There are three very good reasons why buying and installing solar panels on the roof of your property makes good sense – you will save money on your energy bills, can even earn money by selling your solar power to the National Grid and will be doing the planet a huge favour in the process.
The incentives are many – but taking that leap forward to embrace and harness the sun’s solar power to electrify your home or business is not a decision to be taken lightly and requires a good deal of concentration and assimilation of the sometimes highly technical information you will have to ingest before going ahead.
It’s nothing to be scared of – there are just a lot of things to consider.
The Do’s and The Don’ts
These are kind of linked really, at least many are. For instance:
You really must be confident you have hired the right person/firm to do the buying and installing of your solar panels which is why the first do is making sure you only choose someone who has an MCS accreditation. This is the industry standard kite mark and means they are qualified to do the job and will use solar panels and accessories that are also MCS authorised.
So shopping around for someone who is providing you with everything you need to know and pays special regard to attention to detail is a definite do.
You want to know:
- Whether your domestic energy use warrants a conversion to solar power
- That your roof is facing far enough south and is free from shading to make sure installation of solar panels is worth the investment
- Whether your roof will take the weight of a solar installation
- Exactly what the installation will consist of, how many panels you will need
- How much it will cost
- As accurately as possible what the returns will be in savings and potential earnings from the FITs scheme
- Whether you need planning permission
- If your home insurance company will be happy with the change
When asking for a quote from a solar PV installation firm a good surveyor will do the following:
- Make a detailed inventory of your electrical appliances and when you use them and check your fuse box/metering system for a breakdown of your electricity consumption
- Take written notes and measurements paying particular attention to the state/lie of the roof
- Make a full and detailed inspection of the roof from inside and outside even if this means gaining proper access
- Examine the loft space for tilt of the roof
- Will take into account the potential shading that may occur from neighbouring trees/buildings/chimneys
- Provide a full and comprehensive quote outlining the solar panel module information and inverter specifications, warranties, lifetime expectancy of the panels, yearly maintenance costs, any loan options that are available or government grants or other schemes that could assist with the investment, and provide a full calculation of the payback, savings and return through the FITs scheme.
Another big do is make sure you go over all the items in the quote with the people who actually come and install your solar panels to ensure they are fully aware of all the unique specs that apply to your property.
And one other major do is check to make sure the installers don’t allow any of the panels to overhang the edge of your roof. Overhanging panels are likely to be swept from position in windy conditions which is last thing you want. There needs to be at least a 10cm gap between the last panel and the roof edge.
Possibly the biggest “don’t” could best be come from Blue Peter presenters who might say, “Don’t try this at home” because unless you are exceptionally gifted and experienced with home-building and DIY matters, installing solar panels is a task that seems to us best left to the experts. But we mean real experts which is why we would list securing the services of a top-notch MCS accredited company is a definite must.
If you would like further information on buying solar PV panels check out Which? Magazine’s online guide for details at: