Frequently asked questions
How does it Work?
Solar panels work every day, including overcast days! They generate power from daylight, not heat or solar radiation.
Solar panels can be placed on a southerly facing flat or pitched roof, a wall or a ground area.
The panels are flat and can either fit in roof or on roof.
Solar electricity panels are also known as Solar Photovoltaic panels, also abbreviated as Solar PV.
The “photovoltaic” panels come in a variety of shapes and colours, some even look like roof tiles.
Solar photovoltaic panels are made up of a number of smaller panels called solar photovoltaic cells; each of the cells will generate the electricity by converting daylight. Photons of light knock electrons into a higher state of energy to create electricity.
A box called an “inverter” converts the DC electricity (direct current) generated by the panels, into 240 AC electricity (alternating current); which is safe to use in your house.
The Inverter box is connected to your meter box which is connected to the national electricity grid. This allows you to ‘export’ electricity when your system produces more electricity than you need to use.
Your system will usually include a meter to show how the system is performing.
How much roof space do I need?
Most homes purchase between 1.2 kW to 2.5 kW systems. A typical 2.5 kWp elec system requires approx 18m2 roof space; there are different sizes and different shapes of panels and they do not have to be altogether. Therefore most roofs are large enough to support your needs.
What sort of roof do I need?
The solar power installation must receive as much light as possible. Shadows cast by trees and neighbouring buildings will marginally reduce the potential energy generated. The most ideal location for solar in the UK is a south-facing roof at 30° – 40° pitch, although East and West facing roofs work at 85-90% efficiency.
What about planning permission?
In England most solar electricity systems don’t need any planning permission. However we will consult your local planning office if you live in a Listed Building, a Conservation Area or in a World Heritage Area.
What is the MCS – Microgeneration Certification Scheme Accreditation?
The Microgeneration Certification Scheme is a government validation to certify both the products that are used in installations, and that the companies and installers are qualified. You can only qualify for subsidies such as the Smart Export Guarantee Scheme, if you use both MCS products and an MCS accredited installer.
The idea is to “evaluate microgeneration products and installers against robust criteria providing greater protection for consumers”. This protects you from shoddy products being installed; and it should prevent unprofessional companies from doing the work.
Is Solar Electricity suitable for my home?
Solar electricity is suitable for almost every home in the UK… only homes with thatched roofs are truly problematic. There are some minor differences in installation procedures dependent upon your roof type.
Solar Power as an Investment?
Currently you get a better rate of return by investing your savings into a Solar Power system rather than putting it in any bank account.
What maintenance does it require?
Solar electricity systems require extremely little maintenance. Roof-top systems will clean themselves in the rain. However, we do recommend a service visit once a year to optimise the performance of your system.
If dust, debris, snow or bird droppings are a problem they should be removed with warm water and perhaps some dishwashing liquid using a telescopic cleaning pole.
Solar power is a proven reliable technology. Predominantly manufacturers give between 20-25 year warranties for their products. The panels should last 25 years or more, but the inverter is likely to require replacement some time during this period, at a current cost of around £750.
A Solar power system has no moving parts thus very little maintenance is required.
What questions should I ask any solar company?
-Proof of their MCS Accreditation
-Written guarantees they offer
-Written warranties on any product / installation they offer
-Who are the manufacturers of the products they provide
-The type of “monitoring equipment” they provide – enabling you to monitor how much you are saving
Where can I find out more?
The Energy Saving Trust and the Department of Climate Change (Low Carbon Buildings Programme) are two websites which offer very useful information.
The Energy Saving Trust – http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk
Department of Climate Change – http://www.lowcarbonbuildings.org.uk
What do I need to do to connect a solar PV system to the electric grid?
We will notify your Building Control Officer and if necessary the District Network Operator that you have installed a PV system.
Can I become carbon neutral?
It is not as easy to become totally carbon neutral; you may be carbon neutral where it comes to your energy requirements but there are many other factors to consider for a household to be carbon neutral.
Carbon neutral means that no carbon is used or your carbon is offset during your day to day activities i.e. you may generate your own electricity to boil a kettle, however a there was a significant carbon footprint to manufacture and transport the kettle television to your home. You need to factor this carbon footprint into account and over generate electricity to become carbon neutral.
How will installing solar reduce my carbon footprint?
Installation of solar panels means that you are significantly less reliant on dirty fossil fuels and therefore you reduce your carbon output.
If you generate a significant amount of energy to cover all your electrical power and heating requirements you would significantly reduce your carbon footprint. And yes, it is possible to generate sufficient power to at least offset your carbon footprint.
What happens if I move home?
Ownership of the technology is linked to the site and therefore in the case where a building or homeownership changes, the ownership of the technology would also transfer to the new owner.