A problem with free solar panels

The pro’s and cons of installing ‘free’ PV solar panels (photovoltaic) to your home have furiously debated.

The industry as a whole, but there seems to be real evidence now that they may have been too good to be true for some households.

What generating free power with PV solar panels feels like?

What generating free power with PV solar panels feels like?

If you have a free system in your home, then you need to be aware of recent feedback coming through from others who installed free solar panels too.

Although we have always preached on the side of caution, the news that Natwest, Nationwide and the Yorkshire banks are not dispensing mortgages on homes with free PV solar panels could come as a shock to some.

The original premise of these types of schemes was to reward homeowners who rent out their roof space to certain types of solar companies who want to invest in large-scale installations and thus take advantage of the early feed-in tariffs, as it was at that time.

“The truth of the matter is, people’s circumstances change and moving or selling a property after you have signed long-term ‘free solar panel’ contract may become a problem to some.”

These were designed to reward the homeowners with free electricity while the solar company reap the financial reward of the then over-generous feed-in tariff scheme. These types of systems were so unexpected and successful at that time that the government had to pull the tariff rug from the feet of the PV solar industry because of fears of over-subscription at a time when austerity was beginning to grip the country.

Unfortunately, it seems that nobody in the ‘free solar panel’ industry asked the banks what they thought about it. It now appears that the banks don’t want anything to do with properties of such systems installed.

This situation leaves homeowners who want to sell with a PV solar panel system that would typically be a good asset when selling a property.

The reasoning behind this stance is because of the legal issues around repossessing a home (if needed) with other third-party technology attached to the roof.

The unexpected nature and super-fast implementation of the ‘free solar panel’ gold rush have, to some people in the solar industry left a bad stain on this fledgeling industry and unfortunately, this may be another issue which may have negative connotations.

What you can do if you have a free installation

First of all, don’t panic. For most people who intend to keep their property long-term, this news will not be of concern.

The vast majority of property owners who take up the free solar offers were well aware of the implications of the contract they signed. These schemes vary in their contract details but would have been made clear from the first phone call that it was a long-term commitment.

Unfortunately, free electricity in this age of escalating prices sounds very tempting for struggling households, but as an old friend used to say “there are no free lunches in this world” and the same is right with rent-a-roof schemes which require commitments varying from 10 to 20 years.

In most cases, the solar panel owners will allow you to buy them out and thus turning your home into a very desirable property. Homes with renewable energy systems are very sought after and could in most cases help you sell your house more quickly than without solar panels.

My advice has always been to own your PV solar panels outright so that you can benefit from the feed-in tariff revenue, free electricity, hot water heating yourself. The three decades of peace of mind that this technology provides, whether free or not, should for most people be a positive thing.

Exchange of ownership is a widespread practice, and although the feed-in tariff cannot move from the original installation address, the financial benefits are allowed to exchange for the sale of the property. This advantage ultimately gives your home a definite position when on the property market.

If you are in any doubt about your contract situation, it is always best to consult with your solar panel provider who in most cases are happy to help solve any issues you may have relating to your PV solar panels.

"Light is life."

Stuart Lovatt 2014-01-24