RED Renewables - Free Solar Panels - A report
Free Solar Panels
There are numerous companies now offering to install solar panels for free. This will amount to a saving on the householder's electricity bill, and on the face of it looks like a good deal. But is it? We think not.
Anyone considering having solar panels installed for free should not enter lightly into the arrangement.
The Feed in Tariff (or Clean Energy Cashback Scheme) provides a generous payment to the owner of an approved grid-tied solar PV system, but if you have the system installed for free then you are not the owner!
For example, a 3.9kW system on a south facing roof could be worth approximately £1350 per year in combined FiT payments and payments for exported electricity. However, the savings on the electricity bill for the property could be less than £200, depending on the pattern of usage in the property.
You will be expected to sign a contract to lease your roof space for the 25 year term of the FiT scheme. This has major implications that should not be overlooked:
- If you decide to move house before the 25 years is over, you'll need to explain to any potential buyer that they're locked into a lease agreement. They may take some convincing that the small saving on their electricity bill justifies the arrangement. At best, you can expect the free solar panels to reduce the perceived value of your home, whereas solar panels owned by the homeowner have been shown to increase a property's value.
- If your property is mortgaged, you will need permission from your lender before leasing your roof space for 25 years.
- If your roof requires any maintenance necessitating temporary removal of the solar panels, will the installation company make a charge for this service?
- By the end of the lease the equipment becomes your property. Whether it has any financial value by that point would be questionable, as maintenance and repair costs could be greater than the small savings on the electricity bill.
At RED Electrical we believe that their would only be one winner in such an arrangement - the investor. They would reap the rewards for the term of their investment and leave the householder with the burden of disposal of the equipment at the end of its useful life.
Here are some external links that you may find helpful:
Why free solar panels are best avoided
Free solar panels: the small print exposed
Free solar panels sound good, but buying them yourself is better