Solar PV FAQs

We’ve deliberately not included complex techie information here, because every house and every installation is a little bit different.

Please contact us if you don’t find an answer to your question. We’re happy to talk to you about everything you need to know for your proposed project.

What does photovoltaic (PV) mean?

Photovoltaic (PV) solar technology turns light into electricity. It works on the principle that electricity flows between two semiconductors when they are put in contact with each other and exposed to light. By linking a number of these ‘cells’ in a panel, electricity is made.

How does solar electricity work?

Solar PV generates electricity from daylight. The more light that shines on the solar panels, the more electricity they produce. An inverter converts the electricity from direct to alternating current (AC) for use in the home. When the system is producing more electricity than needed, it is exported to the grid.

What about when it’s cloudy or cold? Will they still work?

Yes, on cloudy days there is always enough light which the panel will use to generate electricity, although of course it won’t be as much as when they are in bright sunshine. Solar panels are activated by light and not temperature so they work in winter too (PV solar panels actually operate better at colder temperatures), although there is less
light as the days are shorter during winter months. On average there are about
4 hours of sunshine a day in the UK over the period of a year.

Will a solar panel supply electricity 24 hours a day?

No, solar panels convert light into electricity and when there is less light, there is less electricity.

What can I use PV solar for?

PV solar panels produce electricity and can power anything that runs on electricity. It can provide all or most of the power you use in your house.

Is the power produced by PV solar free?

Once you have bought and installed your equipment there are no on-going running costs.

Is PV solar environmentally friendly?

Yes very. PV solar is a renewable energy that does not rely on burning fossil fuels which emit carbon, one of the major contributors to damaging climate change. PV solar generates no CO2 or any other pollutants or waste; it is silent and requires no fuel.

What happens if there is a power cut?

Your solar system will be connected to the grid. If there is a power cut, the solar electricity system is automatically switched off. This is a safety measure designed to stop electricity leaking on to the grid and protect individuals who may be working to restore the power supply.

How much does a typical system cost?

This will depend on the size and type of system we install. Once we have assessed your requirements we will be able to provide you with a quotation.

Can I get a grant from the Government for installing solar electricity?

No, previously you could access a grant through the Governments Low Carbon Programme (LCBP) but the Government’s Feed-In Tariff (FIT) has been introduced to replace this.

How long will it take to pay for itself?

This will depend on the size and type of your system. On average you can expect a payback period of between 8 and 10 years. If energy prices keep rising at their present levels the payback time could be even sooner.

How do I know how many solar panels I need?

Solar panels (or modules) are linked to form a solar array. We will work out how this needs to be configured for you. We take into account your electricity needs, size and aspect of your roof and roughly how much direct sunlight your solar array will receive each day.

Is my property suitable for solar panels?

Most properties are suitable for solar panels, but before arranging for a survey we advise our customers to ensure that they have the following:

  • An unshaded south facing roof (south-east or south-west are also suitable)
  • A minimum of approximately 8m2 of roof space
  • A roof angle of no less than 22o
  • Planning permission if required

Can I have a solar panel on a flat roof?

Yes, if they are placed on a frame raised at an angle.

Do I need planning permission?

No, planning permission is not required unless you live in a listed building or it is situated in a conservation area.

Do the panels need cleaning?

The glass surface of the solar panel has been designed to be self-cleaning; however a wash down once a year using a standard extendable window cleaning device would remove any bird droppings and keep the system running efficiently.

Do they need regular maintenance?

There are no moving parts and no need for any maintenance.

Do I have to get a new boiler at the same time?

The installation of solar PV does not affect the boiler in any way.

Will my TV reception be affected?

In some cases the panels can affect TV reception, especially with aerials that are installed in lofts.

How long does it take to install?

Most installations can be completed within 2 days but this does of course depend on the size of your array.