Q: How reliable are solar panels? A: Most manufacturers provide a warranty that their solar panels will still be producing 80% of their design power output after 25 years. Our projections factor in a 1% per annum decrease in solar panel output. Q: Which are the most efficient solar panels? A: Currently Sanyo’s ‘HIT’ range are the most efficient solar panels available (approx 18% module efficiency) generating approximately 170W/m2 under standard conditions. Q: Do the inverters also last 25 years? A: Inverters typically come with a 5 year manufacturers warranty and therefore a replacement unit may be required over the 25 year life time of the system. We prefer to install Sunny Boy inverters manufactured by SMA of Germany (the world leader in solar inverter technology) of which over 250,000 have been installed worldwide. Q: Is your work covered by any warranty? A: Our workmanship is guaranteed for a period of 2 years during which time we will respond to any problems at no cost to yourself. As members of the Real Assurance consumer protection scheme customers are also protected by an insurance backed warranty scheme. Q: Do the solar panels require regular maintenance? A: No. Solar panels have no moving parts and should run trouble free for years and years. Periodic observation of the wireless Sunny Beam display on sunny days will confirm that the system is working. You may even become addicted to monitoring this little beast – you have been warned ! We will contact you within a month of commissioning your system to check that the system is performing correctly. Q: Do solar panels need cleaning? A: No. The specially designed glass coatings are designed to be self cleaning through the action of rainwater. If however you live in an area where regular and significant amounts of dust / particulates are generated you may wish to arrange for your solar panels to be washed after any such episodes. If seagulls are a problem in your area you may wish to check periodically that they have not ‘messed’ on your solar panels. Q: Are any solar panels manufactured in the UK? A: Yes. Romag Ltd, based in County Durham, manufacture all their Powerglaz solar panels in the UK as do Sharp who have a manufacturing facility in Wrexham and GBSol who manufacture solar panels in South Wales. Q: How much does a solar panel system cost? A: This depends on the size of the system and the respective quality of the components. A 4kWp system, comprising 16 solar panels and requiring a roof of approx 30m2 generating about £650 in income and savings per annum costs in the region of £7000. Your choice of solar panels is likely to be the most significant factor in determining the overall cost of an installation. Q: When will the system pay for itself? A: The Government has design the Feed in Tariff’s (across all renewable energy technologies) to generate a 5-8% return. With the Feed in Tariff linked to RPI & tax free a competatively priced solar panel system should come in at the top end of that range and for the larger systems a 10 year payback can be expected. Q: What is the Feed in Tariff (FIT) and how much is it? A: The FIT is now closed and replaced by the Smart Export Guarantee – SEG. Q: For how long is the FIT paid? A: The Government has confirmed that FIT payments for solar panel systems will be made for 20 years from date of installation and that payments will increase in line with the RPI and for systems installed on residential properties will be exempt from income tax. Full details on FIT payments and payment duration have been set out by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and are published in the Departments Explanatory Memorandum to ‘The Feed-in-Tariffs (Specified Maximum Capacity & Functions) Order 2010 No. 678. A more readable version is reproduced by OFGEM, the Energy Regulator Q: Can solar panels be temporarily removed for roof maintenance / retiling situations? A: Yes. They will however need to be electrically disconnected from the inverter and removed from the mounting frame by a suitably qualified electrician as they remain ‘live’ whilst exposed to sunlight. Q: How is the roof impacted by the installation / how is weatherproofing retained once mounting brackets are installed? A: The installation should be carried out in a manner that has no deleterious impact upon the weatherproofing of the roof covering or impact upon the structural integrity of the roof. We work with experienced roofing contractors to install the roof anchors and additionally retain the services of an experienced structural engineer to provide advice on the structural adequacy of the roof as necessary. In some instances additional reinforcing of the roof structure may be recommended. See installation images for further information. Q: What happens if you move house? A: You have 2 options. You negotiate to sell the property at a premium to reflect the income stream you have established by installing a solar PV system and nominate the new occupants to become the recipients of the FIT. Or, you take the FIT with you. In order to take the FIT with you, you will need to ensure that the utility provider continues to receive quarterly meter readings. Q: Solar panels look ugly, is there an alternative? A: Yes there is an alternative to solar panels. Solar tiles are available and these replace existing slates or tiles and sit flush with the existing roof covering. They tend to be a little more expensive but do have the advantage of not creating any additional loading on the roof structure. Q: Will the solar panels generate all my electricity needs? A: How much of your needs can be met by the system will depend on both the size of the system you install and how much electricity you use. In most cases a solar panel renewable energy system will not meet all your needs. However, it is possible that the income from the FIT will go a long way towards meeting both your electricity and gas bills.