About PV Solar Panels.
Q: What is the difference between a kilowatt (kW) and a kilowatt hour (kWh)?
A: A ‘kilowatt’ (kW) is one thousand watts and a unit of power. It measures the rate of energy conversion. A kWh is the amount of work done, or energy used, when a kW of power works for one hour.
Q: What is a kWp, and how does it relate to kW and kWh?
A: A kWp is the kilowatt ‘peak’ of a system. This is a standardised test for panels across all manufacturers to ensure that the values listed are capable of comparison.
Q: What is photovoltaics (solar electricity), or ‘PV’?
A: The word itself helps to explain how photovoltaic (PV) or solar electric technologies work: the first part “photo” is derived from the Greek word “phos” meaning light and the second part “volt”, named after Alessandro Volta – a pioneer in the study of electricity. So, “photovoltaics” literally translates as “light-electricity” which is exactly what photovoltaic devices do; they convert light energy to electricity.
Q: How does the system work?
A: Daylight hits the photovoltaic cells and is converted to clean electricity. The inverter converts the electricity from direct to alternating current, for use in the home. When the solar energy system is producing more power than is needed it is exported to the grid. At night, power is imported from the grid in the normal way.
Q: Will they work in the UK and during the winter?
A: Yes. Solar panel suppliers have enhanced the efficiency of solar power systems to the extent that it is now a very viable option even in cloudier climates. The important thing to bear in mind is that solar power depends on intensity of light, not necessarily direct sunlight. So even when it’s overcast, your solar panels will be producing clean electricity to help power your home.
Q: What happens if there is a power cut?
A: If there is a power cut your system is automatically switched off. This is a safety measure designed to stop electricity leaking on to the national grid and to protect individuals who may be working to restore the power supply.
Q: How much energy do I need?
A: We recommend that you look at your last few bills or call your electricity supplier to find out how many units your home consumes but according to the Energy Saving Trust; the average 3-bedroom house uses 3,300 units of electricity per year (cooking and heating using non-electric supply).
Q: What if I produce more energy than I need?
A: If you are producing more electricity than your home is using, the surplus energy will flow back into the grid. This means that other homes will be using the energy you are producing.
Therefore, if you have come to an arrangement with your energy company, you will be paid at the current rate of 46.3p for each unit you produce that is fed back into the grid. So, not only are you saving money and cutting your energy bills; you are also being paid for every unit of electricity you generate whether you use it yourself or export it back to the grid.
About Your Property.
Q: Do I need planning permission?
A: No, as long as the solar PV is installed on the roof of your property. It would only be required if you are in a conservation area, are installing on a listed building or installing solar panels away from your property.
Q: What is the typical payback time?
A: After you have installed your PV Solar System you will receive payments from your energy provider via the Government’s Feed-in Tariff. This means you would make the money you spent installing the system back within approximately 8-12 years; and as the Government’s Feed-in Tariff is guaranteed for the next 25 years, the remaining 13-17 years would be profit. This does not allow for future energy price increases which would mean payback time would be reduced.
Q: Is there any ongoing maintenance required?
A: As PV solar installations have no moving parts, maintenance is minimal. Solar panels are guaranteed by the manufacturer for 10 years based on performance of 90% of its original power output, and up to 25 years after installation based on a power output of 80%. However, there are solar PV installations approximately 40 years old that are still going strong. Inverters are guaranteed by the manufacturer for 5-10 years.
Q: Will my property value increase with the installation of solar panels?
A: Studies have shown people will pay up to £10,000 more for a property installed with renewable energy, i.e. solar PV. Your property will be more attractive to a potential purchaser as it will have lower running costs.
Q: What will happen after I contact you with an interest in installing a PV Solar system on my property?
A: After we have received correspondence from you, we will arrange a time and place for a complimentary survey to assess the suitability of your property and to design a custom-made system best suiting your needs.
Q: How long will installation take?
A: Installation for solar PV typically takes 2-3 days, depending on the size of installation. We will ensure that disruption will be kept to a minimum and that the site will be left clean and tidy when we are finished. Scaffolding will usually be required and is included in the installation price (subject to site survey).