To help you decide whether you’d like to start lowering your electricity bills, whilst earning money and creating
a sustainable future, we have tried to answer as many questions as we can below.
To make things easier they come under three headings:

Pre Installation
Post Installation

What is Solar PV?

Photovoltaic (PV) is the ‘direct conversion of sunlight into electrical energy’ using PV cells made of silicon. It’s as simple as that. Daylight can provide electricity for your home, business or school without creating harmful carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions or other pollutants. The PV modules, which come in various shapes and sizes to best suit your needs, are usually attached to a south-facing roof, but there are other options too.

The PV modules are constructed from layers of semi conducting materials that emit electrons when exposed to sunlight. The size and configuration of the panels determine the amount of electricity that can be produced in full sunlight. The units this is measured in are known as WATT peak (Wp/kWp).

What is the SEG scheme?

The Smart Energy Guarantee (SEG) Scheme launched on 1 January 2020 and is a government backed initiative. The SEG requires some electricity suppliers to pay small scale generators for low-carbon electricity which they export back to the National Grid.

What are the benefits of going solar?

There are a huge amount of benefits from going solar. It will:

  • Reduce your carbon footprint by about 40%
  • Allow you to use the energy you generate for FREE, reducing your electricity bills by half on average
  • Let you sell any energy you don’t use back to the grid
  • Give you peace of mind knowing that you are helping towards generating a sustainable world.

How much does a Solar PV system cost?

A 2.0kWp domestic system (8 Modules) fully installed and commissioned costs from £4,500 including VAT.

Is my roof suitable?

A sloping roof is ideal for the installation of solar panels and the highest output is gained from a south-facing roof. However, a roof which faces South-East, East or West is also viable.

A North-facing roof will still generate power, but it wouldn’t be enough to justify the installation financially.

I have a South facing roof, but it’s in the shade. Is it still suitable?

Solar panels obviously rely on the ability to absorb sunlight, so if your South-facing roof is in the shadow of a taller building, or blocked by a large tree for most of the day then the output is likely to drop considerably and may not justify the cost of an installation.

If partial shading affects your roof, we will calculate the potential change in output expectation using our special software which simulates the year-round sun path.

What about a flat roof?

Flat roofs are also suitable for solar panels but, because it isn’t advisable to penetrate the roof covering to attach them to the building, they are usually weighed down with ballast and this is an additional load for the building to carry. Before we commence any works, our structural engineer will carry out a survey and provide a report with calculations for any strengthening works required.

Again, the same pre-requisite of little or no shading applies.

Can you tell me more about planning permission?

Recent changes to planning law mean that a roof-mounted Solar PV system does not usually need planning permission even if you live in a Conservation Area. Provided that the panels project no more than 200mm from the roof surface and don’t extend beyond the ridge planning permission is not required. If you live in a Listed Building or have concerns you should contact your local Planning Officer for clarification.

How might I identify a rogue trader?

To protect consumers in a busy solar pv marketplace, the Government have stipulated that it is only possible to earn money through the FiT scheme when using those installers who are MCS accredited. However, beware; Industry accreditations do not always mean that companies don't employ rogue sales tactics to secure your business, despite MCS codes of sales practices, and the FiT scheme, banning pressure selling. If it doesn't feel right, don't sign on the line.

At Athena Electrical, we take our accreditations seriously. We do not employ sales people. When you express an interest in having solar panels installed with us, only those qualified to carry out site surveys will visit your home. Rest assured we will not put you under pressure to buy.

Here's a video produced by Which? investigating whether companies were complying with the consumer code they signed up to.

What is the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS)?

MCS is an independent scheme responsible for certifying microgeneration products and those who install them, operating with full support from the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Solar Panels and the technologies involved in generating renewable energy is a specialist area, so installers require particular skills and knowledge to carry out installations. If you were looking for someone to fix your boiler, you’d probably want a Gas Safe accredited engineer, so the MCS is the equivalent for renewable technologies.

Suffice to say, we are MCS accredited and also members of REAL, the Renewable Energy Association.

If you’d like to find out more about the MCS, then please visit their website.

What if I want to rent my house out to tenants?

As the legal owner of the property and the generation equipment, you as landlord would be entitled to payments under the FiT scheme. The tenants would still benefit from cheaper electricity bills.

Can I install solar panels on the house of a friend or family and still collect FiTs payments?

This is certainly possible, although as you can imagine is not quite a simple as the owner of the property and the owner of the system being the same person. A contract setting out the exact terms of the agreement would need to be established between the two parties, and the legal owner of the generating system is entitled to all FiTs payments.

What happens if I move house?

The solar panels are tailored to the specific dimensions of your roof, and the direction in which it faces. They are also constructed and attached to withstand the elements and for long-term sustainability. Therefore, ownership is usually linked directly to the site, adding extra value to your property. The next occupants would take over ownership and buy the Solar system and FiT contract from you.

I don’t have access to my loft. Does this matter?

We do normally require access to your loft before and during the installation of the PV system to assess for structural suitability and to run the cabling down into the building, unless the roof itself is fully accessible for assessment purposes.


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