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Solar Photovoltaic (PV)

What is Solar PV?

The production of electric power through solar cells is known as solar photovoltaics or solar PV. Solar PV panels, or modules, consist of many photovoltaic cells that are made up of thin layers of semi-conducting material, normally crystalline silicon, which produce electricity when exposed to light. Solar PV differs from solar thermal in that PV enables property owners to generate electricity while solar thermal provides hot water.

How does Solar PV work?

During manufacture, the silicon material is chemically treated to alter its electrical properties. This means that when light hits the cell, an electric field is created across the layers and produces a current flow. The greater the intensity of light, the more electricity is produced. Solar PV panels are linked to each other in series and then connected to the building's main consumer unit or fuse board via a device called an inverter. This device converts the panel output from direct current (DC) to the alternating current (AC) compatible with mains electricity. Whilst allowing household devices to use this solar power just like normal mains electricity, excess electricity can be exported onto the grid at times when the instantaneous demand from the building is less than the power produced by the panels.

How important is the location?

The location of the solar PV is very important because of its sensitivity to the intensity of light. Solar PV modules need to receive the maximum possible amount of light and should therefore be installed on a south-facing roof.  Due south is preferable as efficiency drops off in correlation to the angle of deviation from a due south orientation.

The angle of tilt of the modules is also important with the ideal range in the UK being between 35° and 40°, depending on latitude. Please refer to this table.

It's not advisable to install solar PV modules where trees or surrounding buildings will cast shadows on the array as any shadow affects the performance of the entire array and not just the modules in shadow.


How much electricity can Solar PV produce?

The output of photovoltaic panels is generally specified in kilowatts (kW) or kilowatts peak (kWp). The panel area required to produce an output of 1 kWp varies with panel technology, but a typical 1 kWp array would have an area of around 7m2 and produce approximately 800 kWh annually.

How does this relate to the Feed-in Tariff?

Based on a 2.4 kWp array with optimal due south orientation etc. this can be expected to generate approximately 2,000 kWh/yr (kilowatt hours per year). The feed-in tariff provides

  • a generation payment for every kWh produced whether it is consumed or exported to the national grid.
  • a export payment for each unit exported to the grid (normally, unless requested otherwise, in domestic scenarios this is assumed to be 50% of the kWhrs generated.)
  • additionally the saving on electricity bills, by using any or all of the electricity produced you will save on purchased electricity. If electricity prices rise, the savings increase and the payback time on the original investment shortens.
Care and Maintenance

PV panels produce no noise, have no moving parts and can be made to blend unobtrusively into the surrounding structure. Panels have an average lifespan of thirty years, have no direct impact on the environment and require minimal maintenance (ideally an annual clean and performance assessment).

Do I need an EPC?

From 1st April 2012, customers in England, Wales and Scotland wishing to get payments under the government's Feed-in Tariff (FIT) for solar PV will need to be able to prove that their home has an EPC rating of band D or above to receive FITs at the standard rate. You will therefore need to be able to produce your existing EPC (as long as it is less than ten years old) or obtain a new one.

You can complete a survey on the Energy Saving Trust website that will give you an indication of the likely band that your property will receive. Visit

How will my generated output vary throughout the year?

The amount of electricity generated in a given month can vary greatly depending on daily sunshine hours, the angle of the sun relative to the PV modules and local weather conditions.  The majority of the annual output will be generated during the summer months.  A rough indication of how the monthly generation will typically vary can be seen here.

Do I need planning permission to install solar panels?

You don't need planning permission for most domestic solar panel systems, but you should check with your local planning officer if your home is a listed building or is in a conservation area.

What savings will I make?

A typical solar PV array will produce enough electricity (approx. 2,000kWh/year) to meet 30 - 40% of the annual electricity needs of a family of 4. This is equivalent to powering the washing machine, dishwasher, oven and ironing for a year. This represents almost 1 tonne of CO2 a year.

What is the extent of Ecoliving’s Service?

Ecoliving provides a single source service with one point of contact supporting you right through from initial discussion and design to installation and commissioning and then registering to receive Feed-in Tariff payments. 

Do Solar PV panels come in different colours?

Most panels come with an aluminium frame but there are panels available with a black frame which blends into dark slate or tiled roofs.

Do you include for any structural approval/check of the existing trusses?

Generally speaking a visual inspection both internally and externally is sufficient to proceed with the project. Where a roof appears to be in poor repair, the site particularly exposed or the roof fixing team uncover an issue (e.g. rot or nail sickness) it may be pertinent to seek advice of a structural engineer. Any costs would be agreed between the structural engineer and the customer directly with the customer being liable for them.

Ecoliving Ltd. provides a 2 year workmanship warranty on all Solar Photovoltaic installations and covers leaks or structural issues proven to be as a direct result of the solar installation.

Do you include for the costs of any scaffolding/access requirements?

All access equipment is included with all standard quotes. Where limitations dictate that specialist access equipment is required then this would be highlighted at quotation stage.

What is the guarantee period for the system?

Different panels offer different guarantees. The majority of panels come with a 10 or 12 year product warranty which relates to the manufactured quality. The performance efficiency is a separate guarantee based on 25 years and is typically a minimum 80% efficiency of original performance after 25 years.

What is the guarantee period for the inverter?

Most inverters come with a standard 5 or 10 year warranty.

What is the anticipated timetable of these works?

Typically we are on site within 3 weeks of receiving deposit.

What preparatory work is likely to be required before your start on site?

Very little, only to ensure the installation team can have vehicular access for delivery, space for access equipment around building,  access into the loft area and cupboard where generation meter is to be placed.

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Ecoliving is a specialist provider and award winner of micro-renewable energy solutions - heat pumps, biomass boilers, combined heat and power (CHP), underfloor heating, solar and wood burning stoves. We also offer service, repair and maintenance.

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65 Craigton Road
G51 3EQ

T: 0141 309 5543