment was US$5.99 Billion during 2022, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade. 

5. Job losses in the real electrical industry because of issues like this mentioned,  is affecting the electrical trade and loss of skills within this occupation will be a greater loss to the gross GDP of South Africa if Government does not step in. 

First line of defense

By controlling the industry government can ensure the citizenry is safe and that high risk electrical hardware is controlled in the deserving manner it should be. The first line of defense is obviously government. This industry needs to be fixed the sooner the better for the entire South Africa including up and coming tradesmen and woman that are busy with their apprenticeships in the electrical discipline.

Compliance monitoring 

New compliance models should be allowed to be initiated from the top that will trickle down to fix the industry as a whole.

Effective powers

Government as the first line of defense should enact as main stakeholder to ensure that no person other than a recognized entity that complies with above said requirements is allowed to sell these type of hardware. Let alone import it. 

The reason for this analogy is to ensure that Government as is referred to in section 10 of the OHS Act 85 of 1993 ensures that the health and safety of the citizenry can be better protected.

Look at the countless of other business concerns that are not registered as electrical contractors that is selling Solar Panels, Lithium batteries and Inverters to the public. And in many cases is installing these hardware illegally and then providing fake certificates of compliance to an unsuspecting citizenry 

The first and specific legal requirement being affected is section 10(1) and 10(3) that stipulates that no person is entitled to sell anything unless it is safe when properly used and it complies with the requirements of the Act.

The second is the following of the applicable legal regulation. Specifically the Electrical Installation Regulations!

Therefore it is not the few compliant trade houses and resellers of these electrical hardware that is at fault. Neither is it the fault of the electrical tradespeople. On the contrary SAPAC interacts on a daily basis with many registered electrical contractors. The issue is required to be addressed, this issue is seen as fast becoming a bureaucratic issue in South Africa

Part 3 - Assessment

So what we know is that there are importers that is importing electrical hardware like lithium batteries and countless types of inverters, they are then reselling these electrical hardware to the uneducated public or to other disciplines that is utilizing these hardware and providing false fake certificates of compliance and in many cases installing hardware in nonlegitimate manners in ways that places the end user in actual harms way. Should this still be allowed?

It is affecting the entire electrical contracting discipline in the following manner. 

- Price cuts for the sake of installing hardware that may or may not be knockoffs, in turn undercutting the real relevant electrical trade. That operate in line with law and South African Standards.

- Compounding factors on the real electrical trade, affects job losses, cuts to income that has rippling societal factors on registered business entities operating as bona fide electrical trades.

- Currently there are already documented instances where life and limb have been placed in harms way. 

What is SAPAC Professionals and Contractors Collective, doing about this! 

As an independent entity, SAPAC is leveling the playing field, SAPAC provides a solution based outcome approach to all industry stakeholders. Regardless of current association or board membership.

It is with the greatest respect that SAPAC see these entities as industrial friends in their specific industry roles. 

SAPAC is taking the issues head on. Through open active participation and  communication methods with the public and with all relevant trades that is associated with regards to their specific disciplines. Only legal registered trades is allowed to form part and  become stakeholders with SAPAC.

In turn SAPAC provides through its various robust and strong partnership, measurable and effective solutions for each SAPAC stakeholder.

Disclaimer on this assessment  - Heading: The Silent War on Illegal solar contractors in South Africa

This assessment is intended for informational constructive purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.

The information provided in this assessment is based on the current understanding of the laws and regulations governing the electrical solar industry in South Africa. However, these laws and regulations are subject to change, and it is the reader's responsibility to seek professional legal advice for any specific questions or concerns.

Furthermore, the views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of any other individual or organization.

The author makes no representations or warranties, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of the information contained in this article. The author assumes no responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information, or for any damages arising from the use of the information.

By reading this article, you acknowledge that you have read and understood this disclaimer.

Additional notes:

  • The assessment includes information about the dangers of illegal solar installations, but it is important to note that legal and properly installed solar systems can be safe and reliable. If installed only by Legal registered Electrical Contractors and that the user demands an over inspection of such installation performed by the recognized Approved Electrical Authority. 
  • This assessment encourages consumers to choose electrical contractors who are already stakeholders of SAPAC (South African Professionals and Contractors Collective). 
  • The assessment encourages consumers to utilize the free services of SAPAC Professionals and Contractors Collective. However, it is important to note that SAPAC is not a government agency and does not have the authority to enforce laws or regulations. Consumers should always report any illegal activity to the appropriate authorities. Or if in doubt contact SAPAC for free assistance.
  • In turn Consumers are encouraged to report electrical issues to the Approved Inspection Authority without delay! If you require assistance contact SAPAC.

What you can do! 

If you are a public member or even a Legal Contractor or have experienced issues undoubtedly like many in the past you can share this article by forwarding this link on your social media group or you may send it to anyone via WhatsApp or Telegram. These issues needs to be addressed sooner than later and if you know of someone that can assist with the message let them contact SAPAC at  

If you are a public member and unsure what to do get in contact with SAPAC Professionals and Contractors.

Get in contact with SAPAC:
🌐 Besoek | Visit
📧 Epos vir navrae:
☎️ Phone: +27766866273 (Faster)

To verify or to get in contact with an Electrical Installation Solar Specialist.

Further Reading:

- Google, Trust Matters

- Guide to Electrical Certificate of compliance

- Information for Landlords, Estate Agents, and tenants

- How to spot a fake CoC


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