Householders across Cornwall are being warned to take care before agreeing to have ‘free’ solar panels installed on their property.
Trading Standards and Consumer Direct have issued the warning following a spate of telephone calls from concerned householders with issues about approaches they have received.
"Although there are companies genuinely offering to install solar panels for free, there appears to be other companies exploiting the opportunity” explained Martine Barnes from Trading Standards.
“In some cases the solar panel companies claim that they can get a grant from the council to help pay for the panels. We can confirm this is definitely not the case and that Cornwall Council is not offering any grants for the installation of Solar Panels.”
“Other householders are being offered ‘free installation and maintenance for 25 years with the panels being paid for from the surplus electricity which is sold back to the national grid’. We recommend that anyone being made such a fantastic offer should thoroughly read the small print of any contract before signing up, and if possible get a solicitor to cast an eye over it as well.”
Some of the things that should be made clear in the contract are:
- who is responsible for the installation and who is paying for it
- who is responsible for anything that goes wrong as a result of the panels (such as a leaking roof if the panels are not installed professionally)
- how often the panels need to be maintained and who pays for this
- what happens at the end of the contract period - who owns the panels, who is responsible for removing/disposing of them and who is responsible for restoring the roof
- any costs that will fall to the householder.