Generating electricity using solar roof installations may be growing in popularity but some homeowners still need convincing that it’s a clever way to save money on their electricity bills. With so much confusing information available, it can be difficult for potential customers to understand the benefits of making use of this renewable energy source in the home. This is where solar companies need to do a little work.
We all know the arguments in favour of solar installations and can produce stats and data galore to show that renewable energy is now an important part of the energy mix. We can tell customers that solar panels are eligible for grants and financial support, due to their carbon neutral status, and that they can save money by using the energy they produce rather than using power from the National Grid. And, of course, we can spend hours explaining the government’s Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) Scheme that pays out for energy generated that’s sold back to the grid.
However, while the PV panels themselves are getting cheaper, more efficient and more widespread in their use, many householders are hesitating in installing them in their homes. Why? We take a look at 5 of the main misconceptions around solar installations that need to be debunked, so that customers fully understand why having solar panels on your roof is an excellent way to save them money.
- “There’s just not enough sun in my region”
One of the most common misconceptions is that solar panel installations need direct sunlight and are best located in a sunny climate to be worthwhile. However, contrast that with the fact that Germany, which has a comparable climate to the UK, is the world’s leading solar energy producer and you’ll see that the story doesn’t add up. In fact, a day in May 2017 was a record-breaking solar power day in the UK.
Of course, solar panels are more effective in sunny weather, but PV installations will still produce substantial amounts of energy in overcast weather. A few clouds won’t mean that a home will suddenly have no power, especially since most solar panel systems will be supplementary to existing on-grid power supply.
- “Solar panels are expensive”
As with any investment, there is a capital outlay involved. When solar panels for domestic use first came on the market, they were undoubtedly expensive and perhaps understandably considered as a bit of a luxury. However, in recent years, the cost of solar PV installations has come down significantly, while their efficiency has improved substantially, making them a much more attractive investment for homeowners.
The energy generated through the panels is free to use, meaning less reliance on purchasing electricity via the National Grid and lower bills as a result. Add to that the FIT Scheme, allowing homeowners to earn money from the electricity produced at a rate that’s guaranteed for 20 years, and the return on the investment into solar PV suddenly makes a lot of sense.
Using the current FIT rates, solar panels could pay for themselves in just 10 years.
- “You can get solar panels for free”
Indeed, this one is true. Through the Rent-A-Roof Scheme, home owners can get PV panels installed for free, including any maintenance costs. The energy generated through the panels is free for them to use. However, at second glance, it may not be quite such a good deal for the property owner – here’s why.
The solar company offering to install free panels is looking for a return on their investment through the FIT scheme. The profits made through the scheme will go to them, not to the owner of the roof. Free solar panels can be a great option for some people – after all, they still get free electricity during daylight hours when the panels are actively producing – but buying the panels outright will be more profitable to the home owner in the longer term, especially since the cost of solar panels is now at an all time low.
- “You’re stuck with one energy company”
Not true. Just because electricity is purchased from one particular supplier, it doesn’t mean that you have to sell it to them too. There is no link between the FIT rate and the energy supplier. Every householder is at liberty to switch electricity (and gas) suppliers at any time. Indeed, we are all encouraged to shop around periodically to make sure we get the most competitive rates for the energy that we buy.
Unless the property owner has opted for the Rent-A-Roof Scheme, the solar roof installation belongs to him. It is possible to change the FIT licensee, however, bearing in mind that the FIT rate payable is set by OFGEM, not by individual energy companies, there’s not a great deal of incentive to switch.
- “The technology is just not there yet”
Another common assumption is that solar power is a new technology, falling in the same category as the latest smartphones or internet enabled home appliances. Wouldn’t it be more sensible to wait until the technology has matured and becomes reliable before investing a lot of money?
Actually, the first solar installation was in New York City in 1884. The first photovoltaic solar cell was invented in 1953 and soon after used in the space industries. In 1982, the first solar park was built in California, the first foray into commercial applications for PV technology, while grid-connected solar panels have experienced huge growth since the 1990s. Huge strides have been made since, both in terms of efficiency of the panels and the viability of their installation cost. The truth of the matter is that there’s never been a better time to invest in solar technology for our homes.
Written by Mike James, a freelance writer working with Geo Green Power.