The last decade has seen more and more solar panels appear on rooftops. But are they still a worthy financial investment? We take a look at some of the most recently asked questions.
Has the feed in tariff (FIT) really stopped?
Many current solar panel owners benefit from the FIT. This is a government scheme whereby you are paid a set amount for every kWh (kilowatt hour) of electricity that you generate. The FIT made solar panels very profitable for some. However, in the last budget, the government announced that they were going to cease the FIT. From 31st March 2019, the scheme has not allowed new applications, however, if you had panels installed and have a Microgenerations Certification Scheme certificate (MCS) issued prior to that date, you can apply to your energy supplier up until 31st March 2020. If you haven’t had your panels installed, you won’t be eligible for the scheme.
Does it matter which direction the panels face?
Yes! In order for you to get the best out of your solar panels, you will need a south facing roof. South-west or south-east could also work, but they won’t be as effective as south facing. In addition to facing south, your roof should be in direct sunlight from at least 10-4 (so if your house is in the shadow of trees, or other properties, you won’t get the most out of your panels).
Is solar energy affected by location?
Southern areas get a few more minutes of daylight than northern ones. This means that people who live in Brighton will probably save around £10 more per year on their energy bills than someone living in Stirling.
Do I need planning permission for solar energy installation?
Provided that you don’t have a flat roof, your property is not in a conservation area, and it is not listed, you shouldn’t need planning permission for solar energy installation. You might need to get building control approval, so check with your local authority.
Are solar panels high maintenance?
As solar panels haven’t been around for very long, it is hard to tell you exactly how high or low maintenance they are! Generally, properly installed PV solar panels are fairly low maintenance. As with all major investments, check your warranty: ideally you are looking for at least 20 years guaranteed. In addition, check with your insurance company (and make sure that you tell them you have solar panels). If your panels are damaged by animals or storm, they may be covered on your buildings insurance.
As with any major investment, it is worth shopping around and evaluating your options before you make your final choice. Talk to local solar panel providers and get at least two quotes before you commit.