In response to many customer's questions regarding adding solar panels on their roof to generate electricity, this page is designed to give some guidance as to the main points to look for when selecting such a system. Thanks to the government backed feed in tariff such a system will now pay back any investment within 8 years, leaving the remainder of the 25 years seeing you make enough profit to pay for all your energy needs. (Typical return on investment is 12% tax free).
Lots of free advice is available on the independent energy saving trust website
The main areas to consider when comparing systems are as follows:
1. The yield from the panels to be installed - just a small increase in the yield from the panel (even 0.5%) can make a huge difference in terms of money back over the 25 year feed in tariff scheme.
2. Check that the installer a member of the government approved schemes (both the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) and Renewable Energy Association (REA). Membership of MCS is a requirement to register for the government feed in tariff scheme. Beware some companies are out there saying they are members of the schemes and are not - check the scheme websites for lists of members.
3. What guarantee do you get from the installer for workmanship within the installation?
4. What guarantee do you get from the manufacturer of the panels - some panels are only guaranteed to be producing 80% of their output after 25 years whereas others will guarantee over 95%. This difference could amount to thousands of pounds over the 25 years.
5. What guarantee do you get from the manufacturer of the inverter (typically 5 to 7 years)?
6. Check the credentials of the installer company - for example their turnover and history.
7. Check the manufacturer of the panels and the inverter - there are a lot of independent research results on the web - panels which may look good on paper don't necessarily perform well in real life or their technology does not have a proven track record.
8. What technology does the installer give you to help you monitor the systems performance? The better manufacturers will provide you with a wireless device (e.g. The market leading SMA Sunnyboy inverters use a bluetooth technology/device called Sunnybeam) which will tell you whether the system is working correctly and how much you are generating. Without such a device you will have to go and physically look at the inverter in your loft on a daily basis to see if it's still working!
I am happy to advise based upon my professional experience and in having such a system installed on my own roof. I can also put you in touch with the company which I selected for my installation (after extensive research and comparison). If you decide to also use the same company and mention me in your initial contact with them, then as a thank you, I will supply you with a free bottle of Champagne once your system is installed!
The company I recommend is Absolute Solar and Wind Ltd.
Copyright © 2011 Richard Coombs. All rights reserved.