Here are ten top tips if you’re considering installing solar panels.

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What should you think about before you get solar panels? How should you choose the right service company? Which kind of solar should you get? Solar thermal or photovoltaic? Are there fees for upkeep or repair?

All of these are good questions that people often ask about solar panels. Since it’s a significant investment, it makes sense that you have questions and worries. I’ve put together some basic information, tips, and advice about finding a good company to place your solar panels and some things you should consider when having photovoltaic panels put up on your property.

 

1. MCS Approved Installers

 

First and foremost, make sure that the installer you choose is an “MCS-approved installer.” Microgeneration Certification Scheme, or MCS, tells customers that the worker has been checked out and follows the rules and standards set by the MCS.

 

Certification is given to MCS Approved Installers after a thorough review of how they supply, plan, install, set up, and commission renewable microgeneration technologies like solar panels.

 

2. MCS Approved Solar Panels

 

Ensure that your panels are also MCS approved and your technicians are MCS approved. Solar panels that are MCS-approved also have to meet strict standards.

 

MCS Approved Solar Panels go through product testing and testing of the manufacturing process, materials, methods, and staff training. Certification is only given if all steps and stages meet the requirements.

 

3. Becoming a NIC EIC

 

The NIC EIC should qualify all electricians who work in the UK. The same goes for solar contractors; you should ensure that the company you choose has been certified. Then you’ll know that your system meets the national safety requirements set by the governing group in charge of NIC EIC certification.

 

4. Solar Panel Quotes

 

Don’t go with the first or cheapest solar installation company you find. Instead, get quotes from a few companies and tell them you plan to do this. This should help make sure you get competitive rates, and it will also give you a starting point for comparing quotes. It might give you some power to “play” companies against each other to get that quote figure lowered a little. Companies only exist to make money, so they won’t want to lose a possible customer.

 

Talk to the companies that come to your home to give you quotes, and ask many questions. This will help you understand what to expect and what people tell you. Think about all of your ideas before deciding on just one.

 

5. The cheapest isn’t always the best

 

As with most things, getting the cheapest price won’t always get you the best outcome. That doesn’t mean you should choose the most expensive solar panels. Find a price that you think is fair and just as important; choose a company you feel comfortable working with that answers your questions and takes the time to explain the technical side of things in a way you can understand.

 

This is true for the company’s bottom line and each piece of material and equipment it bids for. Ask for a detailed or itemized price if you haven’t been given one. So, you’ll know what tools and materials you’re paying for, and you can compare this to your other quotes.

 

6. Look into it!

 

Technology is constantly improving, and making energy for many people is still pretty new, so there will always be further changes and upgrades. Ask your company what goods they will use for your installation, and take the time to learn more about them: Is there something wrong with the panels? Is there a more recent version? Is the price reasonable? Is there a place where people say what they think about them? Learn about the technology behind solar panels and the terms used to describe them. This will help you avoid being “blinded” by words.

 

7. Figure out how much you could earn from a feed-in tariff.

 

The Feed-in Tariff from the government has had a significant impact on how popular solar cells have become. You get paid for all of your solar panels’ power, even if you use it all yourself. As a general rule, the rate is 21p/kWh as of March 3, 2012, and it will be between 16.5p/kWh and 13.6p/kWh as of July 1, 2012. This rate will depend on how many solar panels are installed between March and April 2012. You can also use one of the many online calculators to determine how much money you could make from your purchase.

 

With the Feed-in Tariff, even though your original investment may be significant, you will save and make money on your energy bills. This means the return on investment for solar panels is much higher than most other “normal” investments. If you have cash in your bank accounts, you might want to consider solar panels.

 

8. Solar panels for heating and electricity

 

Take time to decide whether photovoltaic or solar heating systems would be better for your home. Photovoltaic panels will make power, while solar thermal panels will heat water.

 

If you aren’t sure which system you want, you can call companies and ask them which method they think is best. There’s no reason why you can’t have both systems installed, and even if you decide that solar thermal panels are your best choice, you should still think about photovoltaic panels, if only because they could theoretically pay for themselves and your solar thermal panel system.

 

RHI stands for “Renewable Heat Incentive.”

 

The Feed in Tariff gives you a better return on your investment than the Renewable Heat reward, but it is still a good reward that you should consider carefully. The goal of the plan is to get property owners to use less heating energy and reduce their carbon footprint by giving them these benefits:

 

Return of 0.085p per kWh for 20 years

Lessening the amount of energy used

Payment from the government

10. The cost of repairs

You will be told that solar has no upkeep or maintenance costs, and over the lifetime of a solar panel installation, there should be very little care or supervision to do on the panels themselves. But in the next 25 years, the inverter will need to be replaced. The inverter changes direct current (DC) to alternating (AC). Your inverter will cost around $1,000 to replace, so you should figure this into your calculations and decisions about solar panels.

 

Solar systems are usually set up on roofs or high above the ground, where they can get the most direct sunlight. Because of this, people who aren’t as strong may need help getting the solar panels cleaned or removing any leaves or other dirt from on and around the panels to keep them working at their best.

 

About Laurie Mustafic

 

As a member of the staff at Solar Panel Installers [http://www.findsolarpanelinstallers.co.uk], Laurie writes articles about solar panels and green technology for other websites. He does this to spread the word about the Solar Panel Directory and solar panels as a future technology that as many people as possible should use.

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