10 questions to ask a PV installer

1. Do they have Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) accreditation?

Without this you will not be able to claim your Feed in Tariff. They should have the MCS logo clearly displayed on their paperwork.

2. Do they offer a manufacturer backed 10 year warranty on their inverters at no extra cost so that you have piece of mind?

We appreciate that things can occasionally go wrong with electrical equipment and you dont want to have to pay for replacement equipment if it fails.

3. Do they calculate how much you’re likely to receive from your PV system using actual sunlight for your locale?

Many installers only use the nationwide average sunlight level for these calculations and this may well give false impression of what level of electricity you generate.

4. Do they calculate the amount of carbon dioxide saved using the SAP 2009 procedures?

Often installers overstate the amount of CO2 that you will save by using out dated figures taken from the 2006 Building Standards Part L2a.

5. What financial standing do they have and how large are they ?

Obviously, you need to know that they are going to be able to complete your installation and that they will be able to come back and maintain the system if asked to do so.

6. Is the equipment that they are installing MCS accredited ?

If the PV panels are not MCS accredited and the inverter does not have the relevant accreditation you will not be able to claim your Feed in Tariff.

7. How long will the PV system operate at full efficiency and will it decrease over the years?

Your installer should advise you that, on average. a PV panel loses 1% efficiency every year. They should also take account of this reduction in the preparation of their calculations to show you what your Feed in Tariff payments will be.

8. Are free solar panels a good idea?

On the face of it, this is a very attractive idea; however, the installer will be keeping the Feed in Tariff payments for themselves.

you will need to enter in to a legal agreement with installers of free solar panels to let them access your premises to maintain their PV system and this agreement will have to tie in any subsequent owners of your property too.

9. Is the home survey free and without obligation?

There are a number of companies requesting £100 deposits for the preparation of a survey to allow them to put a quotation together for you.

10. Do they deal with the Planning Authority and National Grid for you?

Many installation companies leave you to deal with the paperwork required to sort out both the planning permissions and the Feed in Tariff.