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What should be included in a quote for solar panels?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 January 2015 at 11:28 am

Q: I have read your 10 questions to ask a potential installer. You say 'Make sure the quotation is comprehensive - it should itemise all the equipment'.  How can you know what should be there and what might be missing?  Also you suggest asking 'Are they qualified electricians? And do they use specialist roofers? I cannot imagine any salesman answering 'No' to either question. The thing is, how do you get proof of the electricians' qualifications, and how do you define 'specialist'?  Is there a qualification for roofers?

A: The Renewable Energy Consumer Code has strict requirements for how renewable energy installers do business. It requires that all quotations must show:

  • an itemised list of the goods to be supplied (see below for what this is likely to include for solar PV); 
  • the price of goods and the price of the services to be supplied, shown separately, including the costs of any required safety checks and all taxes payable including VAT; 
  • an itemised list of all survey, design, installation and other services (if a proposal does not include installation work or is made on the assumption that any installation will be done by the consumer or an independent person, the Code member will draw the consumer's attention to the relevant section of the consumer guidance referenced in section C4 below); 
  • items and services not included in the quotation, which the consumer will need to provide to complete the work, including permissions and approvals, any work needed to restore the property to its original state and any facilities for storing fuel; 
  • site conditions and special circumstances beyond the control of the Code member which may result in extra chargeable work not covered by the quote, and hourly or daily rates which would apply in this situation;
  • any additional metering and monitoring services the consumer will be expected to pay for;
  • a timetable for supplying any goods and carrying out any work at the property; 
  • business terms, including the payment method and timetable, how long the quote will be valid for and other conditions set out in section 6.1, below;  
  • completion dates for installing the energy generator; and
  • the performance estimate in line with the requirements set out in the MCS standards.

The itemised list of goods/services for solar PV is likely to include:

  • scaffolding
  • number of days of labour
  • number of modules (solar panels)
  • inverter
  • cable
  • Connectors
  • AC and DC isolators
  • meter (two if you want to know how much you are exporting)
  • materials for mounting the system on the roof
  • and delivery.

I'm sure you are right that installers that are not adequately qualified are not likely to admit it. However, there are ways that you can check. Ask installers which body accredits them, and check with that body that they are currently members. You can ring up, or search on the website. The three main bodies for electricians are NECEIC, Napit and the Electrical Contractors Association. They also need to have MCS certification - again you can ask them which certification body they are with and check it. There are a number of roofers bodies, but according to Citizens Advice the main ones are the Conferation of Roofing Contractors and the National Federation of Roofing Contractors.

Photo: jonsowman

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9 comments - read them below or add one

Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 9 February 2015 at 12:41 pm

Posted on behalf of Virginia Graham, RECC:

The Renewable Energy Consumer Code (RECC) is run by a not-for-profit company in order to protect consumers and thus promote the small-scale renewables sector. Neither RECC nor any staff members stand to gain financially from the Code or the way it is administered. RECC consistently enforces members’ compliance with the Code to a very high degree and acts on evidence of non-compliance. RECC’s independent auditors are extremely assiduous in examining all contracts members have with sub-contractors, and in particular with lead generators. In addition RECC has prepared very detailed technology-specific model documents and guidance for presenting proposals and performance estimates to assist our members to comply with the Code.

I have personally never had a conversation with “Jevban” and my colleague Mark Cutler can find no record of any emails from him/her. Please provide me directly with full details of all these communications, as well as your name and contact details, so I can investigate this matter further.

The Code requirements on sub-contracting and lead generators mirror precisely those in the MCS installer standard which are set out in the overarching MCS installer standard, MCS 001, Appendix A, Section 8 which reads:

A contract for the sale and installation of a system shall be entered into only between an MCS certified company which is certified for the technology type(s) in the contract, and a Customer; and this MCS contractor shall register the system on the MCS Installation Database under their company user account.

An MCS certified Company may carry out work under subcontract to another MCS certified Company in which case clause 10 must be satisfied.

Where the contract is for a Green Deal installation the contract requirements in MCS 023 take precedent.

If the MCS certified Company obtains sales leads from any third party, the Company must require that the third party complies with all the relevant requirements of the MCS standards and Consumer Code. The Company will be responsible for any non-compliance.”

The Company shall have procedures to handle enquiries, produce quotes and accept orders/contracts. Where relevant these must comply with the consumer code scheme.

Customers must be provided with system performance predictions in line with the relevant Microgeneration Installation Standard prior to the award of a contract.

The Company shall review orders, contracts or tenders to ensure that:

 The requirements are adequately defined for each installation

 The Company has the resource and capability to meet the order/contract requirements. Where the time scales cannot be met, the Company shall detail when the order/contract will be fulfilled.

 Responsibility for planning and building control compliance is clearly identified

Records of this activity shall be maintained for all orders/contracts and tenders.

A process shall also exist for managing amendments to contracts/ orders.”

Section 2.4 of the Code reads:

Any Code member who enters into a contract with a domestic consumer for the sale and installation of an Energy Generator  must be certified to the relevant MCS installer standards for the technology types specified in the contract. The MCS certified installer that enters into a contract with a domestic consumer must also create the MCS certificate associated with that installation on their own MCS user account.


If a Code member obtains sales leads from any third party, the Code member must require that the third party complies with all the relevant requirements of the Code and the relevant MCS standards. The Code member will be responsible for any non-compliance with the Code by the third party.”

In addition, Section 3 of the Code reads:

“Some Code members purchase, or otherwise obtain, sales leads from third party organisations, individuals or lead-generating websites. Code members who do this are responsible for ensuring that the organisations, individuals or those running the lead-generating websites have been trained in, and have complied with, all the relevant conditions of the Code. If they do not comply with the relevant requirements of the Code, the matter will be dealt with as described in the Bye-Laws. This must be an explicit condition of any agreement between the Code member and a third party.”

You can find details of the Determinations from RECC’s Non-Compliance Panel Hearings here:

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jevbanComment left on: 5 February 2015 at 11:34 am

Hi Cathy


RECC are fully aware of the situation and worryingly, appear unconcerned. They appear more concerned with the confidentiality for the Company, than in protecting consumers. All the regulators appear to have the same approach. I have spoken at length with MCS, NICEIC and RECC, including Virginia Graham the CEO...Mark Cutler never bothets to do me the courtesy of a response to my emails, and yet this practice continues. It is a disgrace and appears that the regulators are concerned only with maintaining their own income stream. My MP has taken my case to the Minister for Energy, but I dont expect any positive outcome for myself. The Company that installed my system has removed their registration logos from their front pages of their webpages, but have links that allow you to go to a subsequent page that assures prospective customers that they are MCS approved installers. 


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Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 2 February 2015 at 10:29 am

Hi James, Sorry I don't know any in your area.

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james millican

james millicanComment left on: 29 January 2015 at 3:14 pm

forgot to say based nr newcastle

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james millican

james millicanComment left on: 29 January 2015 at 3:09 pm

does any1 know of any companies offering free solar panels for business commercial premises whereby they keep the fit but u get the use of the free electricity

a quote was being formulated by a company on behalf of my premises but they never got back to me

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Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 26 January 2015 at 9:00 am

@Jebvan It might be worth talking with RECC about this. I thought that there had been a change to the rules in the last year or so to prevent this, and that the contract had to be with the MCS accredited installer - not a sales company.

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jevbanComment left on: 24 January 2015 at 2:15 pm

Thank you Cathy. 

Most worryingly is that MCS are telling me this practice is legitimate.  My understanding is that for any third party sign off, the third party must have been consulted prior to the install and had oversight of it during install, so that any final sign off is done in the knowledge that the regulations have been adhered to. This is not the case. The regulators appear unconcerned. 

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Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 19 January 2015 at 9:19 am

@jevban - Thank you for highlighting this. I agree it must be stopped. I also suggest that anyone faced with such a proposal rejects it and finds an installer who has the requisite accreditations.

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jevbanComment left on: 16 January 2015 at 10:29 pm

Companies are trading without MCS and electrical governing body registration, and telling customers all is okay, and third parties will sign the job off. This has to be stopped as these companies are destroying the reputation of the industry.

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