Continuing on from Friday’s post when we revealed the most common questions users of Solar Panel Quoter have been asking us about solar panels and installations, today, we reveal your most common questions about ‘Free Solar Panel’ schemes.
How free solar PV offers work.
The company installs the solar panels on south, south-west or south-east facing roofs.
The company pays for the installation, connection charges and the maintenance of the panels.
The home owner benefits from free electricity from the panels (could be a saving worth £100 or 20% of annual usage, depending on how much of the solar energy is used on site)*
Any electricity that is not used is exported into the local electricity network. Any income associated with this is likely to go to the installation company. As the owner of the solar panels, the company receives the full Feed-in-Tariffs income (approx £600 per year)*
*this is based on a 2kWp system which is expected to be fairly typical in size for most homes.
These free solar PV offers are also referred to as “rent my roof space” schemes with the solar panel owner simply ‘renting’ the roof space from the customer.
Q. Who’s paying for the equipment? Is that in full? Who owns the equipment? (and is that all of the equipment – i.e. meter, wires inside building etc – or just equipment on the roof/in the back yard?)
We would expect anyone offering this scheme to pay for the equipment in full. This includes the solar panels, the inverter, metering and wiring of system. All equipment is likely to be owned by the company with many handing over ownership after 25 years.
Q. Who gets (a) the generation tariff, (b) the export tariff, (c) the ‘free’ electricity?
We expect the company providing the free technology to receive the full generation tariff and the export tariff (around £25 per year for a 2kWp system), and for you to benefit from the free electricity.
Q. Who pays for maintenance and repairs (e.g. if the DC/AC inverter fails after 8 years)?
All maintenance and repairs should be paid for by the company installing the equipment, as they are likely to be the owner of the technology. You should check for this in any agreements.
Q. Who will insure the equipment? Against what?
It’s likely that you won’t own the equipment so you should not have to insure it. It is therefore up to the company to insure their equipment against fire, theft, wind damage etc.
Q. Who will be liable if the equipment causes damage to my family or my neighbours? Or if it causes damage to mine or my neighbours’ building or electrics?
This may be difficult to answer as you would have to prove that the damage was negligence on the part of the company installing the equipment e.g. faulty wiring. Any faulty work should be reported to the company immediately for them to rectify.
Q. What happens if I decide I want to pay off the remaining costs early? Can I have the FIT re-assigned to me?
This will depend on the contract drawn up between you and the company.
Q. What happens if I move house and the new owners don’t want to ‘inherit’ the deal?
It’s highly unlikely the company offering the panels will want to sell them back or allow you to sell along with house. Therefore the agreement will stick with the property and you will have to consider this when selling the property.
Q. Do the companies give any performance guarantees for the equipment? (and what happens if it stops working and generating FITs ?)
This is the company’s risk as it relates to performance of the system and quality of products used. However most PV cells have manufacturer performance guarantees ranging from 20-25 years so this shouldn’t be a problem.
Q. Do I need to let my mortgage company and/or buildings insurer know that this installation has taken place? Will I need their permission?
We recommend telling your mortgage provider about this before going ahead.
Q. Who is responsible for addressing any planning issues or electricity distribution company notification requirements? Who pays any associated costs?
We expect the company providing the offer to be responsible for all of this.
Q. What happens if the company which owns the equipment ceases to exist or goes into liquidation?
This will vary for each situation. However, because the system generates an income then the liquidators may decide to keep it running in order to pay off creditors.
photo credit: aral balkan