What is renewable energy?
This is generating your own electricity and heat through varying technologies. These are good for the environment because they use renewable energy sources such as sunlight, wind power, ground heat, etc.
What is Solar PV/Thermal/Air Source?
Solar PV stands for Solar Photovoltaic; in short this means that electricity is generated using natural light from the sun.
Solar Thermal or Solar Hot Water is the process of heating water through the natural energy of the sun.
Air Source Heat Pumps use natural energy and convert this to useable heat.
What are the benefits?
- NGH Guarantee & Warranty.
- Apply for government incentives.
- No relying on a power supplier.
- Cuts boiler usage by upto 70%.
- Reduces energy bills.
- You only pay for the system and not the energy you use.
- Reduces your effect on the environment by lowering CO2 emissions.
- The system is expected to last for upto 25 years.
- Money earned from incentives pays for the system.
What are the disadvantages?
- Initial cost of the system.
- Can look out of place.
- Not all locations are suitable due to shade, obstructions and roof position.
Are there any other incentives?
- Renewable Heat incentive – similar to the FIT but this applies to other renewable technologies and is expected to begin in September 2012 e.g. Solar Thermal, Air Source, Ground Source, Biomass boilers.
- Reduced energy bills mean you save money.
Are there other ways to reduce energy bills/efficiency?
- The government also offers the scheme called Warm Front, this gives qualifying households the opportunity to install insulation improvements worth upto £3,500, such as cavity wall insulation, loft insulation, draught proofing, hot water tank insulation, and glass fronted fire conversion.
- Use timers and thermostats to reduce energy usage and wastage.
- Switch to energy saving bulbs.
- Wash clothes at 30 degrees and in full loads.
- Turn off appliances, rather than leaving them on standby.
What is EPC?
Energy Performance Certificates are given based on the energy efficiency of a building, each property is given its own rating from A to G, A being efficient and G being inefficient. In order to qualify for FIT rates a property must have a rating of D or above.
How does a Solar PV system work?
Usually comprises of a roof mounted system (but not exclusively) Solar PV is one great method of generating electricity for the home. Using light from the sun an inverter converts electricity from direct to alternating current. The end result is effectively electricity 'on tap' which can be used to power regular household appliances. Buts that's not all, any surplus can be pumped into the national grid from where you can receive a payment through the governments Feed-In Tariff for the power you supply. The main stipulation to benefit for the tariff is that panels are approved by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) and that an accredited MCS Installer carries out the installation.
How does Solar Thermal work?
An evacuated solar thermal tube system is used to collect energy. These collectors are an efficient technology which heats water rapidly. Water does not run though the tubes but is heated by radiation at the top of the system. This design means that the system is unaffected by wintery conditions and remains functional all year round.
The process works by absorbing sunlight directly onto the outer tubes. The glass evacuated tubes then lock in this heat. Inside these collectors are a series of heat pipes made up of high graded nickel plated copper for effective heat transfer. Heat then rises to the top of the heat pipe heating water, whilst cold vapour liquefies to the bottom of the collector in order for the heat process to continue.
The Solar tube collectors are connected to a solar cylinder which stores the hot water until it is required for use.
How does Air Source work?
Air source heat pumps are similar in principle to a refrigerator but instead of cooling they take heat from the air and convert it into usable heat.
A heat pump usually has four main components, an evaporator, compressor, condenser and expansion valve.
An air source heat pump works by taking air from outside which is drawn over the evaporator. The refrigerant soaks up heat from the air and converts it from a liquid to a vapour. The refrigerant is sent through a compressor, which pressurises and as a result pushes up the temperature of the vapour. This can now provide a temperature we can use in domestic heating. The higher temperature refrigerant then goes to the condenser heat exchanger, moving heat to the heating system. The refrigerant returns to liquid now that the heat is removed. The liquid refrigerant then returns to its original state as it passes through the expansion valve.
Will the weather affect my system?
Only severe weather conditions can have an effect on the effectiveness of a system, a solar PV system will work at its best with unobstructed access to daylight for most or all of the day.
What’s the difference between PV and thermal?
PV systems are used to generate electricity and Thermal systems are used to heat water supplies.
Which system will best suit my energy needs?
The most suitable system should be based on a few factors, which include; how much energy you use, how much daylight is available, the size of your roof/land and how much you can invest. Taking into account all these factors will enable you to get the most out of your system.
What is a kilowatt?
A kilowatt is the measurement of a unit of electricity. A typical light bulb uses 60 watts = 0.06 kW.
What is the average home’s energy usage?
The average 3 bedroom household uses 3,300 units of electricity a year. It is best to look through your own energy bills to get a better idea of your usage.
Will the technology change?
Technology is always developing and improving, as one the industries major installers we ensure that we stay at the top by keeping up with demand for only the best and latest technologies.
Does a solar or renewable energy system require any maintenance?
Solar systems require little to no maintenance as they have no moving parts. Most systems are made to last for upto 25 years, at almost full working capacity.
What are free solar panels?
A company installing solar PV panels for you will usually get the income from the generation and export tariffs for the site, while you as the customer will just get the benefit of reduced energy bills through some of the electricity generated being used on site. But some companies offer the generated electricity at a discounted price rather than free, so do check.
What are the relevant codes of practice and articles of legislation?
A: British Standards
BS EN 61215
BS EN 61646
The Electric Supply Regulations 1988
The Building Regulations 1991 (and amendments)
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994
A ‘Power purchase agreement’ will need to be negotiated if electricity is to be sold. This is not as tricky as it sounds as electricity networks and supply companies are legally obliged to cooperate with solar installations.