Your most common questions answered:
Q. What are the key benefits of a PV system?
A. Once installed and commissioned, you own the system, having control of a long term free source of electricity that presently is exempt from VAT and price increases. You are not only saving money and are actively saving the environment we live in, if you qualify for the Government’s Feed In Tariff scheme (FITS), you will also GET PAID for every kwh of electricity that you produce, so you benefit 4 ways: 1) You get paid to produce electricity (even if you use it yourself), 2) You save on your current electricity bill by using you own electricity instead of buying it, 3) You get paid for any excess electricity that you produce and 4) You are doing your bit for the environment. As the system has no moving parts they require minimal maintenance, have a long lifespan, generate no emissions and no noise – producing clean energy for eons to come.
Q. What grants are available?
A. Since April 2010, the Government has operated a scheme whereby they WILL PAY YOU for every KwH of electricity that you generate, even if yyou use it yourself! – this is know as the Feed-In Tariff Scheme, or often called ‘FITS’, click here for full details of the scheme: FITS Explained
Q. How much electricity do I use?
A. We have a number of systems but an average 3 bedroomed house can typically use between 4000 to 6000 KwH (or units) per year. Which is around 12-17 KwH per day.
Q. What is a Unit or KwH (Kilowatt Hour) of electricity?
A. Units are how you are billed for electricity. These are examples of 1 unit or KwH. A 1 bar electric fire running for one hour. A 100w light bulb running for 10 hours.
Q. Do I need a south facing roof and how big does it need to be?
A. South, SW or SE facing is fine. In some case we can install on East and West facing roofs, however the efficiency is greatly reduced. Typically a solar PV module is approx. 1m x 1.3 to 1.5m and a typical domestic scale system consists of 8 to 10 modules in either portrait OR landscape format therefore an area of approximately 15m2 of clear un-shaded roof is required.
Q. What will it generate?
A. Each house is different depending upon many factors including location, the direction that the roof faces, the slope of the roof, the location and size of trees. We will produce an individual estimate for your house, which will be confirmed by a site survey.
Q. Can I generate cash and electricity back to the grid, so my system is not wasted when the weather is good for generating power?
A. Yes. Any electricity that is not consumed through the distribution board will be returned back to the grid through your meter. Most electricity suppliers will guarantee a fixed percentage to the grid, in some circumstance, your electricity supplier may add an Export Meter or Smart Meter to your system to show the number of units that you have cumulatively exported.
Q. What does a typical System cost?
A. It varies, by size and is dependant on our detailed survey.
Q: How will the electricity I generate integrate with my electrical system?
A: Output from the PV Panels, goes through an AC inverter so that it is compatible with your house supply, this is then wired into a spare breaker unit on your distribution board via a generation meter.
Q: Will the system power my house if there is a power cut in my local area?
A: If your system is ’On Grid’ and does not contain any back up device it will automatically shut down when AC current from the distribution board is lost. This prevents any danger of electrocution to anyone who may be working on the local electric system or local grid.
Q: Will I have to regularly clean my PV modules?
A: Unless the modules are exposed to a high level of covering, i.e adjacent to a construction site, the performance of the modules suffer very little degradation and normally efficiency is unlikely to drop my more than a couple of per cent.
Q: We don’t get many bright sunny days does this matter? – Will they work if it is a dull day?
A: Your system will work as long as there is sufficient irradiation from the sun to initiate the inversion process. It is a common misconception that solar modules only work in direct sunlight, indeed it is often the case that the highest output is on a bright crisp winters day, as the panels then run cooler and hence more efficiently!
Q. Do I need planning permission for renewable energy technology.
A. Generally speaking, planning is NOT required for ‘most’ domestic installations however, we advise all of our customers to seek clarification from their local planning department in all cases.
Q. Does the system need any maintenance?
A. A standard PV array has no moving parts and as such doesn’t “need” any maintenance however; we do advise that the system is checked electrically and mechanically on an annual basis along with cleaning of the module surfaces as this can reduce the effectiveness of the module generation capacity.