An advert for solar panels has been banned following claims it was misleading consumers about how much money they could make by installing them.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a complaint that a direct mailing from Everest, which stated panels could generate ‘up to £1,614 per year for 25 years, tax free’, was misleading because it failed to take into account the cost of maintenance.
Everest disputed the complaint, stating that there were no maintenance costs associated with the solar panel system.
But the ASA banned the ad in its current form, as the mailing also mentioned the benefits of purchasing an after-care package that would cover certain costs, such as replacing the inverter – a critical and expensive part of the system – after 10-15 years.
Back in 2010, Everest was one of two companies we found overstating the potential benefits of solar thermal systems during an undercover Which? investigation.
Solar panels advice
If you are considering installing solar PV it’s important to shop around and do your sums, taking the lifetime cost of a system into account.
Which? energy expert Sylvia Baron says: ‘Whilst solar photovoltaic systems do not require much maintenance, you do need to be aware that the inverter would most probably need to be replaced at least once during the system’s lifetime, at a cost of about £1,000. Our undercover investigation found that only two out of 12 companies mentioned that the inverter would need replacing – even when prompted.
‘Since our investigation, some companies have announced that they will now mention this during their visits. Which? is developing a checklist in collaboration with industry to make sure people know exactly what to watch out for when getting solar panels.’
Solar PV investigation
We conducted an investigation into solar PV panels installations earlier this year and uncovered dodgy solar sales tactics and poor advice in the solar industry. A total of 12 firms were put under the spotlight.
- Three quarters of firms overestimated how much energy solar PV panels would produce, and most underestimated how long it would take for the system to pay for itself.
- Only two of the 12 companies investigated mentioned that the inverter, which transforms the current produced into useable electricity, almost always needs to be replaced within 25 years at a cost of at least £1,000.