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Campaign to root out cowboy solar installers launched today

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 3 March 2012 at 1:03 am

A campaign is launched today to help people to avoid “unscrupulous” installers of solar panels and other renewable technologies seeking to cash in on confusion surrounding the Government’s feed-in-tariff and other incentives.

We have developed the campaign as a result of stories we've heard from visitors to the website and installers. It is backed by more than 20 of the companies listed in our directory - companies that often end up putting right the damage.

We've launched it today to coincide with the reduction in available feed-in-tariffs for installations of less than 4kW to 21p for solar PV installations.

Solar PV can still be an attractive investment for the right site at the new level, but it's even more important than ever that you check that your site is appropriate before going ahead.

While the majority of installers are doing a good job, and most consumers are happy with their solar installation, I've heard some horror stories too. Rogue operators have been using the confusion caused by the ongoing legal action to mislead customers over the rate of feed-in tariff they will get. Other dodgy dealings include installing on north facing roofs, installations that are in the shade for half the day, and a lack of care on the roof leading to broken tiles and leaks.

There are also some companies that use pressure tactics to sell solar panels. People can feel intimidated in the face of a barrage of cold calling, leaflet dropping and, in some cases, door-stepping and the supposed deals being talked about can look extremely attractive. I've heard of people who've had salesmen in their house for 7 hours! This is all against the rules, so if you are feeling pressured, show them the door and report them to REAL.

Most companies working in the renewable energy sector are highly reputable and trustworthy businesses, but sadly the minority are giving the industry a bad name. We hope that by using this campaign to speak out we can help educate people on how to arm themselves with the best information to make an informed, confident decision on solar PV.

We have drawn up a checklist for people considering a renewable energy installation. Click here to read it. It's also worth reading our page about the technology that you are interested in, so you know what questions to ask. Then you can search the YouGen directory to find a local  renewable energy installer and check out what their customers have to say about them.

Photo by Thomas Hawk

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