Solar PV are a great way of cutting your electricity bills and helping us live greener, more sustainable, healthy lifestyles, whilst reducing the carbon footprint of your home. Solar PV you enable this to make that dream to come true.
What are Solar Panels?
Solar PV are made of photovoltaic (PV) cells, which turn sunlight into electricity. This electricity can then be fed into your home's mains electricity supply.
The technology behind Solar PV is relatively old, despite their futuristic appeal, but while the basics are the same, the efficiency of Solar PV has improved greatly in recent years.
How do Solar Panels work?
The electricity produced by your Solar Panels will be used to power any appliances currently in use within your home. Any electricity which is not used will be fed into the grid. In essence, Solar PV work by producing extra energy. Any electricity consumed, which exceeds what your panels are producing, will be sourced from the grid.
Is it sunny enough for solar power to be generated in the UK?
Yes. While it’s true that the UK isn't exactly bathed in sunshine, Solar PV, despite their name, don't need direct sunlight - they also work in cloudy or overcast weather. Although cloudy weather diminishes the generating capacity of panels, by approximately 50% in comparison to direct sunlight, Solar PV in the UK are still a valid means of producing electricity.
Is my home suitable for Solar Panels?
Whilst Solar works for a large number of properties and buildings, there are still some areas and types of roof that are not suitable. The following will help you work out if your home could be suitable for solar panels:
- Do you own your home?
If you rent your home you can't install solar panels, unless you negotiate this with your landlord. If your property is leasehold, you'll need to get permission from the freeholder.
- Do you live in a flat?
If you live in a flat then solar probably won't be the right solution for you.
- What direction does your roof face?
South-facing, South East-facing and South West-facing roofs are be the best.
- How big is your roof?
There are different solutions for different sized roofs, but the more space you have, the better.
- Do you live in a listed building or a conservation area?
If you do, this does not mean you cannot install Solar PV, you will need to refer to your local authority as regulations differ according to area
Remember, there are exceptions to every rule, so the best way to check if solar is right for you is to get in touch with the company in question. They'll talk you through your options and do a survey if necessary.
Will the quality of my electricity suffer?
You won't notice any difference. If the panels aren't producing much electricity, you'll just use electricity from the Grid instead.
SolarPV don't replace the energy you currently use, they simply supplement it with power from a greener source when possible. Conversely, if you generate too much solar power, you can sell the energy back to the National Grid at an agreed rate through the Feed-in Tariff scheme.
Do I have to switch the panels on each day?
No, they are always on.
How long do solar panels last for?
Solar panels usually have a 25-year manufacturers' performance guarantee and you should get another 10 to 15 years of use beyond this.
The inverter - the piece of equipment that converts the Direct Current produced by the panels to Alternating Current on which the grid runs - needs replacing after about 12 to 15 years.
Do I need planning permission for solar panels?
You generally don't need planning consent for Solar PV. However, if you live in a conservation area, or a listed building, you should check first. Also, if your solar panels would be visible from the roadside of the property you may need to apply for planning permission.
It's best to check with your local council planning officer if you're not sure.
How can I be sure I'm using the free electricity?
You won't notice the difference between using your free electricity and using electricity from the Grid, and you won't even notice the transition.
Can I still switch my gas and electricity supplier?
Yes, you can still switch your gas and electricity supplier if you have solar panels.
You will continue to receive your Feed-in Tariff rate from the same supplier, but your gas and electricity will come from your new supplier.
This is because the Feed-in Tariffs are a form of subsidy that are actually paid for by the energy companies, so whichever firm you're with when you take out the Feed-in Tariffs administers your rate. Your original energy company is referred to as your 'FiT licensee'.
How can I make the most of the free electricity from my solar panels?
To make sure you use as much of the free electricity from your solar panels as possible you need to try and use more electricity during the day, when your panels are producing electricity.
You could try:
- Putting the washing machine, tumble dryer and dishwasher on during the day.
- Charging mobile phones, laptops and other gadgets during the day and using their battery power at night.
- Using an electric slow cooker to cook your food during the day.
Alternatively you may be able to store some of the energy produced by your panels with a little help from your installer. Having an immersion heater connected to your panels for example is a good way to store your energy for when you need it
How does this work with my existing gas and electricity supplier?
Nothing will change, except that you'll pay less for your bills. You can stay with your existing energy supplier, who will take readings from your meter as normal and bill you as usual.
How Will It Work
There are a number of steps to begin to make this work -
- Solgain will undertake an initial free desktop survey of your property using the latest satellite, and GPS, supported software to assess the viability of your property
- Once we have confirmed that the roof or land is suitable, we will make an appointment with you to carry out a site visit. During the site visit we will carry out a detailed assessment of the roof/land and electrical connectivity. We will also answer any questions you may have.
- We will generate a quotation pack for you, detailing the proposed installation, how much it will cost, what funding options are available, and the potential financial returns.
- Our highly experienced sales team will guide you through the most cost-effective options designed to deliver the best possible, tailored, solution.
- Our specialist engineers will design the most efficient solar system to suit your needs.
- We will, at all times, use upper tier products with industry leading warranties.
- Our installation team will deliver a first class installation to the highest industry standards.
- If the quotation is acceptable, we will either ask you for a 20% deposit, or for you to sign an agreement with the funder. Once this has been received, we will carry out an EPC assessment, a full structural survey (for roof installations), apply for planning permission (if required) and request a connection to the local electricity network.
- Following confirmation of planning and the ability to connect to the electricity network, we will confirm start and finish dates for the installation.
- When the installation is complete, we will guide you through the operation, and maintenance, of the system, supported by a comprehensive O & M Manual.
- Should the installation be eligible for any subsidies, we will also provide guidance to enable a smooth journey through the process.
- A solar installation will reduce your overheads.
- Cut your energy costs
- Shrink your carbon footprint
- Support UK jobs
- Reduce your reliance on the big energy companies
- Tax reduction