Wed, 26 Oct 2011 20:57:00 GMT
I get quite a few questions about solar, some questions are quite unusual whilst others you can guarantee you will get the same question asked at least once a week. I thought it might be useful to clarify a few of those questions and hopefully give you some useful answers to queries you may have about solar.
So if we start off with a common query that is asked often and creates a lot of confusion. One of the most common questions asked is how do I qualify for free solar panels? Many people automatically assume because solar panels are being offered for free then it must mean you have to be disabled, unemployed or on some type of state benefit in order to qualify. People assume this because people believe free solar is a government run scheme which it is not. Free solar is being offered by private companies, they are able to do this due to the government feed-in tariff scheme that pays green energy producers for generating green electricity.
The requirements for getting a free solar system installed are based entirely on your homes suitability. The main criteria are that you are a homeowner with a large south facing roof. You need to own your home or be buying it with a mortgage, you do not have to be living in the property and could be the landlord of the property. If you are a landlord you could apply to get solar on all of your properties.
You need to have a suitable roof for solar, this ideally means a large south facing roof space. The roof should face between south east and south west, the closer to due south the more preferable. Most installers will consider roofs facing between these orientations but will not consider properties with roofs outside of these criteria. The roof ideally should be large and free of shade and obstructions; this in practice means an un-shaded roof of around 20 square metres. Some installers will consider smaller roofs but as a general rule the larger your roof is the more suitable it will be.
Free solar is only offered to fixed position buildings, this means in practice only residential properties. Other places that people may call home are not suitable such as static caravans, caravan-homes, boats or motor homes. You can get solar systems to power these other types of home but you will have to by them yourself.
If you have a solar PV system installed it is better in general to run your power hungry appliances during the day. This is because it is better to use the power generated from the panels rather than paying 13p or so a kilowatt to buy in the electricity. There may be occasions where it may not be better to run your appliances at night such as on a very cloudy winters day when your panels may not be generating much power and you are on a cheaper Economy 7 night time tariff. In general however use as much of the daytime electricity that your panels produce.
This will be dependant on the positioning of the garage roof, the size and the suitability of the roof. As garage roofs are much lower than the roof of a house it means that it is more likely to be prone to shading. You need to make sure that your house or nearby homes are not going to cast a shadow over the area of the garage roof where the panels would be located.
You will also need to consider the angle and orientation of the garage roof just as you would your house roof. Many garage roofs are flat and some free installers may not install on flat roofs. There should be no issues if you are buying the panels yourself. Finally a garage roof is generally going to be a lot smaller than the roof on your home and so may no be large enough to fit solar panels on.
At the moment there are no companies offering free solar thermal panels, these are the panels that heat water rather than generate electricity. There are ways however to use your solar PV or solar electric panels to contribute towards your household heating requirements. There is a device that can divert your excess solar power to power your immersion heater. You could also install an air source heat pump to provide space heating which would use electricity rather than gas to heat your home.
If you have a question about solar you can always ask the question through the site. There are already lots of common questions that have already been answered about solar and you can find even more answers here and here.
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A roof facing as far as a West-South-West (almost West facing) direction or East-South-East (almost East facing) can still potentially generate up to 90 percent of a roof facing South.
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