Is the installation fitted by British gas trained and qualified engineers?
For the electrical part of a solar photovoltaic system the installation has to be done by an MCS certified electrician. This is to ensure the work is done properly to specified standards and so that the feed-in tariff grants can be claimed for the owner of the system. As these are electrical systems and not gas an gas engineer is not needed.
Are combined PV-T panels offered by any of the providers?
There is only current one MCS certified PV-T system on the market at the moment and are currently not offered under any of the free schemes. Photovoltaic Thermal solar panels produce both electricity and hot water. Find out more about PV-T panels .
I would like to have your solar panels installed but my roof is facing wrong way so I was wondering if it would be possible to have them installed on my pergola?
Although you could have panels installed in your garden as long as the structure was secure enough this type of installation is not currently available under the free scheme. As the installer is making a large investment they want to make sure that investment is safe and therefore will only install panels on the roof of your house or other commercial building.
My house is not south facing but my large pitched roof garage is. Can they be installed on this?
You can install photovoltaic solar panels on a pitched garage roof if it is suitable. This means that the roof area would need to be large enough, typically at least 20m² of clear space and that there are no issue with shadows being cast on the garage roof.
I own a long house and a 20m x 40m building all south facing and have been told I can get a financial sum if this building has panels fixed?
The financial sum you are talking about is the feed-in tariff payments but these are only available to you if you have purchased the solar panels yourself. Depending on the size of the system that is fitted you could earn up to £1,400 a year in tax free solar grants.
I am unemployed and receiving jobseekers allowance, but would like domestic solar panels installed on my property?
Free solar panels are only available to people who own their own property or if they rent can get permission from the homeowner. If you live in a council or social housing property there are a number of council and social housing landlords that are already installing solar on their properties or considering doing so. You should contact you landlord to find out if this is happening in your area.
Do any providers have ways to store solar energy to use at night?
Free panel installers will not provide a power storage solution. If you purchase a system yourself you could get an off grid battery backup system installed. A robust battery storage system may cost as much as £2,000, a system to provide power overnight would cost less but not be as robust. Generally it is not a very cost effective option or one that most people would entertain. If you are installing a system that is not connected to the national grid then a battery system is essential.
Our block of 32 flats only use electricity and have economy 7 heating - how would this work with retro fitting PV solar panels, and is planning permission required?
You could install a system on the shared roof of your flats providing you get permission from the lease holder. Economy 7 heating uses cheap night time electricity so if you wanted to make use of the solar electricity you would need to set your heating system to store the heat energy during the day rather than at night. You would probably not need planning permission unless your building was listed or you were in a conservation area.
Can you install panels on a platform in a garden?
You could install solar panels on an 'A' frame in your garden if you invested in your own PV system. You would however have to consider any shading from surrounding buildings or trees and the amount of space the panels would take up in your garden. In practicality this is probably only a suitable solution if you have a very large garden.
Could I get free solar panels fitted to my static caravan?
Whilst you cannot get free solar panels for your caravan there are many specially designed solar panel systems designed for caravans. Even though your caravan is static it would not be considered a permanent enough structure for a solar investment company to consider.
Given current monetary squeeze how firm is the governments 25 guarantee?
The government are committed to reducing carbon emissions and are obliged to meet specific targets. The feed-in tariff scheme is just one way they are trying to meet these targets. The solar panel grants are not funded directly from the government but by the main energy generators in the UK which pass on this cost to their customers. So cutting this funding would not save the government any money, in fact it would lose them the additional revenue this new market is generating in taxes for the government. So the feed-in tariff is secure for the guaranteed 25 years.
Are these really free, some companies say they are then quote prices?
Free solar panels should be completely free. The only installer that makes any charges are with the Eon solar panels where there is a £99 admin fee. Some installer have solar share offers where you can partially invest in a solar installation in order to benefit from some of the tax free solar grants in the form of the feed-in tariffs that are available.
I have a flat south facing roof but privately rent my property. I have been living here for 18 years and have no intention of moving. Can I get free solar panels?
A free installer will only fit panels to a sloping south facing roof. Even with a sloping roof as a private tenant you would also have to seek permission from the landlord as the contract for free solar needs to be signed by the owner of the property.
Do the panels have to fit on one large roof or can they be linked on 2 or 3 smaller roofs?
By purchasing your own system you can have any solar panel configuration that would best suit your property. Solar panels can be spread over different roof aspects with the use of micro inverters in place of a larger single inverter that is usually installed when all the panels are installed together.
How many square meters are required?
For a free installation your roof will usually need to be at least 20m² of free space as the panels need to be able to be fitted side by side. Free providers tend to favour roofs that have enough room to fit their maximum sized configuration as this earns the company the most money. If you are paying yourself roof size is not a restricting factor.
How are the panels fixed to the roof, do tiles have to be removed?
The solar panels are attached to frames that are in turn attached to the roof beams. This is to ensure the panels stay firmly fixed to the roof and are safe. When the installer fits the mounting frame some of the tiles are temporarily removed during the installation process. However the roof is left in a water tight and weatherproof condition.
Can council tenants get solar panels free?
The current free solar panel companies do not offer panels directly to council tenants which means that if you live in a council property you cannot apply for free solar. However many free installers are now doing deals with council authorities which means that you may get free solar over the next few years anyway.
Are housing associations in their capacity as owners of the buildings eligible for the offer of free panels?
The situation for housing associations is the same as your local council. Both councils and housing associations are going into partnership with solar installers to fit solar panels to many of their properties. You will need to contact you landlord to find out if and when this is happening in your area.
My largest roof is east facing can solar panels work in this position?
Solar can work on an East facing roof as well as a West facing roof, east facing is slightly better than west facing. South facing is a more ideal orientation as the further from south facing the panels are angles the less efficiently they perform. Directly easy facing panels will perform at 86% efficiency compared to directly south facing panels. Find out more about the best direction for solar panels.
Will my energy supplier (E-on) change my current tariff or make a charge to connect solar energy to my supply?
When solar panels are installed your energy supply is unaffected. You do not have to change supplier or change the tariff that you are currently on. You can also switch providers as normal. If you are interested in the Eon free solar panels offer you do however have to be an E.on customer to apply.
Is there any mess indoors when installing?
Most of the work carried out when installing solar panels will be on your roof and in your loft space and so hardly any disturbance whilst installing will occur inside the house. Solar installs tend to be very clean jobs as no building work as such is taking place, just wiring and electronics.
What percentage of electricity from the solar panels is supplied free to the home?
With both free and paid solar all of the electricity is available for you to use in your house. Any electricity that you do not use will be fed back into the grid, if you have a paid for system then you will be paid by your energy supplier for all of the electricity that you sell back to the grid. If you having solar photovoltaic panels installed then you need to know how to make the best use of solar power.
When away on holiday is any unused solar electricity sorted for use at a later period?
Whilst you are not at home the solar panels will continue to generate electricity during daylight hours. With paid solar you will be paid for the electricity that you do not use through the export tariff. You will also continue to be paid for all the electricity that your panels produce through the feed-in tariff. With paid systems you also have the option of storing the electricity in a battery bank for later use. With a free system you will not benefit at all for any unused solar power.
If I am small user, will the amount of panels be less than if I was a family of 4?
With the free systems the installer will want to install the maximum number of panels to make the most profit through the solar panel grants being made available via the feed-in tariff. The same would also be true if you were buying your own solar powered system so that you could earn the maximum amount of tax free profit. Usually the only limiting factor for fitting solar is the available space on your roof.
What happens if you change your electricity suppler during the 25 years?
You can change supplier if you wish, you are not contractually obliged to remain with the same electricity supplier.
We are currently buying a property with several solar panels. Does the feed-in tariff change over to us?
If the previous owner has paid for the system then the feed-in tariff payments will be signed over to you. You may want to make sure you have all the details from the previous owners so that the switch happens in a timely fashion.
How much will a system cost me?
The cost of a paid for system will vary depending on the size of the system, the more panels the more they will cost but they will generate more electricity. Costs start from about £4,500, but you can find out more about solar panel costs and what sort of price will be more specific to your needs.
Will we have to pay extra to our power supplier if we connect solar panel energy to their supply route or can they cancel any capped tariffs that we currently enjoy if we use solar panels?
Installing solar panels does not affect any tariff that you are currently on. Think of it this way, if you had a new gas boiler fitted would you have to inform your gas supplier? There are no extra charges from your supplier for having solar panels.
Would an 86 year old pensioner still be able to stay on the British Gas essential tariff if she had solar panels?
You will be able to remain on the essential tariff if you had solar installed, in fact they have their own British Gas solar panel offer. You can always confirm this by checking with British Gas before hand.
Does your house have to be south facing?
South facing is the ideal orientation but solar panels can work effectively if they are facing east or west. However free solar panels will usually only be allocated to homes that are within a few degrees of south.
Will I have any money to pay out for anything at all like all the surveys fees and small costs to start with?
For the free solar panel offers there are no charges whatsoever. If for whatever reason a free installer is asking for money then you can always go to another provider. Our free solar panel application form makes it easy to find an installer in your area.
Are the solar panels self cleaning?
Most solar panels do have a special coating on the glass surface that makes it harder for dirt and grime to stick and they do term this as self cleaning. This does not mean they do not need proper cleaning as the self clean system only works when it rains and then it will not shift difficult debris such as bird droppings. I have written about solar panel cleaning as there is a special method for cleaning panels.
How long does it take to install and is there a guarantee on the roof?
It usually takes a day or two to install depending on the size of the installation. The panels usually have a 25 year guarantee and there is a workmanship guarantee on the installation itself should poor workmanship end up damaging the roof.
I guess you have to sign a contract to keep them on your roof with the free solar panels, but what happens after the 25 years, who then owns them or what happens to them?
After the 25 year contract ends you take ownership of the panels. They may continue to produce electricity for another 15 years or so albeit not as efficiently as when they were brand new.
If you are in receipt of benefits, do you lose out if you earn money from this scheme?
It will depend on the benefits that you are receiving and how much you earn through the feed-in tariff. This only applies to people buying their own solar panels, with free solar you do not earn the solar grant payments. Although the income from solar is tax free if you are in receipt of benefits you will need to check with the body issuing your benefits to find out if it specifically affects you.
What about planning permission?
Most people will not need planning permission to install solar. The only time planning permission may be needed is if you are living in a conservation area or your property is listed which means that you will not be able to alter the external appearance of the front of the building.
How do I get free solar panels, who do I contact?
You can apply for free solar panels online buy completing the solar enquiry form. This will enable you to speak to an advisor who can discuss your specific situation and find a suitable free installer that covers your area. You can also contact individual companies directly from our list of free solar panel installers.
My wife and I are 62 and considering an install of panels and have been quoted £9,995 which would make a 10 year payback. Eon is offering the £99 but as you correctly state they benefit more than we do. Not sure which route to take?
To be frank if you have the money to invest or can borrow the money cheaply such as adding it to your mortgage then buying is by far the best option. The reason for this is as you state, you get a 10 year payback which means 15 years of tax free grant payments which will add up to many thousands of pounds. If you are buying solar it is best to get several quotes so that you get the best equipment at the cheapest price (saving around 40%), try Solar Panels UK guide where you can compare quotes and find out more information about buying solar.
I have 4 eaves in different directions small flat roof on extension and large flat roof on garage workshops. How many solar panels can I get?
The number of solar panels is going to depend on the available roof area and the size of the panels. Sizes of panels range from 800mm to 1000mm in width and 1000mm to 2000mm in length (ref: What size are solar panels) and have a thickness of 35mm to 50mm.
My roof is 10 degrees to south, should I consider solar panels?
A roof facing 10° to south is more or less in the optimum position for solar (ref: Solar panel output related to roof direction). Modern solar panels work quite well over quite a wide range of angles and can be installed for effective use if they are orientated almost completely east or west facing.
I am very interested in free solar power panels, could you tell me if the Merseyside area is covered?
For free solar coverage is almost entirely all over the UK except for extreme locations such as the north of Scotland. The farther south you are located the more likely you are to qualify for free solar panels. In the UK the most favoured location is Cornwall although there are a large number of installations in the Midlands and the East.
Can we get panels for the flat roofs?
You can get panels for flat roofs but you are unlikely to qualify for free panels. A flat surface means that you will need a frame to mount the panels on so they face south and angled at between 30° and 40°.
Is damage caused to the felt during fitting of solar panels to a roof?
Solar panels are nearly always installed by qualified roofers who know how to secure a watertight roof. Some cutting may need to be done to the underlying felt but the roof will be left in a weatherproof condition.
Can solar panels be fitted on a dormer bungalow?
It depends on the size of the available roof area and whether or not the dormers create a shadow over the panels. Depending on the length of solar panels used it may be possible to align them along the highest part of the south facing roof so that they are above the dormer windows.
I am wondering if I am eligible for a solar panel grant as my house is south facing?
You are only eligible for solar power grants if you buy the solar panels yourself. If a company fits them to your home under one of the free solar offers it is the installer who pockets the grant money.
What is the cost of getting 6 panels installed?
Solar panel costs vary by as much as 65% as we found on a recent study we did comparing 361 solar panel quotations which is why it is so important to get several quotes and compare prices. A 6 panel system will be in the 1kW range will cost around £5,000 inclusive including installation.
I cannot find any info about not qualifying due to high electricity usage. Does it matter?
The amount of electricity that you use does not affect your application for free solar or for the grants that you receive for paid solar. In fact high energy users will benefit more from having solar panels installed. The more of the electricity that you use from solar the more you will save on your bills.
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Installing solar panels to produce electricity could earn you up to £1,200 a year. These payments are tax free, index-linked and guaranteed for 25 years.
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