The S&G blog
Supermarkets offering 20% off solar panels? It is unlikely to be as good it sounds.
Large multinational companies have joined the solar party with the launch of a number of summer time 'special' offers. One of which is a 'limited time only 20% off solar panels'. Don't be fooled by the advertising just ask yourself these important questions: What is the actual market value of the equipment they will install? Is it the best value for money? Who exactly will be doing the installation works? The answers to these questions highlight some serious issues with offers such as these.
20% off, but what was the price in the first place?
The table below is a table of indicative prices from one of the big companies offering these summer deals. For a 3.91kW system their price of £14,449 is approximately 15% above the average market price of £12,226. The 2.3kW price comes in at 16% over market price. These averages are based on actual market data that Save and Generate is collecting daily.
You get what you pay for.
In fact you can get same sized systems for even less than the numbers quoted above if you went for the cheapest products available. We strongly advise against this.
This is an investment in what is a technical piece of kit. The difference in performance between good and bad panels can be up to 25%*. We strongly recommend paying more for better quality components. It is a false economy to go for any budget product.
Workmanship: You get what you pay for
The final and arguably most important aspect to consider is the installer. The big companies mostly subcontract the work to installers and pay them a flat rate for the installation. We have seen the rates that installers are being offered and it is far less than they would make installing themselves. There are of course benefits for the installer like the lack of work needed to win the lead and the comeback on any problems with the install is taken on by the bigger company distancing the installers own company from the work carried out. Will this benefit you as a customer? I don't think so. To be fair there is the comfort that if something did go wrong the bigger companies should be better equipped to react to a problem. For me though I want work of this type to be carried-out by a tradesman with an inherent pride in the work they carry out and the products that they install.
These big companies have a trusted brand and massive buying power but make no mistake, they will make money out of anything that you buy from them. Our advice is always the same, get quotes from at least 3 different sources, do not go for economy products and make sure you find an installer who gives you the confidence that they will have pride in the work that is going into your investment.
* Data from Photon International Magazine: Solar panel field testing. February 2011 edition (Subscription only) Photon International home page.
Posted by Roger at 18:01