A clear blue sky with a bright sun shining, ideal for solar panels, and a small, wispy cloud on the bottom left.

Getting the most out of your solar installation

With the amount of sunshine we’ve seen over the last few weeks, the value of solar panels is shining brightly! 

Solar systems have become increasingly more affordable – and more efficient – over the years since they were introduced, which means people are seeing returns on their investment even more quickly than before. 

And of course, there is the instant reduction on bills – particularly if you include a battery to store unused solar-generated electricity as part of your system. 

Getting into hot water

Once your installation is in place, a top tip is to switch off your gas or oil-fired boiler and use your solar energy to power an immersion heater for your hot water during summer months: set the immersion timer to be on between 11am and 3pm when the sun is likely to be at its strongest. 

If it’s practical, you can also try and run appliances like washing machines, tumble driers and dishwashers during this time slot to maximise your saving potential. 

Another benefit of solar power is you can have the system wired to run key appliances or sockets when there’s a power cut. 

And if all this isn’t enough, there are still some Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) payments available for electricity you send back to the national grid (Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) | Ofgem), and you can also have the satisfaction of knowing that the installation of solar panels will often increase the value of your home. 

But how can you be sure you get the right system for your needs? 

One of the key aspects of making sure the system you buy is cost effective is finding the right supplier. 

Here is a five-point checklist to help you make your decision on who to trust. 

1. Is the contractor MCS certified? Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) is the quality standards kitemark for companies offering low-carbon products and installations used to produce electricity and heat from renewable sources. 

Membership of MCS demonstrates adherence to recognised industry standards which highlight quality, competency and compliance. Go to MCS Certified | Giving you confidence in home-grown energy to check any contractor. 

2. Is your quote based on a physical survey? Some companies will quote based on an internet search on your property. But there may be aspects it’s impossible to evaluate without visiting the site, leading to problems when it comes to installation. 

3. Is the quote ‘price guaranteed’? Make sure the quote makes clear that the figure you are quoted won’t increase after you have signed the deal, even if the cost of raw materials goes up. 

4. What are your lead times? As with many industries, solar installers have been struggling with the supply chain, and sourcing both panels and batteries can take several weeks if not months. So, if someone is promising to fit a system next week, there could be a good reason, but you need to ask why! 

5. Do I need / Are you getting DNO approval? District Network Operators (DNOs) are your local power companies, and they must give the go ahead for installations generating above certain levels of electrical output to the grid. This is because larger systems could have implications for the network infrastructure, and so it’s important to check this out before the installation goes ahead. 

Explains SCA Solar’s founder and MD Shaun Giltrap: ‘A solar energy system is undoubtedly valuable for many people – but you need to be able to trust your supplier and see the figures to justify your investment. 

‘We’ve always been MCS certified (Number: NAP-9953) and are proud of reputation as a quality installer. 

‘One aspect we think is particularly important is an onsite survey – and we won’t give a quote without one. There are companies who just use a formula, but that doesn’t take into account any hidden snags not visible on Google Earth! There could be aspects to the access that will need special equipment to get the materials on site – or some of the roof angles might present unforeseen problems when we fit the installation. 

‘Our commitment is to give the customer a price guarantee on their quote and a realistic timescale for the return on their investment.’ 

So if you want to make electricity while the sun shines, why not check out SCA Solar | Solar PV & Battery Storage Installation | Cheshire

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