Sat, 22 Oct 2011 13:18:00 GMT
There are many solar installers in the UK offering to install free solar or selling solar systems so that you can claim the feed-in tariff or solar panels grants. As with any industry there are rogues among the good honest companies. How do you know if you are dealing with a rogue solar company or that you are dealing with a genuine company providing a good service. Often it can be a case of finding out too late so what can you do to ensure you are dealing with a legitimate and genuine company?
In the solar industry as with any other industry there are trade bodies and organisations, many of these bodies or watchdogs are privately run where as others are government run schemes. So this means one of the easiest ways to check out a company is to make sure they are members of certain schemes and understand what these recognised bodies represent. Two such organisations are the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) and the Renewable Energy Assurance Limited (REAL).
Whether you are having free solar panels installed or more importantly buying your own solar system you need to make sure that the installer is MCS certified. You shouldn't just rely on the MCS logo appearing on the companies site either, the MCS website allows consumers to check to see if a company is listed. Our free solar panel installers page is being updated to show whether or not a company is MCS certified and shows their registration number and the date the company registered. This also gives a good indication of how long the company has been installing MCS certified solar PV systems.
Another organisation call REAL also lists its members and allows consumers to search to see if the company is listed. You can search for REAL solar installers to find out if the installer is a member. The Renewable Energy Assurance scheme requires its members to follow a certain code of conduct and operating guidelines so a member of REAL is more likely to be a trusted installer.
There are of course other trade bodies and associations that represent the consumer and the renewable energy industry and a generally the more associations the installer belongs to the more trusted they tend to be. The reason for this is that to maintain their membership of the organisation they have to maintain the standards and follow the charter of membership. Again being a member of any organisation doesn't make a company a saint but it does give a good indication of the businesses conduct.
The web is a great tool full of information, of course not all of it is verifiable or trustworthy information but in general it makes researching a company much easier. You can search for an installers name to find out what others are saying about them, both good and bad. Don't always take any single piece of information at face value but use it to help you build up a bigger picture. The easiest way to do this type of research is to type in the companies name into your favourite search engine and see what pops up.
A while back there was a Watchdog programme that featured an installer that had come under some criticism. Watchdog's advice was to make sure the installer was MCS and REAL listed, what they didn't mention was that not all companies offering solar will be registered with these organisations. This is because some companies just act as a middleman between the consumer and the installer. So a doorstep salesman may not actually be affiliated with any organisation, the worry here is that they could easily mislead consumers with incorrect information as the man on the doorstep isn't actually an installer themselves.
I have written before about doorstep solar salesmen and have advised that you should not even entertain someone turning up on your doorstep offering free solar or indeed paid solar. You need to be able to do your research first and sites like Free Solar Panels UK and others like it are a great place to start. As I mentioned before the free solar installers page is currently being updated to include installers certification information to make it easier to find out if a solar company is actually certified. This will hopefully save you the time of having to search the MCs and REAL sites yourself to see if a company is listed.
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