Warranty Claims on Solar Panel Installations

This week we received a telephone call from a concerned owner of a Solar PV system.  His system had been installed less than a year ago by another company and he had come back from holiday to find that the solar circuit in his fuse board had tripped.  When reset, half the system was not working properly.  He phoned the company that had installed the system only to find that they had ceased trading.  Fortunately, this client had an insurance backed warranty.  This meant that he had somewhere to go to try and resolve his problem.  And this is where Morgans Solar stepped in.

The client contacted us and asked if we could find out what the fault was.  Peter visited the client within a couple of days and carried out a full inspection and test of the Solar PV system.  This involved not only testing the electrical side of the system but getting up into the loft and onto the roof to inspect the whole installation.  Unfortunately for the client, the findings were not good!  The main issue was that some of the panels had become disconnected as a connector plug had become unplugged.  Wires were hanging loose on the roof and because they could flap around in the wind, one string had obviously come under some tension and the connector had worked its way off.  All of the wires should have been securely fastened to the mounting frame in the first place.

Upon inspecting the rest of the installation, numerous examples were found where the system had not been installed to the required MCS standards and in some cases, the issues found were dangerous.  It makes you wonder how many other systems there are out there like this one but we can take some positives from being involved in this.  For us it highlights how important compliance to the MCS standard is and reinforces the quality of our own installations.  For the client, the insurance backed warranty has saved him a lot of personal expense.  We will now be going back to complete remedial works a the request of the insurance company, to correct all the issues found and leave the system in a fit for purpose condition as it should have been when it was installed originally.

We would really like to talk to any companies who offer insurance backed warranties for Solar PV installations about our inspection, test and maintenance service.  If you know anyone who might be interested, please pass them our details.  The number to call is 01525 213103 or email info@morganssolar.com.

Grand Designs Hertfordshire House

In October last year Morgans Solar was asked to provide a quotation for a Solar PV system on a new build house which would be featured on Grand Designs and of course we jumped at the opportunity. The project was already under way and filming was in progress. Then the Government announced the proposed cuts to the feed-in tariff and it became a race against time to make sure we were able to install the Solar PV Panels before the 12th December 2011 deadline.

Grand Designs Hertfordshire House

For those of you who are fans of Grand Designs, you will have seen the Hertfordshire House featured last night’s programme (episode 2, series 8).   The construction of the house was unusual including the roof structure so we spent some time liaising between the architect and our structural  engineer to make sure the roof was going to be suitable to take the weight of our proposed system.  The roof membrane could not be penetrated so the framework for the solar panels needed to be held down with ballast, adding additional weight on the roof.  The experts prevailed and our structural engineer who I’ve mentioned before, Keith Rawlings of Rawlings Structural Design Ltd, came up with the final ballast requirements and we were good to go.  We installed and commissioned the system on a very cold and miserable day, 1st December 2011.

By this time, filming for the programme was finished apart from the final sequences and unfortunately they didn’t do any aerial shots so the Solar PV panels were not featured in the programme.  I guess it’s testament to our design that the panels can not be seen from the ground in the final views of the finished house but you can see a short video of our installation by clicking here.   More information andpictures can also be found in the case study area of this website.

We will be a featured supplier in the December issue of the Grand Designs magazine though and we’re still proud to have supplied a Grand Designs house.  But Grand Designs aren’t just for the TV.  Many people embark on self build projects to build themselves a unique home and many will include some sort of renewable energy.  If you know anyone who is thinking about building their own home, please pass on our details and we’ll be happy to talk to them about a bespoke design to compliment the design and requirements of their home.  You can see a The number to call is 01525 213103 or we can be reached via email info@morganssolar.com.

Green Deal – what is it and what does it mean for home owners and businesses?

For those of you who stay close to news and updates from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) you may already know about a new scheme that will come into effect from 1st October this year called Green Deal. 

“The Green Deal will be the biggest home energy improvement programme of modern times” – Greg Barker, Minister for Energy & Climate Change

Green Deal is all about energy efficiency in homes and businesses and will enable you to make energy saving improvements to your property for no up front cost.  There are 45 energy saving measures covered by the scheme.  Areas include:

  • Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning e.g. condensing boilers
  • Building Fabric e.g. cavity wall and loft insulation
  • Lighting e.g. low energy fittings and controls
  • Micro-generation e.g. Solar thermal panels (hot water) and Solar photovoltaic panels (electricity)

In simple terms, a Green Deal provider can lend you part or all of the cost of installing one or more of the listed measures.  The debt will be attached to your property’s electricity meter, not you.  The measures will only be agreed if they meet a golden rule – the savings made on your energy bills must cover the repayments on the loan.  The loan is recovered over a period of 25 years or less via a charge on your electricity bill.  If you move, the debt stays with the property’s electricity bill. 

If a measure doesn’t meet the golden rule, you may still be able to benefit if you contribute to the cost of the measure(s).  So for example, a Solar PV system is unlikely to meet the Golden Rule as monthly savings would not cover the cost of the loan but if you were able to cover part of the cost, it may become viable. 

However, there are certain measures that will need to be in place before micro-generation technologies are considered.  The process will start with a Green Deal Assessment (free to you) which will look at the current energy performance of the property.  A Green Deal Advisor will make recommendations as to which energy savings measures should be the priority.  If you don’t have adequate insulation, it is likely that this will be top of the list.

It is also worth noting that if you use Green Deal finance to install micro-generation technology such as Solar panels, you cannot claim the feed-in tariff as well.  As feed-in tariffs reduce over time, this will become less of an issue.  With ever increasing energy bills, for some, the ability to generate their own free electrcicty may be more important that receiving an income from their solar system.

Once the final process has been published and we have a better understanding of how Green Deal works for Solar technology, we will post another update.  Morgans Solar has registered its interest in becoming an approved Green Deal Installer so watch this space!

 

 

Renewed Commitment to Solar PV

I’ve written a number of articles now about the changes in the Solar PV Feed-in Tariff this year and how Solar PV is still a viable investment, despite the significant reduction in feed-in tariff.  I think it’s fair to say that it’s been a challenging year for most Solar PV installation companies including Morgans Solar.  On the 1st August, the feed-in tariff was reduced yet again to 16p for systems up to 4kWp and domestic installations have certainly slowed although the commercial side of things still seems buoyant.  We’ve quoted on an interesting range of PV systems across Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire.

This week we received the annual renewal notice for our MCS certification for Solar PV and I wondered how many PV Installation companies will be renewing their licence this year.  I feel certain there will be those who don’t, those who joined the ‘gold rush’ but weren’t committed for the long term.  I didn’t hesitate for a moment before completing our application and writing the cheque because I know there is a future for the renewable energy and having put so much work into our Solar business so far, we’re not going to give up on it that easily!    

For small companies like ours, the requirements of the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) can be somewhat cumbersome and the annual assessment will be daunting to some.  An assessor will conduct a thorough review of our quality management system which includes quotation and contract paperwork, purchasing and supplier controls, equipment calibration, complaints procedure and importantly, training and competence.  He/she will also inspect a recent Solar PV installation so it’s generally a full day of being grilled.  But, and this may sound a bit sad, I actually look forward to it!  The quality controls required are simply the way we do do things now anyway.  And if there is an element of the standard we’ve missed or got wrong (known as a non-conformance), we learn from this and have an opportunity to be even better at what we do.  However, I also have a personal best record to uphold – we had zero non-conformance points on the last assessment, one minor point the year before so my ‘Olympic Gold’ will be to achieve zero non-conformance points again this year. 

What does this all mean for you, our customers?  Well, firstly, we are re-confirming our commitment to the Solar PV industry because we believe it has a future and still offers you the opportunity to generate very valuable, free electricity.  Secondly, we are demonstrating our continued passion for delivering great service to both new and existing customers by putting ourselves through the MCS Accreditation process.    We hope you’ll join us in flying the flag for renewable energy technology going forward!