Investing in solar panels is currently a good way to not only be able to generate your own renewable energy but also to benefit from payments from the governments green tariff. With a solar PV installation you can cut the cost of your electricity bills and sell your excess power via the export tariff.
Buying photovoltaic panels should be compared to buying a new car in that you need to do your research and you need to shop around. There will no doubt be local installers but companies further a field will be only too pleased to provide you with a quote. There are also some other important consideration besides price, cost is not always the best indicator when buying solar panels for your home.
There is enough free solar energy falling on the surface of the earth every day to be able to provide the energy needs of everyone for a whole year, several times over. It seems logical then that we should try to take advantage of this free, non-polluting, renewable resource.
The first thing you should do is find out whether your home is positioned correctly to get the most from your panels. The most important factor is the orientation of your roof. Ideally it should be due South or have a South-Easterly or South-Westerly aspect. The further away from South your roof faces the less efficient solar panels will be on your roof.
Your roof angle is also an important factor. Panels facing 30 degrees from the horizontal will be the most productive. Up to 45 degrees is usually acceptable however the further toward the vertical the panels go the less efficient they will be.
Shading should also be a factorial consideration. The most productive months will be in the Summer where about 4 times more electricity will be produced compared to the Winter months. You will need to check if your roof receives any shading, particularly during peak times such as Summer and during the middle part of the day. A small amount of shading will probably not be too problematic.
Lastly you will need to know if your roof is large enough. A standard installation size starts off at around 9 square metres. The larger your roof is the larger the size of the array you can accommodate. A larger roof also allows for more flexibility for panel positioning.
Solar photovoltaics are a big investment, therefore you want to make sure you are getting a good deal from a reputable company. Talking to people who have already had them installed in your area is a sensible option. Drive around and see who has the panels installed and ask them for their advice.
It is essential that the company you choose to install your solar panels are MCS accredited. Without this certification you will not be able to claim the feed in tariff and benefit from the very generous grants the government are offering. The panels used also need to comply with the micro generation certification scheme. This is to ensure that the correct British Standards are adhered to, namely BS EN 61215:2005 for Crystalline silicon panels and BS EN 61646:1997 for Thin film technologies.
The type of solar photovoltaic panels used does make a difference so you should ask what make and model of panels they will install. Ask for the panels efficiency rating which is represented as a percentage. This can vary but the higher the rating the more efficient the panels will be. You should also check what type of guarantee you will get, I have covered this in more detail on this page about photovoltaic solar panels.
Once you have narrowed down your choice to a few companies it is worth seeing if you can get a better deal. Often if there are a few companies vying for your business they are often willing to drop the price in order to secure your business. Don't be afraid to haggle, after all this is a big investment.
You may also want to check out what solar panel grants for homeowners are available as you could be eligible for free solar panels. As your panels will only generate power during daylight hours you are still going to need to buy in electricity during the night. At no extra cost you can switch to a green electricity tariff so that all your energy needs are met by renewable energy. You can find out more by reading up on your green electricity options.
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Grants & Schemes
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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