FAQ’s – Solar PV

Based on our experience we have compiled a comprehensive list of the questions that we often get asked.

Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Systems

Q. How much space on my roof do I need for a solar PV installation?

Grid connected systems start from around 1kW rating, this occupies approximately 8.2 square meters on your roof.

Q. How much electricity does a PV system output?

For every kW rating installed on a South facing roof the system will generate approximately 800 kWh per annum

Q. Are there any grants available to cover the cost of installation?

Following the introduction of the Feed in Tariff (FIT) scheme, generally, there are no longer funding grants available. However, this may vary in some regions; we can clarify this for you relative to your location.

Q. Will I be eligible for the new Feed in Tariff (FIT)?

Yes, the FIT is available on all Solar PV installations, with variable rates based on the circumstances of the installation.

Q. What rate would I receive on the Feed in Tariff (FIT)?

The rates vary according to the size of the system and the type of property where it is installed. Generally, for systems up to 4kW rating installed on an existing property, the FiT rate is 13.39p/kWh for every kWh generated.


Q. Do I need to inform my electricity supplier?

We will inform them once the installation is complete. For systems larger than 16 Amps we will require permission in advance from the network operator. It is for you to decide which energy company you want to pay you your Feed-in Tariff, and the application for this must come from you. However, we will supply all the required documentation on completion and have dedicated staff ready to help you with this very simple process.

Q. Can I export any of the electricity I generate?

Yes, all unused electricity will automatically be exported. Your electricity company will fit an export meter or they will pay you based on estimated export rates (usually 50%).

Q. How much will I be paid for electricity I export?

The rate most commonly paid is 4.85p per kWh exported into the National Grid. This rate may vary dependent on the electricity company.

Q. What is a kWh?

A kWh is “kilo watt hour” which is the standard used in all electricity bills as a “unit”. All electrical appliances have a rating in kWh; an appliance rated at 1kW, will consume 1kWh (1 unit) for every hour it is on.

Q. How does the electricity generated get in to the internal system?

As part of our installation of the system we will connect into your consumer unit, this can only be done by a qualified electrician. The electricity generated will then be passed into the internal electricity system, to be used wherever it is needed.

Q. Do I need a three phase electricity supply?

Generally no, systems up to approximately 10kW rating can be accommodated on a single phase electricity supply; greater than 10kW will require 3 phases, with the power split equally between them.

Q. Whose panels do you use?

We use only the highest-quality including HJ Solar, Sharp, Sanyo and JCS Solar; the highest-rated efficiency panels currently. We will constantly be monitoring suitable panels to ensure we provide the most effective systems for our customers.

Q. What is the difference between mono-crystalline and poly-crystalline PV panels?

mono-crystalline panels have a higher output per kW rating but tend to be slightly more expensive than polycrystalline panels; mono-crystalline wafer is black, polycrystalline wafer has a dark blue colour.

Q. Are solar PV tiles available?

Yes, however PV tiles are still relatively expensive making the installation cost higher than standard PV panels.

Q. Should I not wait to install PV systems as they will be dropping in price over the next few years?

As with any form of technology there always developments are taking place in the PV industry, as a result we would expect prices and performance to change gradually over time. However, the government is interested in maintaining a consistent return on investment for systems installed now and over the coming years. As a result the FiT tariffs reduce from April 2012 and will be further reviewed in 2013.On this basis it is better to install sooner and take advantage of the highest tariff rates now.

Q. How efficient are Solar PV panels?

SolarKing UK use PV panels which operate on available daylight not simply sunlight, this ensures that you get the maximum efficiency. In addition, we carefully survey your installation site to ensure it is most suitable (South facing) and do not have any shading problems from trees, chimney stacks or adjacent building which can dramatically impact output and effectiveness.

Q. What guarantees will I receive?

First, there is a 20 year panel power output guarantee (our Solar PV panels generally have been output tested for 28 years. Next, we give all our customers a ten year, insurance backed ‘no quibble’ parts and labor warranty. It’s insurance backed by the Home Insulation and Energy Scheme (HIES) – this scheme is only available to the very best Solar companies. We advise that whoever you buy from, ensure they are backed by HIES.

Finally, you will benefit from the SolarkingUK first year cash guarantee – this means that should your system not generate what we’ve said, we will write out a cheque for the difference immediately. This means that any installation teething problems will not affect your income. We believe we are the only company in the UK to offer this, and we do it because we are confident in our products.

Q. Are your panels approved?

Solarking UK are fully accredited with the Micro-generation Certification Scheme (MCS), to comply with the MCS accreditation we only use the very highest quality of materials which have MCS approval.

Q. What payback can I expect from a Solar PV installation?

The payback on investment outperforms any bank or savings account on the UK market, and The Sunday Times highlighted Solar PV as one of the Top 5 ROI-investments. On this basis, we would expect a system to pay for itself about 5-6 times over 20 years of use. We base our calculations on an annual fuel inflation rate of just 5%, although Ernst and Young have recently projected that 12.9% is more likely. Remember, the Government’s Feed in Tariff is RPI-indexed linked and is guaranteed for a 20 year period, paid to you totally tax free.

Q. Do I need planning permission?

Generally no; planning permission is only usually required if the property is listed or in a conservation area.

Q. Do building control need to be informed of the intention to install a solar system?

Yes; we will advise your local area building control office prior to installation. In some instances they may have specific criteria in determining whether your need to submit a buildings notice. We will discuss this with them and you on a case by case basis. Different building control offices deal with these products differently; this should be confirmed with your local office.

Q. Will my roof be strong enough?

Our surveyor will check this prior to installation; however, most roofs are strong enough to take a solar installation without any reinforcement.

Q. Does your prices include for Scaffolding?

We are one of the few companies installing Solar PV who are fully accredited to ISO 9001 Quality Standards. This guarantees that all our working practices are fully compliant to the highest standards including all Health and Safety requirements. We are aware that many PV installers are not accredited to these standards and do not include for installing the necessary scaffold at your property. Our Design and Installation teams will ensure that the best height working equipment is used, depending on your particular circumstances. Where possible we will use our own portable scaffolding so that there is minimum disruption to your property and television reception.

Q. Will an electrician fit the panels to the roof?

No, the installation to MCS-standards requires suitably trained and accredited installation personnel; all roof work will be completed by fully accredited roofing specialists, similarly, electrical work will be completed by MCS and NICEIC-accredited personnel.

Q. How long will the installation take?

Installation normally takes 1 day and on very rare occasions may fall across onto a second .

Q. Are the solar PV panels fragile?

Solar PV panels are very robust and can withstand the normal stresses subjected by nature.

Q. Can I heat water with solar PV panels?

It is possible as the Solar PV electricity generated is connected to your domestic electricity system. Consequently you can have an immersion heater on this system to heat your water. However, this is not the most efficient form of hot water generation. We would advise that you should heat water with solar thermal panels which are very effective and efficient.

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