QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Advice on choosing a solar company in the U.K.

Lots of people on here looking for advice on who to go with for solar. I work in solar and have done for over a decade.
So here’s some pointers I would look out for:

MCS accreditation is the minimum standards so you definitely want that.
Preferably approved contractor for electrical work too.

Also look out for SSIP scheme accreditations:
Avetta/ SafeContractor/ CHAS for example
These further assess standards in particular around health and safety
Further more international standards:
ISO9001 quality
ISO14001 environment
ISO45001 Health and Safety
Fewer will have these but demonstrates high commitment to standards.

The quote:
It must tell you how much of the Solar PV you’re expected to use as it’s generated
If a battery is quoted it must tell you how much additional you’ll store and what that equates to in income for the year.
Check the battery warranty.
Check what p/kWh they have put in for your rate and what that is then inflated by each year.
Feel free to add more!

Djieye Harding
04/11/2023
Advice on choosing a solar company in the U.K.
I always check the guarantees and whether it is covered by insurance.

Sujeewa Gadd

Sujeewa Gadd third party insurance isn’t a bad thing to look for. Installed some Jinko Cheetahs recently with 25 year warranty on product and 30 year production. 87% at end!

Djieye Harding (OP)

I think quotes should also include battery charge/discharge rates. There are examples of some larger battery systems (say greater than 10kWh) being installed that won’t be able to charge in the off-peak window due to inverter or battery charge rates limiting charge.

Peter Gammage

Peter Gammage Very good point. Many of the newbies cannot understand this and I haven’t come across only a few which will explain it after I have questioned them personally.

Darren Stansbury

Peter Gammage Can you please explain this to me? I have been offered 10kwh battery with 5kw inverter. Is that ok?

Sujeewa Gadd

Sujeewa Gadd simply, if you want to force charge a large battery in, say, a 4 hour cheap rate window. You need to ensure your set up can put enough kWh in, over that cheap rate window. If you have a 14.4kwh battery but only charge at 2kwh, then in 4 hours you cannot fill it.

Nick Sharpin

Bernard Northmore G99 aproval is for systems exceeding 3.68Kw. For the system.
What have you absorbed that makes you think? why would a supplier & installer require approval exceeding that of the installation?
Surely G98/G99 approval is specific to your installation?

Mark Elmy

Emptor Caveat.
As always, understand what you want before you ask anyone else.
Understand the difference between kW and kWh.
Monitor your consumption so you know what usage pattern you have to see how any proposal will fit against it.
Understand the difference between not importing, and being off grid.

Nick Sharpin

I had explained that my unit price was low and I understood that would impact the calculated savings.
But nope - gotta make the paperwork look good

Jesse Bryce

Jesse mine had to drop the price of the system to make the savings work. Gave us a discount. What they didn't know was I'm following the solar farm companies and what they we're predicting for energy cost. Hoping it will pay for itself in 6 years, especially as we're a low user and export on agile.

Klaus Dudas

MCS companies should have a QMS, Quality Management System, in place so for anyone wondering why would a solar company have ISO 9001 then the answer is it’s an accreditation for Quality so an improvement on the basic system.
ISO 45001 is health and safety so that’s self explanatory.
14001 is about looking after the environment so again not a bad thing to try and excel on.

Djieye Harding (OP)

Check Trustpilot and other reviews for actual performance of installer/provider.
Warranty might look good on paper but do they do the repair or replacement promptly and correctly?

Sujeewa Gadd

Doug Hine very true, even the best companies occasionally have problems, speed and reliability to sort it is really important. You don’t want something like your gutter hanging off where a scaffolder has knocked it and no one coming back to sort it.

Peter Gammage

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Dave Forrester I think for the SSIPs you get what you put into it, ISO demands much more of a commitment to process though. I spend time through the year in ISO whereas with SSIPs we hold it’s a day once a year and as long as we can evidence processes are being followed we don’t get much push back. However it does allow us to work with a higher calibre of clients. On the flip side our ISO audit is three days.

Dave Forrester

Check the history of the directors, how long the company has been running for and whether directors have changed multiple times or been involved in a string of similar companies(phoenixing). Also check the cash in the bank.

Djieye Harding (OP)

My tuppence worth:
MCS is not worth the paper it's printed on. Only required for access to public borrowing etc. They take your money and give you nothing in return and put adverse stress on small companies to jump through unnecessary hoops.
SSIP is a joke. I was at the launch of SSIP several years ago and it promised so much in the way of mutual recognition of safety schemes. It has delivered nothing of any great worth to the average contractor. I'm surprised it's still going.
Your far better with a basic trade association membership. Trade associations such as SELECT and the ECA are owned and run by their members and give the average contractor far more in return for their fees, unlike commercial organisations such as NAPIT, NICEIC, MCS etc. Trade associations also check the work of their members and give you recourse to have things put right if they go wrong.
I could be biased of course, having worked for the oldest trade association in the industry before I retired

Michael McGuire

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