The ‘Solar Electricity Investigation’ report in the July 2011 edition of Which? Magazine raises several valid points which should act as a rallying call for those installation companies within the industry. It is imperative that if the industry is to avoid comparison with the dodgy selling practices of double glazing merchants, then installers need to ensure they are providing customers with the best possible advice and service. It’s in everyone’s long term interests to do so.
As an installation company providing solar PV and thermal systems, at Caplor Energy we all know that time is precious and many PV installers may be very busy. But that’s no excuse for cutting corners.
Not informing customers that the average lifespan of an inverter is 17 years and therefore may fail within 25 years is inexcusable. So is not taking account of shading – any installer worth their salt is well aware that there is software and training available that can give an accurate measure of the effect shading could have on a PV array.
All site surveys should be carried out by individuals with a strong technical understanding. Surveyors more used to offering discounts than explaining the difference between a micro and string inverter will only stain the industry as a whole.
Using the obligatory Government calculation for expected generation and system payback is rather more understandable, given that it is a requirement to do so. Most experienced installers know that the calculation is too simplistic. However, in our experience, the expected generation has actually tended to be an underestimate when compared to actual performance.
We would fully endorse the points raised by Which? I only wish they had carried out their market research on us – it would be a shame to think Caplor Energy and other professional companies may all be tarred with the same brush.