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The only energy used here is taking your money ...

... and in return you get nothing!!

Our correspondent warns ...

If you are looking for a company to provide solar energy, please avoid a company called Ultimate Energy PLC of Poole, Dorset. They are totally untrustworthy.

We paid a deposit of 2,300 to this company but we never received any further contact from them. Each time we contacted them, they had a new excuse for not getting in touch with us. After weeks and months of these delays, we decided there was definitely something untoward happening and we cancelled the contract.

Ultimate Energy PLC agreed that we were entitled to a full refund but it never worked out that way.

  1. First, they claimed they could not reimburse our credit card.
  2. Then they sent a cheque (which arrived one week after they claimed to have sent it by first class post).
  3. Finally, the cheque was returned by our bank with 'PAYMENT STOPPED' printed across it.

I have attempted to contact the company many times to find out what is happening but my calls go unanswered.

I am looking to add this company to some kind of 'on-line blacklist register' so that other people can be alerted to this problem. Does such a thing exist?
JV, Ipswich

Important Disclaimer

We have been asked to point out that Ultimate Energy PLC (the subjects of this article) have no connection with a company called Ultimate Energy Services of Evesham who specialise in underfloor heating.
We are happy to make this distinction as all the complaints we received related to the company in Poole.

Editorial comment:

They may already be on a blacklist as they were investigated by the Office of Fair Trading in 2007.

On 29th October 2007, Floyd Lewis and June Lewis, the directors of Ultimate Energy PLC and Solar Technik Ltd, gave personal undertakings that they would not:

  1. give the misleading impression or make misrepresentations that products will: provide heating (including background heating) if they will not; reduce a person's fuel, energy, gas, electricity or oil bills or level of usage if they will not; or that people will save money equal to or more than the cost of a product.
  2. supply goods which are not of satisfactory quality, reasonably fit for purpose or do not correspond with their description, or fail to repair or replace goods (where appropriate) within a reasonable time and without causing significant inconvenience
  3. fail to carry out a service with reasonable care and skill, or
  4. fail to inform consumers, where required, of their cancellation rights.

Solar Technik Ltd was put into liquidation in March 2007 but Ultimate Energy PLC continues to trade. Their website - http://www.ultimateenergyplc.com - made extravagant claims about their core values, business ethics, professionalism and caring service - this is not exactly the experience of our correspondent!

So, be warned ... Ultimate Energy PLC looks like a decidedly dodgy company.

Footnote:

Happily in this case, our correspondents did get eventually their deposit back but the story has a quirky ending.

After Ultimate Energy PLC were threatened with legal action, Floyd Lewis contacted the customer to ask for details of their contract. When they told him they couldn't supply the details as all the paperwork had gone to their solicitor, the deposit was credited back to their account within hours!

The moral here, as we so often find, is that you must fight for your rights. If you don't, conmen will continue to fleece potential customers and they will make a lot of money by doing nothing!


Visitors' Comments

G M Lamb, Broadstairs, KENT writes:

I had a system installed by Ultimate Energy, some 18 months ago. Last summer, after experiencing a problem of noise from the system when the sun is full on the solar panels, I made 3 appointments for a technician to attend, none was kept and no reason was given in the course of several phone calls. I have heard nothing further until this week, when I received a letter from Advanced Solar Energy offering to 'honour' the original 3 year warrantee - on payment of 2299 inc VAT. I shall not be taking up this offer as I believe that Advanced Solar Servicing is a Phoenix company under the ownership of Floyd Lewis. Is there any way to stop this man from re-inventing himself and conning folk out of their hard earned money?


Cheryl Combellack, Carterton writes:

We have today received a letter from a company called Advanced Solar servicing. It claims to be in agreement with the administrators and offering a service to cover the three year warranty on the system at a cost of 299 plus VAT for a two year service. When we have checked this company, it was only formed on 25 Nov 2008 - is this ultimate energy trying to set up again to rip us off? They do not name the administrators and the letter is in a very similar format to the Ultimate Energy ones. The contact number is 0845 230 6451. We will avoid this one but want others to be wary too!


Bev Borgonovo, Bournemouth writes:

Ultimate Energy have gone into receivership and are now trading as Advanced Solar. Both my son and his friend worked for them as fitters and have not been paid a total of 3,000 for work they have done over the last 3 months despite being given wage slips confirming their wage. Avoid this company like the plague, it is run by unscrupulous people, Floyd Lewis being one of them, who have no interest in anything other than lining their own pockets at other people's expense.
Be warned - don't employ their services or be employed by them.


JD Varley, Peterborough writes:

With hindsight I believe the system was misrepresented to us and is highly overpriced. The system for domestic hot water heating is excellent; quality of materials and workmanship was very good. BUT communication with the company is very bad, if not impossible, and appointments and promises are constantly broken.
Do not go anywhere near this company if you want to get good value and stay sane. Their core values are brilliant but don't believe a word of them.


Douglas Lock, Ferndown writes:

I have had a system installed and so far am satisfied with the performance. However, the firm took and cashed a cheque for 3,000 and charged the same 3,000 to my Credit Card. Although I tried very hard to get this refunded with several letters, e-mails and telephone calls, I had no luck. In the end the Credit Card Company refunded the 3,000 plus penalties.
Perhaps the technical side is OK but the office management side leaves so much to be desired that I would not recommend them to anybody else.
PS I am hoping that the system does not break down!!!


DO, Camberley writes:

We had an Ultimate Energy System installed last September which is working perfectly and has not given us a moment's trouble. We can now afford to heat our whole house to a temperature of 21C day and night.


Prof CL, Hertford writes:

My experience has been similar to that of JV of Ipswich, except that we have still not had our deposit returned. My credit card company has not had any success either and I now intend to seek redress through the Small Claims Court.


LR, London writes:

Our experience is exactly as described. The salesman from Ultimate Energy, Steve Connick, has broken the promises given by Mr Lewis. He said the domestic water heating system would cut our oil bill by 40% and if we went for the more complicated system, which also provided heating, 60%.
We foolishly signed on the dotted line in October 2007 and.... NOTHING. I have today given notice of cancellation to Mr Lewis, taken legal advice and started proceedings to recover my deposit.
Avoid this company as they are conmen. The only disappointing thing is finding this info out having personally parted with money. I can't believe with the prior failure of Solar Technik, the tax man after Mr Lewis for unpaid taxes and a thick file of unhappy customers that there is nothing the OFT, Taxman, Government seem prepared to do to protect the consumer.


The salesman's response - 28 Jan 2009

I would like to clear my name! I used to work, on a freelance basis, for a company called Ultimate Energy based in Poole. My name is mentioned on your web site as 'the salesman' who 'broke promises' but I was unaware of the unscrupulous activities of Floyd Lewis when I joined HIS company. I have never been a partner, director, share holder, conman or even employee of Ultimate Energy or any other company associated with Floyd Lewis. I, like many of his customers, am owed money by Mr Lewis.
I refused to work for him once it became evident that he was untrustworthy. I represented his company in good faith and believed that what I told HIS customers was actually fact. I was unaware until today that 'LR of London' had not had his order fulfilled or his deposit returned. I would ask you to remove the slanderous comment on your website as it is unfounded and totally untrue. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.

Editorial Comment:

In good faith, we have accepted Mr Connick's explanation and have removed the offending comment from our correspondent's letter. However, if a salesman represents a company in any capacity and is making claims for a product that cannot be substantiated, and are possibly false, he, as the public-facing representative of the company, is the person who is actually misleading the potential customer and he must be prepared to accept some of the blame when customers discover they have been conned.


MW, Winchester writes:

I'm going through the same process to get my deposit back but only a month into it. I cancelled the contract within 24 hours of signing after taking some gas readings and calculating we would only save about 70 a year against an expenditure of 7000. Just about to go thru the small claims process and have raised an issue with the OFT.


Update:
I failed to get the money back via the Small Claims process. Doesn't seem much use with companies like these since they ignore everything. At the court hearing they didn't turn up and we were at the end of a long list of creditors. Now in the hands of the credit card company.

14th December 2008: We have just received this further information from Martin West:

Ultimate Energy was declared insolvent on 2nd December 2008. Creditors should contact
D Meany of Rogers Evans on 023 8033 588 as soon as possible.

This is a response I received from Companies House in respect of Advanced Solar ...

I refer to your email received yesterday. The above company is a limited company and its number is 6722915. Its director is named as Floyd Lewis. I have contacted the company about the lack of information on their website. However, we cannot act for the other matter in that you suspect that Solar Technic might be reincarnated as the above company. There is the Phoenix Company Helpline on 0845 601 3546. They should be able to discuss the matter with you. I will contact you again when the company has amended its website. feel free to add what you think fit to the blog.

Editorial Comment:

A Phoenix company is usually formed from the remnants of a failed company and often trades in the same line of business. Sounds like Floyd Lewis may have become a Phoenix company specialist.


MG, Ipswich writes:

We have had a Ultimate Energy system for 6 months. It is so good that we got our friends to buy one and they reckon they are spending 60% less on energy than they were. I have found them to be very helpful and would use them again.


CC, Carterton writes:

We had an Ultimate Energy system installed over a year ago. It broke down back in April and we contacted the company. What followed were 13 appointments made by various people in the company, including it's managing director, that were never honoured.

The guarantee with this company's product is worth nothing and after daily phone calls to the company we have now had to repair the system at our own expense. If we knew a way to get them closed down to protect others then we would!


AF, Bournemouth writes:

I joined Ultimate Energy in September as a plumber and sneakily got made redundant when I took a week's holiday abroad. The company still have not paid me my last pay packet!

The company and its services are a joke and Mr Lewis is a conman. I have recently learned that he has now changed the company name to ADVANCED SOLAR so beware ... it is still the same company disguised by a new name.


Peter Franks, Devizes writes:

I have recently been contacted by a company called "Advanced Solar Energy" who have offered to service my solar water heater for 299. I smell a rat here because I don't know how they knew I had such a system, and how they got hold of my phone number.

The system was originally installed by Spectrum Energy who were incredibly reluctant to repair it under the guarantee and only showed up after a letter from my solicitor. Are all these solar companies dodgy?


Editorial Comment:

It would appear from other correspondence that Ultimate Energy PLC have merely rebranded as Advanced Solar. To all intents and purposes it's the same company which explains how they knew your telephone number.

The original website - http://www.ultimateenergyplc.com - no longer exists and registration has passed to a company called Ravine Solutions Ltd who appear to do web design and are also based in Poole, Dorset. The .net and .co.uk variants of the domain name are also registered to the same company.

The new Advanced Solar website was registered on 14th October 2008 to a person called Michael Roberts who, as a 'non-trading' UK individual, has opted to withhold his address from the registration database. A link to Advanced Solar from an online directory leads to another website called advancedenergy.co.uk which is registered to yet another 'non-trading' UK individual called John Ross. Advanced Solar Limited was registered at Companies House on 14th October 2008. We already know Mr Lewis is a director of the new company but any associations with other companies are certainly not a transparent arrangement.

The fact remains that Floyd Lewis is a conman and should be avoided at all costs. If you still need convincing, take a look at these reports - BBC Press Office Report.
Guardian Report
Daily Mirror blogs
Tenbees Article


Editorial Comment:

Our advice? Steer well clear of Floyd Lewis and any company he's involved with.

We also picked up an advertisement on Gumtree showing that Advance Solar were recruiting door-to-door canvassers in November 2008 so BEWARE! They may come knocking on your door.


D Owen, Torpoint writes:

Five leaks and a new pump, the last leak being of all the glycol. 140 days to get one of their engineers to come. I was promised 800 compensation from Floyd Lewis. An utter con man.


DCO, East Sussex writes:

Having looked at the Advanced Solar Limited website I was amazed to find the registered office (Sterte Avenue West, Poole, Dorset) is EXACTLY the same as Ultimate Energy PLC.

And aside from being the registered address this is the physical office location for both businesses. Not very bright given the poor publicity for Solar Technik, Ultimate Energy and now Advanced Solar?

The connection between the companies cannot be in any doubt.
But how on earth are people like the Lewis' allowed to continually rip people off, keep the money and just start up under a new name?

My advice? Don't touch this company with a bargepole.


Edwina White, Crowborough writes:

This information is most interesting. We became members of the Solar Initiative about 5 years ago and in doing so joined the crowd who have been conned by Solar Technik. When the system failed to work there was no response to our calls or letters ... now I know why.

We have also been contacted by a company who have access to the database of Solar TechniK offering to make good and service the system - at a cost of course. Trouble is I have lost all confidence in dealing with any Solar Heating companies. Would anyone be prepared to recommend a trustworthy firm of specialists in Solar Heating?


Chris & Karen Chuter, Newark-on-Trent write:

We have had similar problems with another Solar power company 'Solar Home Energy Limited' based in Bournemouth which went into administration in late March and appears to have been 'taken over' by a company called Ideal Solar Energy Limited also based in Bournemouth (!).


We are still trying to get Solar Home Energy to fix the solar system set up at our home which has already been paid for. If anyone can suggest a trustworthy company that can help to sort out problems with solar systems we would like to hear about them.

Are all Solar companies corrupt and suspect????


Editorial Comment:

The website for Solar Home Energy Limited is currently non-functional though the domain name is registered to the company which, strangely, is also based in Bournemouth. The registrant's address is 3 Stratfield Saye, 20-22 Wellington Road, Bournemouth, Dorset BH8 8JN. Perhaps someone in the Bournemouth area knows this address?


Editorial Comment:

In answer to your question, it certainly seems that solar companies in the Bournemouth area have very dodgy reputations.


Mr Samuel Cox, IT Manager, Ideal Solar Energy Ltd writes:

I write with reference to the above comment made in regards to our company.
In it Mr and Mrs Chuter claim that Ideal Solar Energy has taken over Solar Home Energy. As the IT Manager of Ideal Solar Energy I can state clearly that this is an uncorroborated claim and bears no truth and therefore we take it as a slanderous and defamatory attack on our business, especially taking into account your editorial comments regarding the reputations of Solar companies in our area. There are companies that deserve this reputation, but we as a company pride ourselves on our customer service.

My directors have authorised me to start legal proceedings in regard to this, but I have managed to postpone this action for a moment and enable yourselves to help resolve this situation amicably. Therefore can you please ensure all details are removed from your site by end of play on Friday 19th February 2010. After this date I have no alternative option than to hand the matter over to the company s solicitors.

I look forward to receiving confirmation that my request has been actioned and all information removed.


Editorial Comment:

With so little warning, and with a weekend approaching, we had no option but to retract the comment. But we continued to receive bad feedback about solar companies including Ideal Solar Energy and, after reading the article in the Daily Mail on Saturday, May 8th 2010, we decided to make further enquiries. You can download the PDF of the Daily Mail article here.

According to a press release from Hampshire County Council, problems with solar energy companies are rife. The release specifically mentions that the assets of Solar Home Energy were transferred to Ideal Solar Energy Limited so this implies that Samuel Cox was lying when he threatened us with legal action for a 'slanderous and defamatory attack on his business.' At the time we wondered how serious the threat was because Mr Cox clearly did not know the difference between slander and libel.

It also turns out that Ideal Solar Energy was checked out by Which? and was found to be breaking the law by using dodgy sales tactics and by hugely overstating the potential benefits of solar thermal systems. Most of the companies Which? investigated behaved like true cowboys and the OFT received 1,000 complaints about solar companies during 2009. Not good when the green lobby is trying to persuade us to take advantage of free energy sources like the sun and the wind.


L J Jennings, Plymouth writes:

Deposit of 2,260 paid in Jan. 08. Installers arrived a few days later but declined to start due to complications. Mr Lewis stated that deposit would be returned but this never happened. Small Claims of no use as they did not send warrant to Poole in time. Company went into Administration and have been advised by Mr Meany that he will get paid for selling the Company back to Mr Lewis for peanuts and I will get nothing back. Is that justice?


Editorial Comment:

It's rapidly becoming a very unjust world where crooks seem to be the only ones who prosper, always at the expense of innocent victims who are given very little protection by the law.


Steven, Bath writes:

I would like to complain about Smart Energy. I have had nothing but trouble from my installation which was done last year. Their customer service is non-existent and, after complaint after complaint, I still get no satisfaction. I have found out since that they vastly overcharge for their systems and, from further investigations, I have found out that they have been on BBC Watchdog for exactly the same reasons.

I cannot and will not recommend this company. Stay clear and save yourself the stress.


D Goodwin, Ringwood writes:

I would like to add that I have been waiting 6 weeks to get my system repaired. The problem is that they do not seem to have any dedicated service engineers. The installation guys have to fit it in. Plus they say that they will do it when in the area which is not good enough.

I am waiting for a fitter to go on the roof to replace a valve which they say takes 5 minutes. However the normal fitters can't go on roofs even though they carry roof ladders etc on the van!!!!!!. Once this valve is replaced I then have to wait till another chap comes to fill up the system. Keep away from SMART ENERGY - their after-sales service is, in my opinion, appalling.


A distraught ex-employee in Essex writes:

The worst company in the land to work for!

FACT: very overpriced but most of all they work their men to the bone and have no after-sales whatsoever - trust me!!! I was a roofer on their books for years and I can tell you they can't even look after their workers let alone customers. I must have seen 50 people leave there due to high work demand and lack of manpower.


Adrian Short, Rushden, Northants writes:

Ultimate Energy supplied and fitted our system. We had 1 joint failure which they repaired straight away. They promised to pay for the water damage but never did. Also 3 way motorised valve they fitted to boiler system never worked correctly so I had a new one fitted correctly which they never reimbursed me for. So when Ultimate Energy went under they still owed me 189.

Then, just this week, a company called Advanced Solar contacted me by phone, and a man calling himself James (Floyd Lewis really) said they had bought the database list of Ultimate Energy and that for 250 they would check, drain, service and refill my system and guarantee it for at least 15 years. I pondered for 5 days and when they turned up today, after reading the info on this website,

I met them at my gate and asked if Floyd Lewis was their employer. They answered yes. I said sorry but I am not willing to deal with anyone associated with Floyd Lewis as he still owes me money from before. I also said make sure you get paid your wages as a lot of people haven't been.

Surely in this day and age Trading Standards MUST be able to prosecute and imprison this continual fraudulent behaviour. Hopefully I have hit him in his pocket.


James Webster, Happisburgh writes:

I have only have one thing to say and that is Floyd Lewis and his wife should be locked away or made to do continual community service for us all. They are crooks of the first degree.


Peter Such, Broadstairs writes:

I recently received from Advanced Solar Servicing an undated letter advising me Ultimate Energy Plc was placed in administration on the 2nd December 2008 and offering me a service of my hot water solar system for 299 inc vat which, as the system is still under its 3 year warranty, would include parts and labour. This has now been followed up by a telephone call from Mr James Mortimer, Customer Relations Manager, asking me if I would like to book a service. When I asked what I was getting for my money I was informed the system would be drained down and new chemicals put into the system and that would last me for 10 to 15 years.

As the system is only two and a half years old I naturally queried why it has to be serviced now. Needless to say, Mr Mortimer didn't really supply a constructive answer! I have however requested that he provides me with a breakdown of what the service actually includes i.e. what works will be physically undertaken. He has told me he will "cobble" something together and send it to me! Let's wait and see if it arrives. In the meantime I am keeping my 299 inc vat in my own bank account.


James Webster, Happisburgh writes:

In my earlier comment I referred to Floyd Lewis and his wife. Floyd Lewis telephoned (a first since the abortion of an installation in March 2008) to inform me that he was not married. I apologised but maintain he should still be locked away, including June Lewis, whoever that is.


H James, Warminster writes:

I have received a letter from Vantis, Administrators of Smart Energy UK which was declared insolvent on 17th July 2009. A warranty for the solar panels Smart installed is now worthless. Vantis have sent me a leaflet (full of spelling mistakes) from a company called Advanced Solar which offers a 'special' offer of a service for 250. In the light of blogs on your site I will avoid them like the plague!


JP, Bournemouth writes:

I am sorry to say that I worked for Floyd Lewis and his mother at SolarTecknik and at Ultimate Energy PLC and only have one thing to say about them. They are, and will always be, conning people out of their money to make their bank accounts bigger. They are conning people all the time and go into receivership so that they don't have to pay the suppliers or staff what they are owed.

Advanced Solar is run by the same people so my best advice is to stay as far away as possible from them and keep your money safe. Floyd Lewis will always be a conman; always looking for a fast buck. Maybe now, Floyd, people will see you for what you really are.


James Mayor, Poole writes:

I have worked for Ultimate Energy. After being fed every line about money transfers and investment delays by silent partners being the reason for me not receiving wages, I had to leave. But not before I had missed mortgage payments and household bills.

He is totally unscrupulous. During my regular visits to Ultimate House chasing my wages, I witnessed a massive volume of calls which went unanswered. All answered calls were filtered through a secretary(probably owed money) before reaching Floyd. 99% of unsatisfied customers will never reach him.

Floyd has been involved with dodgy Solar companies for the best part of a decade as far as I can find out by talking to previously employed engineers. He is very experienced with unhappy customers and has developed a very thick skin. He no longer relates with individuals purchasing his product, just the job number that is generated by the sale. He is void of any emotion towards customers or employees - all are stampled over in his pursuit of money. He is a very nasty person involved with some very suspect characters. My advice (STAY WELL CLEAR)


Christopher Barrington, Haverford West writes:

I had solar heating installed in December 08 by Solar Home Energy now trading as Ideal Solar. The rep told us a pack of lies just to get a sale. We have been in dispute with the company and the bank ever since. The system was mis-sold. Has given us a lot of upset. This company and the directors are big con merchants. Don't deal with them.


Paul Skuce, St Albans writes:

We had a system installed by Spectrum Energy several years ago. The system mostly worked but somewhere there was a leak. They could never fix it and despite letters and emails nothing was done. I eventually discovered they went bust.

I can't help thinking that Ultimate Energy and now Advanced Solar are the part of the same people. Two years ago I paid another company 450 to service the system which seem to stop the leak. I don't think I'll call them back because 450 seems a lot for 1 hour's work. Advanced Solar called me saying they had brought the Spectrum Energy price list and offering a service for 199. The telesales guy has been having a hard time with lots of upset customers, and I am not surprised. Having read this blog I have declined their offer. My System is working and I don't want to risk it getting broken now.


L Matthews, Truro writes:

Smart Energy fitted solar panels at my home in May last year. They were very effective during the summer into autumn, providing 95% of my hot water. Not so good in the winter. However, I heard a banging noise during high wind. I emailed Smart Energy in November and was asked to fill in an online form to Advanced Solar.

I heard nothing from them or the receivers until Monday evening this week (25th Jan 2010) when a man called James rang me at 7pm. He said that he had a maintenance team in the area and they would be with me at 8.30 the next morning. He said that he would send me the paperwork by email but none arrived. I was to pay 250. This made me suspicious so I researched the company and found your comments.

When two young men arrived in the morning in an unmarked van, I politely explained that I was not happy with what I had discovered about the company. I asked them if Floyd Lewis was their MD but they denied all knowledge of him. Ten minutes later, a very unhappy James called me, puzzled as to why I did not want to employ them. I explained, but he also denied all knowledge of Floyd Lewis.

Later that day I rang Advanced Solar and asked if Floyd Lewis was a director. Again, I was told that he was not with the company, but 5 minutes later the phone rang and it was the elusive Floyd Lewis!! He was not happy, and explained that the BBC were the cause of his previous companies going bankrupt.

I asked how he could now be a director and he told me that he became a director of Advanced Solar prior to being declared bankrupt. When I said that there was little info on the website he said that there was no need for more info as he had 100's of satisfied customers. He tried to intimidate me by saying that I had little knowledge of how a company works, and he said that I was "a joke".

I told him that I would find another company to check my solar panels, and he said that his men would not come back anyway. This is all true and not part of a campaign. If he reads this and contacts me with more abuse I will contact the police.


E Smith, London writes:

Smart Energy UK is now trading as Affordable Solar Energy. Sunsystems UK is a solar equipment retailer also trading from the same address.

The MD of Smart Energy also used to work for Spectrum and so did the MD of Simplee Solar. All these con solar companies are from the same disgusting stable.

Burn them all.


Peter Curle, Gloucester writes:

It's amazing what one can find on the internet. Thank you all for the information you have given, you have saved me from the possibility of losing 250. We have just received a letter from Advanced Solar Servicing offering to service our solar system that was installed by Spectrum Energy (who went out of business a couple of years later) about 15 years ago.

Thanks again for the warnings.


Aaron Franklin, Bournemouth writes:

I have recently learned that whatever the company is called that Floyd Lewis runs is now based on Sharp Road which is on Alder Hills, Bournemouth. It is disguised with the old occupier's company name which is KB Swimming Pools, for anyone with unsettled issues with the fat balding t**t!


M Griffin, Wisbech, Cambs writes:

We had a solar heating system installed a few years ago by a company called Smart Energy. When it was originally installed it worked ok for a while and then we started to have problems with it. It took quite a lot of perseverance to persuade them to come out and look at it, but eventually we succeeded. We were told that a part had been installed upside down, and this was put right.
We had some more problems further down the line and despite many calls to them when they promised to come out and look at it they never did.

Eventually we had a letter to say that the company had ceased trading and another company by the name of Advanced Solar would come and service it for us. They came at the end of November 2009 and told us that a connection had been fitted cross-threaded and we needed a new tank.

The workmen came and fitted a new tank in December 2009 but couldn't reconnect it because they hadn't got the correct fitting. Unfortunately my husband used his debit card to pay for the new tank, so the company had his bank details. At the end of December Advanced Solar took the balance of the the amount owed to them even though they have still not finished the work. We have rung them on several occasions since then, but we still have not had the work completed, and now we know why!!!!!!!!!

We assumed that the company was okay because they had been employed by the Administrators of Smart Energy. Unfortunately we have been taken for a 'ride' twice. The sad part of this sorry tale is that we took things at face value and should have known better. Perhaps there is a genuine and honest company out there somewhere.


M Boaden, Northampton writes:

My husband and I had a Solar Tecknik system installed at our home; it has never worked!! After endless phone calls and broken or abortive maintenance visits we resorted to legal action. However Floyd Lewis put the company into receivership before our claim went to court. This conman knows how to manipulate the system to his advantage and it is the one thing he really does excel at. We have been conned out of thousands of pounds and have a piece of useless junk installed at our home.

Sadly I don't know who I can trust to put this right and so will probably have to scrap it eventually. Does anyone know of an honest solar trader?


Sally Hill, Chessington writes:

Similar to Chris & Karen Chuter, I had a installation by Solar Home Energy - I was happy with the hot water situation but the valve on the collector burst due to the hot sun and now my pump is not working?
As Solar Home Energy has gone into administration I could not get hold of anybody to speak to. I just investigated that Ideal Solar Energy has bought the Fixed Assets of Solar Home Energy so I have rung them to find out whether they will be able to honour my 10 year Warranty???
I am still awaiting for anybody to return my call from Ideal Solar Energy. Would appreciate if anybody could recommend a trustworthy company to help me to sort out my problem.


Editorial Comment:

Sadly, Sally, I suspect they are not going to respond. As you may have read above, they were pretty quick off the mark threatening me and others like me for printing things they claimed damaged their business. Naturally, one has to assume that they do not consider that ignoring customers could possibly do any damage to their business. However, if printing a few home truths about such companies invokes the threat of legal action then I have to say, "Bring it on!"


Clive Bayliss of Birmingham writes:

I too was duped into buying and having smart energy fit their solar system onto my property. It has never worked correctly since i had it installed. Now it doesn't work at all.

Obviously i need to get it repaired but by who? Who can you trust to work on your system repair it correctly, and feel confident you haven't been conned yet again. Can you suggest any company or indeed individuals who repair and are trustworthy?


Editorial Comment:

I'm afraid we couldn't make any recommendations unless we had personal experience. In the case of solar heating, we haven't.


Roy Claxton of Gorefield writes:

Can anyone help?

I had solar panels for hoy water fitted a few years ago by Smart Energy in Ipswich. They have worked very well however I am now having problems with the control panel (possibly my fault) and I am not getting the water as hot. I think I may have set the control wrong but unfortunately I do not have an instruction book for the control panel, the number on it is TR 0301.

Can anyone out there help me with this please?


Peter Such of Broadstairs writes:

I have received an undated letter from a company called Advanced Solar offering to maintain my Ultimate Energy solar system at a reduced Pre-Summer offer cost of 249.00 inc Vat.

Am now wondering if this is yet another off-shoot of our old friend Ultimate Energy??


Brett Pallister of London writes:

It was just this kind of terrible dishonesty that made me start my company www.londonsolarenergy.co.uk to provide a service completely different from what you folks have sadly experienced. Please don't tar all solar companies with the same brush!


Robert Rickards of Gillingham, Dorset writes:

Many thanks to all the above correspondents who have confirmed my fears that Advanced Solar are a con company. I have a failed HW cylinder installed by Smart Energy. I surfed to find a Smart Energy page and within minutes of sending in my details who should be on the phone but dear old 'James'!

That page = Advanced Solar I suggest since no other contacts came up. Clever guy our James. On the face of it he sounds like a really nice guy who knows his stuff, albeit a mighty good 'spieler'. He quoted me 1745 to replace the cylinder.

Checking the details of his quote which he sent through, all as part of his plausibilty I suggest, it became obvious to me that he was trying to pull a fast one. The mark-ups on the components were about 40% and his allowance for labour was double what what it should be.

Stay local and get personal recommendations.


James M of Dorset writes:

I went for a job interview at this place once and Mr Lewis had gone out!! I was shown around by a colleague of his, it felt very unsettling and the whole place felt a bit strange! I didn't hear anything back for months and then out of the blue Mr Lewis phoned and said 'are you still looking for a job?' I went with my instinct and said no thanks, seems like I had a lucky escape!! After reading this I feel so sorry that people have had to go through all that!


Geoffrey Abbott of Ely writes:

Problems: We've had 6 months of waiting for a repair to a link pipe to the solar panels on the roof. Broken promise after broken promise of phoning back and dealing with it plus TWO definite dates for the scaffolders and engineers to arrive - but nothing happened. Money has been taken for this work and for the scaffolders. The credit card company is dealing with it.

We wish we had found this website earlier! Some of you mention getting the work done yourselves - advice on reliable contractors would be helpful!


George Conchie of Milton Keynes writes:

Contacted Advanced Solar Energy. They stated they deal with Ultimate Energy plc systems and any other companies that have gone into liquidation. INTERESTING!Believe the above is, in my opinion, a phoenix of Ultimate Energy which is, in my opinion, a phoenix of Solar Technik which is, in my opinion, a phoenix of Spectrum Energy.

For the best advice contact the National Energy Foundation in Milton Keynes. It is my understanding they guarantee their members work. Number in book.


Will Templeton of Amersham writes:

Six years ago I bought a thermal solar system from Smart Energy which, luckily, still works OK. When 'James' from Advanced Solar rang to say that his firm had been chosen by S E's administrators to service their systems, I told him this, but said that mine would probably benefit from a routine service and health check. No problem, the price had been reduced by 100, he could do it for 250, and his service manager would contact me to fix a date for the job.

Having recently had a very lucky escape from Smart Energy's reincarnation, Affordable Solar Energy, when I was seeking to invest in solar PV, I contacted Spirit Solar, the first class firm that installed my PV system, who quoted 80-100! 'James's service manager hung up in a sulk at this news. I then Googled Advanced, and found this site, which is a real eye-opener!


Oliver of Surrey writes:

For those of you still in dispute with Solar Home Energy / Ideal Solar Energy they have changed their name yet again and are trading as Solartricity.


Mike Ticehurst of Brixham writes:

I had new solar panels installed by Advanced Solar of Poole Dorset in October 2008 and they left me with a blocked pipe, an air lock and a leaking joint. They have been back since and unblocked the pipe and got rid of the air lock but after 4 visits I still have a leak in my airing cupboard.

Please be warned about this company.

Also before the work commenced they took the full price of the work from my credit card instead of just the deposit. I did get a 15-00 compensation payment from them.


Matthew Anne of Crediton writes:

Dear Sirs,

Yup, I've been caught by this toe rag too. Fortunately not for much (500.00) in terms of other claims. However, my Smart Energy system is now running at a very much poorer rate than it was prior to its handling by Advanced Solar (a 'Phoenix' company I believe from Solar Technic?) All I required was a change of heat transfer fluid...a service in other words for 250, and a technical specification sheet for my local building control.

The first engineer turned up in an unmarked van, and did a visually good job, but left the system so full of air, the result, it could not exchange the heat generated into hot water. I looked at the web site for Advanced Solar that night, and a pop up warned all potential clients not to use them at all.

For me it was too late by now. Initially, I had been given their details by the Receivers (Vantis Group of London) for Smart Energy after they went bankrupt. The next day, I contacted Trading Standards. I took advice, and they have my complaint logged. I contacted Advanced Solar again to express my disappointment, and to tell them I had stopped the cheque (250) I had given their engineer the day before.

Floyd Lewis suggested the solution was to remove pipe work from the solar collectors, to the pumps, replace with copper, and 2 air vents, which would remove the inherent problem that Smart Energy systems had i.e. air locks. Such an abortion of a job was done, the roof leaked when it rained as the rubber seals had been cut, the electrical connections were so poor a 5 year-old could have done better. All but 4 of the 12 or so compression joints leaked heat transfer fluid over what ever was below.

I spent 2 to 3 hours sorting these problems out before leaving to go home that night. The house is still not lived in yet as it is being done up. The pipe lagging was not cut to fit the pipe work properly, and as they ran out of fixings it started to fall off the pipes, and hung limply in the air. The air vents were the best thing, they vented fluid all over the floor every day the system had sun on it, until eventually there was not enough to enable it to work...that was a week in total after the remedial work was done...load of crap!!

I contacted Lewis, and offered him the chance to walk away, and I would pay him nothing, and put the work right myself, but he insisted he would rectify the work, as he did not want any unhappy customers. I suggested the original piping was refitted, but he insisted the copper pipe solution was the way to proceed.

This was done yesterday. Two chaps arrived, and did a good job with the materials they had. The roof has been altered, but we have to see if the rain stays out. The lagging is passable, but could be improved a lot to be any where near the previous Smart Energy equivalent. I will have to wait to get some hot weather to see if it works and gets up to temperature or not?

On the negative side, shortly after the engineers left, the control panel listed an "open circuit" warning. On investigation, the wiring on one side was so badly done two wires were stripped to the copper, that as they ran into the connectors they were lying side by side, in effect short circuiting. I have left as they are, but put insulation tape between them to avoid problems....it seems to be working.

Lewis was paid 250 by cheque yesterday, a minimum as advised by Trading Standards. Lewis telephoned me in astonishment that I was only prepared to pay 50% then, as I had agreed to pay all on completion....I did not discuss a total in a specific amount at all, it was his assumption. He was quite rude in a polite way, but I assured him if the work was satisfactory in a week 7 days, I would send the last 250 owed. His reply before putting the phone down, was "If I do not receive the other cheque within 7 days you had better get a solicitor, because I will instigate proceedings to recover the money."

That's it, I am now going to contact Trading Standards again to see about suing him to get the work done correctly. Do you have any further advice please? My phone number is 07966 209381.

Thank you and regards Matthew.

PS This message was logged in August 2010, and today, Feb 9th 2011, we are having the work finally put right. fear it will cost in the region of 2500 due to the length of time it has taken to repair the issues. If anyone wishes to call me I gather one person is quite successfully getting his money back from Lewis via a debt collection agency, and I will be contacting the person again to see what I can do too.


A lady (name withheld) from Leatherhead writes:

I had a similar experience with a company called 'Advanced Solar' also based in Poole, don't know if there is a connection. They contacted me offering a special rate, one-off service inspection and report for my solar system, which had been in place for 10 years. The original company had gone out of business a while ago so I accepted.

They did the inspection and found there had been some damage which they quoted a price for repair and replacement of parts. They quoted for the work - over 2,000 - and took my card details, saying they would not charge the card until the work was done. I did insist (and eventually got them to e-mail confirmation of this, though it took a few messages to persuade them).

They gave me a date for the work but never turned up, several calls and e-mails were exchanged but most of the time I was fobbed off with promises or not contacted at all. Excuses were made and new dates for the work never materialised.

I then got suspicious and contacted my card company to find that the money had been removed on the day they first took the details. I e-mailed them and phoned them but could get no response and have had no contact from them at all or any apology or explanation. I informed them that I knew they had taken my money and that I had made a report to my card company and cancelled my contract with them. Fortunately I used a credit card and was able to claim the money back from the card company. I would suggest to others never pay with a debit card and do get everything in print (e-mail copies or writing) as evidence, in case you are ripped off, as I and a lot of other folk seem to have been!!

I have now found a good company who are replacing and upgrading (rather than repairing the old one) with a larger and more modern version which is actually costing me less than what would probably otherwise have been - an expensive bodged repair, if it had actually been done , of course!!


Jim Shearman of Bridport writes:

I am an independent solar engineer. I am often asked to repair systems of these firms. I do hear some stories and I sympathise with you all.

I refer to Roy Claxton's question about the TR 301 controller; he will probably find the answer to his problems here at www.pacificenergysales.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Steca_TR0301-U_Manual_US_717025_06-26_internet.pdf 

It is a PDF of the TR301 manual. Page 22 onwards tells him how to get in to programme the controller.

I would like to know the brand name of the yellowish antifreeze Ultimate Energy used. Can anyone help me?


Editorial Comment:

We have downloaded the manual mentioned above. If anyone else needs a copy, it can be obtained by clicking here.


C Bayliss of Sutton Coldfield writes:

I had Smart Energy fit their system to my property around 2006 and I have never been happy with the service or performance of the system. I did demand my money back at one stage but sadly Smart Energy went out of business and i have no way of getting my system serviced or repaired  - yes it is broken and hasn't worked for over a year. I suppose my position with Smart Energy is well and truly useless.

I, as you may be able to imagine, have no confidence with anyone in this industry having read, as i have, all the horror stories that seem to be associated with it. What i would like, if it is at all possible, is to find someone i can trust to repair my solar panel system. Have you a listing of reputable companies or individuals you are able to recommend to me to get the necessary repairs to my properties solar panels required ? I feel so untrusting to anyone i would be most grateful for any assistance in this matter.


Editorial Comment:

Not having personal experience of solar heating systems, I would not even attempt to recommend a company. The best I could suggest is that you find out the names of other system suppliers and then Google the companies to see if there are any adverse comments about them.


Chris Holland of Bridport writes:

As a general rule of thumb - any company that demands an on-the-spot deposit is likely to be untrustworthy. Avoid any companies that use cold calling salespeople or send mail-outs with a reply paid card to arrange a survey. By sending off this card you are waiving your legal right to a 'cooling-off' period.

Try to find a local independent solar installer. Many of the big names are, as your contributors have found to their cost, not interested in anything other than making money and are often phoenix companies.

Also, check www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk and search for 'solar' or 'green services'. This is a Trading Standards scheme where all traders are monitored by the use of reply-paid cards given to all customers.


Michael Walker of London Sw16 writes (on 19 May 2012):

I invested over 11,000.00 with Solar Technik and the system never worked. Floyd Lewis the boss has been disqualified as a Director and the Company went into Liquidation. I have no chance of getting any of my hard earned money back and I am now suffering from severe depression.

We are encouraged to go green but all that happened to me was to go into the red. This man should have gone to prison for what he did ... a total conman.

Very angry


Peter of Cardiff writes (on 23 May 2012):

i am a solar sales consultant...and yes i do get paid commission only....but i must say that no one is ever pressured by myself, the figures given can never be 100% accurate for kwh generation, but they will be approximate..so you can then make an informed decision...you MUST make sure that all your consultants or companies that you deal with are part of REA - the renewable energy association...they have a deposit protection scheme, or make sure the company is covering your deposit and workmanship by iwa.biz.....check the deposit protection companies out..you also have a 7 day cooling off period......so before a consultant/salesperson arrives ask them...do they have a deposit protection scheme and are they part of REA.....and are their products and installation covered by the microgeneration certification scheme..they can be checked out on the relevant sites....its your money..make sure it's protected...!!!......


Charles Stuart of Coventry writes (on 13 September 2012):

First of all I'm so sorry that you all have been mugged. Let me give you something to think about?.. Why do you need hot water systems on your roof - "Tell me why?" and why do you put solar panels on as well? If you have done this in the last couple of years you have mugged yourself big style, sadly to say.

Next... these so called Solar Companies keep telling us how good the panels are that you don't need water cooling systems on the roof because the Solar panels should heat the water anyway if they are put in correctly. But in most cases they are not. Think what you would have saved if you didn't put water coolers on the roof they are NOT needed. Water cooling systems have been freezing up and failing over the last couple of years, this is being redesigned at the moment.

Are there any other complaints as I would like to hear from you at... storm.gb.ltd@btinternet.com My name is Charles Stuart I am Chief Ex of the above company and we have been doing research over the last 12 yrs the Company was registered in 2009. Please let me know the problems you have experienced and I will try to help as best as we can.


Editorial Comment:

We have closed this page for further comments as the case against Ultimate Energy has been made.




"Many men stumble across the truth ... but most manage to pick themselves up and continue as if nothing had happened."

Winston S Churchill


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