Free Solar Panels?
On the surface it seems like a good idea. You want to get solar panels installed, get cheaper electricity bills and a company is offering to do it for free. The catch? They want control of your Feed in Tariff.
The Feed in Tariff, for those who don’t know, is a scheme whereby you can sell the electricity you produce back to the grid and make a profit. So, if you have solar panels you can produce the energy to power your home and earn a profit on the excess you produce. It’s one of the more attractive features of something like solar, apart from the lower bills and carbon friendly technology.
It costs around £5-10,000 to install solar panels on a roof. Most people will either use the money they have saved or take out a loan to pay for it. The benefit of the Feed in Tariff is that you will at some point pay off the initial investment and start making a profit. A number of people want solar power but can’t afford it or are unable to take out a loan to cover the initial cost. For them, companies have, for some time, been offering the free installation deal.
But is it right for you?
First of all, the number of companies offering the free solar deal has dropped recently with a reduction in the Feed in Tariff, meaning that profits are not so great as they were. Secondly, you need enough roof space and the prospect of generating a significant amount of electricity for many companies to consider you.
If you are simply looking to go green and get a little off your electricity bill then opting for free panels, or any of the other renewables that are locked into the Feed in Tariff, may well be good for you. There are some other things that you need to consider though:
- You are going to be tied to a long term contract which has a number of caveats attached to it.
- If you are looking to sell your house you need to be sure that the buyer is aware of the contract and willing to take it on.
- If you need to do work on your roof during the lifetime of the contract you may have to pay the company compensation for the time that the solar panels are offline.
When entering into something long term such as a free solar panels installation then it pays to take a very close look at the contract being agreed and to take the appropriate legal advice.
Free Solar Panels Vs Buying Them
There are undoubtedly more benefits if you can get the money together to purchase the installation of your solar panels. For instance, if you have a 4 kW system put in, then you could be missing out on a potential profit of £23,000 over its life time according to a recent Which? article. That includes savings from having a low carbon renewable energy source and the returns from the Feed in Tariff.
Alternatives to Free Solar
There’s no doubt that getting a renewable energy installed is more lucrative if you can take advantage of the Feed in Tariff. One possible source of funding to consider is the Government’s Green Deal that can provide low cost loans for households trying to improve their green credentials.