Many of you won’t be surprised to hear Watchdog highlighted Solar PV as one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Some companies have grown ten fold in the UK over the last year and this is a direct result of the financial incentives on offer.
However with rapid growth like this consumers have to be wary of many small companies that spring up offering services. The building trade as a whole has always suffered from the stigma of cowboy builders, however solar PV installation is a bit different in that it is heavily regulated and anyone installing solar panels will need to be REA and MCS accredited.
What many people don’t realise is that MCS accreditation can be a difficult thing to achieve. In order to gain MCS accreditation companies have to demonstrate they have a comprehensive quality management system that covers everything from how they source their products, to how they deal with complaints. One of the main pre-requisites is that the MCS accredited individual in the company must have a formal certification in their chosen technology. In the case of Solar PV this would be a City & Guilds, Bpec or NICEIC qualification.
As such it was no surprise that Watchdog actually didn’t focus on the installer. Instead they focussed on the selling of Solar PV and companies that will take deposits from customers only to struggle to deliver the PV installation.
Currently it is very hard to find good installers and we know only too well that currently the demand for installers out strips supply. This is the reason that Solar PV Installation Courses are currently our most popular offering as many train to take advantage of the high demand.
However watchdog gave some great advice when choosing a PV supplier. Much of this is common sense when dealing with any trade:
Get at least three quotes before you decide which company to contract with
Make sure you get genuine testimonials from genuine customers
Make sure all quotes are formally put in writing
Make sure your receive and read in full the terms and conditions of your contract
Never pay more than 25% of the value of the contract up front
I would also add:
Look for companies that are accredited by REAL and MCS. Just because it’s not essential for sales companies to be accredited doesn’t mean they can't be.
Don’t just pick the cheapest quote. Pick the company that you trust the most. Follow your gut. If you have doubts don’t sign.
Also ask about how the installation will be implemented and by who?
Look for companies that have been established for some time. Many will be brand new to the market but there are many such Riomay who have been around for many years and have their act together.
It is interesting to note that in Germany where solar PV has been around for much longer they do not have an equivalent MCS accreditation scheme. It is comforting to know that MCS is here and protects consumers and the industry’s reputation at the same time.