Solar panels, or solar photovoltaics (PV), capture energy from the sun and turn it into electricity, which can be used for lighting your home and running household appliances. Solar panels can generate energy all year round, even on cloudy days, and are far less harmful to the environment.
If you’d like to add solar panels to your home, consider the following to ensure the installation process is as smooth as possible, and the solar panels work efficiently once installed.
Finding a reputable installer
If you are considering converting to solar power, it’s extremely important to find a certified installer. All reputable installers in the UK should be certified by the Microgeneration Certificate Scheme (MCS) and should use MCS-certified products. This will ensure that the installation is performed safely and to industry standard.
Getting the right quote
When obtaining quotes, it’s advisable to contact a number of solar panel installers. You can either opt for a local installer or choose to go with a national one, but quotes can vary considerably, so it’s best to get a mixture of both. Once you have a quote, make sure it includes all the information you will need to make an informed decision, such as the total cost of all parts and labour, the number of panels needed, and the estimated energy savings and energy efficiency for your home.
Planning permissions and building warrants
It’s important to check if you need planning permission or a building warrant before any installation takes place. This will largely depend on the type of property you own. For example, if you own a listed building, it is unlikely any installation will be approved. If your property is within a conservation area there are likely to be restrictions. Building regulations will apply to both the physical installation (like testing the strength of the roof to ensure it can handle the weight of the panels) as well as the electrical installation. Always check with the planning department in your local area before making a purchase.
See also: All you Need to Know about Solar Energy
Am I insured?
You will need to confirm whether your home insurance policy covers modifications to your home. Your insurance provider will be able to advise as to whether any adjustments will need to be made to your current policy if you do have solar panels installed. Home insurance will not cover mechanical faults with the panels themselves, so you will need to consider insuring them separately or making sure they are under warranty.
When choosing an installer, look for a company that is a member of the RECC (Renewable Energy Consumer Code) assurance scheme that offers consumers protection for pre-sales and after-sales activity, contracts, and completion of orders.
Will I get financial support?
There is financial support and a number of government incentives available for installing solar panels on your home. These range from feed-in-tariffs, where you receive government payments for the electricity you produce, to energy saving grants from local authorities. Incentives will vary depending on where you live and in order to qualify for any tariff payments, your solar panels must be installed by a MSC certified installer.
For more information visit: gov.uk/feed-in-tariffs
A south-facing roof is best
The more your roof faces south and the less shaded it is, the better your solar panels will perform. A roof that faces either southwest or west will still get some benefit, but will not be as efficient as those that face south.
See also: Roof Garden: The New Eco Trend
Where you live matters
In the UK, the further south you live, the more energy your solar panels will generate. This is due to increased hours of daylight, rather than sunlight, and means increased efficiency—as well as potential savings.
Staggering the use of your appliances increases efficiency
During the winter months your system will obviously generate less solar power so it’s important to make sure you run the majority of your appliances when it’s still light outside. A good way to manage this is to stagger their use in the colder months while storing power when the sun does comes out.
How much could I save?
Most estimates indicate that a typical family home could save around £65 a year on electricity bills by using solar panels.
The current rates for the feed-in tariff are 4.32p/kWh for solar panels with a capacity of 10 kW or less, and 4.53p/kWh for those with a capacity greater than 10 kW. It’s estimated a typical home could earn around £150 a year in government payments.
The export tariff is for the energy you don’t use, which is sent back to the grid. It is currently set at 4.91p/kWh—meaning you could earn a further £85 a year.
For more information visit: ofgem.gov.uk
See also: Take Action, Save Energy in your Home