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How to ensure your renewable energy installation is done safely - Competent Persons Schemes and Building Regulations

Posted by Jordan Willis on 26 September 2017 at 5:01 pm

As with any change to your home, you want to ensure the installation of solar panels is an easy process that is carried out safely and securely. While there are measures and regulations in place to make sure that these installations are done safely and by qualified personnel, often prospective buyers of renewable technology aren’t aware of the measures that help protect them. We talked to two certification companies, ELECSA and NAPIT, as well as local councils to gather information on this topic. In this blog we will walk through the ways you can guarantee quality work and how to obtain these documents if you don’t have them already.

For solar panel installation the most likely certificates you will receive are the Competent Persons Scheme certificate (CPS) and a building regulations certificate. CPS is an accreditation that many renewable energy installers (and a variety of other industries that work on your home) will attain to demonstrate that they can be trusted to provide a reliable and quality service. The building regulations that we will primarily be concerned with are Part A (concerning the structural safety of a building) and Part P (concerning the electrical safety of a building). Part A becomes more relevant if the solar panels are roof mounted, but it is unlikely you will necessarily need a printed certificate for structural safety. While a CPS is a signifier of a company or person that is qualified to install renewable energy systems, the building regulations are often a legal requirement for a lot of home improvement work, including installing solar panels.

Firstly, it is important to stress that the homeowner is responsible for holding onto these certificates. We recommend that homeowners ask for written proof that renewable energy installers and their subcontractors are able to provide written proof that they can comply with these regulations. If they aren’t able to provide evidence of complying with these regulations, it may well be worth looking elsewhere. Our Find an Installer feature has a list of trusted and reliable renewable energy installers that operate across the country.

In conversation with ELECSA, they assured us that registered solar installers would automatically be registered to certify safe electrical work. On the certificate information regarding the certification company, the installation company and a brief description of the work completed should be present. If you are ever required to provide copies of the documentation, you can contact the certification agency to purchase another. Furthermore, the Part A and Part P building regulations documents do not expire, meaning that you can obtain a fresh copy of these certificates even if the company who installed the technology is no longer in business.

However, we appreciate that these documents often get misplaced (or not exchanged in the first place) and situations may arise when you need to access them retroactively. We talked to councils to find out how one would find the required documentation. Upon calling Building Control at a local council, it is likely that they will hold a record of the work (and the processed documentation) if you are able to provide a rough date and the nature of the work. From there, they would be able to tell you the name of the certification authority, who could be contacted for fresh documentation.

However, if this avenue does not prove fruitful, we have listed below a number of useful contact numbers of various certification schemes that may be able to help you for solar or other renewable building regulation certifications:

ELECSA Ltd Tel: 0870 749 0080 www.elecsa.org.uk
NAPIT Certification Services Ltd Tel: 0870 444 1392 www.napit.org.uk
NICEIC Tel: 0800 013 0900 www.niceic.org.uk
CORGI Services Ltd Tel: 01256 372 200 www.corgi-gas-safety.com
OFTEC (Oil Firing Technical Association) Tel: 0845 658 5080 www.oftec.co.uk
MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) Tel: 0207 090 1082 http://www.microgenerationcertification.org/

Need help with any Jargon?

Sources:

Conversations with ELECSA, NAPIT and Milton Keynes Council Building Control on 25th September 2017.

http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/find-an-electrician/part-p/

https://www.mybuilder.com/questions/v/12973/how-to-get-a-copy-of-a-part-p-certificate,-bs7671-certificate

http://www.gov.uk/building-regulations-approval

“Guide for Householders, Designers and Builders PART P: DOMESTIC ELECTRICAL SAFETY” from www.lewes.gov.uk

About the author:

Jordan is a full-time intern here at YouGen this summer, specialising in online marketing as well as driving the site forward as part of an ambitious development plan.

Jordan is interested in all aspects of energy and sustainability and has a strong background in social media marketing and engagement. 

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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