Commercial Solar FAQs
What is Solar Photovoltaic?
Solar Photovoltaic (PV) can be broken up into two words; Photo (Light) and Voltaic (Electric). The Solar PV panels that are installed will convert light in to electricity. Solar panels use the energy from daylight, as opposed to sunlight which it is often confused for. It is the photons in the natural daylight that are converted by the solar panel cells to produce electricity.
What is an inverter?
Inverters are a very important component in a solar installation; they probably have the most crucial role in the solar system whether it is a small domestic installation of 1kW or a large commercial installation consisting of thousands of panels! The inverters simplified task is to invert the direct current (DC) output into alternating current (AC).
How can solar improve the image of my company?
In simple terms, it shows everyone that sees your property that you are a forward thinking and responsible company. It shows that your company not only cares about the environment right now, but it also demonstrates that you are committed to the future sustainability of your business.
How much space do I require?
This question is like asking how long a piece of string is! A standard solar module is approximately 1640mm x 990mm and has a depth of 40mm, depending on a couple of initial factors will determine how much space you require. For example, it depends on if you are looking to make a significant social impact, offsetting a slight amount of your energy costs or if you want to generate enough power to be self-sufficient from your electricity provider. As part of our service at Solar Living we can discuss the options with you and how each choice can benefit you.
A good rule of thumb is you will need about 7sqm of roof space for every 1kW of solar panels.
How much electric will a solar system generate?
This depends on a couple of scenarios such as shading, direction of the array south and location; a rule of thumb is a 1kW (1000W) solar system will generate approximately 1000 units (kWh) per year.
We use dedicated Solar PV modelling software to generate images of what your property will look like with the modules installed which will also give us an accurate forecast of the generation.
How much money will the system make?
We use a variety of different professional solar software systems to calculate your expected output, which will in turn give us the figures on how much you are likely to earn and save! There are a few calculations we need to conduct to provide you with an accurate figure such as panel & inverter performance, roof pitch, roof orientation, shading, cable performance and of course the local weather data.
I’ve heard of the Feed in Tariff, what is it?
The Feed in Tariff (FIT) is a government backed scheme where your electricity supplier will pay you for every unit that your system generates, whether you use this power or not.
How long until I see a benefit?
As soon as the solar system has been commissioned, you will start generating your own electricity! You should see a benefit on your electricity bills almost immediately! The Feed in Tariff paperwork can take a couple of months to be registered with your electricity provider, however they will back date the payments from the successful application form date and will then make payments on a quarterly basis.
Can I receive my FIT payments from another supplier?
Yes! Many of our customers are registered with their supplier and then change after a period of time. For example, you can register the solar modules with your existing supplier such as British Gas, and once the paperwork has been submitted and accepted and you are no longer in contract with your supplier you can freely move and either leave your FIT account with your existing supplier or move the account to your new supplier if they have the facilities!
What happens if my Solar PV system isn’t generating enough power?
At times in the year there will be days where you are not generating enough electricity from your installation. When this does happen, there is nothing that you need to do as the inverter will tell the grid that you need more power.
What happens if my Solar PV system is generating too much power?
The inverter will tell the grid that you do not need the excess energy and it will divert it to the grid without you needing to worry about anything. You will still get paid for the surplus energy.
What type of roof do I need?
In all honesty, it doesn’t really matter what type of roof you have. There are many different accredited roofing equipment solutions that we can adjust for the roof type. Ideally, a new roof would be perfect and if you are thinking of replacing the roof it may be an idea to factor the addition of a solar installation as it would be the most cost effective to you.
If you are worried that your roof is not up to the correct standard then our team of experts will find a solution that fits you and we can inspect the roof on our free no obligation quotation.
Which way should my roof face?
South facing roofs are the ideal roof type, however many of our customers also have the panels installed on an East/West facing roof. An ideal pitch of the South roof would be 30-35 degrees, however on an East/West orientation it can be better to have a lower pitch. Our customers that have an East/West installation approximately generate about 85% of the same power as a South facing installation.
Can I have the panels spread across more than one roof?
Yes! The inverters are capable of managing more than one set of roof mounted panels which allows you to have modules on a South roof and a West roof!
Will I have electricity during a power cut?
Because there will be linesmen needing to repair the fault, the inverter will need to be shut down so you won’t have any power unfortunately. You can install battery systems that will allow you to have back up power if a fault does occur on your line!
How long will an installation take?
It depends on a couple of factors like the size of the installation, the size of the building, weather and the roof type. A 4kW (16 modules) system will take approximately 1 day to complete and a 50kW (200 modules) installation will take approximately one week.
Is there any disruption for us during the installation?
We schedule the installation date for a time that will suit you. We have completed installations for schools where they would like us to work during the half-terms so there are no disruptions for them.
During the installation there would be no disruption to your supply whatsoever. There is no switch or button that you have to press and the changeover is done automatically and the transition is so easy you wouldn’t even notice it!
If I rent my business premises, can I benefit?
In short, yes. In long, you would need to enquire with your landlord to discuss with them if they would like to have Solar PV panels installed on their roof. We have completed installations for landlords as they can benefit from the Feed in Tariff payments and you will benefit from the free electric that the system is generating.
How long will my installation work for?
Solar PV panels will degrade over time; our SunPower modules that we use are the highest efficiency solar panels you can buy for your roof and the SunPower panels average “only 0.25% power loss per year over the first 25 years.”
Although the Feed in Tariff lasts for 20 years, this does not mean that after this point the solar system will stop working, the module output will continue to diminish and you will still benefit from the electricity they continue to generate.
Modern inverters have a useful life of up to 20 years and the standard warranty period offered are usually between 5 and 10 years. Inverter warranties can be extended for the lifetime of the Feed in Tariff of 20 years.
Please visit www.sunpower.com/facts to see more information on the SunPower modules.
How do I maintain my system?
The great thing with Solar PV is that they have a “self-cleansing” covering on them which, with the UK climate makes the modules for the most part maintenance free. We do not suggest giving the panels a deep clean however a gentle wash with a garden hose could be helpful. We can set up a yearly inspection to give you peace of mind on protecting your investment.
What happens if we move from our current premises?
Due to the solar system and Feed In Tariff being allocated to the property and not the occupant, if you did decide to move your premises then you would have a couple of options:
- You can sell the remaining years of the FIT and the electricity savings to the new owners
- You can keep the FIT payments in your name but the new owners will receive the free electricity savings
If you would like to discuss these options with us in more details then please feel free to contact us.