Free solar panels offers, what the catch?By Solar Stu on November 3, 2010
Question: I am considering an offer of free solar panels on my house. The offer seems very generous. There is no charge, a 25-year guarantee and all work involved is done by accredited installers. Is there any drawback to this type of solar panel offers?
Answer: Yes, there are several drawbacks.The feed-in tariff (Fit scheme), where home owners generating their own electricity are paid by energy companies for every unit of power they feed into the national grid.
It is the Fit scheme that makes photovoltaic, solar panels worthwhile as an investment, because it might earn the average solar owners around £900 a year from a £12,000 to £15,000 (around 7% return as opposed to 3% by leaving it in a bank account).
The promotional literature from these types of solar companies suggests that the average home owner signing up for this type of rent-your-roof scheme will reduce their electricity bills by around £150 per year.
The biggest problem with these types of schemes are people who are out at work during the day time, for example, won’t see much benefit from the free power being generated, but if you own the panels yourself, then you will benefit by being paid for the energy your panels produce, whether you use the power during the day or not.
In contrast, by installing its PV solar panels on your roof, this free solar panels companies will be claiming all your feed-in tariffs (Fits) for themselves.
You will have to sign a contract leasing your roof and the air space above it to the company for 20 years, for no additional payment. The lease will be registered by the Land Registry, and, therefore, legally binding.
More pitfalls for free solar panels?
You won’t be able to change your mind or remove the panels during this 25 year period and should you want to sell your house, the new owners will also be bound by the terms of that lease, thus vastly reducing your ability to sell your property. I personally wouldn’t buy a house once I found that I wouldn’t even benefit financially from the surplus electricity they produced.
Stuart Lovatt from Heat my Home adds “My grandparents taught me that something that is too good to be true. The question you have to ask is how is the free solar company benefiting from your home. Simply, by earning lots of money from it, so this begs the question, why would you not want to earn that money for yourself?”
Heat my Home does not offer free solar panels, but we help people who want to benefit from the government feed-in tariff scheme themselves.