Solar Panel Sales Calls in Essex – Scam or Honest Service?

Just had another call from a solar panel company, the first was from an energy company last year. They wanted to send a sales person to my house for a free consultation, that they promised would only take 15 minutes. I declined the offer, twice, and was then asked why. I explained is was for personal reasons and they slammed the phone down on me!

Now, I have thought about getting solar panels a few times. But it is 5.30pm on a Friday, I am trying to get the last bits of work done before I can stop for the weekend, dinner is almost ready, I really did not wish to chat. Plus, we are thinking about a loft extension, so solar panels really are not an option at the moment.

So annoying when people phone up and get stroppy and rude just because you do not wish to agree with everything a cold caller has to say, or divulge your reasons why you do not wish to have a “consultant” sit in your living room for “15 minutes” doing the hard sell. Honestly, I have better things to do with my time.

Also, the caller withheld their number. I am naturally suspicious of any company which does not wish to provide me with a way to contact them. Why withhold your number? What if I changed my mind?

Is there a Catch with Solar Panels?

I am still not entirely what the catch is with the solar panels – other than possibly an extortionate loan to cover the “free solar panels” and that as a home owner I will not get the full benefit from the National Grid. The talk now is the Green Deal, or Green Budget, supposedly to provide free improvements to make a home greener. But it costs a lot of money to hire telesales people, so somebody somewhere is going to be making money out of this free deal.

The Free Solar Panels Will Cost You

I spoke to a retired solar panel installer last summer, and he did explain that the average household is around £2000 a year worse off when they get the “free” solar panels. No idea if this is still true, but it was the case a few years ago. Basically, you only receive a small part of the money that the National Grid returns to the house for producing extra energy. The company which installs the solar panels (and possibly also manages your account) takes a big cut too. That is how they can afford to give away state of the art solar panels, and install them, for nothing.

According to Energy Saving Trust, solar panels can provide around 75% of your electricity needs. A quick review of some commercial sites which offer free installation presents offers of up to 1/3 off the bill. So there is certainly a gap in the savings solar panels provide and the savings returned by the fitters – around 40% of your savings may be kept by the fitting company!

You may save more money if you buy your own solar panels and hire somebody (who is qualified and registered etc.) to install them for you. However, The Independent published and article which suggests that some people will never recover the costs of installation – Solar panels ‘take 100 years to pay back installation costs’ – note that this article was written in 2008 so now may be out of date.

The last time I had a call regarding solar panels (I think from the same company) I asked for a rough idea of the cost – the salesman refused to give me a figure, stating that it was impossible to do so before seeing the house. Again, very suspicious, as the solar panels are generally a fixed size and cost, the only variable is installation time which should not make a huge difference to the final bill.

I wish solar panel firms were more transparent in what they are offering. I’d probably buy some if they came clean up front with the true costs and benefits.

But, at the end of the day I do not wish to have some “free” solar panels on my roof, which I may not even officially own, which will stop me from making changes to my roof in the future. It’s Friday evening, I don’t want to chat about green energy, thank you!

Some Good Advice on Solar Panels

Do you fit solar panels? Do you have solar panels already?

If so, please share your experiences. We would love to get some honest feedback.

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