A Complete Guide to the Rent-a-Roof Scheme

The Rent-a-Roof scheme has seen a decline in popularity since the government’s Feed-in Tariff (FiT) was discontinued in 2019, which subsequently led to an increase in solar panel costs. Previously, this scheme was financially advantageous for installers, allowing them to provide free solar panels to homeowners and recoup their costs through the government’s feed-in tariff payments.

Although the scheme is still available for those who cannot afford the initial outlay for solar panels, the options are now more limited with fewer installers participating. However, if you’re interested in having solar panels installed on your home, Rent-a-Roof still might be the best choice for you, so it’s important to not rule it out immediately.


What Is the Solar Panel Rent-a-Roof Scheme?


The Rent-a-Roof scheme provides an opportunity for individuals who might not afford solar panels to have them installed at a reduced cost. Under this arrangement, installation companies place solar panels on homeowners’ roofs at little to no upfront cost.

The installers retain ownership of the panels and benefit financially by selling surplus electricity back to the power grid. Although homeowners do not charge rent for the roof space, they benefit from using the solar-generated electricity, which can reduce their dependence on grid-supplied power.

Any electricity that is not consumed by the homeowner is sold back to the grid under the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme. This program ensures that energy providers compensate the installers for the surplus renewable energy generated by these solar systems.


What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Rent-a-Roof Schemes?


Those considering the Rent-a-Roof option should weigh both the immediate benefits and long-term implications carefully. Here’s some of the main pros and cons of the scheme:




Access to Renewable Energy with No Initial Cost – Rent-a-Roof schemes allow homeowners to power their homes using solar energy without the upfront cost of purchasing and installing solar panels. This makes renewable energy accessible to those who may not have the financial means to buy a solar system outright.

Significant Reduction in Energy Bills – On average, participants in Rent-a-Roof schemes can see a reduction of up to 49% in their monthly energy bills. This is because the solar panels generate electricity that the homeowner can use, thus reducing the amount of energy needed from the grid.

Environmental Impact – By using solar power, homeowners contribute to reducing the carbon footprint associated with conventional energy sources such as coal and natural gas. Solar energy is clean, renewable, and a significant step towards more sustainable living.

Suitability for Those Unable to Afford Outright Purchase – For individuals who cannot afford the initial investment or do not wish to take out a loan for solar panels, Rent-a-Roof provides a feasible alternative. It offers the benefits of solar energy without the financial burden of owning the system.



Decline in Scheme Availability – There has been a noticeable decrease in the number of installers offering Rent-a-Roof schemes. As the cost of solar panels continues to drop, making it more affordable to purchase systems outright, the appeal and necessity of Rent-a-Roof options diminish. Consequently, finding an installer that offers this scheme is becoming increasingly challenging.

Economic Benefits Go to Installers – While homeowners save on their electricity bills, any profit from excess electricity generated by the panels and sold back to the grid goes to the installers. Homeowners do not receive any direct financial returns from the surplus energy their rented solar panels produce.

Potential Liabilities – Rent-a-Roof arrangements can come with certain liabilities for the homeowner. For example, if the solar panels malfunction or if they need to be removed for roof repairs, the homeowner might be held responsible for any related costs or missed payments, depending on the terms of the contract.

Long-Term Significance and Viability – As solar technology advances and prices continue to drop, the relevance of Rent-a-Roof schemes is likely to decline further. Over time, more people will be able to afford their own solar systems, potentially making Rent-a-Roof an obsolete option in the future. This shift could leave those in such schemes at a disadvantage compared to outright owners of solar systems who benefit from all associated financial incentives.


Why Has Rent-a-Roof Declined in Popularity?


Rent-a-roof schemes were once very popular, especially following the introduction of the government’s Feed-in Tariff in 2010. This initiative provided substantial tariff payments to homeowners who installed solar panels, making it financially viable for installers to provide free solar panels through rent-a-roof schemes. At the time, the average cost for a 4 kW solar system was above £15,000, making these schemes quite attractive.

However, the cost of solar power systems has significantly decreased over the years. Today, a 3.5 kW system is available for around £7,000, nearly half the price it was back in 2010. This steep decline in prices has led many installers to move away from rent-a-roof schemes, as selling electricity back to the grid is not as profitable as it used to be.

Despite the decline in popularity, some installers continue to offer rent-a-roof schemes, primarily targeting those who cannot afford to purchase solar panels outright. With the cost of the smallest solar systems, typically around 1 kW, still averaging about £1,600, these schemes remain a viable option for certain households.

However, the overall trend shows a clear shift away from these schemes as purchasing solar panels becomes more economically feasible for a larger number of people.


How Much Money Can You Earn Through Rent-a-Roof?


Under a rent-a-roof scheme, all profits from selling excess electricity generated by the solar panels to the grid are received by the installer, not the homeowner. While you won’t earn money directly from the arrangement, you can still benefit financially through substantial savings on your electricity bills.

To illustrate, consider a typical 3.5 kW solar system, which includes around 10 solar panels, under a rent-a-roof arrangement. This setup can lead to annual savings of approximately £550 on your electricity bills. Over the lifetime of the solar panels, which is usually about 25 years, these savings can accumulate to around £6,400, assuming electricity prices remain constant.

In contrast, installers benefit financially from the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) by selling the excess energy back to the grid, potentially earning thousands of pounds over the same period.

If you choose to purchase solar panels instead, you can still enjoy significant reductions in energy costs. Additionally, owning the panels allows you to benefit from the SEG by selling any surplus energy, adding a direct revenue stream that isn’t available through rent-a-roof schemes.

Ownership also simplifies other aspects of home management. For instance, selling a property can be less complicated without the need to transfer or terminate a roof lease associated with rented solar panels. Furthermore, you won’t face potential financial obligations to the installer for missed SEG earnings if repairs are needed on your roof.

Lastly, having control over your solar panels avoids complexities that come with not owning them, such as needing the installer’s approval for changes to your property. This can make rent-a-roof schemes less appealing if you anticipate modifications or significant maintenance to your home during the lifespan of the panels.