Affordable Solar - Really?

We have had a visit from an Affordable Solar rep (Simon Palmer). This consisted of a technology, service and financial overview, followed by an attempt to get our signature on the dotted line by being part of a 100% cashback marketing programme.

On the marketing programme, we would get a small reduction from the full installation price, and thereafter small amounts for each sale that we refer. On the sixth referred sale, we would be refunded the full outstanding balance of our initial installation cost.

This seems like a bit of a no-brainer. We have to pay top whack for a decent PV system, but have every chance of getting all our money back when we've referred six sales.

There is a catch: we cannot offer or imply the offer of a marketing programme, when marketing the system ourselves. My Palmer said that getting those six sales would be 'no problem', but is that true? To be fair we don't have enough details from other companies to position Affordable Solar's competitiveness, but on the face of it we might really struggle. Affordable Solar's retail price of a 2kW system is 18305, with expected return of 1000/year. A number being bandied about in the media is 13000, with return of 900/year. The initial cost is critical to getting sales, so we would have our work cut out convincing people that Affordable Solar is actually value for money.

Instead of being a genuine marketing exercise to really ramp up the market, as Mr Palmer described, I actually feel that the 100% cashback offer is simply a marketing gimmick to get people to sign on the dotted line when the salesman is hovering. The company doesn't actually expect you to make any sales of your own - it simply needs to sell to you, safe in the knowledge that you won't be able to sell any referrals of your own. I might be completely wrong, but it's what I think.

Whenever we've been offered something 'as long as you sign up right now', we've been glad we didn't. Whether it's fascias or double glazing, a reasonable offer will be there after the salesman has bid his farewell.

More information about Affordable Solar and their product:

  • All quotes include surveys, export meter, scaffolding
  • 1kW system costs 13000 fully installed
  • Solar panels used: Sanyo HIP-180, monocrystalline, 180W per panel (1.18m2)
  • Three month lead time
  • REIGA registered (an insurance scheme)


7 Comments

by David Wisbey on 13 April 2012 Reply
Interesting!! I've had a visit from Simon Palmer who is now representing Prolite Energy Systems of Romford who i contacted from their Sunday Mail advert. Prior to agreeing to an appointment with Prolite I made it quite clear (on two seperate calls) that I did not want any pushy salesman types and would not be making a decision on the day.David at prolite agreed but verified that i was the sole occupier( and therefore i guess decision maker)and confirmed that the appointment would last about 2 hours. The next day,Simon Palmer arrived on-time and gave a very smooth,plausible and impressive presentation on solar pv panels and why Prolite systems were far better than most of their competitors. He was both professional and likeable and i was feeling very reassured that i'd found the best company from the outset ... then after approx 3 hours i was given a price of ?15,290 for a 4kw system using panels made by Ahead Renewable Energy solar panels who are UK based and apparently guarantee an exceptional 85% efficiency even after 25 years of use.However,i remarked that i was surprised at the price as i was expecting to pay about ?10,000 as i understood prices had now fallen dramatically. He indicated that he would be able to reduce the price if i met certain criteria. Over the following 2 hours he reinforced the financial returns over 25 years and eventually said he would forego his ?1800 commission( confusing because at the start he said he wasn't commission based)and then explained i'd have to have a board up for 3 weeks, reccommend 4 friends, have endorsement photos etc) thus reducing the final price to ?13,490. I insisted i'd need a few days to think about it and(now over 5 hours in)tried to round off as a friend had just arrived, Simon spent the final 30 mins subtlely but distinctly turning the pressure up, trying to gain my committment explaining he couldn't hold the discount deal open as he had 5 more immediate appointments in my area and it was only available to one customer.He eventually left 5 1/2 hours later! Since then i've now researched the internet, had numerous quotes (including those offered by "impartial best deal" websites) all ranging from ?7,500 (suntech,LG) to ?10,500 ...installed from both new and long established REA award winning companies. None of these quotes stipulated marketing criteria on my behalf... although further discounts were available with some on this basis. 8 days on from the Prolite appointment i've yet to receive a follow up call. The power of the internet is a wonderful thing for consumers.... readers can make their own minds up about both Prolite energy systems and Simon Palmer ........ I know I have!
by David Jones on 21 February 2011 Reply
Solar Pv prices as a rough guide are ?3500 - ?4500 per Kwp installed depending on size around North Wales
by Stuart Woodyard on 09 September 2010 Reply
SHOCKING!!! Solar P.V as a guide should only cost around the ?6 per watt area, making your installation ?12000. To qualify for FIT payments, the installer has to be MCS registered. As part of this registration you have to be signed up to a consumer protection body. At this moment in time the MCS only recognise the Renewable Energy Association('REA'). The conditions of membership are unambiguous and definately frown upon the type of 'selling' tactics being employed in your case.
by Jack Dainty on 25 January 2011 Reply
We used Affordable (Simon Palmer was the salesman) and paid ?13.5k for a 2.5kW PV system in August 2010. We haggled with Simon on the price and think we got a fair deal in the end. Difficult to estimate the payback time at the moment as we've not had the system in for a full year but it appears to be producing what it should be in terms of kWh.
by A Febland on 02 September 2010 Reply
If you're in the North West try iGen Energy, www.igen-energy.com or freephone 08006785439. After 4 quotes they were the most reasonable price, realistic forecast of payback and future earnings and did a great job cant recommend enoiugh
by John Swindells on 02 September 2010 Reply
Thanks for your recommendation!
by James on 19 July 2010 Reply
You can get good quality PV systems at much lower prices e.g. ?9100 for a 2kW system.

http://contemporaryenergy.co.uk/pv_products.htm

by steve on 03 July 2010 Reply
We had a system fitted by Affordable in early June. 3kw system for approx ?15,500 after the 2500 carbon trust grant, plus FIT payments to come later.

We are only one month in but generated approx 16% more than the estimated June figure - very seasonal obviously. Estimated generation pa is 2404 kwh ( or units).

Still happy with the system and net price paid. Yes - the salesman was pushy and huge discount to headline price of 20k but less if signed immediately - we didn't but got same price next day after reflection.

Didn't like the sales process but at just over 5k per kw this seemed to compare well enough to research suggesting 5-6k per kw.

by John Swindells on 02 September 2010 Reply
It sounds like you got a big enough discount to make it a reasonable proposition. However if you are intimidated by pressure sales and "sign up today" incentives, steer well clear.
by Ben Fairman on 25 February 2010 Reply
We are a start-up renewable energy installation company. I was shocked at Affordable Solar prices. I'm afraid that there will be alot of mis-selling and profiteering over the next couple of years which I hope will not damage this fledging industry.

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