SOLAR PV – Frequently Asked Questions

Your questions answered…

Yes if your home has a roof that faces South / South West / South East / East / West.

No planning permission is needed in the vast majority of cases. If you live in a conservation area or in a listed building planning permission may need to be obtained.

The UK receives plenty of the suns radiation to work very effectively, especially in the south of England where we are lucky to get more than the north. Each square meter of the UK can receive up to 1300kWh of solar power annually.

The size of your roof will determine the size of system you can have, but it is possible to have a worthwhile system even on smaller roofs. Higher output panels can be used to produce bigger system outputs on smaller roofs.

Realistically approximately 750kWh per year per kW of system installed. For example a 4kW system would produce 3000kWh per year approximately.
Take a look at your currently annual electricity bill to see how much of your current usage you can replace with your own Solar produced power.

One of our full time employed, non-commission based surveyors will visit your home to take more exact readings of your homes orientation, pitch of roof, shade factors, roof strength, as well as asses your fuse box for connection suitability, and to determine the internal location of the required inverter. The geometry of the roof itself is the critical factor as it determines how many panels you can fit on the roof and as a result the cost to achieve a system of the size you desire.
The survey is required not only to be able to properly asses you property in term of being able to give you an accurate quote, but also adhere to the MCS (renewable energy installation governing body’s) standards, which requires us to give you the customer the most accurate data possible on how effective the proposed system will be.
Unlike most solar companies we are completely against the use of the typical hard sell techniques used by so many solar firms. We cannot stress enough that it isn’t an untrained commission based hard sell sales rep that will be visiting your home, but rather a fully trained technical surveyor who is there to give you the information required and answer any questions you may have.
The whole survey process should take less than 45 minutes.

Yes you can. As standard we will quote for a variety of different panel outputs, looks, and cost, that you may wish to consider – it isn’t ‘one size fits all’. The panels we suggest are judged not only by the specifications from the manufacturer, but also from the installation experiences of our installers, and feedback from our clients, as well as the panels price and availability at the time.
We are not tied to a particular manufacturer in order that we can maintain the flexibility to provide for our customers the very best product available at the time.
It also means that we are free to install any equipment a customer wishes. So if there is a particular make of panel you would specifically like us to install for you, then please let us know and we will quote accordingly.

This will of course vary depending on the size of system installed, as well as factors such as the direction of your roof.
Using a Solar PV system you will be producing your own electricity you can use in your home, thus greatly reducing the amount of electricity you need to buy in from your current electricity supplier.
Just take a look at your electricity bill to see how much less power you are likely to need. Based on a typical 4kW system example, that can produce 3000kWh of electricity over a year which is approximately £500 worth of electricity you will not need to purchase in.
Please use the calculators in the calculators section to work out what you are likely to save. The calculators used are on independent government backed sites, so you can rest assured that the estimates they give are completely achievable, as opposed to the unrealistic calculators you may see on some commercial solar sales sites.
As well as saving the amount of electricity you need to pay for you will also be eligible to earn extra revenue through the Feed in Tariff scheme.

As well as the savings you can make by needing less electricity from your supplier, you will also be paid an amount per kWh of electricity you produce through your solar PV system. The Feed in Tariff rates are currently degressing and changing rapidly and unpredictably, so please do get in touch so we can let you know what is the likely rate your will be able to receive at the time.
This FIT per kWh rate is paid to you even if you use the electricity you use yourself in your home. You are effectively getting paid for doing your bit to help the environment – it’s a thank you from the government for being a part of the solution to the planets problems rather than being a continued user of the non-sustainable energy produced by the big power companies.
There is also the additional Export Tariff which is an extra 4.85p per kWh, which is paid on 50% of the electricity your system generates, based upon the assumption (non-metered) that half the electricity you produce isn’t used and is fed back into the national grid.
Your home becomes like a mini-power station helping to power other people’s homes with clean green energy, and as a result as a thank you the government is making your energy supplier pay you for the electricity you are producing for the good of the environment.
For current Solar PV installations these payments are fixed for the next 20 years, giving you plenty of time to not only repay your initial investment, but also to earn an income from your Solar System, tax free.
Please use the calculator in the calculators section to work out what you are likely to earn. The calculators used are on independent government backed sites, so you can rest assured that the estimates they give are completely achievable, as opposed to the unrealistic calculators you may see on some commercial solar sales sites.

Using a typical well performing 4kW system example you should expect your solar PV system to have completely paid for itself in savings and Feed in Tariff earnings in about 10-12 years. As the solar PV system should last around 30+ years, this still leaves a further 20+ years of savings, and the current feed in tariff earnings for solar installs for the time being are guaranteed for the next 20 years, turning your Solar system into a profitable investment for a further 10+ years from its likely completed initial investment repayment.
Please use the calculator in the calculators section to work out what you are likely to earn. The calculators used are on independent government backed sites, so you can rest assured that the estimates they give are completely achievable, as opposed to the unrealistic calculators you may see on some commercial solar sales sites.

There is no need for you to do anything. As your MCS installer, Gem solar will take care of everything for you, and we will make arrangements with your electricity provider on your behalf.

Absolutely no system maintenance is required at all. Solar PV panels are a solid state conversion process and therefore involve no moving parts for example that need to be serviced or replaced. The solar panels have a self cleaning coating, which means the rain will keep your panels clean for you.

Yes it does as there is still a certain amount of the suns ambient radiation, however it works much better on a nice sunny day.

Yes you can as they provide electricity that can be used anywhere in the home, including your immersion heater. You can also add an immersion controller to your system, that will divert some of your unused electricity directly to heating your water tank, offering a very efficient usage of your solar produced electricity.

Very little. The vast majority of the work is done outside of the house, and the internal components and wiring take up very little space. A typical install can be completed within 2 days, and we will ensure that any scaffolding required is removed immediately following the completion of the install.
Our installers are all full-time employed by Gem Solar and we don’t use any external third party contractors. As a result you can rest assured that our installers are polite and professional, efficient and clean and tidy – the very best around.

Typically we can have a system installed and up and running on your house within 2 weeks, but we will always try and fit around your requirements and will always try and get it done sooner if you need us to. Equally if you wish to order more than a month before you would like it installed we can delay installation until whatever date you request.

This very much depends on your energy usage primarily, but also on your budget, and how big your roof is. The bigger the system you can afford and can accommodate, the greater your potential long term earnings from the system.
There are also economies of scale in play with the fitting, which means that the bigger the system the better value it becomes. We would suggest around a 3-4kWh system should be the target size of system for a family home, as this size of system presents very good value, and also a very good return on investment potential.

Conservative estimates for the current standard of the technology and the high standard of the panels that we install, you should expect a system life span of at least 30 years +. Solar PV systems that were installed in the 1960’s are still working today, over 50 years on.

We are MCS accredited and members of the Renewable Energy Consumer Code, and use only our in house installers and surveyors. We guarantee a top level service from start to finish, with your balance payment only due when you are 100% satisfied with the install.
We use the best quality equipment and panels and as a result we can give you a 25 year warrantee on both the modules as well as the installation.