Frequently Asked Questions
We are hoping that this will answer most of the questions you may have about your investment. If you need more information, just call us, Monday to Friday 9am – 6pm.
What is the Feed-in Tariff?
The tariff came into effect in April 2010 replacing the old government grant scheme. For every unit of electricity a PV system generates up to 4kWp on a retrofit domestic installation, your local electricity supplier will pay you 21p (the rate from December 12th 2011). This is a minimum rate for the next 25 years, TAX free and is index linked with the Retail Price Index (RPI). Any electricity that you don’t use is then sold back to the supplier at an additional export rate of 3.1p (assumed to be 50% of your generated total)
Watts Going on?
A megawatt (MW) is one million watts, a kilowatt (kW) is one thousand watts and an average lightbulb consumes about 60 Watts.
What is a(PV, Photovoltaic , Module etc.)?
PV panels contain silicon which converts solar energy (sunlight) into Direct Current (DC) electricity which after conversion to Alternating Current AC using an Inverter, can then be used in your home or business. Each panel is made up of a number of cells to create a module (solar panel). Then a number of modules are assembled together to make an array (solar panel system). The panels will still generate electricity on a cloudy day as they only need ambient light rather than direct sunlight. They are more efficient in a cooler climate than a hot climate, ideal for use in the UK!
How is the solar panel systems fitted?
Photovoltaic panels can be mounted on a roof, integrated in your roof or even mounted on the ground. You can also get photovoltaic tiles which are used instead of conventional tiles or slates. The roof should be south facing and at an angle of 30 degrees to maximise its optimum performance. The panels then produce DC electricity, so an inverter will be fitted inside the house, usually in the loft to convert the DC into AC which is normal household electricity. A supply is then run to your new energy meter which will be put next to your consumer unit/fuseboard. An additional monitor can be added so you can see exactly what your system is generating on a daily basis.
What size of system do I require?
The size of a system is limited to the available roof area. We will design a system that gives you the maximum return for your investment. Depending on the area of roof space or how much electricity you need to generate, you could have up to a 4kWp system installed for a domestic installation or 5MW (Megawatts) for a commercial one.
Will my roof be strong enough?
Most roofs are able to carry the weight of a solar panel system. This will be confirmed once the site survey has been completed.
How much electricity will I generate?
A typical 3 or 4 bed home in the UK uses around 3300 kWh per year of electricity. A 4.0kWp system on a south facing roof would generate approx. 3434kWh which could provide almost all of their total electricity requirements. We will calculate your potential savings from your previous years electricity bill and design a system to suit your needs. We will show you your estimated generation output of the system which is based on the Governments standard assessment procedure for energy rating of buildings (SAP www.bre.co.uk/sap2005) which is given as a guide. It should not be taken as a guarantee for the performance of the PV system as it all depends on how much sunlight is available. It will vary depending on location and yearly sunshine.
How much does a system cost?
The price will vary depending on the size and type of the installation, scaffolding and electrical requirements. A domestic installation is charged a reduced VAT rate of 5%.
What is difference between kWh and kWp?
A kilowatt hour (kWh) is a ‘unit’ of electricity on your bill. The kWp gives the peak rating for a system. For example a 2.5kWp system will generate approx. 2084kWh of electricity per year.
How long dolast?
All manufacturers give a warranty of 25 years at around 80% but most Solar panels have life span of 40 years and above. It’s unlikely that an inverter will last that long and it will probably need replacing during the 25 year life of the Feed In Tariff scheme. Some inverter manufactures offer free or subsidised extended warranties from time to time. We can quote you separately for this on request, it just depends what’s available on the market at the time.
What is a Grid Connected System?
Photovoltaic panels are connected to the grid through the local electricity supplier. Nearly all of our installations fall into this category.
What is an off Grid system?
Photovoltaic panels which are not connected to the local electricity supplier and require an energy storage back up (such as batteries).
Is Planning Permission Required?
Most domestic properties in England and Scotland don’t require planning permission before installation of PV solar panels, it comes within your permitted development (PD) rights. We do recommend that you contact your local area planning department beforehand and find out if any planning permission is required as it could cause delays on an installation. Those in conservation areas, listed buildings and areas of outstanding natural beauty or world heritage areas must consult their local planning departments. Non-residential buildings (commercial properties) still require planning permission. We can help you with all your planning requirements but it ultimately your responsibility to secure it.
Will my system require any maintenance?
Your system is almost maintenance free. It may require an occasional clean due to leaves, dust or bird droppings. It is a good idea to check the system regularly to make sure it is operating efficiently. We offer annual efficiency reports.
How long will the installation take?
For an average domestic system, the installation should take no more than two or three days, with minimal disruption. Scaffolding is usually required to work on the roof which will be erected before the work commences. For larger commercial or industrial installations it will take longer. Our site survey report will estimate how long it will take.
What is the Installation Process?
We offer a FREE site survey, where we will work out what sort of system best fits your budget and investment return expectations. We then design a system and send out a quote to you either by post or as a pdf attachment in a email. If you are then happy with the quote you can return the signed contract to us and we will confirm a start date to supply, install and test all of the components. We also notify your district network operator/electricity supplier (DNO) and we will provide you with all the warranties and certificates to enable you to receive the Feed In Tariff.
We will need to contact your electricity supplier and ask for a microgeneration pack along with your mpan number after it is installed. We then have all the information required to fill in your pack and send it back to your supplier so you can start to enjoy the benefits or generating your own electricity!