Frequently Asked Questions

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How much space on my roof do I need for a Solar PV installation?

1 kWp occupies about 7 square metres on your roof. 1kWp consists of 4 Solarwatt 250wp panels.
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How much electricity does a PV system output?

For every kW peak power installed on a South facing roof the system will generate around 800 kWh. This reduces by around 20% for an East or West facing roof.
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How much does a Solar PV system cost?

Installed prices vary greatly depending on each site due to scaffolding requirements in particular. Prices per KWp installed decrease as the system size increases. Each job is different and is priced accordingly.
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Will I be eligible for ROCS?

Solar Power NI (BHC Distributors Ltd MCS ARE0040) are approved MCS installers so our installations are eligible for all government incentives.
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Do I need planning permission?

Our roof mounted residential systems do not need planning permission unless the property is listed or in a conservation area. Commercial installations do need planning permission at present.
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Do I need to inform building control that I intend to install a solar system?

Yes, you should speak to building control about your intentions, and they will advise you if you need to take any further action with them. Be wary of any installer who advisers you not to contact building control.
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Will my roof be strong enough?

Most roofs are strong enough to take a solar installation without any reinforcement.
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Do I need to inform my electricity supplier?

For systems below 4kW on single phase supply or 12kW on three phase supply we will inform NIE once the installation is complete. For systems larger than this we will require permission in advance from the network operator. We will help any client with these formalities.
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What is the payback for a Solar PV installation?

Currently there are no residential grants available for Solar PV which enhances payback times.

 

Farmers and small rural businesses can on occasions avail from grants from DARD or a relevant government body. We can advise if and when these grants are available and will help with any application.

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Can I export any of the electricity I generate?

Yes, all unused electricity will automatically be exported, your electricity company can fit an export meter. Please do not confuse the export meter with the ROC generation meter which we fit as standard on all our installations. However, the best way to use a Solar PV installation is to use every single unit produced.
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How much will I be paid for electricity I generate?

The ROCS scheme pays up to 16.96p/kWh (4 ROCS)for all the electricity generated up to 50kW even if used in your own property.

 

Additionally you will also benefit in that any power you generate and use will result in a reduction of your electricity bill, while any power unused will be exported and sold to the 'grid' for £0.0559 per kwh exported. 

 

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What is a kWh?

A kWh (pronounced 'kilo watt hour') is a specific amount of electricity. 1 Kwh is identical to 1 unit of electricity that is shown on your electricity bill. An electrical item having a rating of 1kW will consume 1kWh for every hour it is on at full power.
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What is a Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC)?

This is a government created obligation for electricity suppliers to generate electricity from renewable sources. Electricity suppliers must buy enough ROCS each year to meet Government targets otherwise they face hefty fines. The scheme is set in such a way that there are always 10% less ROCS on the market than are needed. This ensures the price of ROCS remain at a steady rate and are more likely to increase each year.
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What does the inverter do?

The Solar PV panels generate direct current (DC), this is not directly compatible with the 240V alternating current (AC) that is used in your property. The inverter converts the DC power to AC power that can be used in your property.
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How does the electricity I generate get in to my wall sockets?

We connect the system to your fuse board (consumer unit). The electricity will automatically flow from there to wherever it is needed.
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Do I need permission from building control to install solar panels?

A buildings notice is generally not required as we are approved installers and registered as 'competent people'. However, different building control offices deal with these products differently so we would recommend that you confirm this with your local office.
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Are Building Integrated panels available?

Yes, we have an excellent system by Solarwatt called 'The Easy-In system'. These panels work as a roof covering as well as electricity generators. These are especially effective for new builds of residential and commercial properties.
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Will I have electricity during mains power cuts?

For the safety of electrical workmen (NIE) our Standard systems do not operate during power cuts.
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Do I need a three phase electricity supply?

Systems up to 4kW peak power can be accommodated on a single phase electricity supply, with no prior permission from your Distribution Network Operator (DNO). You can in fact connect up to 20kWp on single phase but there will be an added cost to your DNO (NIE) and added paperwork which we help you to deal with. Systems up to 12kWp on 3 phase need no prior permissions from NIE. Again anything larger than this will be an added cost.
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Does your prices include for scaffolding?

We include for scaffolding installation in all our prices unless there are specific reasons for us not to.
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Are there any grants available?

Unfortunately the household grant scheme has now closed. Should any new household grants open we will certainly inform our clients and help with the completion of any paperwork. 

 

For farmers, small rural businesses, community groups and enterprise centres there are excellent grants available through the Rural Development Programme. We help clients through every step of the grant process.

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Are the grants difficult to get?

No, if you meet the criteria set out then there is no difficulty. We help with the paper bureaucracy to ensure clients do not have difficulties.
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What is the difference between Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline PV panels?

Monocrystalline Solar PV panels tend to be slightly more expensive than Polycrystalline panels, however Monocrystalline panels are regarded as having a higher output per kW peak power installed. Polycrystalline wafer has a dark blue colour, Monocrystalline wafer is black.
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Will PV systems be dropping in price dramatically over the next few years?

Many developments are taking place in the PV industry and popularity is increasing. The actual panel prices have decreased dramatically over the past couple of years so systems are now much more affordable than previously. However, we would expect price change to be more gradual in the coming years.
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Is efficiency important with solar panels?

Often not, the efficiency of a panel relates to how effectively it can convert the sun's light. Given that the sun's light is free a panel can simply be made larger to offset a lower efficiency. However, the panels we use are German made from Solarwatt. These are amongst the most efficient in the world and the quality of the product is clear to see.
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Whose panels do you use?

Typically we use high quality panels from Solarwatt.

 

Solarwatt are one of Europe's leading Solar PV manufacturer's and are actually owned by BMW heir Stefan Quandt. They are also the first company to offer premium Glass Glass Solar PV modules in the U.K with a 30 year performance warranty, 30 year product warranty and 5 year Aon insurance. 

 

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What guarantees will I receive?

The guarantees are dependent on your choice of panel from Solarwatt.

 

Solarwatt's latest range of panels, the Glass Glass modules, come as standard with a 30 year performance warranty, 30 year product warranty and 5 year Aon insurance. 

 

 

Solarwatt's standard range of panels have a 10 year product guarantee and a 25 year performance guarantee.

 

Inverters normally have a guarantee of 5 years.

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Are your panels approved?

We only use the very highest quality of materials. The panels we use meet all the required standards including TUV and MCS approval for government incentives.
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Will an electrician fit the panels to the roof?

Many companies use the wrong trades people to fit panels on roofs, all our installers have been trained for installing on roofs and only qualified electricians will connect the electrical components.
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How are the panels fixed to the roof?

For a standard roof we use rigid stainless steel brackets that are fixed directly to your roof rafters. The brackets hook out from underneath your existing tiles. We have excellent mounting systems for corrugated roofs and our 'Easy-In' system is specifically designed for each roof.
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How long will the installation take?

Installation normally takes 2-3 days.
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How much do the Solar PV panels weigh?

Normally about 13-14kg per m2.
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Are the Solar PV panels fragile?

Solar PV panels are very robust and can withstand the normal stresses subjected by nature.
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Can I heat water with solar PV panels?

Once the panels have created electricity you could connect this to an immersion heater to heat water. However, electricity is a very flexible form of energy and in most circumstances would be wasted being used to simply heat water. With the ever increasing electricity prices it is becoming essential for householders and businesses alike to limit exposure to electricity suppliers. By producing your own electricity you can safeguard yourself against the inevitable price hikes.
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