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Solar FAQs

Q: Do I need planning permission to install a solar water heating system?
A: No. Unless your property is in a conservation area, is a listed building or is located in a site of specific scientific interest.  We recommend you check this with your local planning authority as it is the responsibility of the homeowner to check whether planning permission is needed.  Gracelands can certainly assist and guide you in this process.

Q: Do I need permission from building control to install solar panels?
A: Building control has some specific criteria in determining whether you need to submit a buildings notice. We can discuss this with you and we can plan together the most effective way forward.

Q: Does my roof need to face south?
A: South facing roofs at a 30-35 degree angle are recommended to offer the best annual output. However, east or west roofs will function and offer approximately 20% reduction from an optimal position.

Q: How does shade affect solar panels?
A: Shading can impact the amount of energy your solar system produces. The impact of shade will be discussed during your survey and we will advise you accordingly.

Q: How much roof space is required and how many solar panels will I need?
A: Each house, and the aspect of its roof, is different.  An average 3 bedroom semi-detached home should have sufficient space for a small solar system of approximately 2 panels.

Q: How are the solar panels fixed to the roof?
A: For a standard roof we use rigid stainless steel brackets that are fixed directly to your roof rafters. The brackets hook out from underneath your existing tiles. We do not drill tiles and slates or mastic/silicon your roof as the longevity of your roof will be affected using these techniques.

Q: Will my roof be strong enough?
A: Most roofs are strong enough to take a solar installation without any reinforcement. Our survey will confirm this for you.

Q: Are the solar panels approved?
A: We only use panels that are approved. You can confirm our panels are approved by visiting the MCS website: http://www.microgenerationcertification.org

Q: How do solar water heating systems work
A: Solar thermal collectors are fitted to your roof which collect heat from the sun and use it to heat water that is stored in a hot water cylinder. Water in the cylinder can be heated to 45°c and can be topped up to the required temperature (set by the cylinder's thermostat) by using a boiler or immersion heater.

Q: Do I need to replace my hot water cylinder?
A: Possibly, because most hot water cylinders do not have a spare heating coil. However, we will confirm this when we survey your property.

Q: What happens to the solar panels when I go on holiday?
A: The solar panels are robust and you can leave the system switched on so that it continues to heat your cylinder.  The system will not be damaged by periods of minimal usage.

Q: Can I heat my house and my hot water with solar?
A: Most houses in the UK need their heat during the winter when solar energy is at its weakest. The most effective method is to have the solar system linked to a gas boiler or heat pump to ensure that you can create all your heat and hot water needs.

Q: How hot will the solar heated water get?
A: The panels routinely exceed 100 degrees C.  Given the high temperatures it is important that pipe clips, insulation/ lagging and pipe joints can withstand up to 150 degrees C.

Q: Can I heat my swimming pool with solar panels?
A: Yes. Solar hot water systems can be either mounted on a roof or on the ground to provide hot water for your swimming pool. Systems used for heating swimming pools may need to be considerably larger than for a standard domestic installation.

Q: How much does a solar installation cost?
A: This depends upon the size of your property and on your specific requirements. However, our experience suggests that, for a typical three bedroom property, current prices can range between £4,500 and £6,000.

Q: Is VAT payable?
A: Yes, domestic installations are currently subject to VAT at 5%. For commercial projects VAT of 20% applies.  The amount of VAT payable will be clearly and separately identified on our invoice.

Q: Do solar systems need replacing?
A: The solar panels have no moving parts so you can expect your system to last for at least 20-25 years’ especially if it is of good quality and has been correctly installed.  Your equipment will also come with manufacturer guarantees e.g. solar thermal tubes usually come with a 10 year guarantee and the pumping station with 2 years.  From a performance perspective, the solar pv panels are estimated to decrease by less than 1% per year.  The industry standard for guaranteeing workmanship is typically 1 year.  Gracelands guarantees all its workmanship for 1 year.

Q: What maintenance is required?
A: Minimal, if any, maintenance is required as rainwater will naturally help keep surfaces clean.  It is recommended that solar panels are kept clear of overhanging branches from tall trees and anything else that may cause them to become shaded.

Q: How long will the installation take?
A: Once your order has been agreed and placed with the Manufacturer, installation can expect to take place within 6 weeks.  A system for a standard 3 bed semi-detached home will take approximately 2 days to install.  Exact timings will be advised and agreed with you once your order has been confirmed.

Q: Are the installers appropriately trained?
A: Yes. Gracelands is an MCS accredited installer (Microgeneration Certification Scheme).

Should you have a question that we have not anticipated or included above, a member of our Solar Installation team will be happy to provide an answer for you.

Disclaimer:

The performance of a solar thermal system is impossible to predict with certainty due to the variability in the amount of solar radiation (sunlight) from location to location and from year to year.  The estimate provided is based upon the Government’s standard assessment procedure for energy rating of buildings (SAP) and is given as guidance only. It should not be considered as a guarantee of performance.

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"The engineer that carried out the service was polite, courteous, efficient, tidy and knowledgeable and I am more than happy with the service that has been provided. "
Mr N, Theydon Bois

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"We have had your engineer in for the last three days installing our new central heating. I would like to say thank you, your staff were helpful, courteous, polite, and kept us informed all the way through the installation Please pass on our thanks to the engineers. "
Mr & Mrs P, Hackney

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"I would like to thank your staff for the good work they did in my bungalow. (I must say they were good workers). They not only put in the heating system for me but they cleared everything up for me. Thank your staff for me for the good job they did. "
Mr B, Harlow

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"Many people I'm sure write to complain, I am writing to both compliment and thank your electricians, John and Mark from Gracelands, they were efficient, positive, friendly and did a wonderful job. Again, thank you. "
JG, Epping

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Local Authority Manager

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"I had one of your electricians..... doing the wiring for a new heating system at my home.... he was very polite and very hard working..... he worked non-stop and was a neat and tidy worker. Well done. "
MH, Ongar

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