Solar Electricity - FAQ

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Solar Electricity - FAQ Call: UK 028 9099 6697
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Frequently Asked QuestionsSolar Electricity

What does "PV" stand for?
PV is an acronym that stands for photovoltaic. The term photovoltaic represents the union of two words: photo, meaning light, and voltaic, meaning electricity produced by chemical action. Photovoltaic systems convert light energy, photons from the sun's rays, into electricity through the photoelectric effect. When sunlight hits the PV panel, photons knock electrons into a higher state of energy, creating electricity.
Is solar electricity suitable for my home?
Do you have a sunny place to put it? You'll need a roof or wall that faces within 90 degrees of south, and isn't overshadowed by trees or buildings. If the surface is in shadow for parts of the day, your system will generate less energy.
Is your roof strong enough?
Solar panels are not light and the roof must be strong enough to take their weight, especially if the panel is placed on top of existing tiles. If in doubt, ask a construction expert or an installer.
Do you need planning permission?
In Northern Ireland, you don't need planning permission for most home solar electricity systems, as long as they're below a certain size - but you should check with your local planning officer, especially if your home is a listed building, or is in a conservation area or World Heritage Site. For commercial premises planning permission will usually be required.
Will they work in Northern Ireland and during the winter?
Yes. Solar panel suppliers have enhanced the efficiency of solar power systems to the extent that it is now a very viable option even in cloudier climates. The important thing to bear in mind is that solar power depends on intensity of light, not necessarily direct sunlight. So even when it's overcast, your solar panels will be producing clean electricity to help power your home.
How is power and energy measured from a PV system?
The capacity of a PV system is stated in terms of the number of watts, kilowatts or megawatts it produces in standard sunlight conditions. For Northern Ireland, a good estimate is: For each kilowatt of PV capacity AC installed, the system will produce approximately 750 to 850 kWh (kilowatt-hours) per year. For example, a 3 kW system will generate about 2,250 to 2,550 kWh per year.
How much roof space do I need for a PV system?
Our Solar Power systems produce about 140 watts of power for each square metre of roof surface. A typical 3 kW system will require 21 square metres of unobstructed area.
What size PV system will I need?
The size of solar system you need depends on several factors such as how much electricity or hot water or space heat you use, the size of your roof and how much you're willing to invest.
What happens if PV panels are shaded?
While some shading can be acceptable during certain times of the day (early morning and late afternoon), it is important to minimize the impact that shading from trees, nearby buildings, roof mechanicals and other factors.
What is the country of origin for your panels?
EcoTech Solar Solutions sources the best options designed for the European Climate and purchase only quality panels made in Germany and Austria.
Do PV systems store energy?
All of the PV systems engineered and maintained by EcoTech Solar Solutions are "grid-connected," and as such do not store electricity. The grid therefore provides power when the PV system is not generating. The grid accepts all excess energy production during times when the PV system is producing more than is being consumed on site. The most common way to store energy from an "off-grid" PV system is in a battery. While battery storage allows a customer to be independent from the grid, batteries also add to the expense of the system, may be large and require special handling.
How long do PV systems last?
If a PV system is designed, installed and maintained well, it will operate for as many as 40 years. All solar modules we install carry a manufactures 25 year output warranty.
What happens if there is a power cut?
Our photovoltaic systems for homes are usually grid connected. If there is a power cut your system is automatically switched off. This is a safety measure designed to stop electricity leaking on to the power grid and to protect individuals who may be working to restore the power supply.
Do I need to install a new roof before installing a rooftop PV system?
As part of our site survey and design process we will assess the condition of your roof and recommend any necessary repairs or replacement. Your roof needs to be in good condition prior to installation. Once installed, solar panels can reduce the "UV wear and tear" on your roof, but it is important to begin the project with a good solid roof.
What happens if my system produces more electricity than I need?
We install an additional generation meter, this dual metering allows all unused solar power generated by your PV system to be recorded it then flows back into the electric grid, for the benefit of others in your community. Your utility company will purchase/credit your excess solar electricity at retail rates, directly offsetting costs that are incurred during times when consumption is higher than the PV system's production.
What kind of maintenance will my PV system require?
PV systems require very little maintenance. Rain will typically be sufficient to clean the modules. But on occasion they may need to be washed, and debris (e.g., leaves) will need to be removed. EcoTech Solar Solutions standard maintenance contract includes any cleaning, ballast inspection, label inspection, inverter inspection and checking for module and rack degradation.
Will a PV system save me money?
A solar PV system is a long-term investment that is guaranteed to pay dividends. On-site power generation reduces the amount of billable energy you will consume from the electricity grid, thereby leading to appreciable savings on energy costs. In addition to the money saved on energy bills, policies such as the Renewable Obligation Certificate Scheme allow PV system owners to profit from their system's excess generation. Moreover, a PV system adds value to your property and will confirm your "green" commitment.
How do I know if I have enough sunlight for PV?
A photovoltaic (PV) system needs unobstructed access to the sun's rays for most or all of the day. Climate is not really a concern, because PV systems are relatively unaffected by severe weather. In fact, some PV modules actually work better in colder weather. Most PV modules are angled to catch the sun's rays, so any snow that collects on them usually melts quickly. There is more than enough sunlight to make solar energy systems useful and effective nearly everywhere in the United Kingdom.
What is an average break-even point for a PV system?
The break-even point, or payback period, for a PV system generally depends on financing and incentives, but on average in Northern Ireland business can expect to see a 100% return of capital within 6 to 9 years.
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