Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Is this offer open to other places?

A. As from 15th August 2011, this offer is open to any of our supporters provided they live in the EX17 postcode area or if outside EX17 within 4 miles of Crediton and pay the £5 joining fee.

Q. Are there grants available?

A. Regretfully there are no grants available. The sole Government incentive is the feed in tariff scheme described at the link below or in the right hand column.

Q. What is the pay back period?

A. The pay back period is likely to be between 8 and 10 years. See the example further up the page.

Q. I can't afford to invest. Are there any low cost loans?

A. If you have a low interest rate mortgage, an extension to this may be your best option. The Government has pledged to implement a "pay as you save" scheme but this is unlikely before 2012. See Martin Lewis' Money Saving website for latest low cost loan deals.

Q. Are there local homes with solar panels we can visit?

A. Yes there are. See a map of properties here whose owners are more than willing to show you their installations and offer advice.

Q. How do you get your FIT payments?

A. To get your FIT payment you have to register your system with your electricity supplier. You have provide your electricity supplier with your MCS Installer Certificate, obtained from Solarsense, which proves that both the installer and the solar panels are approved by the Government. Then your electricity supplier will register you with Ofgem, the electricity industry regulator and provider of tariff payments. This paperwork only takes about a month to come through and is very simple to do. Generally your electricity supplier will tell you what it needs and Solarsense will assist you in your registration.

Q. Why is there a separate charge for rope access if scaffold is not used to install our panels?

A. To access the roof Solarsense either have to use scaffolding or trained rope access installers for health and safety reasons. Now, the rope access staff are more expensive than those untrained in rope access who would just use scaffold to access the roof. The cost is about the same for scaffold vs. rope access. The only occasion where there may possibly be no charges is on a single storey low pitch outbuilding having a small system where a small tower scaffold could be used.

Q. What is Solarsense's position on Building Regulations?

A. In line with MCS regulations as regards the installation of photovoltaic panels, we operate under "self certification". This means, that as long as we install in line with all requirements of the MCS scheme, to the relevant installation standards (DTI 2 nd Edition, Installation of Photovoltaic Systems) and as long as sign-off is by an accredited (NAPIT< ELECSA, NICEIC etc electrician) then our installations are covered as self-certified.

During our surveys, we note any issues with the roof structure (disease, infestation, cut structural timbers, lack of cohesion between roof and wall plate etc) and if these dictate that we need further survey, it is passed to our structural engineering practice for analysis and resultant mitigating measures as regards the fixing centres etc.

We design to, or beyond, the best practice guidelines by employing an edge gap (wherever possible) of at least 300mm at sides and eave, and 500mm at the ridge on every roof.

Wind loads are 3x in this area what they are in the centre of the roof.

Further, where the property is in an exposed location (marine or mountain locations) we would aim to further increase the edge distances to at least 500mm all around.

Our arrays also use a mounting system that keeps them very low to the roof surface, thus reducing wind uplift, compared to many proprietary systems used by some other installers.

In over 5000 installations of PV, we have not had a single array that has either damaged or dislodged any part of a roof, so we are supremely confident in our fixing and design methodologies.

Those roofs that were built to building regulations since they were brought into effect in the 1930's and the loadings that were applied in these regulations allowed for sufficient wind uplift and live/dead loads for the safe installation of PV arrays.

In the vast majority of cases, we are happy to install on roofs - it is perhaps less than 5% that require further detailed structural analysis.

Q. When does eligibility for the FIT start?

A. Ofgem states "Feed-in tariff (FIT) payments start on the eligibility date of the installation. Eligibility date for FIT Installations is the later of the commissioning date or the application date. Effectively meaning you have to commission and apply for the scheme to be eligible to receive payments. We would advise people to apply soon after their system is commissioned, but regardless generators will receive a fixed period of support from their eligibility date based on the technology type. i.e. 25 years for PV."