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Anyone know about solar panels that are completely free? Heard an advert and I'm sure there must be a catch....

(9 Posts)
KirstyJC Sun 03-Jul-11 19:49:30

Recently on local radio I heard an advert for a company that installs solar panels to generate free electricity. I looked on their website and it said that is was completely free to install, free to maintain and that they get paid by the subsidy under the 'feed in tarif' scheme from the Govt. They also had a link to some sort of tenants/landlords act which they said would apply. Apparently the solar panels would be maintained by them for 25 years and then we would own them.

They supplied a weblink to the feed in tarif but it didn't really give much information. I have heard in the past about Govt subsidies which reduce the costs to the homeowner, but never making it completely free.

I feel this sounds too good to be true, and there must be a catch. I couldn't make head nor tail of the tenants thing either which sounds a bit odd.

Their website gave details of who to contact (you apply online and they call you back) but you had to tick a box saying you've read and understood the tenants bit and I didn't understand so I chickened out of contacting them blush.

Has anyone else heard of this? Or used it? What does it entail? We have a large roof (house and outbuilding) that are south facing so we would be very keen to get solar panels if there really IS no catch....?

wonkylegs Sun 03-Jul-11 20:08:59

Haven't heard of this but do know about feed in tariffs and I'd say that this sounds like a con.
You usually pay for the equipment and then feed in tariffs mean you can sell any spare electricity back to the your electricity company. Some companies will subsidise your equipment for a cut of your feed in tariff - this generally is a very poor deal and tends to be more in the company's favour rather than the householder

HarrietJones Sun 03-Jul-11 21:07:03

They take the surplus electricity back from you & make on that, that's why you have to have a south facing roof & no other planning complications( conservation area etc)

MoreBeta Sun 03-Jul-11 21:15:21

KirstyJC- it is not a con. The feed in traiffs pay for the fitting.

However, what these firms are doing is what in economics is known as a land grab. They are trying to sign up as many people as quickly as possible. Once they have signed up those people they will sell the company on to someone else. The panels may or may not ever be fitted depending on the price of electric and the value of feed in tariffs.

You are giving them a 25 year right to use your roof but look carefully at the agreement - they may be under no obligation to actually fit the solar panels and even if they are the firm may be wound up, go bankrupt and the contract you have will be void.

Giving away this right to your roof may also affect the value of the property if you wish to sell it.

KirstyJC Sun 03-Jul-11 21:58:58

Hmmm...OK so there's the catch then!! Thanks MoreBeta, that sounds like what they were on about with the tenants/landlords thing. I really don't like the sound of giving anyone the right to use our roof for 25 years, although we do plan on being here for that long so hopefully it wouldn't matter so much about the resale value.

I think I will leave it. We are in a conservation area anyway so maybe we wouldn't have been eligible anyway.

Such as shame when things that sound too good too be true actually are....<sigh>smile

KirstyJC Sun 03-Jul-11 21:59:18

'too good TO be true' blush

PigletJohn Mon 04-Jul-11 10:30:17

the other big catch is that they will register a charge on your property, lasting for 25 years, saying that they have a right to the panels on your roof. Anyone buying the house will have to accept this.

Would you buy a house with a 25-year leaseholder on the roof?

blanchedevereaux Mon 04-Jul-11 20:38:34

Some interesting info on this on the MoneySavingExpert email this week:

osd Mon 04-Jul-11 20:52:31

We are doing it; or our landlord is anyway, its like renting your roof and should not affect you or any future house buyers. Free electric or nearly free and they make up the cost with the incentives the Government provide. Google it; solar panels incentive and read about it, if you have a renewable energy source on your property you can get cheaper electric tariffs through loco2energy (i think) we can as we have a biomass boiler. I bet this company can allow you to pay for the panels. It's not a catch its a business. Rent a roof. Nothing sinister and the savings you could make on electric may be worth it.

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