care home solar panels

Five reasons why installing care home solar panels should be a priority for 2024

Care home managers must balance many different financial, commercial and healthcare-led areas of work. On top of that, they must put the needs of their residents and their families first, as well as work in harmony with the local communities. A major concern of many stakeholders in the past few years has been working sustainably to help combat climate change and reduce reliance on finite fuel sources. This is where care home solar panels can be a highly desirable addition to a residential care business.

Care home solar panels and the bottom line

Many care homes are feeling the financial squeeze right now. Winter is an expensive time, as heating bills will inevitably increase, as well as medical care for vulnerable residents finding the colder conditions more harmful to their overall health. Installing care home solar panels can help reduce overheads around energy bills. Being able to store any electricity not used straight away in a battery can also help keep costs of electricity used during duller days and at night more manageable. What’s more, any surplus electricity that your care home will not need can be sold to the National Grid to help even more with finances and longer-term budgeting.

Communications, marketing and care home solar panels

More and more businesses are waking up to the marketing and communications advantages of visibly pursuing a more sustainable way of operating. In the same way, care home solar panels can really help managers show potential and existing residents and their families that they are not simply paying sustainability lip service. Installing visible care home solar panels on the roof of the building sends a powerful message to visitors. Talking about how a care home is generating greener energy makes for a compelling marketing campaign. Care home solar panels could even provide that sought-after ‘edge’ over competitors who have not yet taken the decision to invest.

Care home solar panels and the wider community

Sometimes, when one business in a community makes a move towards more sustainable operations, other will follow their lead. Solar panels can be easily spotted on a roof or flat surface and can generate a lot of interest locally. Likewise, they can be a source of education for local schools, other care homes and community groups, who could be interested in talking to you and your team about the benefits that you are experiencing. Another way to help the wider community is to sell any surplus electricity to the National Grid. This helps reduce pressure on the fossil fuels needed to produce energy for conventional energy suppliers.

Future proofing care homes with greener energy

Another reason why care home solar panels are a good idea is to prepare for future advances in energy generation. We are seeing ever increasing involvement of renewable energy sources in the way we power our lives. From electric cars to heat pumps and solar panels, technology and systems once considered quirky or off-beat are becoming conventional and accepted as the norm. If you have care home solar panels already installed when the time comes for you to sell the business, this can be a big advantage. Care homes traditionally use a high amount of electricity, especially when it comes to heating and lights. As legislation moves with the times too, to incentivise renewable energy initiatives, you will already be in position to benefit from grants and avoid having to make changes rapidly at a greater cost in order to comply with new green laws.

Using care home solar panels to inspire other green initiatives

Finally, the benefits that solar panels bring can often lead to other green living alterations to care homes’ operations. For example, saving water by installing eco showers and tap aerators and collecting rainwater. Switching to smart radiator valves, ventilation and heating controls and exterior lighting to save energy. Other areas include encouraging staff to use electric cars, or changing to electric or hybrid minibuses or coaches for daytrips. Other energy saving ideas inspired by care home solar panels could also include renewing or adding to insulation and plugging gaps under doors and around windows. You could also encourage staff and residents to recycle more by providing plenty of marked bins to help people work out where to put their rubbish.

commercial solar panels

Why your business should invest in commercial solar panels

Solar panels on houses and domestic properties are now commonplace. Numbers of people seeking to change to a more sustainable way of living are increasing every year. However, domestic life is not the only avenue towards trying to live a greener existence. Commercial solar panels are a great way to reduce energy bills, lower your business’s reliance on fossil fuels and show your customer base that you don’t just ‘talk the talk’ when it comes to choosing eco-friendly options for your energy sourcing. Here are five commonly asked questions about installing commercial solar panels.

Does my business need planning permission for commercial solar panels?

As a general rule, planning permission is not needed for businesses installing commercial solar panels. However, this may not be the case everywhere, so it is important to double check before committing to any orders or dates for starting work. Make sure you know any legal restrictions that may apply. These could include size, number and shape of panels, where they can be installed and at what angle. If you don’t own the building in which your business operates, you will need the landlord’s permission to carry out the installation. They may need to look into whether or not they are allowed to agree to the work under the terms of their mortgage or other lending company, as well as the local council or authorities.

What do I need to consider when choosing commercial solar panels?

There are several factors to think about, from cost to chosen specifications. An immediate question is whether your chosen surface is physically suitable to have commercial solar panels installed. Can it take their weight, will it get enough exposure to the sun and will it cause an eyesore for neighbours etc. Will the energy it produces really end up offsetting your current energy bills enough to justify the initial expense of the solar panels? Who should you choose to install the panels? Always do your research to find a reputable company. Decent companies should have a history of good reviews, non-pushy sales techniques and a reputation for excellent customer service.

How do commercial solar panels work?

The system works by converting energy from the sun into useable electricity. This is done via photovoltaic cells that are arranged into panels and installed on flat surfaces with exposure to the sun. Solar energy is converted into DC electricity that then flows into an inverted that changes it to an AC current. This can then be fed into the property and used to power lights, heat, appliances etc., just like electricity from conventional sources. Any surplus energy generated from commercial solar panels can be stored in a battery for use when conditions are darker. This can be during cloudy weather conditions or at night. Or it can be sold back to the National Grid to offset the installation costs.

What benefits will commercial solar panels bring to my business?

The financial benefits are clear – reductions in bills from conventional energy sources to help with overheads, potential to sell surplus electricity back to the National Grid, as well as eligibility for grants to help support sustainable changes to businesses. However, having commercial solar panels also helps motivate and retain employees with a desire to work for eco-conscious companies. This can also help companies strengthen relationships with customers and industry peers. Commercial solar panels can also play a large part in helping you move closer to your stated goals to achieve net zero carbon emissions, gain energy independence and help combat the effects of climate change.

How much will commercial solar panels cost?

The answer to this question really does depend on the size and type of panels being considered. There may also be additional costs associated with checking the property is suitable for their installation, or in upgrading or expanding on existing photovoltaic systems. There may be grants and loans available to help with initial installation costs. If your business can sustain the initial outlay, it can read large rewards over the longer term, as energy costs reduce. Many installation companies include an element of after-sales support and annual maintenance in their quote, and/or offer competitive rates for regular servicing contracts and repair work.

Solar panel future trends: our top six predictions

Solar panel future trends: our top six predictions

The capabilities and scope of solar power have increased rapidly over the past decade or so. Signs are that this evolution will continue at a similarly dramatic speed as we head towards the second quarter of the 21st Century. Solar panel trends are informed by the growing need for alternative, renewable energy sources. Pressure on fossil fuels and traditional energy sources is increasing, which in turn is contributing to climate change and irrevocable damage to the planet’s ecosystems.

Solar power future trends

Switching to solar power is just one way in which homes and businesses can contribute to a more sustainable way of sourcing and using energy. The technology has benefited from numerous innovations, attention and funding from around the world. Here are six solar power future trends that we are expecting to see in the coming months and years ahead.

  • Clever technological developments

Alongside advancements in photovoltaic panel efficiency, there are several other future solar panel trends around developments in technology. Thes include the increasing use of AI and internet connectivity to control and optimise solar panel performance. Other areas being researched include using nano materials, as well as fitting photovoltaic cells into roof tiles and walls and creating transparent panels to go in windows and skylights. All of these developments will offer architects innovative solutions to ‘hide’ solar panels more effectively and allow greater design flexibility.

  • Increased domestic take-up

As alternative energy becomes more prevalent, and commonplace, it is likely that increasing numbers of domestic homes will invest in solar power. This is one of the solar panel future trends that is informed by increases in efficacy and cost. As the technology evolves, so the amount of energy that a single photovoltaic panel can produce will increase. More energy produced per panel will mean that fewer units will be needed to power the home and installation and maintenance costs will fall. It also goes without saying that increased efficiency will lead to greater demand – and higher demands for domestic solar energy storage solutions. Battery capacities are expected to increase, and with them, safety measures and charging solutions will improve.

  • Increased commercial take-up

Additionally, greater emphasis on sustainable working methods and reducing carbon usage is informing many commercial mission statements, strategies and plans. This will lead to increased interest in solar technology and its many benefits, from the financial bottom line (saving energy costs) to the PR department (positive publicity). Solar power can represent a firm and very public commitment to green working practices for savvy business owners with an eye on solar panel future trends.

  • Increased support from governments and policymakers

In addition, greater investment in larger-scale solar projects like solar farms by the utility companies are bringing renewable energy far more to policymakers’ attention. This is likely to attract government funding and partnership working to ensure that the development of these larger-scale solar panel future trends can benefit entire communities, towns or even, one day, countries. Solar power will also become more prominent in government policy making around feed-in tariffs, renewable energy targets and initiatives to encourage public uptake in renewable energy solutions.

  • Sustainable living trends

Solar power, despite being a green energy solution in and of itself, could also become instrumental in driving other sustainable solutions in the fight against climate change. Some of the more intriguing solar panel future trends evolve around this concept. They include solar powered drones to monitor crops, survey land and record climate data. Solar panels could also power drones that deliver packages, thus reducing reliance on road vehicles for this type of logistics. Innovations in solar powered water treatment plants could also develop, helping to reduce the amount of carbon emissions and fossil fuels needed to purify water.

  • Transport sector and infrastructure

Solar powered vehicles are an inevitable part of solar panel future trends. The drive for sustainable living is extending to our transport systems, with electric and hybrid vehicles now an established sight on the roads. Installing solar panels to power electric vehicle charging stations could be another direction to take. Solar panels can also be developed for caravans and motor homes for greener energy on the move. Other solar panel future trends around transportation could include solar powered roads that integrate panels that can power streetlights, traffic signals, advertising hoardings and electronic display boards, amongst other civic and transport infrastructure.

concept of solar panel finance

How To Pick The Right Solar Panel Finance For You And Your Home

Investing in renewable energy can be easier than you might imagine, thanks to more solar panel finance options being available now than ever before. Buying and having a system installed can represent a large amount of money to have to spend upfront. It is not always easy to find a larger amount of money at the very start of the process.

What Are Your Solar Panel Finance Options?

Solar panels can be a wise investment over the longer term, given the rising costs of energy. There is also the possibility of selling surplus electricity back to the National Grid under the UK government’s smart export guarantee scheme. So, how do you choose the right type of solar panel finance for you and your individual circumstances?


This one may seem obvious, but if you have got enough cash in the bank to cover purchase and installation costs, this is an easy way to sort out your solar panel finance. This is a good move if you plan to stay in your home for a few more years. This is because any capital investments like this into a property can help it maintain or even increase its market value later on when you do come to sell. Also, being able to pay for the work without having to worry about ongoing financing arrangements is both reassuring and useful for future budgeting.


Of course, not everyone has the right amount of cash sitting around, waiting to be spent on a solar panel system. Another option for your solar panel finance is to take out a loan. There are specialist solar panel and home improvement loans out there that are tailored to this exact situation. You can apply for the exact amount to cover the work and have the panels installed straight away. This solar panel finance option will help you save money on bills and maybe help you sell surplus electricity back to the National Grid. You can use this money to start paying back the loan. One thing to bear in mind is that you will be responsible for repairing and maintaining the panels, even before you can own them outright.

solar panels paid for with solar panel finance

Leasing Arrangements

Some solar panel companies offer a leasing arrangement by which you can have the system installed, but it remains the property of a third party. This solar panel finance arrangement works for people who are not planning to stay in the same home or business premises for very long. They can benefit from utility bill savings and more sustainable energy generation without having to commit to a sizable cash investment on installation. There can be complications if you choose to sell your home while the leasing agreement is still in place. You may have to pay quite a lot to be let out of the lease early. However, this is something that you may be able to work out with the new owners if they are happy to take over the lease.


If you are very keen on having solar panels installed and have enough capital in your property, you may like to consider a re-mortgage. Lenders are usually happy to consider renegotiating the terms of a mortgage for home improvement projects like this. After all, solar panels can help a property increase in value, especially during a cost of living and energy crisis.Always do your research. You will need to know how a re-mortgage will impact upon your future repayment plans. You must also be able to understand your ability to meet any additional repayments in the longer term.

Whichever solar panel finance option you choose, it is vital to do your homework. Can you handle the implications of your chosen method? For example, if you up-front the cash, will this leave you short in other areas? If you plan to take out a solar panel loan or remortgage, can you meet the repayments? If leasing is your preferred way to go, are you planning to stay long in your home, and what happens if you sell up before the lease agreement is up?

It can be a good idea to speak to a reputable solar panel installation company to see what they would recommend for you. Every situation is different, and you must feel confident that you have chosen the right solar panel finance for you before proceeding with the installation work.

Solar powers being provided by a solar panel on people's homes

Six Unusual Ways To Use Solar Power For Your Home Or Business

Whether you have already got photovoltaic solar panels installed at your home or commercial premises, or are thinking about taking the plunge to convert to solar power, a key consideration is making sure that you get the most value out of your investment. Using solar energy to light and power a building is fairly commonplace. However, such is the versatility of this renewable energy technology that there are many other ways to take advantage of your solar panel system, once it is up and running.

As well as saving energy and reducing fuel bills, solar panels can also help power a range of applications and sustainable living initiatives. From smaller appliances to property-wide power requirements, here are some unusual ways to use solar power at home or work.

Solar Powered Garden Lighting

We tend to think about using solar panels to power indoor lighting, but the technology can also work well for outdoor lights. From strings of fairy lights to full-on landscape lighting set-ups and greenhouse lamps, outdoor lighting can be powered by solar panels charging batteries during the day, or by having the lights connected directly to the building’s main electrical system. Other garden electrical applications include electric mowers, hedge cutters, strimmers etc. All of which can be powered using energy generated by photovoltaic panels.

Immersion Heating

Immersion heaters can be connected to solar power too via an immersion diverter. This piece of technology keeps track of how much solar power is being generated and used. It then diverts any surplus towards powering your immersion heater and providing the building with hot water. This can all be done automatically, so you can set it up and then leave it to work on its own. This is a great way to ensure that you can use more of the electricity generated, should you not wish, or are unable, to store it over a longer time period.

Electric Vehicle Charging

As more and more people switch to electric cars and vehicles, the need for charging points also becomes more pressing. This is an increasingly important factor in town planning, which can also be replicated in homes and businesses. If you are keen to live a more sustainable life with less reliance on fossil fuels, consider combining an electric vehicle with using solar energy to power a charging point outside your home or business premises. You could even use a solar battery to store electricity just for the purposes of charging electric vehicles of occupants of – and visitors to – the building.

woman using solar power to charge her electric vehicle

Security Systems

Using solar-powered energy for home and commercial security systems is another way to make good use of the electricity generated by your photovoltaic panels. You can connect all kinds of security devices and equipment to the system, from lights and motion sensors to burglar alarms and CCTV cameras. Adding a solar power battery to the system that stores surplus energy will help keep the security systems running at night, when the need for uninterrupted surveillance is often greater, or when the weather is cloudy and dull.

Charging Devices

We all rely on being able to charge up devices such as mobile phones, laptops, tablets etc. As the world becomes increasingly digital, we need to stay in touch with the online world more than ever before. Solar power helps us do that by providing electricity in general for a residential home or business premises via electric sockets and USB ports. Many solar panel systems can also incorporate connections that convert the DC to allow users to plug devices in for direct charging. Another useful way to stay connected while taking advantage of renewable, greener power.

Farming And Animal Care

Solar panels can also help power lighting and heating for any animals or pets that may live partly or wholly outside, or in an outhouse of some kind. For example, lighting inside a chicken coop alarmed security systems or heating for lambing barns on a smallholding. Energy costs can often be higher for farmers and those who keep larger numbers of animals – using solar energy to power essential lighting and heating systems can help keep animals warm, healthy and safe without having to shoulder huge bills or continue to rely heavily on the National Grid.

solar installers with solar panel

How To Live More Sustainably And Save Energy This Summer

Summer’s longer days and warmer temperatures tend to mean that you don’t have to spend as much money on heating or lighting your home. However, there are still many calls on your pocket when it comes to electricity bills and other power requirements. Making conscious decisions to save energy and reduce the reliance your household has on fossil fuels and the National Grid over the summer will not only help you to cut expenditure, but will also contribute to a more sustainable, environmentally-friendly way of life.

From finding non-electric ways to cool your home on a hot day to contacting local solar installers, here are some ideas to help you save energy this summer.

Use The Outdoors

One great advantage to summer is the ability to move much more of your life and daily routines outdoors. This can often lead to reduced reliance on electricity. For example, eating meals in the garden is great fun and firing up the BBQ or making a big salad reduces the amount of fuel needed for cooking lunch and/or supper too. You could also encourage the whole family to spend time outside. This helps cut down on electricity used to power games consoles, TVs, smartphones and tablets and you can even teach the kids how to grow and harvest their own food and flowers.

Contact Solar Installers

If you have been thinking about installing solar panels, then summer could be an excellent time to bite the bullet and get it done. Longer, sunnier days will allow the work to be completed without being interrupted by inclement weather. You can also have more time to get used to living with your new electricity generation arrangements. As autumn turns to winter, temperatures will drop, evenings will draw in and you will need to rely more on power to heat and light your business or home. Ask your solar installers about solar batteries, so you can store any excess electricity that is not needed straight away.

Keep Things Cool

Before you reach for the air conditioning controls, if you have a system installed, think about other ways you can cool down your home. Often, you can keep the air moving and the temperature down for free, or for much less cost. Open the windows and internal doors. If there is any sort of cooling breeze outside, this can help air circulate throughout the house. Open windows at all sides of the property for an uninterrupted air flow. Of course, if the air outside is warmer, keep the windows shut and consider closing the curtains too – it is normally easier to stop warm air entering a home than cooling it down once it is inside.

house with drawn curtain during hot summer to save energy

Have An Energy Efficient Summer

Think carefully about how you use your appliances and amenities during the summer. There could be many ways to reduce the amount of energy you use. For example, switching to a cooler setting for the clothes washing machine and waiting until you have a full load to do. Also, warmer summer days enable you to dry clothes outside instead of relying on the tumble dryer. Turn appliances off at the mains when heading out for a summer day out or holiday to save energy. Turn the thermostat down a notch or two and get your boiler serviced now, ahead of the winter months. Defrost the fridge and freezer so that it doesn’t have to work quite so hard and to keep it running efficiently.

Watch Your Water Use

Saving water is a great way to live more sustainably and this is possible even in the hotter summer months. You could collect rainwater to water the garden, rather than running the hose too much. Water the lawn and plants in the early morning or evening so that water doesn’t evaporate too much during the heat of the day. Save the water that you use to wash salad leaves, fruit and veg to add to a bird bath outside. Look at installing water saving devices such as an aerator for your taps or a timer for your shower. Put a jug of water in the fridge for people to help themselves when they feel thirsty or hot. When we run the tap to wait for the water to cool down each time we want a drink, this can waste a lot of water.

solar panel system on home roof that uses a solar battery

What You Need To Know About Looking After Your Solar Battery

When you invest in a solar panel system, you inevitably want it to last as long as possible and to perform effectively in order to maximise your investment. One key way of doing this is to extend the life of your solar battery. You can do this by keeping it clean and well-maintained. In addition, it is a good idea to learn how to use it properly in order not to place undue stress on it or cause it to deteriorate more rapidly. Here are some ways to ensure your solar battery remains in tip-top condition for longer.

Get It Right From The Start

Always follow an expert solar panel installer’s guidance when choosing how many solar batteries to install and how much power you need them to be able to store and discharge. Overloaded systems can be very dangerous. Always choose the best quality solar batteries you can afford. It is better to buy batteries capable of more capacity than you think you need. You may end up needing extra capacity later on as power requirements increase. Voltages change over time, and adding newer batteries with different voltages can adversely affect a system’s overall performance.

Depth Of Discharge

Depth of discharge means how much power you can get out of your battery before you need to recharge it. This can vary from type to type, depending on the chemistry of each battery. Your solar panel system installer can tell you which chemistry your solar battery has, and how best to charge it. Some are designed to be recharged daily to gain energy from the sun during the day and discharge it to power your property after dark. Others may need to be charged for a longer or shorter time period to be more effective. Once you know this, it will be easier to work out how to use your solar battery and panel system most efficiently.

solar panel installers working on roof

Storage And Temperature

Some batteries are designed to be stored indoors only, while others can withstand being kept anywhere. Again, check with your installer what you need to do to protect the particular solar battery your system incorporates. You may need to install your battery somewhere enclosed, such as a garage, outhouse or cellar. If you position it in the wrong place, exposure to harmful temperatures can seriously affect its performance and even cause safety issues. So, avoid scenarios where it could freeze in sub-zero temperatures, or overheat in the summer months. Also, avoid overly damp or brightly lit locations. Make sure it is accessible for maintenance, repair or cleaning.

Cleaning And Maintenance 

Speaking of which, keeping your solar battery clean and well-maintained is also important. This can be carried out by solar power engineers during their annual servicing visit. However, in between appointments, there are other ways you can ensure your solar battery remains free from dirt and debris.

  • Disconnect the battery for safety before starting to clean it.
  • Use a damp cloth to gently wipe the battery surface.
  • Don’t let any water pool on the battery, especially not near the top, as this can cause damage.
  • Always wear gloves and safety goggles, as there could be acid on the surface.
  • Allow to dry naturally or pat with a dry cloth. Keep the general area free from dust, garden debris etc.
  • Never attempt battery maintenance without expert input and advice.

Corrosion Protection

Cleaning can go a long way to help prevent corrosion – a major problem for batteries of all kinds. However, there are also other ways to help prevent your solar battery terminals from becoming corroded.

  • Wipe away any dust or moisture regularly with a dry cloth.
  • Avoid locating batteries where the rain can get in and make contact.
  • Keep them out of direct sunlight.
  • Aim to bring the batteries to a full state of charge roughly every three weeks. This helps to reduce internal deterioration and corrosion and stops the battery from degrading through lack of use.
  • Avoid spilling anything on the battery’s surface and wipe anything that does fall on it away immediately.
  • Include the solar battery in your annual solar panels maintenance appointment – ask for a corrosion check and a full clean and service.
solar inverters that are ac dc

What Role Do Solar Inverters Play In Your Solar Panel System?

All solar power systems need solar inverters to function. They are the element that converts the direct current (DC) power produced by the photovoltaic panels into alternating current (AC) power that is then directed to power electrical appliances, lights etc. Solar inverters tend to be installed either in between the solar panels and the property’s electrical panel, or as a component that’s built into a solar generator.

These inverters perform the vital DC to AC conversion by adjusting voltages to make them usable as electricity. They also monitor and optimise the solar panels’ performance. Without them, the system would be unable to function and you would be unable to benefit from renewable, clean energy directly sourced from the sun.

Different Types Of Solar Inverters

There are a number of different types of solar inverters that suit different properties according to their power needs or geographical position. Some come already built into a solar power system. Others are purchased separately and then installed on-site afterwards.

String Inverter

This is the original solar inverter technology and can be a more competitively priced option. An inverter links to a string of connected panels, turning DC energy into AC to use in the property. This is very effective – unless part or all of your roof, or the area where the panels are installed becomes obscured by trees or shade. In that situation, if one or more panels are not performing well, this will affect the entire system’s output and prevent the solar inverter from functioning.


This is a far more recent innovation in solar inverter technology.  Smaller, individual solar inverters connect to each panel, converting the DC energy produced into AC energy and then sending it on to be stored as usable electricity. Micro-inverters are a better option for shadier areas or difficult roof angles to navigate, as the overall system is not quite so reliant on every single panel receiving optimum levels of sunlight. They are therefore seen by many as being more efficient; however, the initial installation costs tend to be higher than string converters.

Hybrid Converter

This type of solar inverter, as the name might suggest, enables homeowners and businesses to use both solar electricity and power from the National Grid. While it still converts DC energy into AC power, hybrid solar inverters can also convert AC power from the National Grid into DC power to charge the batteries. The system tends to represent an easier option for retrofitting projects in difficult locations, as it takes up less room and is more straightforward to fit into an existing panel set-up. Hybrid converters normally need a connection to functioning grid power to work so will most likely not be operational during power outages.

Solax Power solar inverters

Power Optimiser

This is technically not a type of solar inverter, but it does perform a vital role in how energy is monitored and converted. Power optimisers are connected separately to individual photovoltaic panels in the same way as a micro-inverter. However, they operate more like a combination of a string inverter and a micro-inverter. They increase the amount of energy produced by a solar power system by measuring the maximum power output of each separate panel and then adjusting its DC characteristics so it can produce the most energy possible. Ideal for areas experiencing a lot of indirect sunlight and shade.

How Big Is Too Big For A Solar Inverter?

The best size for a solar inverter will depend entirely on how big the rest of the solar power system is, the size of the property it is servicing and the weather conditions that the photovoltaic panels are exposed to. It is vital to select a solar inverter that is big enough to cope with the DC to AC conversion demands put on it by the output from the solar panels. Go for something too large or powerful, on the other hand, and this will result in paying for excess capacity that may not be needed to power the property.

Always ask a solar panel expert for advice when choosing which solar inverter to buy. They can assess your property, its location and your electricity needs and make an informed recommendation. There are also inverter size calculator tools available online to help you work out exactly what you need to order.

solar panels installed on a roof by solar installers

How To Choose The Right Solar Installers For Your Household

As with any significant investment, it is very important to find a suitable solar installer to fit your solar panel system. This will help you avoid scams, keep the costs lower and ensure a quality installation with, hopefully, decent after-sales care. So, how do you sort out the wheat from the chaff and find a company that is trustworthy, efficient and affordable? The answer lies in carrying out plenty of research in advance and asking the right questions to the right people. Here are some tips to get you started on finding the best solar installers for you.

Look for MCS accreditation

The best way to ensure that your solar installer is adequately certified for the work is to check that they are MCS accredited. MCS stands for Microgeneration Certification Scheme and is a required industry standard for manufacturers and fitters working in the renewable energy sector. Such is the importance of this certification that you will not be able to take advantage of the UK Government’s Feed-in Tariff unless your solar panels have been installed by an MCS-accredited company.

Check online reviews

We have become accustomed to searching online for reviews from people who have previously bought a product or used a service that we are interested in. This is a crucial step to take when considering employing solar installers too. Always look for third-party reviews from an unbiased review site, rather than only relying on what the company’s website says. After all, anyone can invent their own reviews and make them seem as glowing as possible!

Get in-person solar installer recommendations

Despite the ubiquitous nature of online reviews, there is still a lot of value in seeking ‘real life’ opinions as well. Ask the solar panel companies you are interested in if they can pass on the details of previous satisfied customers for you to speak to. If you happen to see solar panel installation work taking place in your neighbourhood, knock on the door and ask what the householders think of the work being done. You may even be able to negotiate a discount if you can offer the company more work in the same local area.

solar installers working on solar panels on top of a home

Beware of pushy sales techniques

Again, reputable companies won’t need to fall back on pushy sales tactics to secure customers – the quality of their work should speak for itself. If a sales representative tries to offer ‘quick decision’ offers, such as on-the-spot discounts or very short windows of time to buy at a certain price, avoid taking the bait! You should be given enough time to think their quote over and ask any questions you have before committing to the work being done.

Secure multiple quotations

Always ask a few different companies for quotes before choosing which one to give the work to. This means that you can get a better idea of the going price for the type of work you need to have done in your local area. This stops you from being taken in by an overinflated quote or opting for a suspiciously low offer, which doesn’t contain everything you need it to. While this can take a little longer in the early stages of the project, it can pay dividends later on. You can be more confident that you have chosen a suitable solar installer by comparing the different options side by side.

Clarify what’s included

Always get a quote in writing and sent to you, for example by email or post, for your records. This allows you to have a record of what is being offered in case of any discrepancies later on. Check what is included in the quote and what might be extra, such as any electrical work, after-sales care and clearing away of rubbish and ‘making good’ at the end of the project. You should also ensure that the terms of any guarantees or warranties associated with the job are laid out in the details of the quote for full transparency.

Find out what after-care is on offer

After-sales care is important for the ongoing maintenance of your new solar panel system., Find out what is offered and for how long. For instance, does the company offer an annual maintenance service and is this included in the installation price? If so, for how long? How much will it be to continue the service after the agreement comes to an end? Finally, can the company offer you any related energy-saving advice, e.g. ideas for improving the overall Energy Performance Certificate score for your property?

Engineers working on a solar panel during a servicing appointment

How To Maintain Your Solar Panels And Get The Most Out Of Your Servicing Appointment

Solar panels are relatively simple to look after. There are no moving parts, for example, which makes them less likely to succumb to an engineering fault. If they are looked after properly, they should remain problem-free for many years. However, like all systems of this kind, it is a good idea to arrange regular servicing appointments to make sure that any issues are spotted and fixed sooner, rather than later. It is advised to book a servicing appointment at least once every five years, or more often if you prefer.

Get installation advice from your servicing appointment

Much can be done to protect your solar power system when it is first installed. Make sure the panels are fitted correctly and securely so they don’t slip or break. While they obviously need to be positioned in a location that catches plenty of sunshine, take care not to put them anywhere that could be overly exposed to storms, winds and bad weather. Set the right angle to help any snow slide off, rather than collect on the surface and cause damage over time.

Always choose a professional installation company that will take time to ensure the perfect fit and talk you through how to care for the panels correctly. If a servicing package is offered as part of the installation price, or an option is given to include this on ongoing aftercare, take it, as this can represent better value for money than going elsewhere.

Check for issues on your solar panels yourself

Don’t wait until your servicing appointment to take a look at your panels yourself to make sure nothing is going wrong. While you are not likely to want to scale the house to inspect the panels close up, you can still look at them from the ground to see if there is anything glaringly wrong. Use a pair of binoculars to check for an excess build-up of dirt or debris, cracks, slipped panels or loose fittings or bolts.

Pay attention to how the system is performing too. Is the amount of electricity being generated reducing, or is it taking longer to fill up the storage battery than before? Keep an eye on your metre readings to see if there are any issues arising with the electricity supply. This could signal that there is a problem with the panels themselves, or the wiring and internal connection systems. Always check performance at the same time of day to give a better idea of how well your system is working over the longer term.

Specialist technician and professional engineer looking at solar panels during a servicing appointment

Remove the risks to your solar panels

Where possible, remove anything that could cause damage to your solar panels, such as overhanging branches. These could not only break off and fall onto the system in high winds, but they are also a great place for birds to perch and release acidic poo down onto the panels. Leafy trees could also be causing more shade to fall onto the surfaces where the panels are installed than you would like – this can compromise their ability to capture energy from the sun’s rays.

Any climbing plants, such as ivy, vines or creepers, which look like they are going to encroach onto the panels should also be pruned back or removed altogether before they cause damage further up. This can also help keep gutters free from foliage to improve your drainage system and protect roof tiles not covered by photovoltaic panels or their mountings.

Things to tell your servicing engineer

When your servicing appointment is drawing near, take another close look at your system. Make some notes about what to tell your engineer when they arrive to carry out the work. For example, take down some details about how the electricity performance has been recently. If there is an instance of bad weather and it is safe to do so, go outside to see how the panels are coping with the adverse conditions. Let the engineer know of any concerns you may have around your system’s ongoing durability or state of wear and tear.

Check that the inverters are still flashing green, which tells you that all is working correctly. If they are not, note this and tell your engineer on their arrival. Point out any areas which are particularly dirty and may need more attention. Finally, set aside some funds to pay for any repairs that might be necessary. The longer you leave repairs to a solar panel system, the costlier the issue will be to put right when you eventually sign up for the work.