10 things you need to know before installing solar PV
Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 January 2012 at 9:04 am
It's a time of confusion in the solar market, so it's especially important to do a bit of research and know what's what, so that the dodgy installers (who are in the minority, but often have big marketing budgets) don't pull the wool over your eyes.
I'm writing this because a letter making seriously misleading claims dropped through my letter box this week. It said that "the higher rate solar pv tariff will still be applicable for new entrants until the end of February 2012". This is not true.
I have reported the company to the REAL Assurance Scheme, the ASA and NAPIT (which accredited it for MCS), and will write in a future blog how they deal with my complaints.
In the meantime here's a point by point list of what you need to know before going ahead with a solar PV installation:
1. The uncertainty is caused by a legal ruling on government proposals to change the feed-in tariff incentive scheme for solar PV. The government is currently appealing against the ruling.
2. For installations up to and including 4kW in size you can be certain that you will receive a feed-in tariff of at least 21p per kWh you generate. Depending on the outcome of the legal shenanigans you may get 43.3p per kWh if your system is fully installed and registered before 3 March 2012, but it would be unwise to base your calculations on that.
3. What ever happens, you will also get 3.1p per kWh you export to the grid (this will be deemed to be half of what you generate).
4. Both parts of the feed-in tariff will be paid for 25 years, index linked and tax free (for domestic installations). You will also find that your electricity bills are lower, as you use home generated electricity when it's available.
5. Check that your installer is MCS accredited (look on this website to make sure the accreditation is current), otherwise you won't qualify for the feed-in tariff.
6. The closer to south your roof faces, the better the generation will be.
7. Make sure that it is not shaded by dormer windows, chimneys, other buildings or trees.
8. The standard calculation of what a system will generate based on the solar irradiation in the middle of the British Isles. If you are south of that you will generate more, if you are north of that you will produce less electricity. Ask your installer if the figures they are giving you are specific to your location and situation.
9. Get at least three quotes, and don't sign up on the day, whatever inducement the sales person offers (if they are making this sort of offer they may be breaking the REAL Assurance Scheme code).
10. Don't give the installer a deposit until you have seen a written survey for the installation, and predictions of what it will generate.
Photo by Jon Callas
If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.
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