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Well, after narrowly missing out on the first FIT cut by a matter of a week or so (that actually would have been ok if I'd not cancelled thanks to subsequent legal challenge to the gov), I've sulked for a year or so and now missed the next FIT cut. Ho hum. With a new Nissan Leaf on the way, I've decided its time to stop procrastinating and either do Solar PV now, or forget it for a while.

What I'm not too sure about is whilst the FITs no longer give the bumper ROI they used to, whether to let A Shade Greener make the investment in panels in return for the FIT, and I'll just take the energy savings. I don't have large piles of money sitting around to invest for the longer term, and if I did I'd probably use med/high risk investment funds for a better return given the tenure. I could however divert a few k from other maybe/pipedream projects if deemed worthwhile.

Having said that, any experience of the quality/performance of system I'd be likely to get for 'Free' vs. a bespoke install from a respected installer like @Thephoenixworks that seems to install the best tech available (but presumably at a premium - does it pay?).

I think our house is reasonably suited for an install, the rear of the property faces around 200 deg, and we don't appear to suffer any significant shading. Its a 4 bed detached but the roof design means the available space for panels is not as great as you'd think as the profile is triangular.

Not my house, but picture of an identical Barratt design I found somewhere to illustrate the roof: 34514_200320A_320_IMG_16_0001.JPG

What would you guys do if starting out today with the current FIT tariffs and current panel install costs?
 

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What would you guys do if starting out today with the current FIT tariffs and current panel install costs?
I would get the largest system installed that I could afford. If necessary I would start small and plan for later system expansion as money allowed. I'd avoid 'free' schemes because they will have a negative impact on the value of your property if you wish to move.

Look at both solar thermal and solar PV because they both have FIT payments.

To choose an installer ask @Cara Naden for a list of ZCW installers. They are all small and family run companies who are doing it for the 'right' reasons :)
 

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Whatever you do don't enter into a roof rental deal where they get the FIT.

I realise that if you don't have a lot of spare cash that these deals can look attractive but unless you work at home and use lots of power in the day you will save hardly anything and even if you do it won't be more than a few hundred a year. OK, a few hundred is better than nothing but the key thing is that selling your house may be very difficult with your roof rented out to one of these companies.

I am just selling my house and we own outright our solar PV. When the agent came to value they said that if we didn't own the solar PV then we would have a devil of a job selling. People don't want to buy a house with the roof rented out.

We looked at solar thermal and decided against it on the basis that the space it takes up could be used for another solar PV or two and we could then use that extra power in other ways as well as heating water. We are not big water users either so it makes sense for us to have extra PV.
 

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My understanding is that installers are legally required to provide a detailed quotation showing the cost of their proposed system and the projected financial returns. These will be at the current FiT rates and it's a fairly useful bargaining tool to be able to challenge their indicated return on investment figure.

From what I've seen, the solar thermal RHI gives a very long payback period. It makes more sense financially to use the roof space for solar PV and use an Immersun-type product to divert surplus generation to an immersion heater. Many people change their element to a 1kW rated unit so that it can operate in the shoulder months when generation is weaker.
 

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If you have outbuildings or a garden not overlooked it is possible to fit a size unlimited solar array for less than 40p per watt! You can DIY that and forget all the MCS restrictions and any FIT payments just buy a second hand inverter and generate as much as you like. This is an alternative option which may well be worth investigating for some now the panel price is so low.
 

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If you have outbuildings or a garden not overlooked it is possible to fit a size unlimited solar array for less than 40p per watt! You can DIY that and forget all the MCS restrictions and any FIT payments just buy a second hand inverter and generate as much as you like. This is an alternative option which may well be worth investigating for some now the panel price is so low.
IIRC there is a restriction on any solar PV system, whether you are getting FIT or not, of about 4kWp. Anything over that will require DNO approval. In some areas the DNO has local restrictions because the local supply cannot handle high solar outputs to the grid.

I don't know all the details but if you are going over the 4kWp then it is worth checking it out with your DNO.
 

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IIRC there is a restriction on any solar PV system, whether you are getting FIT or not, of about 4kWp. Anything over that will require DNO approval. In some areas the DNO has local restrictions because the local supply cannot handle high solar outputs to the grid.

I don't know all the details but if you are going over the 4kWp then it is worth checking it out with your DNO.
Not if your inverter is not connected to the grid and non grid tied inverters are cheap!;).
 

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IIRC there is a restriction on any solar PV system, whether you are getting FIT or not, of about 4kWp.
I hear this a lot but AFAIK it has no basis in reality... we installed a 7kWp system without any requirement to report to the DNO and iirc the installer said up to 10kWp was ok. Once again, I think this is an area where you need to choose your installer carefully.
 

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This is all to do with the G83 safety issues. Normally G83 covers installations up to 3.68kW but in practice the DNO can accept higher but you may need permission from the DNO. Some DNOs give blanket permission and perhaps that is why you didn't need to get specific permission for your installation. However, many DNOs do not permit any installs over 3.68kW and many do permit it with specific permission. It is down to the specific DNO.

So yes, a good installer will know the limitations of your particular DNO and will advise you accordingly. You may or may not need specific permission... best to check with the DNO directly yourself though in case the installer isn't away or if the rules have changed.
 

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@Paul_Churchley we are currently researching a 10kWp system for a new house and no DNO issues have been raised.
Excellent! Then you may be in an area where there are few DNO restrictions but my advice to others is still valid because this is definitely not the case everywhere as the Western Power documents show.
 

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I agree with what others say. Do not touch free solar with a barge poll. If for example you need any roof work done you will pay through the nose to have them removed and reinstalled and you'll also be charged excessively for any lost FIT during panel downtimes.

If you can't afford a large system consider a loan as interest rates are lower than the return you'll get on your investment.

Finally don't worry too much about missing the higher rate.

You'll find that the price of an install has dropped a fair old bit since that time.
I'm not sure that's strictly true.
A Shade Greener say that they will remove the panels for up to 3 months if you need work doing, or have an extension built, and won't charge you to remove them, now will there be any charge for their loss of FIT during that time.
I think they'll do that twice without charge - not sure what would happen if you requested a 3rd removal, but how likely is that?

As for not saving money by not being at home during the day - as others have said - we set all our greedy devices on timers (tumble dryer, washing machine, dishwasher) to get the most out of the daylight. Sure it woudl be better if we say there watching every Wh but that's just daft.

So far, in a little over a month, I'd say we're saving roughly 30-40% of our electricity usage. With zero outlay, that's not to be sniffed at in my opinion.

Would I have rather bought the panels? Probably. But I don't have the £5000-£10000 to spare so this seems like a pretty decent compromise to me.

And, should any prospective buyer not like the idea of the panels (not that we're planning to move any time soon) then I reckon that means they'd probably be a pain over other things as well. Free electricity? What's not to like?
 

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And, should any prospective buyer not like the idea of the panels (not that we're planning to move any time soon) then I reckon that means they'd probably be a pain over other things as well. Free electricity? What's not to like?
As I understand it, it isn't the buyer that's the problem. The issue I've seen reported was that while the buyer might be willing some mortgage companies simply give a blanket rejection to lending on any property where the roof is leased out.
See http://www.theguardian.com/money/2012/mar/23/solar-panels-dim-mortgage-prospects
 

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As I understand it, it isn't the buyer that's the problem. The issue I've seen reported was that while the buyer might be willing some mortgage companies simply give a blanket rejection to lending on any property where the roof is leased out.
See http://www.theguardian.com/money/2012/mar/23/solar-panels-dim-mortgage-prospects
The roof isn't leased, it's the space above the roof which is leased! And they are all approved by the Council of Mortgage Lenders.
Of course, I don't have actual experience of trying to sell the house/get a mortgage with the panels in place...
 

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This is all to do with the G83 safety issues. Normally G83 covers installations up to 3.68kW but in practice the DNO can accept higher but you may need permission from the DNO. Some DNOs give blanket permission and perhaps that is why you didn't need to get specific permission for your installation. However, many DNOs do not permit any installs over 3.68kW and many do permit it with specific permission. It is down to the specific DNO.

So yes, a good installer will know the limitations of your particular DNO and will advise you accordingly. You may or may not need specific permission... best to check with the DNO directly yourself though in case the installer isn't away or if the rules have changed.
Yes I can confirm all that is true.
We were running up against gov'mint green roll back deadline so specifically requested a G83 DNO compatible inverter. Installer had no idea why we didn't want his "better" SMA TL4000:rolleyes:. Just got the big FIT in time so it pays to do your own research:). Oh yes and if you bluetooth in to inverter you can reset the max power output too;). You really have to laugh at the ineptitude of official bodies DNO, gov'mint, regulators,MCS the lot:rolleyes:.
 

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Of course, I don't have actual experience of trying to sell the house/get a mortgage with the panels in place...
This is a real issue... my daughter was recently refused a mortgage on a house with 'free' solar panels on the roof. Conversely, our house was valued higher for both rental and sale because it has solar installed.

I'd recommend having solar installed and if necessary consider it as one of your pension investments. Energy prices are going one way and if you care about the environment then this is a no brainer :)
 
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