Solstice Energy

During the three months that Homesun misled me with their false advertising (since amended) I gradually came to the conclusion that if solar panels made any sense at all it could only be if they were owned outright. Signing over your roof to someone for 25 years looks like a very risky gamble to me and some banks are known to be refusing mortgages on such properties; so I looked around for an alternative supplier. I ruled out all the big names precisely because they were big names, so British Gas, Tesco and the diversifying double glazing companies weren’t considered, I wanted someone who would apply their own expertise to the project but allow me to specify how it was put together. Googling for user comments led me to a small number of apparently independent installers. The one with the most attractive and informative website was Solstice Energy of Putney; not too far from me, so I left my details on their website. Within hours they phoned with an apology for not getting back to me even sooner and we agreed a survey date for later the same week.

The surveyors measured the roof, inspected the loft area and discussed my proposal for putting the inverter and associated equipment in the garage and my suggestion as to how the cables could be routed invisibly. Unlike Homesun’s surveyor they were happy to sit down and discuss the various options. A few days later I received a quotation that fell just inside my budget and a proposed installation date if I should accept it.

Before I did so I questioned the choice of inverter and asked for detailed drawings to keep the local council’s Building Control people happy. All my questions were answered in a professional manner, often with PDF files and web links for additional detail. I accepted the quotation and the proposed installation date beginning 4th January 2011. It was anticipated the job might take four days but in the event being able to back their van up to the garage door made fetching and carrying tools and materials so much quicker than taking them into the roof space that the job was completed in three days. A pictorial record of the installation is available from the Solstice Energy sub-menu.

A week after completion of the installation an Operation and Maintenance manual arrived in the post which also detailed all the equipment in use, schematic diagram and the electrical compliance certificate. The makers’ documentation for all the equipment installed had been given to me during installation.

Do I have any criticisms? Well to go into hyper nit-picking mode, I think I would have preferred the panels to be arranged symmetrically on the roof rather than being offset to the right which has the minor benefit of shortening the DC cable run but with no over-riding benefit and the sleeving of some connections in the meter box is effective more than it is neat and tidy. On the other hand all the equipment and cabling is laid out exactly as I requested and when I asked if the armoured cable could be routed underground when I realised it was going to be very ugly fixed to the house wall there were no complaints even though it caused quite a lot of extra work not least of which was drilling a 35mm diameter hole through a 9 inch brick pillar and the garage’s concrete floor.

January 2011