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Solar Panels: The Truth Behind The Technology

3 April 2019

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Homeowners purchase solar panels with the main aims of reducing their energy bills and to decrease their carbon footprint. However, there are some pitfalls and problems that solar panel customers can fall into. In this article, TRUE Solicitors LLP explore the truth behind solar panels, including the pros and cons, as well as the problem of financial mis-selling.

The advantages of fitting solar panels to your home

Solar panels are used to generate a clean form of renewable technology. Solar panels work by converting the sun’s energy into electricity. Photovoltaic cells are placed between semi-conducting materials, made up of different electronic properties to create an electric field. When sunlight hits the solar panels the semi-conducting materials energise, creating the current required to produce electricity. The benefits to fitting solar panels to your home include:

  • Maintenance free — solar panels need minimal maintenance after they have been fitted to your home. This means that they don’t cost you much money and are a relatively hassle-free way to generate renewable energy.
  • Low impact on the environment— solar panels don’t create air pollution or noise, making them a great source of generating power in urban and rural areas.
  • Safe — solar panels are don’t contain any toxins or emit any fumes making it very safe for them to be fitted to residential homes.

The disadvantages of fitting solar panels to your home

Fitting solar panels to your home is an expensive initial investment and may not be suitable for your house. This will depend on factors such as the customer’s budget, energy usage and the size or location of their property. The disadvantages of installing solar panels to your home include:

  • High initial cost — it can cost several thousands to install solar panels to your home. This needs to be paid upfront and is often covered by a method of credit like a finance agreement or credit card. The cost covers the installation, the physical solar panels, the inverter, batteries, and the installation.
  • Take up a lot of space — solar panels are fairly large in size and take up a lot of space on the roof of your home. Some people do not have properties with the roof space large enough to accommodate all of the panels required.
  • Reliance on sunny weather — solar panels are only at their full level of efficiency when they are in direct sunlight. Solar energy cannot be collected at night and during spells of cloudy weather the efficiency of the system significantly drops.

The great solar panel mis-selling scandal

Homeowners typically pay for the installation of their solar panels through a finance agreement or credit card. Many homeowners are given advice by the installation company that the panels will essentially pay for themselves, due to the financial benefits received through the Feed-in-Tariff (FIT). The FIT is a government initiative in which energy generated by residential solar panels is sold back to the national grid. They are advised that the reduction in their energy bills will offset the monthly finance repayments, to cover the installation costs.

However, many consumers are sadly discovering that the information that they received during the sales pitch, regarding the productivity of the solar panels, was misrepresentative. As a consequence they are finding that there is a significant deficit each month between the financial benefits of the solar panels (Feed-in-Tariff and energy bill reduction) and the installation repayments.

Consumers who have purchased solar panels, which have failed to deliver the cost savings that they were promised, may be eligible to claim for compensation to cover the full or partial cost of the installation on the grounds of being mis sold solar panels.

If the solar panel installation company that you bought your solar panels from is no longer trading you can still make a claim. Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act protects consumers who have purchased items costing over £100 using a finance agreement or credit card. This means that the credit company or finance provider is jointly liable for any complaints you may have about the company that installed the panels, even if they have ceased trading.

Solar panels: are they worth it?

With any costly home investment it is necessary to evaluate the pros and cons before you start the work. Installing solar panels is no exception to this rule. It is important to think about the positioning of your home, how much sunlight it gets each day, and if you plan on moving home in the near future.  It is also worth taking note that the government’s solar panel support scheme, which allows homeowners to sell the excess power generated back to the grid, came to an end on March 31st. If you install solar panels after this date, you will benefit from the savings on your own energy bill for the power generated and used by your home only. Power will no longer be able to be sold back to the grid, meaning that it could take in excess of 70 years to break even on the initial outlay.

If you believe that you were mis-sold your solar panels contact TRUE Solicitors today. Our expert financial mis-selling team is experienced in obtaining compensation for clients who have purchased solar panels through a method of finance, in the last 5 years.

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