When installing a photovoltaic (PV) solar roof, finding a qualified professional installer who can offer you the most competitive price will be very important. Prices sometimes vary very significantly between different installers, so it always pays to "shop around" by getting several quotes from different installers.
How to find installers
To receive income in the form of Feed-in Tariff (FiT) payments for the electricity produced by your PV roof, it is mandatory that your installer as well as the equipment used are certified under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS).
It is usually better to find a few local installers yourself, rather than go only to those that have contacted you. The official listing for MCS certified installers is at www.microgenerationcertification.org/consumers/installer-search. There are thousands to choose from - you can search by postcode and get a map of local installers.
In addition to the MCS certification, some installers voluntarily other professional bodies, or will have been assessed by NICEIC. See the contacts below.
Avoiding the hard sell
All installers have to meet certain standards to be accredited, including signing up for a code of conduct such as the Renewable Energy Consumer Code. The code is backed by the Trading Standards Institute and covers a range of issues, including 'hard sell' aggressive sales tactics.
For example: "Employees must not give false or misleading information about their company or the product, services or facilities being offered. They must not make any statement that is likely to mislead the consumer in any way. Sales employees and representatives, whether employed directly, sub-contracted or selling on the company's behalf, must not use any selling techniques designed to pressurise the consumer into making an immediate decision. These techniques are prohibited by law as well as contravening this Code.” See the RECC website for more.
There are complaints procedures in place through the RECC and MCS schemes to follow up claims against companies that either mis-sell systems or do poor work on the installation.
The law has been tightened up in recent years, owing to ‘hard sell’ tactics in various industries such as double glazing, conservatories as well as solar panels. So these tactics are not just unethical, they are often now illegal as well. If you think that a company is engaging in hard sell tactics, it is well worth feeding back your concerns to the relevant body (usually the RECC), and also your local trading standards. The scheme will only work if people help to police it. If any company is aggressive in their sales, then tell them you’re not interested because of their approach, and seek out other installers through the MCS listings given above.