Free solar panels – has anyone got them?

by Readers Question

9:31 AM, 23rd July 2015
About 3 years ago

Free solar panels – has anyone got them?

Make Text Bigger
Free solar panels – has anyone got them?

I own/manage around 40+ properties in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire areas. I’ve heard of free solar panels a few years ago, and made enquiries, but they could not answer my questions about maintenance, insurance, etc, and they had extremely restrictive criteria for installation (e.g. roof direction and inclination), so I gave up considering it for my properties at that time.solar

However, technology has moved on, as have the deals available (and companies providing this), and I’ve now found that I can get free solar panels installed on the roofs of both domestic and commercial premises, where the cost is zero, I would get 50% off the electricity grid tariff, AND the maintenance and insurance is free of charge for 20 years. (Alternatively I can buy the panels and benefit from the feed in tariff).

The free solar panels appear to be a great deal, and offering tenants half price electricity is a big incentive so would attract more potential tenants (great in hard to let areas, or with hard to let properties). So I wondered if any landlords had any recent experience of getting free solar panels, and if so what have been the difficulties or drawbacks?

Many thanks

Robert



Comments

Neil Patterson

9:34 AM, 23rd July 2015
About 3 years ago

Hi Robert,

I am a bit Geaky and love the technology around green energy and have dabbled with the idea and even had a Green Deal survey done.

The figures are always very tight on what you save and my two biggest unknown concerns are what happens if you sell the property and what happens if you have a problem with the roof under the solar panels.

Luke P

12:20 PM, 23rd July 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Neil Patterson" at "23/07/2015 - 09:34":

I have seen some companies that will remove the solar panels up to three times during a 25 year lifetime for roof maintenance/repairs... Don't know who does that or if they indeed still offer it, but worth a shot.

My biggest question is whether you're allowed to attached a system like Tesla's PowerWall to an existing set up? You can use the (free) electricity as it's generated to recharge your phone or any other battery you may have, so how is that different from a massive bank of batteries (that you then go on to power your home of an evening)?

Lewis Hardwick

15:01 PM, 23rd July 2015
About 3 years ago

My parents are currently going through a purchase of a house with solar panels fitted.

The owner was completely oblivious to the small prints and both sides now have had to get solicitors involved to review the small print.

The 'owners' of the panels have advised an initial figure of £18,000 to take over the lease, plus an additional £5,000 to remove them.

After agreeing an additional £23k discount on the purchase price it seems it's still not that straight forward. Rumours of new 25 year leases. Additional costs. Parents are strongly considering pulling out as it's costing a small fortune in legal fees.

I'd only fit them if I was in a position to buy outright. But benefit you'd need to hold onto the property for a significant time frame before you see a 'break even' saving.

rob david

15:24 PM, 23rd July 2015
About 3 years ago

out of interest and i hope you don't mind me asking, are these HMO properties ?

Robert Mellors

20:39 PM, 23rd July 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "rob david" at "23/07/2015 - 15:24":

Hi Rob, not sure who you are asking this question to, but if it's me as the OP, then I can say that I have a mixed portfolio of standard family lets of various sizes and also a number of HMOs, mainly in Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire, (but with a few scattered around in other parts of England also). I am considering the solar panels for all properties that are suitable, both the HMOs and the self-contained properties.

Robert Mellors

20:50 PM, 23rd July 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Neil Patterson" at "23/07/2015 - 09:34":

Hi Neil

As these panels are free, then they are not part of the Green Deal so there is no costings to be done and no "break even" point to be calculated. (If they are free, then you "break even" the moment they are switched on, and everything after that is a saving).

In relation to roof repairs, I believe that, like Luke says, the solar panel company would remove these up to x number of times as part of their contract. However, I am concerned about what happens if the property is sold (or whether if affects the saleability of the property) so I am trying to get some answers to this, and this is partly why I posted this question.

rob david

21:08 PM, 23rd July 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Robert Mellors" at "23/07/2015 - 20:39":

Hi Robert, i only asked as the incentive on let property to you must be quite slender if the power cost reduction is for the tenant's benefit, or is the return only to you through FIT's ? I assume HMO tenants would see no cost reduction if any was available to them.
Either way our tenants are on web prepay sub meters so a cost saving could be applied to them.

Ray Davison

21:24 PM, 23rd July 2015
About 3 years ago

As I understand it they are not really free as they do not belong to you, you are only hosting them and you agree to a 25 year (Or whatever) lease on the roof space. I have also been told (Although never an actual agreement) that they take a charge on your property to protect their lease position which some lenders obviously take exception to.

A friend of mine who is an electrician has also said that the electrical/electronic devices used are generally pretty cr*p (Not to put too fine a point on it) and will not last the projected period as the price reductions have come about due to the use of cheap far east components. Therefore make sure the maintenance liability is watertight especially if funding them yourself.

Robert Mellors

21:35 PM, 23rd July 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "rob david" at "23/07/2015 - 21:08":

Hi Rob

For the self-contained properties, the benefit of free solar PV panels would be to the tenant (not the landlord) as they would save money on their electricity bills. This would not really save me much money (except maybe a few pence during any void period), BUT I would see it as being a good selling point to attract potential tenants, and as such it would make re-letting the properties quicker and easier (and give a wider choice of interested potential tenants). - This could be very a very important bonus for those landlords letting "hard to let" properties.

In relation to the HMOs, as the utility bills are in my name, any saving would directly assist me to save money on my running costs, so (as I run a "not for profit" housing association) this saving could then be used for other purposes, e.g. improvements, or could be passed on to the residents in lower service charges. If I was a normal profit making company/landlord, then the saving on running costs would increase the overall profit, which could then be used for anything the landlord chooses to use it for.

David Atkins

22:37 PM, 23rd July 2015
About 3 years ago

Just a warning. I completed an online form advertising 'free solar panels'. I've had three solar panel companies e view my HMO and all have come up with £5k pricing with a plethora of small print. That was three months ago and I'm still being pestered by these solar panels companies. Be careful before you give out your details.

1 2

Leave Comments

Please Log-In OR Become a member to reply to comments or subscribe to new comment notifications.

Forgotten your password?

OR

BECOME A MEMBER

Change to Universal Credit rent arrears payments

The Landlords Union

Become a Member, it's FREE

Our mission is to facilitate the sharing of best practice amongst UK landlords, tenants and letting agents

Learn More