If you are having a solar power system installed in the UK, it is important to look for an MSC certified installer to carry out the work. Doing so will ensure that you end up with a good quality solar system that really is suitable for your home or business.
In the UK and Ireland, to qualify for government grants or the Feed-in Tariff scheme your solar system has to be installed by someone who holds a current MSC certificate. This is also the case for any solar systems installed under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). This scheme is currently only open to owners of non-domestic buildings. However, there are plans for a domestic RHI scheme. It should roll out in late 2012 or early 2013.
What Is the MSC Certificate?
MSC stands for Microgeneration Certification Scheme, which is an internationally recognised scheme. Firms involved in the design or installation of small-scale systems designed to generate power or heat can apply for MSC certification. Manufactures of components, such as solar panels, can also submit their products for MSC certification.
There are currently 16 MSC certification bodies operating in the UK and Ireland. They have all been tested, assessed and accredited by UKAS, the government’s official accreditation body.
How Installers Qualify for Certification
When a company applies for MSC certification, a team of inspectors visits it. Those inspectors examine everything from the way solar systems are explained to customers to the actual installation and maintenance processes.
Firms have to provide a good quality system, made from approved components that is properly designed and installed. The actual system and how it is installed has to comply with all national and international safety rules and regulations. Additionally, the installer has to sign up for a scheme that follows Office of Fair Trading (OFT) codes of practice, which they need to follow.
How Manufactures Qualify for MSC Certification
Manufacturers of solar power components qualify in a similar way. They start by reading the international quality and safety standards for their particular product. If they feel their components already comply, they can have them inspected and certificated immediately. If, on the other hand, their components fall short in some way they can change their designs or manufacturing process accordingly. Once they have done so, the manufacturer can apply for their product to be inspected and tested.
The Purpose of the MSC Scheme
The government put the scheme in place mainly to improve customer confidence. It wants as many people as possible to install alternative fuel systems in their homes and businesses. However, they understand that to do so consumers have to make a considerable investment – something they are not going to do unless they are confident that the microgeneration system they are buying is built to last and does its job. The scheme requires high standards, which helps consumers to get a good return on their investment in solar power. It raises the quality of solar components available and keeps installers striving to follow best practice.
Should You Sign Up With Any MSC Installer?
However, if you are buying solar panels, it is still wise to do some extra research and shop around. Some of each company’s installations are inspected as part of the assessment process. However, after that, only a few additional inspections are required to keep the certification current. Therefore, MSC certification only indicates that the firm knows how to do the job right; it does not mean that they always do so. With this being the case, it makes sense to talk to people in your area who have recently had a solar system installed.
Other Sources of Information
If you do not know anyone who has recently had a solar system installed, try the Internet as a source of information. You will find information on forums dedicated to DIY, money saving and environmental issues.
Online you can also find out more about the different kinds of solar systems that are available. The more you know before you go out shopping for a solar system the better. It means you will understand what solar installers tell you. It will be far easier for you to spot those installers who may be trying to sell you a more expensive system than you really need.
By using a MSC certified installer you will be able to use government money to help pay for your solar system. You will also be able to rest assured that the system you are having installed is of good quality and will work properly.
Ian Wright is a contributor to solar panel information website The Eco Experts, which provides renewable energy information for those living in the UK. If you’d like to find out more about your renewable energy options why not give them a look?