Don’t rush into buying solar panels

“A good friend of mine phoned me up about a conversation he had with a doorstep canvasser, who was pressing him into adopting solar panels before the January change.”

I wouldn't recommend an East/West solar installation.

I wouldn't recommend an East/West solar installation to my mum so that I wouldn't recommend you either.

I get a complete breakdown of the conversation, and I can tell you it upset me.

Firstly, yet again the seemingly incompetent way in which the government seems to handle the incentives for solar panels is allowing shameless companies to take advantage of people.

The direct sales and cold calling teams are ramping up activity and knocking on double some doors to urge folks into getting solar panels installed before it’s too late – I thought.

Secondly, the price on offer was around £4,000 plus over what it should have been. These sales practices have become a blight on the industry over the last few years.

Many people who don’t have a friend like me, unfortunately, fall foul of commission-hungry salespeople. That higher price is probably not because they are selling you better quality panels and inverters or doing a better quality install. No matter what they tell you – I explained!

£850 is not bad for a couple of hours sitting in your living room.

The incentive for your investment in solar panels should be yours and not the sharp-suited salesmen. This reason is precisely the reason I began Heat my Home in the first place – to help people research and avoid such pitfalls.

I then informed my friend that most installers are good and certainly the ones I deal with are ethical, but unfortunately, there is a darker side of the industry that is opportunistic and will disappear to greener pastures once they have sucked the tariff scheme dry.

The company you choose for your installation is just as important as the quality of the equipment. To me, the two go hand in hand. I would prefer a smaller, more trade-based company who will still be plying their trade in a decade’s time.

I can put you in touch with such a company here:


Admittedly, between the day you read this article and the January deadline, there is a limited number of days for installing, especially when you consider the Great British winter. However, this should not stop you from researching and getting three comparable quotes.

Some very easy research on this website alone would have flagged up the excessive pricing. Never be rushed into committing. Research the companies as well as the quotations. Ask for contact details for their nearest five customers to you at least.

Then give them a ring and ask:

1. How did the installation go?

2. How has the system performed since installation? Has it done what the company and you expected? Can I pop round and see?

Don’t deal with a company who installs panels on a North facing roof just to get a sale. Astonishing as this sounds, I have heard this happen many times. South, South East and South West facing roofs are best for solar panels.

You can easily check your roof orientation here:

My now solar savvy friend didn’t get the installation done, just because within a five-minute conversation we had concluded that he had an East/West roof and it wasn’t the best for optimum performance.

More importantly, I had saved him thousands from a costly installation and a gruelling two-hour sales pitch. Life’s too short to sit through that!

In conclusion, a solar panel installation is worth it, with current 8-10% returns on top of savings from your energy bill, but only when it’s done at the right price.

Take your time and research. Only once you have the answers to these questions will your decision be a bit easier. That’s the best advice I can give you, I said.

Jack Daniels in the post 😉

"Light is life."

Stuart Lovatt 2015-09-30
Founder of Power My Home.