Solar Together Kent - Good scheme? Good quote for a 12 panel system? [AVOID]

adamdynamic
adamdynamic Posts: 122 Forumite
First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
edited 2 February 2022 at 1:22PM in Green & ethical MoneySaving
Over the summer, our local council sent everyone a leaflet about a "Solar Together" scheme, essentialy a local, group-buy on solar panel installations. Having put my details into the website, I have been quoted:
  • Roof survey
  • Installation
  • 12 panels (quoted as generating 4,050 kWh per year, of which 1,418 kWh will be "useable")
  • Inverter
  • Materials and fittings
  • Monitoring tool
  • Extended warranties
...for GBP 4k, plus the optional 3.1kWh battery for GBP 2.2k.

The roof on our (L-shaped) house points SE and SW so I'm reasonably confident that we'll get use out of the system. The next step is a GBP 150 deposit and they conduct a "proper survey" of the house (with the deposit refunded if the survey reveals we can't go ahead for any reason). The installer is "EEC Solar", though it's not clear from Googling which firm this relates to.

My question is essentially, do such schemes actually result in lower costs? (Or is it a marketing scheme designed to create a "well, everyone else is doing it..." behavioural bias). Is the initial (auto-generated) quote we've been given "reasonable" based on the spec?

From searching the forum I can find one other thread about such a scheme but it's not clear if the OP went ahead or not.

Any input would be great. Thanks in advance! 

Feb 2022 Update

Adding this as an edit to my original post as it appears as one of the top search results when you search "Solar Together Kent" and want to make others aware of my experience of the scheme.

In short, it's been dreadful.

Over twelve months after we first paid our deposit, we still have scaffolding around our house, we have an invertor installed (not connected to anything) and rails on half of our roof (but not the other half). After numerous delays in 2021 (full disclosure: one was at our request as we still had scaffolding up from another job that overran and EEC Solar, the firm doing the installations, told us that they could only use their own supplier) we have had three separate "installation dates" since September where no-one has turned up and no-one has phoned or emailed to explain / give us warning.

Emails and phone calls (always polite) go unresponded to, or a message is taken with the promise that someone will call me back (which may have happened around September 2021 but not since). 

My most charitable explanation is that EEC Solar underestimated the demand and having offered the scheme on the basis of a low price, have found subcontractors willing / able to do the work at low prices either unavailable (no-one is going on holiday, everyone is getting their houses done) or unreliable. No doubt COVID has played a role (particularly over the winter months) but the lack of communication / information from EEC (or indeed from Kent County Council) has been incredibly frustrating.

There's another house on my street with the scheme who are having similar problems (half an installation, no communication) so expect that others in my area (near Dover) are experiencing the same thing.
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Comments

  • EricMears
    EricMears Posts: 3,231 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
    edited 21 November 2020 at 3:09PM
    "12 panels (quoted as generating  4,050 kWh per year, of which  1,418 kWh will be 'useable') " isn't really helpful.  You really need to show the total kWp of the system (or at least the Wp of one panel).    These days,  panels are unlikely to be less than 250Wp (hence 3kWp system total) but could be almost 400Wp each (maybe as much as 4.8kWp ?).   4k pounds for a 3kWp isn't unreasonable or would be pretty cheap if it was 4.8kWp.

    No idea why only 1418kWh is described as useable !    You might be able to self-use ALL 4.05kWh if you have high consumption well matched to peak sunshine hours or maybe almost none if house is empty during all daylight hours with very little background use.

    NE Derbyshire.4kWp S Facing 17.5deg slope (dormer roof).24kWh of Pylontech batteries with Lux controller BEV : Hyundai Ioniq5
  • Hexane
    Hexane Posts: 520 Forumite
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper
    edited 21 November 2020 at 4:38PM
    EricMears said:
    No idea why only 1418kWh is described as useable !

    My guess would be that it's poor wording for a finger-in-the-air guess based on the old deemed export guess of "50% usage" with a little taken off for inefficiencies or something. Not a bad guide but my installer went with a more realistic estimate of 33% self-usage. As you say, some households might manage far more than that.

    And yes, unless there is some way of finding out the wattage of the panels they're supplying, it's impossible to tell if this is a good deal (which it might be), or just a deal similar to one which might be obtained by phoning up a local installer oneself. Which makes the £150 deposit a bit poor.

    And of course if one had enough roofspace (especially south-east and south-west facing) then one might be interested in going for a much larger system (like twenty panels instead of twelve) which I would be pretty sure this scheme wouldnt allow because they probably wouldn't want to get involved in DNO approval.

    Plus - if there is any shading then they should be recommending a SolarEdge solution, and their "one size fits all" bundle deal seemingly doesn't consider that.
    7.25 kWp PV system (4.1kW WSW & 3.15kW ENE), Solis inverter, myenergi eddi & harvi for energy diversion to immersion heater. myenergi hub for Virtual Power Plant demand-side response trial.
  • EricMears said:
    "12 panels (quoted as generating  4,050 kWh per year, of which  1,418 kWh will be 'useable') " isn't really helpful.  You really need to show the total kWp of the system (or at least the Wp of one panel).   
    The auto-quote given by the website doesn't include this, but I can contact them and see if they're able to provide any further information.
    Hexane said:
    My guess would be that it's poor wording for a finger-in-the-air guess based on the old deemed export guess of "50% usage" with a little taken off for inefficiencies or something.
    I think this is probably it. Seems to be based on "average useage" without the battery option.
    Hexane said:
    And of course if one had enough roofspace (especially south-east and south-west facing) then one might be interested in going for a much larger system (like twenty panels instead of twelve) which I would be pretty sure this scheme wouldnt allow because they probably wouldn't want to get involved in DNO approval.

    Plus - if there is any shading then they should be recommending a SolarEdge solution, and their "one size fits all" bundle deal seemingly doesn't consider that.
    It seems you can add panels to the original quote (and my intuition is that I'd prefer to install as many panels as I can on the roof). There isn't a significant amount of shading (the roof is higher than all those nearby, other than the attached house next door).

    Any steer on what the threshold for DNO approval would be?

  • EricMears
    EricMears Posts: 3,231 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
    Any steer on what the threshold for DNO approval would be?

    Providing you can't export more than 16amps ( around 3.7kW) DNO approval should be automatically granted;  above that they'd need to 'consider' application (i.e find some excuse to levy a charge)
    NE Derbyshire.4kWp S Facing 17.5deg slope (dormer roof).24kWh of Pylontech batteries with Lux controller BEV : Hyundai Ioniq5
  • Hexane
    Hexane Posts: 520 Forumite
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper
    EricMears said:
    Any steer on what the threshold for DNO approval would be?

    Providing you can't export more than 16amps ( around 3.7kW) DNO approval should be automatically granted;  above that they'd need to 'consider' application (i.e find some excuse to levy a charge)
    My DNO offered to agree 6kW export for a four-figure fee. When told we wouldn't pay that, they agreed to 6kW export for zero fee. In return they wanted some diagrams and photographs from the installer. The installer said he had dealt with applications to the DNO for plenty of installations before mine. He implied that if the 6kW export request were turned down (which he found unlikely) then the solution was simply to limit export to 3.7kW.
    7.25 kWp PV system (4.1kW WSW & 3.15kW ENE), Solis inverter, myenergi eddi & harvi for energy diversion to immersion heater. myenergi hub for Virtual Power Plant demand-side response trial.
  • Martyn1981
    Martyn1981 Posts: 14,734 Forumite
    Name Dropper Photogenic First Anniversary First Post
    I agree with Eric, you really need to know the rating of the system to check the figures given, and to confirm value for money.
    But if I 'assume', then several things jumped out:- 
    Firstly the 4,050kwh figure - typically installer quotes now are fair to low, so that immediately suggested to me a system larger than 4kWp, probably 4.5kWp+.
    Secondly you say the rooves are SE + SW - If that's been taken into account by the installer, then the system might be closer to 5kWp as annual generation will be about 10% less than full south facing.
    Thirdly, running with points one and two - the price of £4k would seem to be very good.

    Regarding the DNO, the installer should be able to ask on your behalf, but a split roof system won't all peak at the same time, so at a rough guess, even if capped to the basic limit of 3.68kW output (AC), you'd have very little capping on a 5kWp system, and even 6kWp wouldn't be too bad. So well worth seeing what can be fitted to the roof, and again making lots of assumptions and guesses, perhaps £800/kWp or less, for additional PV above that quoted?????
    Mart. Cardiff. 5.58 kWp PV systems (3.58 ESE & 2.0 WNW)

    For general PV advice please see the PV FAQ thread on the Green & Ethical Board.
  • I like your glass half full approach there Martyn, my glass half empty view was they have a generic blurb where they state the max any of their systems could theoretically generate if all was perfect, and its actually just a 3kw system that will in reality generate 2Mwh for the year.

    Man I'm cynical.
    West central Scotland
    4kw sse since 2014 and 6.6kw wsw / ene split since 2019
    24kwh leaf, 75Kwh Tesla and Lux 3600 with 60Kwh storage
  • Exiled_Tyke
    Exiled_Tyke Posts: 1,188 Forumite
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper
    edited 23 November 2020 at 4:19PM
    I don't like the look of this.  The details are far too sparse; I wouldn't give any money (at all) upfront for a survey - it just gives them the opportunity to come back to you after the survey and put the price up - and they have some of your money by then.

    I'd also bet a reasonable stake that the panels won't be over 300Wp so no DNO issues. 

    Personally I wouldn't get a quote from a cold contact either. I'd look out potential suppliers and then get a few quotes.  Does anybody on here know any more reputable firms in the Op's area? 
    Install 28th Nov 15, 3.3kW, (11x300LG), SolarEdge, SW. W Yorks.
    Install 2: Sept 19, 600W SSE
    Solax 6.3kWh battery
  • Solar Together can guarantee an output of 300 watts from one solar panel. 
    In order to ensure the quality of the solar PV systems that are offered through the group-buying scheme, Solar Together demands a minimum set of warranties that have to be offered by the suppliers that participate in the auction. These warranties include: 
    Warranty on Power Output
    This is guaranteed by the manufacturer of the solar PV panels. The power output of the solar panels needs to reach more than 90% of its maximum (Watt-peak) in the first ten years and needs to reach more than 80% of its maximum in the next 15 years. 


    ^ I heard back from the company earlier today and this is what they said, so I'm assuming Wp per panel is 300 x 90% = 270 Wp and for an array of 12 panels is 270 X 12 = 3.2kWp?
  • Hexane
    Hexane Posts: 520 Forumite
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper
    Solar Together can guarantee an output of 300 watts from one solar panel. 
    In order to ensure the quality of the solar PV systems that are offered through the group-buying scheme, Solar Together demands a minimum set of warranties that have to be offered by the suppliers that participate in the auction. These warranties include: 
    Warranty on Power Output
    This is guaranteed by the manufacturer of the solar PV panels. The power output of the solar panels needs to reach more than 90% of its maximum (Watt-peak) in the first ten years and needs to reach more than 80% of its maximum in the next 15 years. 


    ^ I heard back from the company earlier today and this is what they said, so I'm assuming Wp per panel is 300 x 90% = 270 Wp and for an array of 12 panels is 270 X 12 = 3.2kWp?
    Their wording seems to vary between unusual and meaningless. Ignore the power output warranty (it's not unusual but it's not very meaningful either), these are 300W panels. (I suspected that.) So at £4K for a 3.6kWp system, it's not actually a bad deal although not a particularly great one either.
    7.25 kWp PV system (4.1kW WSW & 3.15kW ENE), Solis inverter, myenergi eddi & harvi for energy diversion to immersion heater. myenergi hub for Virtual Power Plant demand-side response trial.
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