Tuesday, 19 July 2011

'Free' solar panels may be too good to be true

Cornwall Council has just sent out the following press release. I'm reprinting it because there may be approaches made to local readers of this blog.

Householders across Cornwall are being warned to take care before agreeing to have ‘free’ solar panels installed on their property.

Trading Standards and Consumer Direct have issued the warning following a spate of telephone calls from concerned householders with issues about approaches they have received.

"Although there are companies genuinely offering to install solar panels for free, there appears to be other companies exploiting the opportunity” explained Martine Barnes from Trading Standards.

“In some cases the solar panel companies claim that they can get a grant from the council to help pay for the panels. We can confirm this is definitely not the case and that Cornwall Council is not offering any grants for the installation of Solar Panels.”

“Other householders are being offered ‘free installation and maintenance for 25 years with the panels being paid for from the surplus electricity which is sold back to the national grid’. We recommend that anyone being made such a fantastic offer should thoroughly read the small print of any contract before signing up, and if possible get a solicitor to cast an eye over it as well.”

Some of the things that should be made clear in the contract are:
  • who is responsible for the installation and who is paying for it
  • who is responsible for anything that goes wrong as a result of the panels (such as a leaking roof if the panels are not installed professionally)
  • how often the panels need to be maintained and who pays for this
  • what happens at the end of the contract period - who owns the panels, who is responsible for removing/disposing of them and who is responsible for restoring the roof
  • any costs that will fall to the householder.
Anyone with concerns about an approach they have received should contact Consumer Direct for advice on 08454 04 05 06. Trading Standards is monitoring the complaints received and will take action against any company found to be making misleading claims.


Anonymous said...

It is good that the council is drawing attention to disreputable practice, but it would be even better if they gave more solid advice on how to access reputable installers. A general phone number to call if you are worried isn't sufficient. Reducing reliance on fossil fuels is meant to be a priority and stories like this will put people off having such installations.

William said...

This pratice needs to be completely stopped most of these "FREE" solar panel installation are sub standard or use dated technology. I have heard some free solar panels installations have even been used solar panels from other jobs.

Please just remember to always ask for a portfolio and go check the work yourself before signing up to these deals. The fits should have case studies similar to this Case studies link