“As someone who has been relentlessly been ‘singing the praises’ of solar panel installations since 2004, I have seen many solar-related companies come and go. From huge corporations like BP to small one-man bands. I have seen them all.”The one thing that all these companies have in common is the ‘over-zealous’ and commission hungry salespeople. Now this is nothing unique to the solar panel industry, but having successfully worked a couple of years in this type of environment myself, I have heard and seen it all.
One thing I noticed, and only realised with hindsight was that you could clearly split my other solar-selling colleagues into two categories. The enthusiasts and commission chasers. As a real enthusiast myself, commission payments came easily because I spoke from the heart and my customers could see and hear this in me.
The commission chasers however, had to fake their enthusiasm and work extra-hard to replace that missing enthusiasm, and this is where a few bad sales people who are working in the solar-related industries are spoiling it for the many.
My time in the sales department was a real eye-opener and the poor attitudes of the commission chasers towards their customers used to make my blood boil as it does today when I still hear stories of poor performing companies or worse.
The good news is that one of the unintended consequences of the feed-in tariffs re-alignment, was to see many ‘in it for the money’ type companies fall by the wayside. A few good companies were lost too, but on the whole, the changes have had a positive effect on the standards of companies still around today.
Sadly though in this imperfect world, even a good company with the best training available can still employ people of questionable character and for this reason I have created a consumers guide to buying solar panels.
As for my questionable ex-colleagues, I have heard from the grapevine of life that many of them have returned to the financial industries from where they came. Make of that, what you will?
Consumers guide to buying solar panels
Trust your instinct, but don’t beat yourself up because a good commission chaser can be very charming and convincing. Never, never ever sign-up on the day. This is what they want. If you cool-off and digest what has been said, then your instinct about a person will kick-in automatically. You always have a seven-day cool off period if you do sign in your home.
Take notes and record facts and figures which are being relayed to you. A bad salesperson is far more likely to turn off the crap tap, if he knows his every word is being recorded. Once you have the necessary information, check the facts given to you. My Heat my Home website is crammed full of information to help consumers.
The investors on BBC’s Dragons Den always take notes whilst they listen to pitches. This is so facts and figures can be checked after the event. As a solar investor yourself, ask questions, ask probing questions and like the dragon investors, you may not be the expert, but you can still take authority and control of the sales pitch in front of you.
Suitability surveys shouldn’t take more than an hour of your day.
A classic untrue sales line currently circulating the industry is “we make our own panels, “although this may be true in a very odd exception in the solar heating industry, many photovoltaic sales people are saying this, which is simply untrue in most cases.
This sales line is designed to make the company sound bigger and better than it actually is. What is really going on, is that they are simply adding their own stickers onto existing manufactured panels and gives them an advantage by turning your home into an advertising billboard for them.
Not all solar panels are the same!
Another untruth been said by some people, is that all solar panels are the same and the only difference is the price. Not true! The quality and efficiency specifications of PV panels vary massively, as too does solar heating panels.
This is where research is essential. Do you know the difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline? Is solar thermal better than thermodynamic installations? In-roof, on-roof or solar tubes? Would solar heating benefit me better or should I spend a bit more and get a photovoltaic system?
I understand solar panels can be very confusing and that is why this website exists. Most good companies supply a wider range of technologies and won’t be pushing one type.
Sizing is also critical to consider because I have heard many stories of over-charging and people finding out they could have got a much larger sized system from company B, if company A hadn’t convinced them to purchase. Again, research, get multiple quotes and research again.
Because this type of technology lasts up to thirty years, it’s always worth spending a bit of extra time on your investment.
Solar panel costs vary dramatically across the industry, and this has been accentuated by cheap Chinese manufactured panels being widely distributed by solar installation companies.
Personally, I would choose European manufactured panels to guarantee longevity. And, just like purchasing a new car, you wouldn’t buy the cheapest and you certainly wouldn’t purchase from a company without checking their reputation first.
Knowledge certainly is power, which ultimately converts to more kWh when buying solar panels.
As stated earlier in this article, the good outnumber the bad, but a few will always spoil it for the many as with any aspect of life. Always purchase from an MCS and RECC accredited company and always make sure the specification of the panels being installed before they are attached to your roof are the specification you ordered. That is where your previous notes become handy.
Once installed, sit back, relax and bask in the pride that you’re new solar panel technology will give you, but it’s worth it once you see the long-term benefits.
Nobody said pioneering was easy, but Heat my Home will make it easier.
"Feel the pride."
Stuart Lovatt on
Founder of Heat My Home.