Solar Panels - are they worth it?

(15 Posts)
TINKERBELLE33 Sun 29-Jan-12 13:23:02

We are thinking of getting solar panels to help reduce the amount of electricity we use from the grid and can get in before the FIT rate drops so theoretically it seems like a good deal too. In fact it seems a bit too good to be true. Can they really reduce your bills significantly and generate a reasonable income, or is it just sales patter? We would have to take out a loan to pay for these but have been told the FIT payments should more than cover this.

Have had two quotes and they varied greatly in price and not sure which to go for. The first was rather expensive and the salesman seemed really professional, but did try to sell us a system that was too big for the allowance that our enegy company allows (the one who owns the cables IYSWIM). He also missed an appointment last week, denied he had any knowledge of it yet rang us to book this weeks appointment.

The second salesman was very new to the job, had to look up lots of info, but did answer all our questions, and came in with a quote that was £4000 cheaper. Better for us but why so much cheaper? DH thinks its possibly because the company is from the NE where as the other is a national company but based down south. Both companies employ their own fitters, are linked to the same industry bodies, offer the same level of after care, were recommended by the same energy site and offer the same insurance policy for if they go out of business before the end of their guarantee.

Any advice and/or personal experiences would be really appreciated.

ragged Sun 29-Jan-12 13:37:10

We got panels last year.
I worked up a detailed spreadsheet (I have a background in cost benefit analysis).
Factoring in everything I could think of, including anticipated repair costs.
We hope to get our money back in 7-10 years.
We would not do it except we had the cash & other investment options all looking so cruddy.
I would not do it now with the uncertainty over FIT.
And absolutely would not do it if I had to get a loan, and pay interest on that.
Sorry, probably not what you wanted to hear.
Plenty of folk are going ahead even though they've had to get loans, etc. So my perspective obviously not the only one.

I am not surprised you've had such diverse quotes; if you're still unsure, get at least 3 more quotes, and firmly tell each company you've only got an hour to hear their patter & you are not signing anything on the day. Pushy cowboys some of them.

Takver Sun 29-Jan-12 14:14:30

I agree it would be a real gamble now with the FIT - ok if you have the money and are willing to take the gamble, but not to take out a loan!

Personally, I would always start by reducing your electricity consumption first - you should be able to get your bill down dramatically without anywhere near such a big investment. Start with an energy display meter if you don't have one & work from there! (One thing that is definitely worth investigating & not mentioned often is your central heating pump - modern super-efficient pumps can use a tenth the power of an old inefficient one.)

ragged Sun 29-Jan-12 20:12:22

I keep having a snigger at house near me that had 8 panels put up on roof late last year. DC stop to watch (their enormous) telly EVERY time we pass the house. And we walk by that house a lot.

'Course I don't know anything about the circumstances, maybe they have a better excuse than most for 24/7 telly viewing. At least they are trying to do it on Green electricity. smile

We have had our panels almost a year, and our electricity consumption has gone down 30% (but we were low users anyway). PILs had their panels installed a couple of weeks back, reasoning that it will save them money on electricity now, add value to the house, and give them a tax-free income guaranteed for 25 years. They had the savings for it though, and enough space for 16 panels (we only have 8, but already earned £500 over 8 months to Dec).

VivaLeBeaver Thu 02-Feb-12 08:10:48

Someone I know had them fitted earlier this week. He was in a rush to get it done as he says they need to be fitted by 1st march. Any solar panels fitted after this will get a different Fit rate. He says there was a court decision only last week which reversed the govs previous decision to drop the rate. But they are allowed to drop it after march but any solar panels fitted before then get the old rate. Not sure how true this is but it sounded like he'd done his research.

I knew the challenge to the FiT was in the high court, didn't know it had been decided though. I shall have to look into that (for PILs benefit)

Ash74 Wed 15-Feb-12 16:58:10

There's some really useful information about the recent FiT debate here: www.engensa.com/blog/. It's got some great insight into the different phases and what it means.

jshm2 Mon 27-Feb-12 21:26:39

Nope - not worth it without the subsidy.

Even the energy watchdog themselves say you'll save at most around £30-£100 a year tops if the weather allows it. Plus with the service charge coming in at around £100 a pop you'll make no savings so to speak.

Your actually much better instead investing in LED lightbulbs to reduce your lighting costs and improved insulation to reduce your heating costs. These two are your main electricity costs anyway.

fluffygal Mon 27-Feb-12 21:37:54

I have been trying to decide whether to get these fitted- they would be free for me so no outlay or cost- surely that is worth it, do you think?

mumteacher Wed 07-Mar-12 22:00:26

We had them fitted by Energymyway.co.uk. Depends where your based, were in London and the guy that came round was very professional and not a hard sales person. He went to see my friends mother but advised her against doing it. Were going to get 21p but felt it was still worth doing since prices of panels had come down.

Kayzr Wed 07-Mar-12 22:02:40

I would get them. But I am biased probably as my mum and step dad have a solar panel business in Yorkshire.

They are always very busy and everyone that has had them so far is very pleased with them.

angelinwilliams Fri 17-Aug-12 06:54:28

Yes Solar panels are worth.Solar panels generate electricity by harnessing light energy also known as photons.
There is enough light energy produced by the sun to support the whole worlds' energy needs.More and more people have resorted to using them as a means to reduce electric bills.
They can of course reduce electric bills to considerably low margins. The production costs may vary depending on what type of panel that you are installing, but don't worry. There are ways wherein you can save a lot of money, especially if you build one yourself. Solar panels do not require a lot of maintenance so having them around is a breeze. And unlike other energy sources, these panels don't use gasoline.

power plant operational issue

gelatinous Fri 17-Aug-12 08:07:05

The trouble with them is though, that they only generate electricity when the sun is shining and absolutely none on a dark winter evening when electricity demand in the country is highest. So you still need exactly the same number of other technology power stations in the country to meet peak demand. It's an expensive way to generate electricity that doesn't produce it when you need it and without government subsidies it wouldn't cost in for individuals either.

My net electricity and gas bills are negative thanks to my solar panels (2kW system, max FiT).
We are low fuel users anyway, our bills pre-panels were £65pcm combined. We got a AA rated boiler since the panels which reduced gas usage, but our current combined bill is £45pcm, our FiTs pay quarterly and are obviously variable based on season, but have paid around £700pa which more than covers our energy bills.
For me, the panels are worth it, if only for the peace of mind that we are insulated from escalating fuel costs. The environmental factor is a bonus really, it's a sound investment, even at the current subsidy rate.

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