To buy or not to buy: Which? free solar report explained | Act On Solar Power Portal
28th November 2010
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To buy or not to buy: Which? free solar report explained

Consumer group Which? calculates that free solar offers could cost you thousands of pounds

As noted in our news today, consumer watchdog, Which?, warns that consumers who opt for free solar schemes are losing out on the chance to earn £10,500, since the free solar installation company earns the UK’s generous feed-in tariff rate. Since this report will get many of you hot under the collar, we thought we’d have a look at the pros and cons of installing your own system vs. the free offers, and why people should not feel ripped off if they have already opted for the latter.

Our dedicated readers will also notice that this was something we pointed out months ago when the likes of ASG and ISIS first popped onto the scene. However, it is important, now that Which? has finally mustered up a report, that we list the need-to-knows accordingly.

The freebies

When these offers began to surface, people were wary. “Is this too good to be true?” and “Where’s the catch?” were some of the questions that were fired our way. In fact, after much investigation we found that yes, these offers do exactly what they say on the tin. Yet, as Which? points out, there is a slight downside. So let’s look at both sides to the argument:


-         Gain a free solar power system

-         Benefit from free electricity

-         Save money on your bills (approx. £400 a year)

-         Cut your carbon footprint

-         Benefit from free maintenance/monitoring services for 25 years

-         Add value to your home (in some opinions)


-         You have solar panels on your roof for 25 years

-         Decrease the value of your home (in some opinions)

-         You don’t receive the feed-in tariff (which could be £10,500 over the 25 years)

The DIY job


-         Benefit from free electricity

-         Save money on your bills (approx. £400 a year)

-         Earn over £10,000 over 25 years from the FiT

-         Cut your carbon footprint

-         Add value to your home (in some opinions).


-         You have to take out a loan, or stump up the average £9,000 yourself

-         All system maintenance needs to be done by you

-         Any replacement parts need to be bought by you (inverters only last approx. 10 years and cost an average £1,000).

As you can see for yourself from these comparisons, there are two sides to the story. While the rent-a-roof customer will indeed lose out on the FiT payments, they will gain a hassle free energy source for 25 years. The DIY customers will earn a nice profit over 25 years, but it comes at the price of maintenance, part replacement and high up-front costs. We suggest that anyone considering either option takes a good look at what they are getting before they do. Be green, but more importantly, be happy.


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Harish D

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