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ese Free Solar PV Health Check?

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Energy
73 replies 43.3K views
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  • edited 21 May 2018 at 10:29AM
    BaihakiBaihaki Forumite
    2 posts
    edited 21 May 2018 at 10:29AM
    I received a similar letter to those described above a few days ago. Firstly I checked with Companies House, they seem to switch directors more often than most people change their socks. Secondly I checked all the past and present directors names on LinkedIn, none appeared, so I wonder what their technical qualifications are, if any.
    Thirdly, I am a chartered electrical engineer and my panels were fitted by a local company under my personal supervision, so I don!!!8217;t need them.
  • Did you find anything out about ESE and whether they are any good and worth the money? Thanks, Martin.
  • 27melvyn27melvyn Forumite
    1 posts
    Mark_Caton wrote: »
    Hi All,

    First post on here and I joined because of these letters from a company ESE. Firstly please let me explain I am an electrical contractor and also a MCS accredited installer for Solar PV under the NICEIC.

    I received a letter as detailed above regarding health check and service of my own PV system. Please let me assure you all this is not a requirement and unless your system is having problems or failed there is no need to amend, alter or replace any component within it.

    The letter I received today states that "their records"? They will have none as they did not install my system, I did!

    I am sure many people receiving this letter will be concerned and in some cases the original installer will no longer be in business (Thank the governments total lack of judgment in handling the feed in tariff for that) but like me some will still be in business. I welcome all my clients to contact me when ever they feel there is or could be a problem and I will attend free of charge for as long as they want me to. Im sure I am not alone in offering this service.

    It is very unlikely there is anything wrong with your PV system unless you have been having problems from the start of the installation. Most PV systems need little to no maintenance and even panel cleaning is to be conducted only when necessary.

    There is no need to change the wiring from series to parallel and fit micro inverters to every panel (unless you want to of course) but why spend more money on the system and loose some if not all of the benefit of the feed in tariff? (another letter and cold call doing the rounds)

    If you are in any doubt regarding your own system or think its worth having someone throw an eye over it then do your research. It is a buyer beware situation unfortunately. Call around friends or neighbours who have had systems and get word of mouth recommendations. These are by far the best and something money cannot buy. (we only work from word of mouth recommendations)

    Search the MCS data base for installers in your area and look into the company. Not just their flashy website but research them. See if they are members of other trade organisations. Electricians are best at this (but I would say that!) Many of these companies touting for work are sales teams not engineers. Call more than one company in to look, get a second opinion. if they differ question why. If they both agree then maybe something is wrong?

    Solar PV isn't new technology nor is it a secret hand shake club. There are some fantastic installers out there who have been tarred with the same brush as the rouge traders and its not the case by far.

    I hope you can all see my point and I also hope Ive gone someway into raising the issue of cold call sales in this field. On a side note we are based in Norfolk. (Just incase anyone asks)
    Thanks for that Mark. I received a letter like this and was just doing some research and saw your post. Whilst doing my research i found out that my installer, Solar Essence, had gone into liquidation and as you come from Norfolk where they were based, i wondered if you could confirm that for me.
  • edited 25 June 2018 at 1:52PM
    Mark_CatonMark_Caton Forumite
    3 posts
    edited 25 June 2018 at 1:52PM
    I just received the ESE "health check" letter and the fact that it was addressed to "Homeowner" rather than myself immediately triggered my scam alarm. If they don't know who lives here their "records" must be pretty sketchy and they obviously don't know the age of my system or the fact that I already have cover. The whole letter is amateurish, lacks company information and doesn't even include a website address. What really put me off was the inclusion of a "grocer's apostrophe" in the word "consultant's" which is most unprofessional and indicative to me of a shoddy organisation.

    I don't know how these people harvest likely addresses to pester but I don't think it's as simple as browsing Google Earth as Hengus suggests. My installation doesn't appear on Earth yet, it's 2 years old and Earth evidently hasn't been updated since. They obviously don't check the electoral register either, at least in my case, as they don't know my name.

    Mark Caton may be able to correct me but I don't think inverters have advanced significantly in the 2 years since installation of my PV system as the letter is trying to suggest. With no moving parts in the system, I can't see that there is much to "service". My panels occasionally get a manual clean when the seagulls have used them as a toilet but I can do this myself as I live in a bungalow and can reach the panels with a long handled soft brush and garden hose from my garage roof.

    Hi Apologies for the delay reply. I don!!!8217;t enter the forum much,

    The question on inverter improvements is a good one. Like many electronic items things do improve all the time. Efficiency can be improved in some older systems with an inverter swap and other add on items however these will obviously have a cost which eats into the overall return of the FITs.

    Only when a problem occurs, reduced generation or no generation, action should be taken. Not as part of a maintenance agreement. It is true to say there are products out there that could improve yield, AT A COST. The majority of these products would of been available even back in 2009 however in many circumstances the outlay of a system would of been significantly higher.


    I have visited a concerned "new" client today who!!!8217;s original installer has ceased trading and who had just signed up to ESEs' £19.99 a month maintenance contract. Over the remaining life of their FITs agreement this totals £4,797.60, £239.88 a year. Happy to say they will be cancelling their agreement after my visit.


    Mark
  • Hi all again, Second post. I don't visit the forum much but I intend to do so more frequently.

    Back to my opinion of ESE Services Limited.

    I have visited a "new" client today who contacted me after reading my previous post and who lives in the great county of Norfolk also.


    After ESE had contacted them with the same old "Homeowner" cold call letter they took ESE up on a "Free Health Check". ESE duly came out. Stood in the garden and looked at the panels pointing out defects before then looking at the inverter and again pointing out defects, Looking at the electrical side and, yes you guessed, pointed out defects!


    The ESE "sales rep" (I just cannot call them engineers - Sorry) then proceeded to tell the homeowner how the system was under performing in relation to the suggested annual generation level (kWh) as stated on the MCS certificate. ESE then suggested an upgrade, replacing the inverter and fitting micro inverters to all of their 10 panels at a cost just under £4000! to increase yield.
    The client refused the upgrade but accepted the monthly maintenance package at £19.99 per month.

    Now it is fair to say by replacing the one inverter for 10 micro inverters, might, improve yield if shading was a factor (which it isn!!!8217;t) and it might slightly improve yield generally but I would NEVER recommend this to a client new or old at the cost of £4000 when the existing inverter is working perfectly. And with this said once I checked the overall yield on the generation meter discovered ESE suggestion of underperforming was actually a lie as the annual yield is in excess of the MCS certificate SAP calculation.

    My visit took approximately half an hour and I am more than happy to say I have saved them £4797.60. The amount they will now not be paying ESE Services Limited for a maintenance agreement over the next 20 years. The number of defects I found!!!8230;!!!8230;.3 (Generation meter not sealed, no effect to generation level, Second AC isolator could have been fitted at original install but I may be a little critical here as the inverter is in sight of the only AC isolator anyway, no effect to generation level, and while there I did notice some roofing felt had fallen onto the inverter case, no effect on generation level, so I removed this and pointed it out to the homeowner what I had done).

    My charge for this advice, work............£0. (That!!!8217;s what genuine, honest, decent contactors will do)

    So with regards to this maintenance agreement the T&C!!!8217;s I now have do read reasonably well but like many of these there are loop holes and the big one is agreeing to having upgrade works conducted if ESE feel they are needed. I feel that is more likely to be the case.

    So can the homeowner conduct their own maintenance? Well in many cases you do already. Keeping an eye on the generation meter your FITs is paid against is the simplest. If the numbers don!!!8217;t move there!!!8217;s a problem. If the same quarters FITs payment is significantly less than the same quarter last year there might be a problem. If the inverter is showing a code on the screen or LED lights are illuminated or flashing again there may be a problem. Even if there is a problem the cost of replacing an inverter can be £500 - £1200 + VAT plus labour and fault find survey. Still much less than ESE maintenance agreement.

    As I posted before I am an MCS accredited installer and NICEIC approved electrical contractor based in Norfolk. My company details can be found on the MCS installer data base, NICEIC website and RECC. I still will not give out my company name as I do not want this post to be portrayed as an effort to drum up work, but, if anyone here has the ability to find my company online (and some have) and wishes me to visit them with regards to any PV related problems I will be more than happy to attend (Norfolk/North Suffolk areas)

    So is ESE worth it? That!!!8217;s up to you but as mentioned before there are a number of local installers still out there who provide a service second to none, who will provide free advice (cup of tea may be taken as payment!) and who will appraise your installation honestly. If you do not know an installer out there ask other people before an internet search. Word of mouth is the best form of advertising money cannot buy.

    I hope this helps everyone.

    Mark
  • edited 25 June 2018 at 1:53PM
    Mark_CatonMark_Caton Forumite
    3 posts
    edited 25 June 2018 at 1:53PM
    27melvyn wrote: »
    Thanks for that Mark. I received a letter like this and was just doing some research and saw your post. Whilst doing my research i found out that my installer, Solar Essence, had gone into liquidation and as you come from Norfolk where they were based, i wondered if you could confirm that for me.

    Yes I'm sorry to say Solar Essence has ceased trading. Word of mouth is a good forum to finding an alternative PV service provider or the MCS website. Searching using your postcode will yield a number of local installers in your area of which I would be one. I can be found on there.

    Hope this helps

    Mark
  • edited 30 July 2018 at 11:10AM
    Hemel_SaintHemel_Saint Forumite
    72 posts
    edited 30 July 2018 at 11:10AM
    {Content removed by MSE Investigator} is receiving further coverage...
    https://www.northamptonpartnershiphomes.org.uk/be-aware-scam-emails
  • BggwillBggwill Forumite
    4 posts
    I just received the ESE "health check" letter and the fact that it was addressed to "Homeowner" rather than myself immediately triggered my scam alarm. If they don't know who lives here their "records" must be pretty sketchy and they obviously don't know the age of my system or the fact that I already have cover. The whole letter is amateurish, lacks company information and doesn't even include a website address. What really put me off was the inclusion of a "grocer's apostrophe" in the word "consultant's" which is most unprofessional and indicative to me of a shoddy organisation.

    I don't know how these people harvest likely addresses to pester but I don't think it's as simple as browsing Google Earth as Hengus suggests. My installation doesn't appear on Earth yet, it's 2 years old and Earth evidently hasn't been updated since. They obviously don't check the electoral register either, at least in my case, as they don't know my name.

    Mark Caton may be able to correct me but I don't think inverters have advanced significantly in the 2 years since installation of my PV system as the letter is trying to suggest. With no moving parts in the system, I can't see that there is much to "service". My panels occasionally get a manual clean when the seagulls have used them as a toilet but I can do this myself as I live in a bungalow and can reach the panels with a long handled soft brush and garden hose from my garage roof.

    I recieved this letter written to homeowner and I live in a council flat block so if any solar panels were to be installed the council would be in charge of any maintenance. Also very funny as there are no SOLAR PANELS ON the block :rotfl:
  • Penelopa.PitstopPenelopa.Pitstop Forumite
    795 posts
    Part of the Furniture 500 Posts
    ✭✭✭
    I received letter today, the thing is, it was addressed to homeowner and we don't have PV solar panels. The source of addresses must have been Google Street View, because we have Hot Water Panels on the roof, as every other house in the close.

  • Andy_WSMAndy_WSM Forumite
    2.2K posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Uniform Washer Rampant Recycler
    ✭✭✭✭
    I had a "reminder" today to say that I hadn't had my free safety check. Its gone in the shredder, same place the last one went ready to be turned into briquettes. All adds to my winter fuel stock :beer:

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