Buying advice for solar panels
By Sarah Ingrams
Article 3 of 8
Buying Advice for Solar panels
All you need to know about buying solar panels, including the sales scams used by dodgy companies and how to find a reputable installer.
Use our expert advice to help you choose a decent solar panel installer, plus know what solar panel sales tactics you need to watch out for.
Buying solar panels is a huge investment, so make sure you don't waste your money. We show you how to spot a dodgy company and how to find a decent solar panel installer.
How to buy solar panels
To highlight what you need to consider before having solar PV installed, we've produced a free downloadable solar PV installation checklist.
The checklist includes tips and advice on what you should do, plus the questions to ask before, during and after a visit from a solar PV installer.
Which? concerns about solar PV sales
At Which? we often hear concerns from consumers approached by solar panel companies out of the blue, put under pressure to make quick decisions about purchase, or offered add-ons to their existing systems.
Many solar panel firms are signed up to a consumer code which forbids pressure-selling tactics but our research shows that these are still going on in the industry.
In March 2017, five men were charged with conspiracy to commit fraud when selling solar panels. A two-year investigation by the Serious Fraud Office suggested that victims were mainly elderly and have lost a suspected £13m in total.
To find out how common issues with solar panel sales are, we asked solar panel owners in May 2019 whether they felt that the quotes and information they were given were sufficient, and if they’d been given a one-off discount. As you can see, the issues remain.
When you bought your solar panels, did any of the following happen?
Buying solar panels
Before you agree to a visit from a solar panel company, consider the following:
- What type of solar panels you want. Know the difference between monocrystalline, polycrystalline and more in our guide to how solar pv works.
- What your budget is. If the price seems very low, check whether all services are included. But beware of one-off or on-the-spot discounts, which are examples of pressure-selling.
- The length of the warranty offered. You should expect 25-30 years for the solar panels and 5-10 years for the inverter. That’s the most likely part to break down – find out more about solar panel problems and how to solve them.
- Getting several quotes from different manufacturers. Compare the prices and what’s included and make sure you get a breakdown of how any claimed energy savings add up. Download our solar panel buying checklist above for more information.
If a company offers you a ‘one-time’ or on-the-spot discount, don’t feel pressurised into buying. Solar panels are a long-term, complex purchase so it’s important to take the time to consider carefully and compare with quotes from other companies.
How to find a good solar panel company
Dodgy sales tactics, exaggerated financial savings and unrealistic electricity production figures are all things to watch out for, according to our 2019 survey of solar panel owners.
So we strongly recommend that you do your own research first. Then compare the estimates of costs and savings you're given by salespeople against other sources of advice.
There are many solar panel installers out there, so we recommend that you always collect a range of quotes for comparison.
It's a good idea to use a MCS-accredited installation company that installs MCS-certified products.
Also check whether your installer is a member of the Renewable Energy Consumer Code (RECC). This means that they have agreed to abide by high consumer protection standards. RECC also runs a dispute-resolution process if you have a complaint against an installer registered with it.
Reporting dodgy solar power companies
Companies that offer large on-the-spot discounts or use other pressure-selling techniques deprive you of the chance to compare quotes and take the time to think about its offer.
You can report these firms to the Renewable Energy Consumer Code by calling 020 7981 0850, and to Which? on 01992 822800.