Homeowner in the dark over solar panel supplies – The Crusader


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For now seeing the sun shine is bringing no joy to Brian Atkins as he waits to find out what’s going on with his order for a new inverter.

That’s the crucial and costly bit of equipment in PV solar systems that converts the electricity current into one used by the National Grid.  

++ If you’ve been affected by this issue or feel you’ve been a victim of injustice, please contact consumer and small business champion Maisha Frost on maisha.frost@express.co.uk ++

Like many owners, Brian wasn’t aware of it until his failed. Today’s inverters are typically covered by a 10-year warranty. Brian’s, from leading residential supplier Growatt, was for five years and lasted for seven. 

He and his wife decided on solar panels in 2014 as a way of helping the environment and getting some extra for their outlay by being paid for any surplus fed back to the Grid.

Their panels were installed by First4Solar, a trading name of Tanrec Ltd.

“As our installer failed we automatically turned to First4Solar this time. I was asked to phone after a day if the inverter had not corrected itself. When it didn’t I learned it would need replacing. I paid on July 15 and was told order, delivery and fitting would follow shortly after. I’ve phoned many times with no result,” claims Brian.

Crusader helped take up the chase and was told by First4Solar’s sales director Daniel Hawkins on August 4 that Brian had been kept “up to date and informed of the issues (First4Solar) had been having surrounding stock and staff absence due to the pingdemic”.  

Brian would “receive his new inverter on Friday, August 6,” he added.

That didn’t happen and at the end of last week, Brian was still in the dark. Meanwhile, his electricity now comes directly from his supplier and there are no surplus payments.

All Brian wants is a reliable response and fast resolution.

First4Solar is part of HIES, the consumer protection organisation with a Trading Standards approved code and a disputes-resolution ombudsman that covers the installation of home energy products.  

When Crusader tried to help Brian and also gather more general advice for owners and those considering installation, Growatt UK did not reply.

MCS, the industry-led quality assurance scheme designed to demonstrate the quality and reliability of approved products and installation companies, has just got back to us so we’re not sure yet what they might be able to do in such circumstances. To be continued.

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