Please note that the questions below are very general, non-specific queries, and we are more than happy to have a chat with you about any aspects of Photovoltaics.
Please either email or call us and we will gladly talk photovoltaics and offer all the advice you may want! If emailing, or if you don’t get a reply on the ‘phone, please leave a number, and we will call you back at your convenience.
What is PV (PhotoVoltaics)?
Photo (meaning light) and Voltaic (meaning production of electricity) is electricity that is generated by converting sunlight into usable electricity by a process with no moving parts and which produces zero emissions and no noise.
What are PV Solar Panels?
These are actually often referred to as ‘solar modules’, to avoid confusion with the other type of solar panels – solar thermal, which are water heating devices.
The PV modules are the components that do the actual converting. There are many different types including; modules which fit above, or integrate within, an existing roof, PV tiles which take the place of conventional tiles, Building cladding materials, and transparent modules which can provide shading on awnings or glass roofs. There are also thin-film types of panels which are flexible, but less efficient. Ecovolt will advise you of the best type of technology for your particular needs.
How are PV solar modules different to other solar panels?
The other type of solar panel is ‘solar thermal’. These are panels (or collectors) which are connected into your plumbing and heat some of your water by solar radiation.
Why install a PV system?
The need for electricity is not going to go away anytime soon, neither is the sun. On the other hand, coal, gas, and oil are. These have become short-term solutions to a long-term need. By installing your own clean, silent, maintenance-free, micro-generator on the roof of your home, you will be making an important contribution to sustainable development by reducing the need for large, inefficient, and polluting power stations. Not to mention the significant reduction in your electricity bills! There are also ‘buy-back’ schemes run by all the major electricity suppliers.
How long will my system last and what maintenance or cleaning will it need?
Panels which we supply and fit will have warranties that guarantee >80% efficiency after 20 to 25 years, depending on the manufacturer.
The entire installation, materials and workmanship, is guaranteed for at least two years, but it should be noted that many of the earliest systems installed back in the 1970s are still working happily, albeit at slightly lower efficiency!
The panels are essentially maintenance-free, a wipe down once a year may be desirable but generally the angle they are installed at means they are self-cleaning. The electrical inspection and testing requirements are the same as for any other domestic electrical installation.
Are there grants available?
At the moment the feed in tariffs are still available albeit rather less than when first started in 2010.
For the latest information on grants for all PV installations please visit www.lowcarbonbuildings.org.uk or call the Energy Saving Trust freephone helpline: 0800 915 7722
Will I need (and get ) planning permission?
Unless you live in a listed building, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or Special Scientific Interest, you will probably not need planning permission. If you live in a conservation area your council may ask you for details of the proposed system. We will, of course advise you of these factors at the first visit to your property, the assessment stage.
How much roof space will I need and which way should it face?
The space needed is dependent on lots of variables, including budget, aspect, tilt angle, and power required. The ideal situation is a south facing roof area clear of any shading by trees, other buildings, chimney stacks etc
What does "grid-connected"mean?
This means that your system will integrate seamlessly with your existing electricity supply. In times of high generation and low consumption (maybe when you are on holiday in the summer) the excess electricity flows automatically back to the national grid – for which you will be paid. When generation is low and demand is high, you will use all of the electricity generated by your system and any more you require will come from your supplier in the normal way. All of this happens automatically and silently.