Our Q&A has answers to your questions.
With the increasing interest in green energy and environmental issues and with several companies offering to provide 'free' or paid solar panels, there are some facts that people often misunderstand.
So here are some answers to questions that you may have. If your question isn’t listed below and you have further queries, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try to get back to you within 7 working days.
Q: What's the catch?
A: There isn't one! It is one of those situations where you are left scratching your head thinking 'it's too good to be true!' Due to the new Government Feed In Tariff (FIT) scheme that began on 1st April 2010, as your solar panel energy provider, we will be paid for all the electricity that our panels generate. This is called a Generation Tariff and rather than being paid by the Government 'purse' which is at risk of cutbacks, we are paid by the Utility Companies. Every installation's FIT payments are guaranteed by legislation for the next 25 years and this in turn allows us to provide you with all the electricity generated entirely free of charge.
Q: Can anyone have your free solar panels?
A: Unfortunately, no. Our panels perform at their optimum efficiency when they are fully South facing. We are able to install on roofs that face 20-25 degrees either side of South. Although the panel will still work on any roof, we can only fit them for optimum performance as we are paid on the electricity that they generate, hence our restriction on orientation. We require a certain amount of uninterrupted space for the panels, approx 24sq metres or more and we cannot install on roofs overshadowed by trees or other objects.
Q: Can a Solar Panel system work in the British climate?
A: Yes they can. The solar panels work by converting energy drawn from light rather than from heat. The clearer the skies the more energy created. In general, the panels will generate energy all year round in daylight..
Q: Will the Government ever stop the FIT Scheme?
A: You'll be happy to hear that the FIT scheme is not funded by the Government but by Power Companies who are legally required to pay the energy tariffs following legislation brought in by the Government. In reality the payments are split every quarter over everyone's electricity bills. Therefore if you don't have an installation and your neighbour does, you will be contributing to his energy bill! The Government plans that over the next 10 years over 750,000 homes throughout the UK will enjoy the use of installed home generation systems. However the FIT scheme is reducing over time so free solar is only available for a limited period.
Q: Do all your systems qualify for the Governments FIT Scheme?
A: Yes. All the solar panel systems and individual components must meet the standards set by the Governments (M.C.S) Microgeneration Certification Scheme, and are installed by M.C.S accredited engineers.
Q: Is this simply a Pilot Scheme?
A: Certainly not. Throughout Europe including Germany, France, and Spain in particular, similar schemes have been in place for many years and have been a huge success in reducing the nation's carbon footprint and reducing consumers' power bills. Due to this progress and track record, the technology is tried and tested and has been proven to work extremely well often producing far more than the projected output.
Q: But will I have to pay something at some point?
A: All equipment, installation and maintenance costs are free of charge to the homeowner. There are no other costs except if the system is deliberately damaged or disconnected without our permission. Our Agreement with every homeowner confirms that there will be no cost during its term for the homeowner. Once we have carried out an EPC survey, we pay for everything from the solar panels and the equipment required for it to work right through to the installation and maintenance. The homeowner will be allowed to enjoy the use of the electricity that our panels generate free of charge.
Q: Will I own the panels?
A: Not for the first 25 years. In the term of your Agreement we will retain ownership of the solar panels. Once the Agreement comes to an end however, we will agree to leave the solar panels so that you can continue to enjoy the benefits of the solar generated power without having to pay anything. An added immediate benefit will be that it may enhance the value of your property as installation of solar panels is considered as an improvement to a home and has a retail value of between £10,000-15,000.
Q: Will it be difficult to sell my house afterwards as buyers may not be able to get mortgages on properties with panels?
A: The opposite is true. It is likely to increase the probability of your property being bought as more and more people wish to live more environmentally responsible lives. With thousands of people, throughout the UK, already trying to reduce their energy bills, the added benefit of reduced electricity bills will certainly place your property in better standing than one without solar panels. Mortgage lenders are also aware of the large scale fitting of solar panels and will provide consent for them being installed as this will not affect their charge over a property.
Q: Will I need to let my mortgage company and/or buildings insurer know that this installation has taken place and will I need their permission?
A: The solar panel installation may be viewed as a modification by your mortgage lender so it is always best to get consent from them. We usually do this on your behalf during the pre-installation process so all you will need to do is provide us with the name and details of your lender and we'll take care of the rest. We ask you to also inform your house insurers that you have a solar panel installation.
Q: Who is responsible for maintenance and repairs?
A: Although solar panels require very little maintenance, you'll be happy to hear that we will take care of all the maintenance issues that arise and any repairs that are needed. We will also ensure that throughout the life of the Agreement, the solar panels are in good working order and consistently providing you with electricity.
Q: Who insures the solar panels?
A: Panel product liability is covered by a manufacturer's warranty. We will also insure the solar panels, including public liability, and will pay for this insurance – this is outlined in the terms of our Agreement with you. We also ask you to inform your house insurers.
Q: Can we purchase or remove the panels if we want to at some point?
A: If you opt for the free solar panel installation then there is an option for you to purchase the panels once the buy-back option has been triggered in accordance with the Agreement. If you wish to purchase the panels and collect the FIT payments yourself please feel free to contact one of our sales advisors who will be more than happy to help you with your enquiry.
Q: Will I have to switch the panels on each day?
A: No, certainly not. The solar panels are working all the time and at night they are on standby. There will be no need to switch them on or off.
Q: Is the electricity as strong? Will my lights be dimmer?
A: There will be no difference to how your current electricity supply works as the panels are just supplementing and reducing the energy you draw from the grid. The only difference you will see is on your quarterly bill- a great saving! All your electrical appliances will function as normal. If the panels aren't producing much electricity on a dull day, you will just be using your normal electricity.
Q: What happens if we don't use all the electricity the panels produce during the day?
A: The electricity will simply be fed back into the National Grid automatically.
Q: Can I use more than one electrical appliance at a time? Do I have to buy special electrical equipment to use?
A: You can continue to use as many appliances as you wish. The electricity the panels don't produce will simply be topped up from your normal supply from the national grid. You won't notice any difference in your everyday use and can go about life as normal.
Q: Will the panels make any noise when they are generating the electricity?
A: No. As there are no moving parts within the panels, no noise will be made.
Q: How will I know if something goes wrong with the panels?
A: All our solar panels are monitored remotely by our technical team. This will allow us to know very quickly if something goes wrong with your solar panels and we will aim to rectify this within 7 days.
Q: How will I know which electricity supply I am using in my house? Is there some kind of switch to change from the solar panels to my normal electricity supply?
A: Once electricity is being produced by the fitted solar panels, if you use anything electrical in your house, it will draw from this source first. If there isn't enough electricity being produced for what you need or if it is night, then you will automatically be using your usual electricity supplier.
Q: Exactly how much money will I save each year by using this free electricity?
A: This depends entirely on how you manage your electricity use. In the instances where you make use of timer switches for appliances such as washing machines, tumble driers, dishwashers during daylight hours, you are likely to reduce your electricity bill by up to half.
Q: Will I still receive an electricity bill?
A: As you will still be with your main supplier, you will still receive your normal electricity bill however it is likely to be substantially less than what you are currently paying.
Q: Would you require constant access for any maintenance?
A: No. For the installation our engineers will normally only visit for one hour once every three years completely at your convenience. We will only attend at your house on a pre-arranged suitable date and time.
Q: How long will the installation take? Will my electricity supply be disrupted?
A: It will normally take our engineers 1-2 days to complete the installation. They will erect and remove scaffolding. Our electrician will require access to the inside of your property to fit an inverter and a specialist smart meter. Your electricity use will be disrupted for around 20 minutes as our electrician connects the solar system.
Q: Who is responsible for scaffolding or any other kit that is left on site during the installation?
A: Our installation partners are working in up to 12,000 homes per day and responsible for all equipment and tools used during the installation process and are fully insured.
Q: Who is responsible for removing the system once its useful life is over?
A: Once the Agreement comes to an end, the ownership of the solar panels will transfer to whoever the homeowner may be at that time. There will still be an estimated life span of 10-15 years left at this point.
Q: Are the installers and product registered with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS?)
A: All the equipment installed and the installation service meets the requirements of the Microgeneration Scheme.
Q: Will my roof be able to withstand the additional weight?
A: A Structural Engineer/Surveyor will approve every single one of our installations. All installations will be completed subject to his expert approval.
Q: Will our roof tiles be damaged in the installation?
A: Our installers have been selected primarily for their extensive experience in roof work. In the unlikely event that any damage is caused during the fitting process, we will repair it at no extra cost to you. Everything we do is fully insured and therefore we are responsible for any damage, should there be any.
Q: What will happen when I sell the property?
A: Ownership of the technology is linked to the site and, therefore, in the case where a building or homeownership changes, the ownership of the technology would also transfer to the new owner.
Q: What happens if I move house and the new owners don't want the solar panels?
A: If you move house and the new owner do not want the benefit of the reduced electricity bills via the solar panels, either you or the new owners can buy out the contract. This can be added or subsidised from the purchase price of the property.
Q: Who pays a) for removing the kit b) if my roof needs repairing or c) if the kit is damaged beyond repair?
A: Every roof undergoes a technical survey assessment before installation and we will not install on roofs that we believe will need repairing before 25 years. Should any unforeseen circumstance take place and temporary removal is required, there will be a fee incurred by the homeowner. If the damage is caused by storm, fire etc., then this would usually be covered by insurance. If the damage is caused maliciously or negligently by a homeowner then we would expect them (or their own liability insurance) to cover this cost.
Q: Is it completely free?
A: All equipment, installation and maintenance costs are free of charge to the homeowner. There is no charge if your property does not qualify or is not suitable. Once you have signed the contract we will send you, charges will apply should you decide to cancel.
Q: If I want to buy a system, how do I find out about the cost and if my property is suitable to have a system installed?
A: Please fill in an online application form and one of our advisors will be in touch for a brief consultation.