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Frequently asked questions

What are the components of a photovoltaic (PV) system?

A PV system is made up of different components. These include PV modules (groups of PV cells), which are commonly called PV panels; an inverter for converting the energy collected to alternating current (ac); wiring; and mounting framework for the roof. Lastly a new meter is installed to measure how much electricity has been generated.

How does the system work?

Daylight hits the photovoltaic cells and is converted to electricity. The inverter converts the electricity from direct current to alternating current, for use in your building.
When the solar energy system is producing more power than is needed it is exported to the grid.
At night, power is imported from the grid in the normal way.

Does it need to be sunny for me to generate electricity?

No. Solar panels generate electricity when it's cloudy and overcast, as well as when the weather is sunny.
The important thing to bear in mind is that solar power depends on intensity of light, not just direct sunlight. So even when it's overcast your solar panels will be producing clean electricity to help power your building.

What happens if there is a power cut?

If there is a power cut your system is automatically switched off. This is a safety measure designed to stop electricity leaking back onto the national grid and to protect people working to restore the power supply.
Once mains power is restored the solar system starts to generate electricity automatically.

Does the system need batteries?

No, the system is connected to the grid and all electricity is either used instantly or passed back to the grid.

How much energy do I need?

The answer to this question, depends on the size of your consumption, and when you consume. We'll be able to advise you when the survey takes place. It's also useful to have a look at your electricity bills to get a rough idea of your current usage.

What if I produce more energy than I need?

Whenever your panels are producing more electricity than your home is using, it will flow back into the grid for other homes to use.
As long as you have an arrangement with your energy company, you'll be paid for this power so you can be sure your energy bills will be even less and none of your clean, green electricity will be wasted.

How long will it take to install my system?

Once you have accepted our quote and paid your deposit we'll agree a installation date with you. Installation can take as little as two days.

How big a solar energy system do I need?

The size of solar system you need depends on several factors such as how much electricity you use, the size of your roof, and how much you're willing to invest.

How do I receive money from the Feed-In Tariff?

Once your system has been fitted, we will register it with the government. Your supplier will read your meter and make you payments for all electricity you have produced. This payment can be credited to your electricity bill, or sent directly by cheque.

Is the Feed-In Tariff guaranteed?

The scheme is administered by the government. Once your installation is registered you are locked into the rates paid for the current scheme for the next 25 years. This means that if the rates are revised, your payments continue at the same rate. The rates are next due for review in March 2012.
Payments are linked to inflation, so will be revised upwards annually.

What's the catch?

There isn't one! You just need to invest at the start with the installation. Typical annual rates of return of up to 15% mean that you will soon be making money!

Is the Feed-in Tariff taxed?

The income is completely tax free.

How do I know if I have enough sunlight for solar panels?

A photovoltaic 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.

Do the panels work when it snows?

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. Even hail won't damage the systems.

What are the effects of shade?

Shading is critical. Even a little bit of shading can result in significant loss of energy. This is because the cell with the lowest illumination determines the operating current of the series string in which it is connected.

What are the effects of shade?

Shading is critical. Even a little bit of shading can result in significant loss of energy. This is because the cell with the lowest illumination determines the operating current of the series string in which it is connected.
We will assess any shade issues when the survey takes place.

How do the panels perform at different angles and orientations?

Ideally the panels should be angled at 30 degrees and facing south, however steeper or shallower angles, as well as different orientations still give good performance. At the survey we'll be able to accurately estimate the amount of electricity generated from your system.

How long do photovoltaic (PV) systems last?

The systems we fit have no moving parts and should easily last over 20 years. We offer a comprehensive guarantee too!

What maintenance and cleaning do the systems need?

Solar photovoltaic systems so not need lots of maintenance. However for optimum performance they should be cleaned with a hosepipe and washing up liquid annually, as any build up of debris and dust can affect their performance.
It�s a good idea to keep track of the electricity generated, so you can see if there is any major change which may indicate a fault.

How do the panels fit to the roof?

The panels fit on specialist brackets and rails which will hold the panels together. The brackets are fixed using special fixings which are waterproof.
You may need to ensure that your roof is in good condition before the panels are fixed, as they make maintenance harder in the future.
We will be able to advise on the condition of your roof at the survey stage.

Solar PV Panels: Come to your local experts - Octopus Solar install solar panels and solar energy systems throughout Manchester, Leeds and the North West of England. Don't sign with anyone else before you have spoken to us!
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