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Anyone here had solar panels put in? How much was it? Got any tips on what to check when getting quotes and any other gotchas to look out for?

Trying to do some research into it but it's starting to get a bit confusing, esp. when getting into nitty gritty details like support and maintenance, and the types of panels and inverter :unsure:.

I was first drawn in by this Green Deal thing which claims that you can get the panels for free, but there is still an up-front fee and although they say the panels pay for themselves, it isn't really the case as although you get whatever money the panels make, you are the one paying off the loan so if it doesn't generate enough to cover the repayment, you have to pony up the difference.

Also, it seems to me I'd be better off buying the panels outright and adding the rest to the mortgage as the interest rate on the Green deal loan is almost 10%!

Also, what is the actual going rate for, say, 16 panels for a 4kW array? I've been getting quotes ranging from £8k to £12k outright, and £9k to £17k (!!) for the 'Free' panels.

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Which? have put together some good info on solar panels, different types, etc. If you want, I'll copy and paste some stuff together and if you send me a pm with contact details, I'll forward the info to you - may not be until tomorrow though.

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Have you looked into "renting your roof"? Depending on your situation obviously, but the panels are installed at zero cost and you get all the free power you require with the surplus being fed back to the grid and the company gets the payback from that. It is a 20 year deal, but if you sell, it is still the same deal for the new owners.

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Am i right in believing these panels wear out after many years so by the time they have paid for themselves they need replacing anyway?

Mike.

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Generally speaking, a solar panel will last 30 years or more

All thick film panels I've seen are either warrantied for 20 or 25 years.

However, there are no moving parts and so the only failure mechanisms that could come into play to cause them to fail would be physical damage or some sort of electro-migration effect. The electro-migration effect might take 100s of years to cause a problem.

However, by 20 or 25 years from now, there will have been advancements that would make a current generation panel the equivalent of an Edsel anyway. So I would expect that you would want to replace them even if they had not failed.

There is no "regular maintenance" required of a solar panel. (I don't consider brushing leaves or dust off the panels to be maintenance, in the sense that you need to change Oil in your car, for example). Most inverters will have a cooling fan and some sort of filter, which will probably require cleaning if not change occasionally.

I did a little more looking at what causes degradation in solar panels, since I know the cell itself should not degrade.

PV warranties typically allow for 20 percent output degradation over the module’s 20- to 25-year warranty life. But measurements of many modules put into service in the 1980s show that it’s unusual to see even half that much degradation.

Many of those earliest modules still perform to their original specifications. It is safe to say that modules carrying warranties of 20 years or more have a high probability of working well 30 years from now

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We have had panels for 2.5years on the 'rent-a-roof' system and we are highly delighted. They have reduced our electricity bills by about one third, but we are quite heavy users. Our house is very exposed to the south west and there have been quite a few gales since they were installed, but they remain firmly in place.

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I wanted to go down the rent-a-roof way but it seems since the feed in tariff's were cut, far fewer companies seem to offer this, favouring the 'green deal' loan, which frankly isn't a very good deal at all... (As I said, would be far better to buy them outright!)

How are the panels anchored? Do they just drill into the roof's A-frame and bolt the panel anchors to that?

Not too worried about the panel's longevity - Photovoltaic cells do degrade over time but not by too much. My main concerns in that area are damage from e.g. hailstones, bits of tree, birds etc. and, if my experience in computers is anything to go by, the weak link with solar panels will be the inverter!

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We were getting quotes of around £13,000 for the installation we have now. I am 71 so the chances of it breaking even in my lifetime seemed remote. Our house was built in 1913, long before A frames, but there is a hefty beam which goes across the roof and the panels are firmly fixed to this. It is also a slate roof so the rest of the structure is quite light.

The inverter is a pretty hefty box in the cellar. All agreed that having it in the loft space was a bad idea because of the considerable temperature changes.

Beware of inexperienced salesmen, they can make quite glaring errors. One chap calculated the roof angle at 60 degrees which you may find in France but not too often in England.

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I looked hard at this a few years ago when the feed-in was 40+p/kWh, and the simple payback was about 15 years. The failure risk is actually the inverter - about £1500 - so with one of those and some interest loss budgeted in the payback was nearer 20 years.

Added to that is the 'ownership' of the roof/system (which involved a lien on the property) and the catch that if the roof needed attention I'd end up paying for the panels to be removed and replaced - making repairs much more expensive.

I could see future purchasers of the house being put off by some of that, so it could actually devalue the property.

Surprise! No, we didn't have them. The only thing that might make me re-consider (barring a 90% drop in system cost) is if we installed air-conditioning which would be a substantial load that matched our solar power production.

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I had a 4kW system installed just before the tariff was reduced at a cost of 10k and, this has provided a over 20% return on that capital since. Given that rate of return, i expect the capital cost to be repaid in much less than 10 years.

To make the best use of the electricity generated, we try to organise our washing/ drying or any other electrical consumption, to be used between 10 and 2 when production from the panels is at its maximum resulting in no cost.

Yes the inverter is expected to need replacing after around15 years.

Although the taffif has fallen since ours was installed, so has the price of panels etc with a similar system now costing around 5K.

Its important to do your homework and there is loads of info on the net that can be utilised to see if solar will work for you but, the most important, is finding the best people to install it and, i would be prepared to recommend the company that installed mine without hesitation.

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Actually that would be great if any of you've had them done and are quite happy with the work and post-sales support/maintenance, could give them a plug so I can look them up :)

There're a few larger companies but lots of little ones too and there's not much info to help sort the genuine article from the cowboys.

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