There are many companies that offer to install solar panels free-of-charge, which first may seem like a great offer. While these schemes can save you money on your electricity bill, you can save even more by installing them yourself.
How Do Free Solar Panel Schemes Work
The ‘free’ solar panel schemes, also known as ‘rent-a-roof’ installations are run by often pushy companies looking to cash in on lucrative Feed-in-tariff schemes. These schemes guarantee a fixed amount of money for electricity generated from renewables like solar power.
These schemes can be great for you, as they will save you the money of an upfront installation and you will still benefit from some free electricity. You will usually be required to enter into a 20-25 year contract with the scheme providers, and while you will benefit from some free electricity the providers will be taking the lions-share of the electricity generated.
Companies that offer rent-a-roof schemes include HomeSun, A Shade Greener, Isis Solar, and more.
Downside to Free Solar Panels
While you do benefit from the free electricity the system produces for your home, the rent-a-roof company usually takes all of the generation and export tariff payments paid out under the FIT scheme.
When the FIT rate was at its highest, back in 2011, you could have earned as much as £23,000 from the FIT for a 4kWp system. However, you would also have saved more than £5,000 over 25 years from the electricity produced by the panels, which equates to an saving of around £200 a year off your electricity bill.
With lower feed-in-tariffs in 2016 there are less free ‘rent-a-roof’ schemes to choose from.
Should you buy your own Solar Panel System?
The eagerness of ‘rent-a-roof’ companies to install solar panels free-of-charge goes to prove that they benefit more by footing the cost of the installation and obtaining the feed-in-tariff payments than householders. If you were to install your own solar panel system and receive the feed-in-tariff payments you would be much better off in the long run.
If you can afford the upfront installation costs then you should consider installing a solar panel system yourself. Even if you finance to pay for the installation you would probably be much better-off in the long run. If you do not have the money or do not want to take out finance for a solar panel system then a free installation is still a great way of saving money on your electricity cost.