Ofgem have just announced from April 1st, 2021, the price caps current in place on energy will be lifted. Potentially affecting some 15 million UK households.
Today – 05/02/21 Ofgem (Office of Gas and Electricity Markets) announced that prices will now return to pre-pandemic levels.
This means that households should expect an increase in their energy bills by around £96 (if they are on a default tariff)
This is the increase in two years and may be a result of an increase in the wholesale trade cost of energy. Considering the pandemic has already made money tight for UK householders, now does not seem to be a good time for an increase. Ofgem’s Chief Executive stated that they have “carefully scrutinized these changes to ensure that customers pay a fair price”, but as Citizens Advice Chief Executive Alistair Cromwall put it, it is a “heavy blow to a lot of households”.
Solar PV generating systems: Avoid energy increases.
If you like us do not want to be part of a constantly increasing power grid, then there is one thing you can do. Micro-generation systems are a great option since you can create your own renewable energy on or at your home – reducing your reliance on the grid and putting your home into the modern age.
Micro-generation systems such as Solar PV are great for households who want to take ownership of their energy and future-proof their property. Now that home energy storage systems have also drastically reduced in cost, systems can offer stored electricity for use at night rather than be exported back to the grid.
With the cost of a unit of electricity created in the region of around 3.4p (subject to roof layout, capital expenditure and location within the UK) it really makes sense if you have a roof space that can be covered. Furthermore, since a 10-panel array can now offer the same electrical capacity as 16 panels did just a few years ago, you can opt for more electricity capacity or simply keep to a standard 4kWp system and be 40% better off. A typical system can start now from around £5k, and around £10k with a battery that includes UPS (uninterrupted power supply) ROI with money back in the bank is around 5-6 years from install, and investment returns are around 12%
Your solar PV panel system will consist of a set number of solar panels, an inverter, or micro inverters, SolarEdge, a mounting frame and small components.
Often home energy storage systems or batteries were added to later systems, after 2014 batteries and storage systems started to become commonplace to be installed alongside the PV generating system. (Solar panels, or modules as they are known professionally)
The warranties typically associated with the solar panels are long. Usually a standard 2-year parts and Labour, and 10–20-year product warranty. It is useful to note that a reputable installer such as Solartherm UK will also offer at no extra charge a 10-year insurance backed warranty. Largely this is a backup if the installer is unable to return and has ceased trading.
If installed correctly, a solar panel could last 25-40 years although they have a slight degradation rate and will very gradually diminish in their efficiency.
Should you worry?
Solartherm UK have installed hundreds or thousands of solar panels since 2010 and although we do hold a small stock of spares for each model we have ever installed, it is very un-common to see a solar panel malfunction or die. Excluding the occasional early days bad batch, we have probably seen less than 600 failures in around 25’000 systems installed across Europe.
The common inverter pre 2014 was usually a grid tied inverter, and Solartherm UK usually opted for SMA sunny boys, Fronius, Mastervolt and Samil. Our optimised systems were usually TIGO and post 2014….SOLAREDGE!
SMA usually had a 5–7-year warranty. The units were bullet proof and very occasionally they did and do fail. Many are still working perfectly on inspection, and we do not get advised by homeowners that they have encountered issues on a regular basis.
Fronius usually also had a 5-year warranty, failures are little more common especially now at the time of writing with some hitting the 10year mark, but still most are going strong.
Samil had a 10-year warranty if installed by an accredited installer. The units were more sensitive, and do not like over voltage. It is true to say we have swapped out lots of Samil inverters, but largely they were underrated and poorly installed by others. The warranty was never honoured by Samil, and reputable companies such as Solartherm UK bore the brunt of the costs. Largely we advise an upgrade to SolarEdge.
Mastervolt had mixed reviews on the larger units, luckily, we mainly only used Mastervolt Soladin 600 units, and the 1-1.5kw. The Soladin were only rated at around 700w max, and often we used these to connect the odd two panels when trying to squeeze as much in on awkward roof spaces. We have lots still running to full capacity, they do ‘pop’ if they were really stretched, especially when attached to higher voltage modules.
Oddly, one of our best performing systems contains Mastervolt Soladins, which we believe is because they used extraordinarily little power to convert the DC electricity to AC.
Tigo – No problems here. Largely installed with one of the above inverters, this optimised and portal enabled system will notify both the owner and us (when logged in) of any fault within the system. TIGO have long warranties and are good at sending us a replacement FOC when in warranty if they fail.
Solaredge, by and large our most successful roll out. SolarEdge are an amazing company and have many benefits. Solartherm UK are a UK strategic partner and advanced installer of these systems. Often older systems on the higher Feed in Tariffs will benefit greatly from an exchange of the older grid tie inverters to a SolarEdge system. The warranties are 10 years for the inverter (extendable for an extra cost) and 25 years for the optimisers.
The installer will need to be SolarEdge accredited and the supplier of the goods Bonafede before the homeowner can benefit from better warranties.
Like any other product, SolarEdge can be advised when not required, replacements of inverters to SolarEdge are not always necessary.
Older systems at a standard 20–40-degree pitch with a due South orientation suffering almost no shade using a well matched SMA and crucially having perfectly matched high quality solar modules will see low increases in energy performance. However, the benefits of safety cut out to 1v per module, you and us being able to see all panels working live. Fault prompting and panel miss match speak for themselves.
It can be a personal choice to upgrade to the newer SolarEdge equipment if the current system is working well, but a proper assessment including electrical testing of the original PV array needs to be undertaken. Unfortunately, taking someone’s word over the phone or a man in a shiny suit sat on your sofa telepathically suggesting your system is underperforming is not the way forwards.
Some sales personnel are now even ‘inspecting’ the system to confirm a failure or under performance.
As per our previous blogs…DO YOUR DUE DILIGENCE CHECKS before signing on the day. Ask what his electrical qualifications are, what accreditation body they are with and do not be afraid to check.
(Read our Blog on: Solar panel free health check)
Tips & MOST IMPORTANT.
No one has a Bonafede warranty to sell to you to cover all the systems components. Yes, that is correct. You do not need, neither can you purchase from a reputable company a warranty or insurance that will completely cover your existing system.
There is no British Gas or Homecare type breakdown cover available. No inverter or module manufacturing facility is offering a home call out or a blanket cover and despite assurances over the phone or typically in your lounge. A sales agent is committing fraud when suggesting this and unfortunately we have evidence showing payments of between £5-11k being paid to these ‘companies’ to cover your system.
Of course, some of you are thinking who on earth would pay £5k + for a warranty for a system that you could possibly now completely replace for a similar sum. Sadly, the same people that bought Solar PV systems 7-10 years ago, sometimes as a retirement plan, already in their twilight years, are being duped by this, not occasionally but regularly!
NOT MUCH IS BEING DONE ABOUT IT, and when it is it is usually too late.
Have you been contacted directly by a call centre or by letter to have a free solar panels health check?
If so – And you own solar panels, then it is YOU that needs to carry out the checks.
With respect to the letters, bin them they are not genuine no matter how legitimate they look. If the callers are pushy or say that they have someone in the area, or that they are calling from MCS, Ofgem, The Government or even us, then you need to request the 6 points below immediately:
– Ask for their MCS member number
– Ask for their HIES or RECC member number
– Ask for their mainline telephone number
– Ask for their company registration number
– Ask for their registered office or trading address
– Ask for their electrical qualification membership number or accreditation body
If they will not give you a Mainline phone number, hang up the phone and do not take further calls. It is as simple as that. If you manage to get the mainline number, and company registration number with address, still do not allow them to book an appointment with you at your home. Instead, you absolutely need to check who these people are.
Firstly, if you can check companies house then see if the company exists, if the address is correct then who or what they are and what they really want to do.
(The link to companies’ house search is below)
If you are not able to use the link then call us; 01268 552868, we will check for you.
A newly formed company based at a shell or accommodation address should have alarm bells ringing straight away. Sometimes when we look these firms up, they have a Nature of Business listed as: Retail sales not listed in stores, or something unconnected to Renewable energy or Trade of electricity.
A company that does not have 3 years trading history really needs to be looked at more in depth. Do not be scared to ask who their accountants are, who their directors are. Why? Often the caller does not know, largely because there often are not any.
When you probe these people, they do not have the answers and will continue to push on and try to book an appointment with you. Often, they will hang up only to phone again another day.
(Read our Blog post on why they keep ringing)
If the caller or company do have HIES, RECC or MCS membership then you should be safer. But still, you need to check. Remember they have contacted you not the other way around, so surely, they should expect you to be cautious?
(The links to check membership are below – click on the link and input the companies name)
Remember, they will need HIES or RECC but must have MCS.
Once you have carried out the due diligence checks and are satisfied that the company is Bonafede then call back on the main line number and ask them what it is they are coming to do.
You can check your system warranties by yourself. If you can easily access the inverter then take the serial code, make, and model and contact the manufacturers. Again, if you do not know how, then supply us with the inverter make and model, serial code, and any date of installation of date of manufacture.
Just because your warranty has expired DOES NOT mean that it no longer works or poses a fire risk. Remember also that your local building control officer, or local trusted domestic electrician can carry out a quick electrical test for less than £100 if you are concerned. If you have a married property, then a simple PAT test of your appliances and including the inverter can be a very economical route to peace of mind.
HIES is simple to gain membership of, although they will weed out the unscrupulous eventually. Some of the problem companies we have listed from callers to our offices do have HIES membership but not MCS. Sometimes they are working towards MCS and will never succeed. Others manage to get MCS but are not able to keep it.
Consumers have reported some of the worst cases of fraud or poor workmanship whilst the company is in the first year of gaining MCS and HIES because they can appear more credible. Often these companies won’t make it through the first-year audit, and when notified they are being removed will up the pace in taking deposits for works, they will never complete, or by selling worthless warranties.
Get up to £5k towards the cost of a renewable energy product, or up to £10k if you are a lower earning home, or are receiving any form of help including … Child Tax Credits!
You will need to get in-touch with us directly so we can provide a quotation (this can be via a desktop survey). You can then apply for the grant here: https://www.gov.uk/apply-green-homes-grant, providing our TrustMark license number: 1938855.
Once the voucher has been processed we will arrange a date for installation.
The UK Government’s Green Homes Grant means that Homeowners and Landlords in England can apply for a voucher that could save you up to £600 a year on your energy bills. The voucher is used towards the cost of the installation of energy-efficient and carbon-reducing heating improvements on your home.
The voucher will cover up to two thirds for the cost of improvements to your home, the maximum value of £5,000. If you are a homeowner, and you or someone you live with receives one of the qualifying benefits, the Government will provide a higher subsidy that covers the total cost of improvements. You can receive up to £10,000 to complete the installation of energy-efficient improvements. Currently, Landlords cannot apply for the low-income part of the scheme.
Further support for low-income households can also be provided by your Local Authority through the Green Homes Grant: Local Authority Delivery. Visit GOV.UK for more information and to stay up to date on the development of the scheme.
What improvements can I carry out?
As implied by the title of the scheme, there are limitations to the work that can be carried out. Vouchers are only valid if you install at least one primary home low-carbon heating measure of home insulation.
By choosing to install at least one primary measure, you can also use your voucher to help with the cost of secondary measures. The subsidy for the secondary measure is up to the same value as the primary measure. As an example, if your primary measure uses a voucher of £1000 for the installation of a Ground Source Heat pump, then you will also receive a maximum of £1000 towards new windows and doors.
Double/triple glazing (where replacing single glazing)
Secondary glazing (in addition to single glazing)
Energy-efficient replacement doors (replacing single glazed or solid doors installed before 2020)
Low carbon heat:
Air source heat pump
Ground source heat pump
Biomass pellet boilers
Heating controls and insulation:
Hot water tank thermostats
Hot water tank insulation
Heating controls (e.g. smart heating controls, zone controls, intelligent delayed start thermostat and thermostatic radiator valves)
Seek advice to see which primary and secondary measures will be best suited to your home.
How do I apply?
Applications for the Green Homes Grant can be made from the end of September 2020. You must be a homeowner (this includes park homeowners, long-leaseholders and shared ownership) or a Private or Social Landlord in England. Your property must also be in England, and new-build properties that have not previously been occupied are not eligible for the scheme.
To check your eligibility and to see what energy-efficient or low-carbon heat improvements can be made to your home, please contact us using the enquiry form here.
Once you have contacted us, we will be able to advise you on what improvements you can choose from for your home. We will be able to provide you with an estimate of how much the work will cost and establish a timeline for when the work can commence and finish. All work will be carried out by our team of specialists.
Contact us for more information
Can I use this voucher, even when I am receiving other types of funding?
Energy Company Obligation
If you have claimed funding from the Energy Company Obligation (ECO). In that case, you won’t be able to claim a Green Homes Grant voucher to subsidise the same improvements. However, you can claim ECO for one improvement and the Green Homes Grant to subsidise a different measure.
Renewable Heat Incentive
The Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is paid out over 7 years for the improvement of your homes renewable heating system. The payments are based on the amount of renewable heat that your home produces.
The good news is, you can claim both the RHI and the Green Homes Grant for renewable heat systems. Be sure to claim the Green Homes Grant either before or after applying for RHI. Make sure that you notify Ofgem that you have used it. The Green Homes Grant will then be deducted from your RHI payments.
At first we will have to call you and book an appointment for a free, non-binding assessment of your property. The phone call will take only a few minutes of your time, during which we will explain the scheme to you, and answer any questions that you might have.
The assessment itself will take about an hour of your time, during which the assessor will ensure the property is suitable for having solar panels installed. This will involve measuring your roof etc. Our assessor will also go through your utility bills with you, calculating how much money would solar panels generate for your household in both savings and the government’s feed in tariff. We will then with your permission log onto the online portal and establish if panels can pay for themselves and benefit you.
If you are happy with the figures and would like to proceed, we will then look for a financial backer, willing to finance the system for you. The repayments would then be covered by the Feed in tariff, money for energy that you sell back to the grid and your electricity bill savings. If the system just fails to self fund you will have the option to make a small contribution if you still want solar fitted. We do warn ALL customers please don’t be disappointed if we have to say No!
But if it works and you are happy we can then proceed to installing your system. It is not a rent-a-roof scheme, which means that you become the owner of your system, receiving all of its benefits. It will have a lifespan of at least 20 years, during which it will make you £16,000 on average.
There are a few requirements that you will have to meet in order to qualify for the scheme. If you are a homeowner but do not meet the criteria, feel free to proceed as we we might still be able to help you.
Under 65 years old
Not moving in the next 5 years
No CCJs, IVAs, or debt management
Min. spend £40 a month on electricity
No loft conversions/ building work planned to the roof
SolarEdge power optimizers perform MPP tracking for each module individually and therefore extract the maximum energy from each module, regardless of other modules in the string. For existing solar installations that suffer from mismatch-related power losses, SolarEdge offers two optional retrofit configurations:
Module Level Power Optimization
Add a power optimizer to each module for added energy through module-level MPPT. There is no need for additional hardware or inverter replacement.
In addition to power optimizers install the SolarEdge Safety and Monitoring Interface to enable:
Added energy through module-level MPPT
Enhanced maintenance through module-level monitoring