Top advice

The benefits of solar PV are becomingly increasingly well-known. But with the myriad of companies out there extolling the virtues of this technology, it can be hard to know what’s really important. Ploughcroft offer some pointers to the consumer thinking about solar PV.

Ploughcroft has years of experience in the solar and renewable energy field. As well as being the trusted installation partners for Vaillant, Wolseley (Plumb Center), and Scottish & Southern Energy, Ploughcroft has an onsite renewable energy training centre accredited by CAA and Logic Certification.

By choosing to have solar panels fitted to your home, not only will you be lowering your energy bills, increasing the value of your house and doing your bit to combat global warming, you can also make money by selling any unused energy back to the National Grid.

Sunny side up

There are a couple of factors that go into whether your home is right for solar. The best roofs for solar are free of shade and oriented towards the south, east or west for maximum sun exposure. However, solar panels have been designed to be efficient so they work even when it is cloudy. It’s important to remember that solar power depends on intensity of light, not necessarily direct sunlight, meaning even when it’s overcast your solar panels will still be producing electricity. Also, from 1 April 2012, all homeowners who are interested in having solar PV panels installed will need to take part in the government’s new domestic energy efficiency assessment.

Prices for solar systems vary depending on the size and type of the system, the panels used and also the structure of the building. A typical installation on a three-bed semi will cost less than £9,000 Ploughcroft selects panels from a variety of sources, according to the needs of the installation.

Custom fit

It is important that a survey is completed for your own roof, rather than going with what your neighbours have had installed. We carry out comprehensive surveys on all our installations to ensure the roof is suitable (checking structural integrity and the material it’s made out of) and that you are getting the very best from your investment. We want to make sure that solar makes sense for your budget.

Experience counts

Make sure you ask what roofing experience the solar panel system installer has. Many solar PV companies have no roofing expertise at all and this is a crucial skill to have. Ensure that your installer is MCS-certified, otherwise you can’t join the feed-in tariff scheme, and also a member of REAL, the consumer code for renewable energy. If you choose a solar installation company that offers a free system, there are a number of loop holes and it can be extremely confusing for homeowners to understand if free really means free. Sometimes things are too good to be true!

Mr Buckley, a Ploughcroft customer from West Yorkshire says: “I could tell Ploughcroft were true experts when it came to the install of my 4Kw solar system as they took the extra step of fixing brackets under the tiles for added security.  The lads were on time, clearly love their job, and did everything as they should have done. Perfect!”