Rent a Roof Solar Panel Scheme

The rent a roof solar scheme allows you to power your home with free electricity without having to buy solar panels.

However the company installing the panels will keep the lucrative Feed-in Tariff payments. With solar prices at a record low, many home-owners are opting to buy the solar panels instead.

You can compare prices of local installers by entering your postcode in the form at the top of this page.

Rent a Roof Scheme

In 2010 when the government first launched their Feed-in Tariff funding for solar panels, the tariff payments were so generous that many installers were happy to offer free solar panels through a Rent a Roof scheme. This suited many home-owners as the average cost of a 4kW solar system was over £15,000.

Jump forward to today and the solar market is a very different landscape. Solar panel prices have dropped a staggering 70% in the last few years as the technology matures. Today a 4kW solar system costs around £6,000.

Plummeting costs have caused the government to also reduce their tariff payments as solar starts to pay for itself in terms of reducing a household’s energy bills versus the initial cost.

As a result, many installers no longer offer the Rent a Roof scheme as home-owners are far better off buying the panels outright and reaping the rewards of free energy and the tariff payments.

That said, if you can’t afford the upfront cost of a solar system (the smallest systems start at around £2,000), you can still find a few installers offering the Rent a Roof scheme.

Learn more about free solar panels

How does Rent a Roof work?

Rent a Roof installers will offer to install solar panels on your roof free of charge in exchange for them being able to claim the feed-in tariff payments for the electricity generated. In return, they will allow you to power your home with the electricity generated by the panels on your roof.

So the installer is not renting your roof, they just have claim to the tariff payments from the panels on your roof.

The feed-in tariff lasts for 20 years and is worth up to £11,400 for a 3.5kW system. After the 20 years, most Rent a Roof installers will let you keep the solar panels and the free energy even though they will no longer be receiving any tariff payments from the government; always check with them in advance of any contract.

How much will I make / save?

As we explained above, the installer will keep the tariff payments under the Rent a Roof scheme. However you will save money on your energy bills; solar panels typical reduce a household’s energy bill by around 50%.

The table below shows the typical energy savings a 3.5kW solar system will deliver over 20 years:

Energy Savings
After 1 year
After 5 years
After 10 years
After 15 year
After 20 years
£2, 500

Rent a Roof vs self funding

The chart below shows the difference in earnings there is between free solar panels through the rent a roof scheme and buying the solar panels:


As you can see, the real earnings come from cashing in on the feed-in tariff payments which you will get if you are the owner of the solar panels. Over 20 years the difference is enormous.

With solar costs at a record low, if you can afford the initial installation cost or can find a good solar finance option, you will be far better off buying the solar panels instead of opting for the Rent a Roof scheme.

You can compare installation prices of solar installers operating in your area by entering your postcode in the banner at the top of the page.

Does my house qualify?

Not all homes will be eligible for the scheme and even if your home is perfect for solar, finding installers still offering the scheme can be difficult.

Roofs should be south east to south west facing in most cases but the solar PV provider will assess your roof to calculate if they will be able to offer you the free solar panels.

What’s the catch - any drawbacks?

Obviously the big drawback of Rent a Roof is that you will not cash in on the tariff payments for producing renewable energy; this will go to the installer. This means they get a significant share of the financial benefits solar panels deliver (as shown in the chart above) meaning there is no catch for why they are offering free panels.

However it is important to understand that you will be liable for any missed revenue if the solar panels break and the cause is considered to be your fault. This scenario will be drawn up in the contract with your installer so always check this carefully.

What’s in the contract?

As with all contract, it’s vital that you fully ready and understand the contract between you and the Rent a Roof installer before you sign. If you don’t understand anything, also seek clarification.

If you are pressured to sign the contract, always walk away from the deal. An MCS installer should never under any circumstance pressure you to sign the contract. Once you sign, you are also given a cooling off period where you can change your mind and not face any penalties.

Particular things to check in the contract:

  • What solar panel system the company will be installing
  • How much the company think you will make from energy bill savings
  • What will happen to the panels after the 20 year tariff payments cease
  • Who is responsible for any upkeep and maintenance
  • What will happen if the panels break
  • What will happen if you move home

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