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Five tips for finding a reputable installer

Posted by Sam Tonge on 25 October 2017 at 10:27 am

So you have decided you would like to improve your home, or perhaps even install some renewable technology. However, you have come to realise the job is a little too big to get away with just some simple DIY. Choosing a reliable and good quality installer can be difficult, and there are definitely some horror stories out there of when things perhaps do not go to plan. Here at YouGen, we care about the quality of service you receive when installing renewable technology so have collated some tips for finding a good installer.

1.      Quality standards

When installing renewable technologies, you should be looking out for an installer who is certified under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS), which demonstrates that they comply with industry standards. In addition to this, the installer should also be using MCS-certified products.You should also check that your installer is a member of the Renewable Energy Consumer Code (RECC) or HIES (The Home Insulation & Energy Systems Quality Assured Contractors Scheme). Both RECC and HIES are consumer codes in the renewables sector and installers who are members must adhere to their code of practices. e.g. avoiding high-pressure selling techniques. 

Other things you should look out for is a detailed quotation, estimation of how much heat and electricity can potentially be generated along with possible savings. Your installer should also explain operation and maintenance information before you choose to go ahead and offer a decent after-sales service.

2.      Warranties

It’s important for you to be sure of the length of warranty to avoid paying any additional sums, should anything go wrong with your installation. The average warranty for solar panels is around ten years and if you are offered a warranty shorter than this, it may reflect the quality of the product that they plan to install. Most installers also include a workmanship warranty of between one and two years. This links in with our next point about taking your time to make a well-informed decision.

3.      Do your research

We’ve all come across the savvy salesperson, but going through with this approach may not necessarily lead you to the best deal. Some may offer you a limited time offer or large amounts of discount to try and encourage a quick decision. It’s best that you take your time in making this decision and resolve any queries with potential installers before choosing to go ahead with the work. Here at YouGen we recommend that you get a minimum of three quotes from different installers so you can accurately determine the average cost of the work on the market (as well as the reputability of the salesperson). 

4.      Cost and payback period

Probably the most important factor for those choosing to install renewable energy is cost. The most obvious move for anyone is to go with the cheapest quote, it does leave more money in your pocket after all. However, consider whether going with the cheapest option is actually suitable for your needs. Sometimes when an installer provides a slightly higher quote than another, this may be based on honest feedback or a genuine desire to help you get the best out of your project, e.g. fixing or strengthening the roof to ensure safe installation of solar panels.

It's also important to take a good look at quotations you get from installers on payback periods, e.g. 20-25 years for solar PV. This shows you not only how much you could earn from subsidies such as the Feed-in-Tariff but also how much you could save on your energy bills, compared to the cost of the installation. For example, the upfront cost could be £7,000 for Solar PV and the payback period table could show that over 20 years you could receive £15,000. It's important to make sure it adds up for you financially, and again look for at least three quotes  as these predictions should be relatively similar (less than a 10% difference) between installers.  

5.      Customer recommendations

It’s important to feel comfortable with your preferred installer, which can be achieved by finding out what others have said about them. An excellent way to increase your confidence in a potential installer is by searching for their profile in the YouGen database. A local company with a high number of outstanding customer recommendations on our database indicates a strong commitment to delivering excellent customer service and product quality standards in your area. It’s also worth checking out the ‘Buy With Confidence’ Scheme approved by Trading Standards. The online platform provides you with a vetted list of local businesses who have given their commitment to trading fairly and to a high standard.

Another excellent way would be through asking family, friends and neighbours for their experience of particular installers. Alternatively searching your local community website or social media group to ask around can throw up some really useful and honest reviews (although beware of sponsored adverts or spam results!).

Overall, however comfortable you feel with your installer is a major factor in choosing a company to undertake your work, meaning it’s always best to do your homework before choosing one.



Image credit: Oregon Department of Transportation

About the author:

Sam has contributed to our blog since 2016 and previously worked for the National Energy Foundation.

He became interested in green energy after completing a degree in Geography (BSc) at Royal Holloway, University of London. 

Sam is passionate about renewable energy and is committed to spreading the word about the role it plays in delivering environmental sustainability. 

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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3 comments - read them below or add one


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Bean Beanland

Bean BeanlandComment left on: 30 November 2017 at 1:15 pm

For domestic installations and for non-domestic installations under 45kW, apart from the products being MCS certified, they also have to appear as eligible on the OFGEM Product Eligibility List, if the consumer wishes to apply for the Renewable Heat Incenitve subsidies. This list can be downloaded from the OFGEM website and is constantly being updated. It is advisable to check again immediately prior to placing any order with an installer.

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