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Free Solar Panels - Advantages and Disadvantages

Certain companies will offer to put the solar panels on your roof for either a small (£500 or less) payment, or free.

The advantage of free solar panels is obviously that they are free! Clearly, paying £6,000 upwards to install panels isn't a possibility for everyone, and if you don't have the money, then free panels are the only choice available.

However, these companies offering free solar panels will then take away the payments of the feed in tariff themselves. This means that you will make a saving each year on your electricity bills, although you won't receive any payments from the feed in tariff. This means that you would expect to save on average £120 per year. However, there are downsides to this - you are leasing your roof to the company providing the panels, so you will be made to sign a contract so you will have the panels, usually, on your roof for 25 years. What will happen when you sell your property? Will the new owners want solar panels on the roof for just £120 in savings per year? This lease will also permit the installation company access to your property to maintain them when required. Again, if this doesn't upset you, will it upset the people who wish to buy your home in the future?

Free solar panels may not even make you much of saving because solar panels cannot store electricity, and therefore you will only save money on your electricity bills with free panels if you normally use electricity during the day. If you are out working, then you will not be using much electricity at home anyway, hence the saving will be minimal. Alternatively, if you had paid to install the panels, then although you wouldn't be saving much on your bills, you would however be earning 41.3p per unit of electricity that you aren't using by selling it back to the main grid through the feed in tariff, amounting to approximately £1,000 per year.

The fact that companies are willing to use your roof space to install the panels for free shows that the feed in tariff makes solar panels a very attractive investment. We only therefore will get quotes from companies that will charge you for the installation of the panels, but then you will receive the full benefits back from them - the payments from the feed in tariff and a reduction in your electricity bills, giving you an average 9% return.