If you’re in the market for PV solar systems or any other energy product, you may have heard about MCS-accredited installers and wondered what it means and how can it help both consumers and contractors when it comes to solar installation. That’s what we’ll cover in this guide.
Read on for more information about MCS certification, accreditation criteria, and reasons to trust MCS solar installers.
Note: ESE Group are not MCS-accredited as you don’t need to be in order to install solar. We are Flexi-Orb members meaning that our installers are vetted and monitored on a regular basis, ensuring high levels of consumer safety and protection.
MCS and MCS Accreditation: Explained
The Microgeneration Certificate Scheme (MCS) is an independent scheme for microgeneration products and services. That simply means it’s a sign of trust for providers and installers of renewable energy products.
It also works hand in hand with the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to cover renewable energy products and low-carbon installations, such as:
- Solar thermal systems
- Solar batteries
- Solar PV systems
- Solar-assisted heat pumps (SAHP)
So, what does the accreditation mean? The MCS accreditation is an independent certification that ensures quality. When you choose an MCS solar installer, you are guaranteed that they will maintain a rigorous set of standards for green technologies.
In fact, abiding by such standards has allowed MCS accreditation to give confidence to thousands of homeowners and businesses in the UK to turn to renewable energy sources.
How Do Solar Panel Installers Obtain MCS Accreditation?
To obtain MCS accreditation, the installer must go through a strict assessment and pass annual audits. Once the installer or service provider is registered with MCS, they receive the accreditation certificate.
In this sense, an MCS accreditation means that these certified installers are technically competent. It also assures you that their products meet the highest quality standards.
All in all, the accreditation process requires the installer to go through six steps, which are:
- Register with the Home Insulation & Energy Systems Quality Assured Contractors Scheme (HIES) or the Renewable Energy Consumer Code (RECC).
- Apply to get certified on the MCS website.
- Choose a certification body.
- Get a company practice assessment.
- Nominate an installation site for inspection.
- Perform any required improvements.
What Are the Requirements for an MCS Accreditation?
Generally, there are four basic requirements that every installer needs to meet to apply for an MCS accreditation: quality, competency, customer care, and continuous improvement.
Let’s take a closer look at what each one means for you as a consumer.
MCS installers are assessed according to the MCS 001 Standard, but that’s not all. They also need to comply with the technical standards specific to the service they provide.
For instance, solar PV and solar thermal have different installation, evaluation, safety, and handover guidelines. If you’d like to know more, you can find them in detail in MCS’s Standards and Tools Library.
Either way, to get the accreditation, the installer should demonstrate that every aspect of the company reflects the standards set by the MCS. In addition, the installer will have to nominate a previous installation site to be inspected for quality assessment.
Installers have to prove the competency of their employees to become MCS certified. This starts with how the company attracts and employs skilled and experienced workers for every aspect of the process, including supplying, designing, and installing microgeneration products.
According to MCS 025, installers can demonstrate their competency in one of two ways:
- Attending short courses or holding in-date qualifications.
- Proving experience and work quality through prior installations.
The primary goal of the MCS scheme is to provide customers with the ultimate safety and quality. To ensure the highest level of protection, MCS requires installers to register to the Consumer Code of the Trading Standard Institute (TSI).
These codes go the extra mile and transcend regular consumer laws to guarantee that you get the best product (solar panels) and services (installation and maintenance).
So an installer who’s compliant with the codes is one that’s committed to promoting and protecting your interests.
The quality monitoring doesn’t end once the installer gets their MCS accreditation. Instead, they have to perform an ongoing quality control scheme, which can be achieved by establishing a Quality Management System (QMS).
To facilitate the process, MCS has provided QMS templates that installers may follow.
Why Should You Trust the Certifications Granted to MCS Accredited Installers?
As already mentioned, MCS-accredited installers go through a rigorous assessment process. To get the bigger picture, ask yourself who assesses them in the first place. The short answer is trustworthy “certification bodies.”
Certification bodies are independent third-party organisations that assess installers for MCS accreditation. They’re certified by the United Kingdom Accreditation Services (UKAS) to ensure the installers’ compliance with MCS standards.
To get the certification, the installer chooses the certification body they’d like to work with. Note that each certification body has its distinct pricing, timeline, and plan.
After getting their MCS accreditation, installers rely on these certification bodies for support with any technical issue or query.
In addition, these trusted certification bodies always remain up-to-date with the installer’s practices and news. That way, the installer is continuously under supervision.
Here’s a list of the bodies that could have certified your MCS-accredited solar PV (or solar thermal) installer:
- APHC Certification Ltd
- Certsure LLP t/a NICEIC
- NAPIT Certification Ltd
- IAAA (Installation Insurance Authority)
Why Choose MCS Accredited Installers and Certified Panels?
Although MCS accreditation is optional, there are several reasons that push consumers towards choosing solar installers with accreditation.
If you’re not sure why that is, check out the top five factors at play:
For many homeowners out there, installing a renewable energy source system, such as SAHP or PV solar systems, is a huge step. After all, it’s not a particularly cheap or easy purchase. So it’s only natural that they want to do their best to be confident about their choice.
Ideally, you need a reliable installer to fix any problem along the way and give you the best value for your money.
Since all MCS-accredited installers are already members of either the RECC or HIES, you guarantee they abide by the best consumer protection practices. Thus, when dealing with a certified installer, you know you’re in good hands.
MCS solar installers are required to perform an initial assessment of your property. This assessment ensures you get the best-tailored plan and products for your needs.
On the other hand, non-certified installers could have set plans and services to choose from, which might not be fitting for all.
The good news is that this initial assessment service might be free of charge. That’s a nifty bonus since you probably don’t want to add to the high installation cost, but make sure to check the fees with your installer before getting your hopes up.
In some cases, MCS certification for the solar panel itself is a mandatory requirement. In other words, to obtain any government incentive, you have to have a certified product.
For instance, the government’s Renewable Heating Incentive (RHI) required households to provide the MCS documentation to get the export payments.
Plus, you’ll need the certificate if you plan on claiming the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) payments for the energy generated by your solar panels.
Better Financing Options
In addition, MCS is a sign of quality that may increase your property value and make it easy when it comes to gaining access to finance. Some mortgage lenders and home insurance companies include it as a service requirement as they see less risk associated with properly certified panels.
MCS solar installers are committed to giving you premium customer care even after the sale and installation. Upon finishing your installations, MCS-certified installers will give you a handover pack that includes the following:
- The MCS certificate
- Customer care information
- User guide
That way, you can depend on yourself to understand more about your power design and scheme. Plus, you’ll get to use the certificate if you decide to apply for schemes and grants.
MCS Accredited Solar Installers Summary
In short, MCS-accredited installers go the extra mile to provide you with the best renewable energy services and products. They go through a rigorous process to ensure they abide by the industry’s best practices. Equally other accreditations like Flexi-Orb provide customers with the peace of mind they need when it comes to solar and other renewables installations
Hiring a registered solar panel installer helps you make the most of your investment through dependable customer care and high-quality products. In addition, it helps you check the box for one of the main requirements for the relevant government incentives.
Keep in mind that installers have to go through multiple phases before becoming accredited. It’s a lot of effort, but it gets them to prove their trustworthiness, commitment to the UK consumer code, and skills through training and assessment. Whether you’re an installer or a consumer, the MCS accreditation is an important asset that benefits you in various ways.
MCS Accreditation FAQs
If I choose an MCS solar installer, when do I receive my MCS installation certificate?
Your MCS-certified installer should provide your MCS installation certificate within ten working days after installation.
If your installer failed to deliver the document on time for any reason, call the MCS helpdesk on 0333 103 8130, but make sure to check the operating hours first.
Do solar panel installation workers need to be MCS certified?
No, as long as the installer company itself is accredited, workers don’t need any special MCS accreditation. However, in case the worker is the contractor himself, then an MCS certification is required.
How long does the MCS accreditation process take?
The duration of the process depends primarily on the installers themselves. It’s different according to the services they provide, the certification body they choose, and their skill level. Generally speaking, after preparing the full documentation, the inspection takes between 4–6 weeks.