YOUR SOLAR INSTALLATION
- What is meant by PV or Photovoltaic, as this terminology is used on many other websites?
Photovoltaic (PV for short) is the industry name for what is more commonly known as solar power. A photovoltaic (or solar) array consists of multiple photovoltaic modules which are linked together in order to convert solar irradiation (sunlight) into usable electricity. Most people refer to them by their more common name of “solar panels”.
- What affects how much electricity I can generate from my solar installation?
There are 6 key factors that influence this:
1) Location – Where your house is located will determine both the intensity and number of hours of sunshine your roof will receive. This is known as “solar irradiation”.
2) Orientation – Your roof orientation has a big impact on the number of hours of direct sunlight it receives. A roof facing South will yield the best overall performance, but installations facing anywhere to the South-East and South-West are also feasible. North-facing installations are not recommended.
3) Roof Pitch – You can’t change the pitch of your roof, but the optimum angle for achieving the maximum yield from your solar installation is between 30° and 40°, depending on your location. Your Solar Energeasy installer will be able to measure this for you, when they survey your property.
4) Shade - Any shade will reduce the overall performance of a solar array. Whilst shading cannot always be avoided, the solar panels should not be shaded between 10am and 4pm. Your Solar Energeasy Installer can assess the estimated impact of obstacles like chimneys, aerials, satellite dishes, dormer windows etc in their survey.
5) Size of Your Roof – Quite simply, the number of solar panels you have installed will determine how much electricity you can generate. A Solar Energeasy Installer will assess what size of installation can fit on your roof, by measuring its size and taking into account any obstacles and shading.
6) Product Choice – Solar panels are not that different to many other products like a TV or mobile phone, where we decide how much we want to pay in return for the number and quality of features we want. Different brands of solar panel will generate different amounts of electricity, plus panels and the inverters will vary in how efficient they are in converting the daylight that hits the panels into electricity for your home. A Solar Energeasy Installer can talk through your various options, to help you decide which products to choose and how much you want to pay.
- What is an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)?
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is a certificate which shows how energy efficient your property is. The rating scale is similar to those of electrical appliances. About 70% of homes in the UK have an energy efficiency rating of band D or above. You will need to send an EPC certificate with your Feed in Tariff application. Find out more on our Feed-In Tariff page.
- How much electricity will my solar installation generate?
Solar panel installations are given a power rating in kilowatts peak (kWp). This is the maximum amount of electrical power which they will generate in standard test conditions.
The total amount of electrical energy the solar installation generates in a year is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh). This will depend on the system’s orientation, shading and location, as well as the size of the system (in kWp) that you have installed.
We recommend you use our Energeasy Solar online calculator to estimate what you might generate from an installation on your roof annually. This is a guide only - an Energeasy installer will be able to give you a more accurate assessment, following a visit to survey your property.
- What about my electricity bill? By installing solar power, how much will I save?
The amount of electricity your solar installation generates annually in kilowatt hours, is not the same as the saving you can expect to see on your electricity bill, as you may not have the opportunity to use all of it. To maximise your savings from using the free electricity, you need to use it during daylight hours when your solar array is generating power.
- What happens to the electricity I generate which I do not use?
The electricity you do not use gets exported back to the grid.
- Do I still have to buy electricity from my electricity supplier?
Yes. When your solar installation is not generating enough electricity to meet your needs, you will still buy electricity from your supplier at the standard rate shown on your bill. By having solar power, you will of course enjoy a lower annual electricity bill.
- Will my solar power installation work on cloudy days and generate the same amount of electricity all year round?
Solar power arrays do not require direct sunlight and they generate electricity even on cloudy days. Typically in December, a system will generate 25% of the energy it yields in July. It will of course not generate any power at night – no daylight means no electricity is generated.
- How large will the system be on my roof?
Solar panels are approx 1.6 square meters and an average 4 kWp installation will cover around 25 square meters. Find out how much electricity you could be generating.
- How long will it take to install my system?
This will vary depending on your installation size and type of property, but an average 4 kW system (16 x 250W panels) takes 2-3 days to install.
- How much will it cost?
This will depend on how large the installation is and the products you select, but your Solar Energeasy installer will provide you with a quote, so there are no hidden costs. If you ask for a quote through the Energeasy Solar website, your details will be forwarded to a maximum of three installers that are closest to you, so you can get up to three quotes and decide on the best option.
- What is the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) and Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation (NIRO)?
This government incentive means that you get paid for the electricity you generate from your PV solar array (generation tariff) and for the electricity you export back to the grid (export tariff). For full details, visit our dedicated pages on The Feed-in-Tariff and the Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation.
- Do I need a planning permission?
If your proposed development meets certain criteria under ‘Permitted Development Rights’, you will not have to apply for planning permission. Your solar panels must not:
- Protrude more than 200mm beyond a wall or roof slope.
- Be higher than the highest part of the roof (excluding the chimney).
- Be sited on the principle or side elevation or on an outbuilding, if visible from the highway. This stipulation applies to conservation areas only.
- Which products make up a solar installation and which should I choose?
The two main components are the solar panel and the inverter.
Panels vary based on the maximum amount of electricity they are capable of generating and how efficient they are at converting sunlight into electricity. The inverter converts the direct current (DC) produced by solar panels in alternating current (AC) which is suitable to be used in your home. Different makes of inverter will be more efficient at doing this than others.
The make you choose of both panel and inverter will therefore have a direct impact on the amount of free electricity that will flow into your home. An Energeasy Solar Installer can talk through the various options, to help you decide which products to choose and how much you want to pay. Get in touch with an Energeasy Solar Installer. For more information on the types of panel you can buy, visit our dedicated page in How Does Solar Power Work.
- How long will my solar panels last?
All the products supplied by Rexel to Energeasy Solar installers come with the reassurance of warranties; have been fully tested and are of quality manufacture to give you peace of mind. Whilst warranty periods vary depending on the manufacturer, solar panels typically last for 25 years, so you can fit and forget your installation for some considerable time!
- How do I clean my solar panels?
Panels supplied via our Energeasy Solar installers require little or no maintenance. However, to ensure your panels continue to generate the maximum electricity possible, we recommend they are professionally cleaned annually as a minimum. If you are in a location that has dusty atmosphere (near a factory for example) or have a high incidence of bird droppings, then you may need them cleaned more often. This can be arranged via our Solar Energeasy installers. Attempting to clean panels yourself with unsuitable products could damage your panels.
- How do I know if there is a problem or if my system stops working?
You will be able to view the amount of energy being generated via an approved generation meter which will be part of the package quoted by your installer. Your installer will also provide you with details of regular maintenance checks and troubleshooting advice. If you choose to have the Rexel 5 year production guarantee, your Solar Energeasy installer will install a monitoring system, which will be included in your quotation. This will allow you to monitor how much free electricity you generate. Rexel will also remotely monitor this for you and let your installer know if there are any problems that need attention.
- How is the installation of solar power regulated in the UK?
The regulatory body in the UK is the Microgeneration Certification Scheme, know as MCS for short. It is supported by the the Department of Energy and Climate Change. MCS is a mark of quality and demonstrates that both MCS accredited installers and products comply with the required industry standard. Your Energeasy Solar installer will be MCS accredited, meaning that they will consistently install to the highest level of quality every time. Visit MCS for more information.