Opinions on distributers - Sunwize vs Wholesale Solar vs AEE Solar

Hi,
Looking to start doing business with a distributer for mostly smaller off grid systems. Can I get some opinions from those that may have done business with one or more of these distributers in the past? I would like to hear about their customer service, warranty handling, knowledge level, pricing etc.
Anything you've got will be useful, thanks.
Brian

Comments

  • crewzercrewzer Registered Users, Solar Expert Posts: 1,832 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Opinions on distributers - Sunwize vs Wholesale Solar vs AEE Solar

    Brian,

    Since you're going into "smaller off grid systems", make sure you connect with a distributor that's really committed to that particular system architecture. Some distributors have decided to focus on battery-less grid-tie systems and don't really support battery-based systems.

    I know some of the folks at AEE and SunWize fairly well; I haven't met any of the folks at Wholesale Solar. Everything else being equal, I'd suggest you start with SunWize. Here's my rationale:
    1) Location. You're in Smithtown (Long Island), NY. SunWize' HQ and east coast warehouse is located ~140 miles from you in Kingston, NY, next to the Kingston-Ulster Airport. Shipping times would be short, and they're in the same time zone for when you have to give 'em a call.

    2) Training. SunWize (and AEE) offers training in becoming a dealer and in products. I done product training for both distributors, including in Baltimore, MD, last year for SunWize. Sunwize's next training event is June 2-3 in Philadelphia, PA -- not too far from you -- and I'll be presenting at their August training event in St. Louis, MO.
    I wish you the best of luck with your new business venture!

    Regards,
    Jim / crewzer
  • halfcrazyhalfcrazy Solar Expert Posts: 720 ✭✭✭
    Re: Opinions on distributers - Sunwize vs Wholesale Solar vs AEE Solar

    AEE also has an east coast warehouse but not sure that it is stocked as well. they also have sales people on the east coast that work in our time zone. I have been pretty happy with them.
  • solarixsolarix Solar Expert Posts: 713 ✭✭
    Re: Opinions on distributers - Sunwize vs Wholesale Solar vs AEE Solar

    I have played the field to some extent and will not mention any names as the problems I've had are not really anyone's fault. There are a lot of changes going on all across the industry and it definitely impacts distribution. No one wants to carry any more inventory than they have to - yet they won't tell you this. Being able to purchase what you want, when you want, at a good price is a real challenge. Beware many of the smaller, discounting distributors as they will carry very little and drop ship from the manufacturer or wherever. I once had $40k of modules lost in shipping when what I ordered from a state next door actually got shipped in from Maine. I can't tell you how may times I've designed in products, done all the permits and applications, then find out a month or two later "oh - we can't get those anymore". My main big distributor recently got screwed by a good module manufacturer when they sold the modules we had reserved to Germany. The customer on that job had a thing for that brand and we had a difficult time finding it. My best distributor is the one that will give me weekly updates into their inventory and purchasing outlook so that I have a better idea what is safe to design in. One of the big reasons I'm starting to use distributed inverters, is that I can then use any module, or any combination of modules, and can buy and stock modules myself without getting stuck with oddball extras.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Opinions on distributers - Sunwize vs Wholesale Solar vs AEE Solar

    Hey Brian,

    Whatever you do don't go with AEE Solar. A terrible company with poor customer service and communication. First, they put me in touch with a dealer that was 200 miles away when come to find out there was one in my town. Then my shipment was wrong and it took forever for AEE to admit the mistake a make it right. Their customer service department didn't have a clue and was not very friendly. Go elsewhere!
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