Find the answers to frequently asked questions about solar power.
If your question is not answered here, please contact one of our friendly and knowledgeable team on: 0800 488 0067 and we’ll be pleased to assist.
Why use solar energy?
It’s a free, infinite resource which gives you cheaper, cleaner energy.
Solar energy is not only profitable for you as a homeowner through the Government-backed (MCS) scheme and its associated Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) payments, you are also helping to protect the planet by considerably lowering your carbon foot print.
How does solar energy work?
Solar panels collect what’s called ‘solar radiation’ from the sky’s natural light which is measured in irradiance (W/m2). This light is converted into a direct current (DC) electricity supply. This passes down to the inverter or the ‘brain’ of the system. On the other side of the inverter, alternating current (AC – which is what we use in our homes) is fed into the grid. There it is either directly used by you or – when you’re not using as much electricity – the remainder is exported to the National Grid.
Do I get electricity when it’s cloudy or raining?
Yes! Solar panels generate electricity in most light conditions – even the good old British cloud and rain! This is because solar PV panels operate even on diffused light (when the sun is behind the clouds).
We select your panels tailored to your region’s climate and rainfall measurements. As long as your roof pitch is over 10 degrees, solar PV panels are pretty much self-cleaned by the rain. For flat roofs, we offer frameless modules.
How long does it take to install solar panels?
Once the proposals have been agreed and a payment option selected, then the actual installation is very quick. Weather-dependent and providing all permissions are in place, a typical domestic installation would take no longer than 1 to 3 days and we aim to do it with minimal disruption.
What if I have a power cut?
You don’t need to do anything.
The solar inverter will detect the power loss and re-boot itself after the power is back on. You should allow three minutes for this to happen.
Will I have electricity during a mains power cut?
No. To comply with grid connection regulations, and for the safety of electrical personnel working on the main grid power lines, standard solar inverters do not operate during power cuts.
What is a kWh?
A kWh (meaning ‘kilo watt hour’) is a specific unit of electricity.
1 kWh is identical to 1 unit of electricity as shown on your electricity bill. An electrical item having a rating of 1kW will consume 1kWh for every hour it is on at full power.
What happens to the solar inverter in the evening?
In the evening, the inverter goes into sleep mode until the morning when it detects enough light to reboot itself. The consumption of the inverter in sleep mode is virtually zero.
What does a solar inverter do?
The solar panels generate direct current (DC). This is not directly compatible with the 230V alternating current (AC) that is used in your property. The inverter converts the DC power to AC power which can be used in your property and/or exported to the grid.
Is my home / premises suitable for solar panels?
Most homes and premises are suitable but we can carry out a free assessment to be sure. The general criteria for a roof’s suitability for solar is as little shade as possible and as south facing as possible. Normally, you also need a grid connection. Even if your roof is flat or east or west facing, we can most likely add solar PV to your home or your building to give you a good return on your investment.
Is my roof large enough?
We offer free inital assessments to advise on the suitability of roof size etc. To arrange your no obligation assessment, please contact one of our friendly and knowledgeable team on: 0800 488 0067.
Is there anyway of monitoring how much solar energy I use, so I could potentially increase the amount of solar energy I directly use?
Yes there are devices that can control your appliances and limit how much energy you use. For more information about the options available, please contact one of our friendly and knowledgeable team on: 0800 488 0067.
Do I need permission from the council?
Generally, solar PV installations do not need permission from the council.
We always work alongside clients to advise if planning permission etc is required and assist with obtaining the relevant documentation.
What if the system is producing more electricity than I need?
If your system is generating more electricity than you need, it will export the excess back into the national grid.
What if the system is not producing enough electricity for my needs?
In this case the system will allow energy to come into your home from the national grid. This will be necessary on winter days and of course at night time when your PV system turns itself off.
Do I need to inform my electricity supplier if I fit solar PV?
You should inform your electricity supplier about your PV installation as they may need to upgrade your electricity meter to a digital one.
Do I need to inform the distribution network operator if I install solar PV?
No. We will handle this for you.
In the South West of England, the distribution network operator (DNO) is Western Power Distribution.
For PV systems below 16 A output per phase (up to 3.68 kW AC per phase) we will inform the DNO once the installation is complete. For systems larger than 16 A we will inform the DNO prior to installation and gain the relevant permission.
Who pays for the feed in tariffs?
The government feed in tariffs are established in law. The money paid for the tariffs comes from the energy market and are paid by the energy suppliers. The suppliers recover this cost by passing on the cost of the feed in tariff to all standard consumers. Ultimately, this means that people who don’t install PV systems pay for those who do.
Does a solar system have to be fitted to my roof?
Not necessarily. If you have a suitable un-shaded area in your garden it is possible to have a stand alone ground mounted PV solar array with an underground cable running the electricity back to your house. You will usually require planning permission for this.
What is the feed in tariff?
Feed-in-Tariffs were created by the UK Government to give an incentive for property owners to invest in solar PV systems and to lower the country’s overall carbon emissions.
In order to qualify for the Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) your installation must be registered with the MCS Microgeneration Certification Scheme. As a MCS certified company, Beco Energy Solutions will make sure that you will gain the maximum out of the Feed-in-Tariff payments.
Are the feed in tariff payments really tax free?
Yes! For domestic customers the return on your investment is tax free.
Your feed in tariff payments are also index linked, which means that when inflation rises so will the payments. Provided you sign up now, you are guaranteed not to lose out for the 25 year lifespan of the tariff.
What if the feed in tariff is scrapped?
Good news! If you purchase and commission your system now, before the tariff is abolished, you are guaranteed to receive the payments for the whole 25 year period covered by the feed in tariff.
Can solar panels break?
The solar PV panels we recommend are produced to a high standard and are highly durable. After all they have to deal with all our UK weather extremities.
A broken panel is highly unlikely, but if it does happen, you will be covered by one of the different warranties we offer – and this will be explained to you when you place your order.
What if the solar panels break?
All solar panels are covered by a manufacturer’s warranty for a reasonably long period. At least 80% of the initial power is always guaranteed for 20 years. To add to this, we offer a 5 year warranty on all goods and works supplied.
How is solar energy used by homeowners?
The electricity generated by your home solar PV system is fed directly into your own fusebox and will be used for the kettle, TV or whatever other appliances are running. There is no extra plug or additional wiring needed.
What are the different types of solar energy?
There is solar thermal energy and solar PV energy.
Solar thermal systems use the energy of the sun to heat water which you can use for your shower or your heating system.
Solar PV systems convert the sunlight directly into electricity, which is the highest form of energy since it can be converted into whatever form of energy you want.
Both types of solar energy play an important role in the renewable energy mix needed to save the planet.
Beco Energy Solutions is focused on solar PV installations and committed to delivering the highest quality and efficiency systems available.