Local Solar installers comparison

 

What does the organisation do to meet their social responsibilities?

Are conflict materials used?

Spirit solar Oxford Solar PV Simms solar SolarTech NGRE R-Eco JoJu
“We will purchase fairly-traded goods where available.” and ” We will strive to increase the proportion of goods and services purchased which are less harmful to the environment, within financial limitations. Purchasing decisions will be based on the choice of materials or products that have the lowest environmental impact in production, transportation, use and disposal. “ We have installed panels on our own roofs as part of our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and use local suppliers where possible. We believe we offer a value for money offering ensuring the customer is well informed so that they can make an informed decision. We abide by the Consumer Protection Code, providing customers with route of redress. We are locally based and use local trades and suppliers where possible and appropriate. Conflict materials are not used ISO 14001:2015 sets out the criteria for an environmental management system and can be certified to. It maps out a framework that a company or organization can follow to set up an effective environmental management system. We are a very small company so don’t have such a policy. However our office is heated by ASHP and does have PV. We use LED lighting and try to minimise the use of paper. We recycle majority of our waste As a worker co-operative we are an employee owned democratically controlled business.  In our selection of products we aim to offer our clients a balance of performance, longevity, product support and environmental credentials.  For customers particularly concerned with the ethical sourcing of their solar panels we refer to www.solarscorecard.com.  This annual league table ranks solar panel manufacturers using a wide range of social and environmental attributes.  For a recent customer in Kennington we supplied REC panels due to their high ranking on the SolarScoreCard. We would not want to use conflict materials and don’t believe that any of the materials use are from conflict zones. Sunpower Panels are very good in terms of sourcing materials, have a look at this guardian link for more info: http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/apr/30/sunpower-wins-a-world-first-for-solar Joju is alos made up of pretty green people. We take public transport and cycles instead of driving where ever possible. We also have a lot of veggies including the MD ;0).

Are local installation staff used?

Where are the panels made? What is their route here within the supply chain?

“We will influence our indirect environmental impacts by ‘greening’ our supply chain,

e.g. encouraging the supply chain to take up initiatives such as adopting environmental policies and providing environmentally friendly products” on page 2 of the Environmental Policy.

 

Local installation staff are used where possible.

Panels are predominantly manufactured in China, and we buy them off UK suppliers, who in turn buy them in bulk to reduce environmental impact.

 

We employ all local staff and do not use sub contracted installation teams unlike a lot of other companies.

 

SunPower panels are constructed in France.  All our mounting frames/rails come from a local supplier based in Bourton on the Water.

Local installation staff are used.

 

There is very little UK manufacture occurring at present. Most product is manufacture for our suppliers is undertaken in Singapore, S. Korea and the Philippines. The suppliers undertake the majority of process manufacturing tasks and generally the carbon footprint of manufacture is offset within 3 years of module operation

We use our own local installation team and always source the panels from the closest distribution centre to the project site. The panels tend to be made in either Europe or China and are sent to the UK distribution warehouses via container. Unfortunately most panels are made in China. However we do have a manufacturer in Wales that we use quite often. They are manufactured to order and delivered straight to our unit in Woodstock Our staff are based in Oxford and Checkendon, we have a storage facility in Drayton St Leonard and one of our main suppliers is based in Reading.  Our registered office is the Oxford Green House.  We regularly travel to customers by either bicycle, bus or electric hybrid car.  We do not subcontract our installation work.

 

The panels listed above are manufactured in China, South Korea and Taiwan.  They are transported to the UK by ship.

 

Our main installation team is based in Welwyn Garden City so not too far away from Oxford. Sunpower Panels used in the UK will either be manufactured in France or Poland. No panels or inverters are ever flown in.

What are the typical efficiencies of the panels used

Panel wattages vary from 250W to 333W. Panel efficiencies vary from 15.5% to 21.5%. We offer polycrystalline and monocrystalline panels. Most of my domestic systems use the record breaking SunPower E20 panel at over 20% efficiency although I can supply other lesser panels if budget requires it. It depends on what the customer is looking for but typically anything from 15.6% (typical polycrystalline module) to 21% (SunPower Monocrystalline module) The cells range from 15.3% to 21% depending on the price paid per module. 15.3% is the typical efficiency for a 250w poly / monocrystalline for a commercial project that are solely looking at putting a tick in the box to satisfy planning but a domestic customer may wish to spend extra money for a higher efficiency cell  Between 15.3% and 19.4% Axitec 250 all black monocrystalline 15.37% efficiency

Axitec 260 SolarEdge silver frame polycrystalline 15.37% efficiency

LG 300 Neon all black monocrystalline 18.3% efficiency

BenQ 333 Sunforte monocrystalline 20.4% efficiency

 

A high panel efficiency most useful where space is limited.  If space is not limited we would not recommend a high efficiency panel due to the higher price.

 

Generally we use Sunpower Panels but we are not wedded to them and can source pretty much any panel you like. Most common is the E20 module as it is better value but the new X21 series is also quite popular. Have a look at this video for further details, (also attached are datasheets). If you can find a PV panel more efficient than that I will give you 50 quid!:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2CetWDXhhs

Other popular panels we sometimes use are Panasonic (2nd most efficient available after Sunpower), LG (3rd most efficient) and Solar World – quality German manufactured panels. We also do budget, standard efficiency panels which are around 260w per panel and used in those huge soalr farms. They can be quite good if there is a lot of roof space or budget is limited.

Please provide an indicative price that we could advise people of (we will ensure this is known to be only indicative) including any discount:

A standard 4kWp installation using the most cost-effective panels would be around £5000-6000 in total. 4kWp (12 panel) SunPower panels and SMA inverter would be in the region of £6900 + VAT including connection to local router for remote monitoring of system.  Solar Edge based system would be £7100 + VAT.  Immersun Hot water controller would be additional £350 + VAT A 4kw System would typically comprise 14 panels and the cost would start from ~£5.5k using branded products from manufacturers of strong pedigree. A current 4kwp system would be made up of 16 x 250w modules and would cost circa £6k fully installed. £5750 + VAT @5% 16 panels x 260 Watts = 4.16kWp £6,628.85, Investment return: 4.4% IRR at 25% self use, 7.8% IRR at 50% self use With standard efficiency 260W panels we can hit 4.16 kWp with just 16 panels. The cost would be around £6,500 including VAT and installation. Sunpower we can hit 4 kW with 12 panels but they are more expensive (around £8,500 including VAT and installation).

Do the panels come with any maintenance provision included?

Is this offered separately? If so what are the costs to the customer?

We offer a workmanship warranty of 2 years. During this period we can offer additional regular electrical services, and panel cleaning. After the workmanship warranty expires, we can offer an extension package of the workmanship warranty, and electrical services and panel cleaning. Cleaning of panels and monitoring of performance is all that is required to maintain successful operation of the system.  Faults identified if they occur so impossible to put a cost on this. Generally speaking the system is maintenance free, we would advise the customer on any specific requirements There is no real maintenance with the panels as the typical pitch of the roof helps with rain cleaning the glass. You can pay for them to be cleaned ( typically £50 per year ) as a lot of window cleaners now offer this option too. We can offer an annual inspection for a few hundred pounds per year if the clients wants to. We advise clients how to carry out maintenance as there is very little. It simply involves keeping the inverter clear and uncovered so it can dissipate any heat efficiently and if panels become really dirty – get them cleaned.

 

 

SolarEdge Inveters have a 12 year warranty as standard which can be extended to 20 or 25 years.

SolarEdge Power Optimisers have a 25 year warranty.

The panels listed above have warranties from 10 to 12 years.

We offer a 2 year workmanship warranty on the installation.

We offer a monitoring service for £59.50pa to alert the customer if the system is off-line (weekly check) and a quarterly check of the output from each panel.

 

The system is covered as part of the price in various ways. Sunpower Panels have a 25 year warranty which includes labour and access to replace if needed. We have a 5 year workmanship warrenty as standard and we will liaise directly with the suppliers to organise replacements if required. Generally Solar PV is maintenance free other than the possibility of having to swap the inverter once during the system life time (generally considered to be 25 years). A standard string inverter warranty is 5 years after which we recommend a maintenance kitty of around £700 if the inverter ever needs replacing. We quite often use Solar Edge inverters which come with a 12 year warranty as standard but then it is good practice to keep the maintenance kitty after this time. You can get extended warranties to cover the whole 25 years but they will almost certainly work out more expensive that just buying a brand new inverter in 5 – 20 years as inverter technology is improving and costs are coming down.

Are you able to fit equipment to listed building or undertake conservation area installations?

We are able to install on listed buildings and undertake installations in conservation areas & AONB’s, however this is normally determined by the planning authorities. We find that listed buildings, conservation area’s and AONB’s can prove significant planning hurdles to overcome. Yes, we are currently hoping to install a roof integrated PV system on our own village hall pending planning permission being granted. Yes, subject to planning approvals where required. We have installed systems onto listed buildings although planning permission has to be obtained prior to any work being carried out. Yes – subject to correct permissions being in place. We are currently having a PV Tile manufactured for this exact reason. It has to look like an existing slate roof We have undertaken many installations on listed buildings using the C21e SolarSlates from SolarCentury.  The rules for Conservation areas are now more relaxed.  We are very focused on aesthetics and work hard to find a solution for each project.  We have used various roof integrated solutions and we are looking to install more, particularly full roof systems.

 

We would be very happy to supply a variety of photos showing different aesthetics, panels and mounting options.

 

Conservation areas are not a problem any more. Solar on a pitched roof is considered permitted development however a planning application and listed building application would be required for installations on listed buildings.

 

Last updated: August 2016

 

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