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Solar PV FAQs

What is Solar PV and how does it work?

PV stands for ‘Photovoltaics’ and means converting light into electricity (as opposed to Solar Thermal which is heating water). The solar panels generate DC electricity from sunlight which is fed through an inverter to convert it into AC electricity. The inverter is connected to your consumer unit (fuse board) so the electricity can be used in your home.

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Do solar panels need direct sunlight to work?

No, Solar Panels work in most daylight conditions but the more direct sunshine the receive, the better the generation will be.

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How do I use the solar electricity?

If there is a demand for electricity in the home (i.e. an appliance is switched on) the inverter makes sure that the solar electricity is used first (if it is available). If there is not enough solar electricity then more is drawn from the grid to top it up. This is automatic and seamless so you do not need to do anything to make it happen.

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What happens to solar electricity not used in the house?

Any solar generated electricity which is not used in the home immediately will usually feed back to the grid (export). Sometimes the grid operator advises us that it can’t cope with exported power from solar PV systems in the area and they enforce export limitation. This means we would program the inverter of a system to switch off if the home didn’t require the electricity being generated, and prevent any excess from being exported to the grid.

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Will solar panels power my whole house?

No, they are unlikely to produce enough to meet your home’s entire electricity requirements (and certainly not at night) but they will contribute. Unless you purchase battery storage for the system, the electricity must be used as soon as it’s generated or it will be lost.

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Will solar panels save me money?

Yes, you should save money on your electricity bill. How much you can save depends on the utility rates, the size of the solar system installed and how effectively you use the electricity while it’s being generated. Try to make the most of the free electricity by setting timers on your appliances (eg. washing machine, dishwasher) to run them in sequence throughout the daytime.

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How do I know if my system is working?

There will be a generation meter installed, usually near your fuse board, which measures every unit (kWh) of electricity your solar PV system produces. The figure on the display is cumulative, showing the total since installation so you should see the reading gradually increase. If you want to monitor how your system is performing you will need to keep a record of the generation readings at regular intervals. Bear in mind the system will perform better in summer than in winter but if you think your generation as decreased or stopped then contact Eco2Solar.

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What guarantees will my Solar Panels come with?

Your Solar Panels will come with a manufacturer’s guarantee of the panels’ performance. There is also a back to back parts and labour warranty in line with the housing developers’ warranty.

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Do Solar Panels need cleaning?

Generally solar panel arrays in the UK will not need heavy duty cleaning as they are designed to self-clean in the rain. However, depending on location, they may suffer from a high build-up of dirt, leaves, bird droppings or salt water if near the coast, etc. so cleaning the modules on a regular basis may be required, depending on the amount of soiling. The obvious danger is working at heights therefore we would recommend you hire a professional – window cleaners often offer this service. No abrasive chemicals to be used, warm soapy water is fine.

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What maintenance do solar PV Systems require?

There are no moving parts to a solar PV system so they don’t require any maintenance or servicing other than an occasional clean, however, for peace of mind you may wish to consider an extended warranty option with us. Keep an eye on nearby trees in case they start to shade the solar panels.  If you think there may be a problem please contact Eco2Solar.

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What happens in a power-cut?

If mains power is lost, your inverter will detect this and shut down immediately. This is a necessary safety function to protect people who may be working on the mains electrical network, so during a power cut you won’t be able to use any solar generated electricity.

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Will a solar PV system affect me selling the house?

It should be seen as a positive feature by prospective buyers as it will contribute to lower energy bills compared to a house without solar. Keep the user manual and MCS certificate as these may be required for the new owners.

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What is MCS and why does it matter to me?

MCS is a standards organisation; they create and maintain standards that allow for the certification of products, installers and their installations. MCS certified Installers, such as Eco2Solar Limited, have undergone a rigorous vetting process to demonstrate that they adhere to the standards. These standards demonstrate a commitment to quality. An MCS certificate is proof that your installation has been designed, installed & commissioned to the highest standard using only MCS certified products by an MCS certified installer.

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What is the Feed-in Tariff?

The Feed-in Tariff (FiT) ended in March 2019.  Homes with solar PV systems installed before this time could sign up to a fixed tariff with electricity suppliers which paid them for each unit of electricity the solar panels generated.

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What is the Smart Export Guarantee?

The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) was set up by the Government to replace the Feed-in Tariff and came into effect January 2020. If you generate solar electricity, are not already receiving Feed-in Tariff payments and you have a smart meter then you can sign up to an SEG tariff with an electricity supplier to be paid for any solar electricity that is exported to the grid. All electricity suppliers with more than 150,000 customers must offer an SEG tariff, but the rates will vary between companies. You don’t have to apply for the SEG through the same company you buy your electricity from so shop around to find the best deal.

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Useful links

Here are some great information sources and resources if you would like to find out more about Solar PV:

MCS – www.mcscertified.com

Solar Trade Association – www.solar-trade.org.uk

Energy Saving Trust – www.energysavingtrust.org.uk