Trading standards warns of aggressive sales push by solar panel firms

Shetland Islands Council’s trading standards service is warning people to be wary of cold callers offering the installation of solar panels or other energy saving devices.

Service manager David Marsh said: “There have been problems on the mainland where householders have received unsolicited phone calls and visits from solar panel sales people, and we are aware of people in Shetland now being contacted in similar ways.

“In some cases pressure has been applied to get people to sign expensive contracts on the day, without giving prospective buyers appropriate time to make an informed decision and consider other suppliers.

“Before agreeing to any major decision like this, it’s vital to look carefully at what’s being offered and consider all the options.”

The Energy Saving Trust (, a non-profit organisation, provides free and impartial advice on how to save energy. Additional information, including a list of registered installers, is available from

The Renewable Energy Association’s REAL Assurance Scheme ( also offers advice and information, as well as running a government-backed consumer code of conduct approved by the Office of Fair Trading.

General consumer advice is always available at, by calling Consumer Direct on 08454 040506, trading standards on (01595) 744887, or in person at the council’s Grantfield office.


Add Your Comment
  • Douglas Young

    • March 1st, 2012 9:00

    Received just such a call and laughingly replied “Solar panels? Don’t be silly”. The caller also had the good grace to laugh, so I assume this is acceptance that they are a commercial nonsense for the average consumer.

  • Gordon Bradford

    • March 2nd, 2012 17:54

    In actual fact, solar photovoltaic panels and arrays make complete commercial sense for both consumer and businesses alike! The rate of installations throughout the entirety of Northern Europe proves this without question. Using actual scientific data from European Solar Radiation Atlas, Lerwick itself achieves 91% of the annual solar radiation that Glasgow receives! Even when compared to the part of the the UK that receives the highest solar radiation (e.g. Plymouth), Lerwick receives 74% of that level!

    Performance of these systems with the annual solar radiation levels that are received on the Shetlands makes absolute technical and financial sense for home owners and businesses. If a system installed in Glasgow takes 10 years to pay for itself then on the Shetlands it would take 11 years – fact.

    To end my science lesson, I can prove all of this beyond doubt. I have used a solar radiation database built for the European Commission using climate data homogenized for Europe and available in the European Solar Radiation Atlas.

  • Steven Coutts

    • March 3rd, 2012 10:22

    Please see here for a couple of solar calculators and then you can see reputable figures for production levels:

    Although we receive 90% of solar radiation of Glasgow it does not directly follow that the paypack will be as Gordon suggests as you need to factor in actual install cost of the system, which can be significantly more here than in the central belt.

    There are a number of solar PV installations in Shetland and by all accounts these are performing well.

  • Gordon Bradford

    • March 6th, 2012 13:02

    Both of the calculators referenced by David are good. Although the 25 year payback number on the Energy Saving Trust website does not factor in RPI or any rise in cost of fuel.

    Many companies do indeed charge significantly more to install systems in outlying and remote areas. HOWEVER as a director with Solar Power Scotland I can advise that the installation prices for EVERY system available to the population on Shetland is IDENTICAL to the installation prices on mainland Scotland. 100% guaranteed.


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