Solar PV systems are rapidly becoming the renewable energy system of choice for most small business and residential business owners. The Feed-In Tariff Scheme accounts for a big part of that – people who opt for micro-generation with solar panels or wind generators are eligible for payments from the government for every kWh of energy their systems produce. The announcement of the FIT engendered a rush of people looking to have solar panels installed on their roofs – but that’s nothing compared to the rush that’s accompanied the announcement by DECC that they’ll be adjusting the tariff subsidy in the spring.
That rush of people looking for solar panels – along with the profits to be made by installers of solar PV systems – have led to a lot of “solar cowboys,” unscrupulous companies that overpromise and under-deliver – if they deliver at all. The REAL Assurance Scheme (Renewable Energy Assurance Limited) that has just received full OFT approval, is designed to help consumers like you sort out the dodgy companies from those that deliver high-quality products, do proper installations and do it all within the reasonable and expected parameters of the solar PV industry.
It is the intent of solar system installers to ensure that consumers get what they pay for – a high quality, efficient solar PV system at a reasonable cost with REAL Assurance that the salespeople and installers are legitimate, skilled and respectful. To that end, the REAL Assurance Scheme offers these tips to help you spot unscrupulous, suspect companies who use aggressive selling techniques to foist off inferior solar panels and solar PV installations.
Only work with companies that have joined the REAL Assurance Scheme, and only sign sales contracts with a solar PV installation company that is certified under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) for solar PV. This is especially important if you’re planning to benefit from the FIT, since only systems installed by REAL companies with MCS certificates qualify for payments.
Do not do business with companies that use high-pressure sales techniques to get through your door. These tactics include offering ridiculous discounts solar panels and installation, insisting that both the husband and wife be present for a “presentation” and staying for more than 2 hours on a consultation call – the better to wear down your resistance.
Get at least three solar quotes from different companies and check the Energy Saving Trust website before you sign any contract. The two-pronged approach will help you determine reasonable target prices and give you objective information about solar panels and solar energy installations.
Make sure that your contract includes a detailed, itemized quote includes a performance estimate that’s specific to your property, not a boiler plate, generic quote, as well as a full breakdown of exactly what will be supplied in terms of goods and services.
The salesman is required by law to tell you that you have the right to cancel your contract within 7 days with no penalty. Some unscrupulous companies will attempt to get you to waive your right to cancel – always read everything you sign carefully and be on the lookout for language that waives your rights to cancel and to your legal protections.
Never pay a deposit of greater than 25% the total cost of your solar panels installation.
For more information about how to protect yourself when buying a solar PV installation or solar panels, check out the REAL Assurance Scheme website’s consumer information area so that you know what to expect from high quality installers of solar panels.
Chris Robertson is an author of Majon International, one of the world’s MOST popular internet marketing companies on the web.
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