Why using a solar quote site may cost you more than going direct
Posted by Cathy Debenham on 6 January 2011 at 3:17 pm
Put solar energy into a search engine and you can almost guarantee that some of the results you get will be solar quote sites. If they aren't in the top 10, they will be in the ads at the side and top of the page. But did you know that you will almost certainly end up paying more for your solar panels if you use one of these sites to find an installer?
The way they work differs, but what they all have in common is that they charge the installer who wins your work a commission. A fairly standard rate is 5% of the total job. On an average solar PV installation that would amount to just under £500.
Some installers may absorb this cost as marketing overheads, but most that I've spoken to add it to the price, so you pay more than you would have done if you go to them direct.
Of course, I've got an in-built bias, but if I'm going to spend a lot of money on installing a relatively new technology, I want to know that my installer has a good track record. Lots of the quote sites are not very forthcoming about how they select the companies they ask to quote and what, if any, criteria they impose. The worst ones are just harvesting your contact details and selling them on as leads.
Personally I want a bit more information. That's why the YouGen website is designed to make it easier to find installers whose previous customers like them enough to visit an independent site and fill out a form to recommend them. You can search for recommended installers local to you in the find a... section of the site.
If you do use a quote site make sure you ask for references, check that the installer is MCS accredited, and is a member of REAL Assurance. You'll find more information on choosing an installer on these blogs: 10 tips for avoiding the solar thermal cowboys and 10 tips for choosing a good solar PV installer. And remember, you've probably bumped the price up by 5 per cent.
Photo by Adam Jenkins
If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.
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