What should you consider before having solar panels installed in San Diego ? How should you decide which installation company is right for you? What type of solar should you choose? photovoltaic or solar thermal? Are there upkeep or maintenance costs?
All of these are valid and common questions when considering solar panels. It’s a big investment and so it’s understandable that you will have questions and concerns. I’ve collated some basic knowledge, tips and advice on how to ensure you find a good company to install your solar panels and highlight some of the points you should consider when having photovoltaic panels installed at your property.
1. MCS Approved Installers
Firstly, and most importantly, ensure that your chosen installer is an “MCS approved installer”. MCS stands for Microgeneration Certification Scheme and it is an indication to consumers that the installer has been assessed and adheres to standards and regulations that are set by the MCS.
MCS Approved Installers are awarded certification as a result of a thorough assessment of the supply, design, installation, set-to-work and commissioning of renewable microgeneration technologies, solar panels.
2. MCS Approved Solar Panels
Alongside MCS Approved installers, make sure that your panels are also MCS approved. MCS Approved Solar Panels also undergo rigorous standards.
To receive certification, MCS Approved Solar Panels not only receive product testing, but the manufacturing processes, materials, procedures and staff training also undergo assessment. Certification is only awarded if every step and stage meets the criteria.
3. NIC EIC Certification
All electricians who provide services in the UK should be NIC EIC certified. Solar installers are no different and you should make sure the company you choose has received certification. You will then be safe in the knowledge that your system complies with national safety requirements as stipulated by the governing body responsible NIC EIC certification.
4. Solar Panel Quotes
Don’t rely on the first or cheapest company you find – ask for quotes from a number solar installation companies, and let the companies know that you plan to do this. This should help ensure that you receive competitive quotes and it also gives you a benchmark from which you can compare quotes against quotes. It might give you some leverage to “play” companies off against one another to get that quote figure knocked down a little. Companies only exist to make money, so they won’t want to lose a potential customer.
Talk to companies who visit your property to provide you with quotes and ask plenty of questions. This will give better understanding and knowledge of what to expect and what you are told. Consider all your quotes before committing to any one in particular.
5. Cheapest Doesn’t Mean Best
As with most things in life, the cheapest quote you can find won’t necessarily get you the best end result. That doesn’t mean you should opt for the most expensive solar panels either. Find a quote which you feel is fair and just as importantly, choose a company that you feel comfortable about dealing with, a company who answers your questions and takes time to explain the technical side of things in a manner that you understand.
This doesn’t just apply to the company’s bottom line figure, but also the individual materials and equipment the company quotes for. If you haven’t been provided with a detail or itemised quote, ask for one. This way, you will know what equipment and materials you are paying for, and you can compare this to your other quotes.
The technology is constantly evolving and in terms of energy generation for the masses, it is still quite new so there will always be improvements and enhancements being made. Ask your company what products they will be using for your install and take some time to do some background research on them: Are there any problems with the panels? Are there newer versions? Is the price about right? Are there any forums which advise for or against them? Learn about solar panel technology and the terminology used, this will help you avoid being “blinded” by jargon.
7. Calculate Potential Feed in Tariff Earnings
The Government’s Feed in Tariff has been extremely influential in the popularity of solar panels. You get paid for all electricity generated from your solar panels, even if you consume it personally. As a general overview, from 3rd March 2012, the rate is 21p/kWh and then from 1st July 2012 the rate of return will be between 16.5p/kWh – 13.6p/kWh. This rate will depend on the number of panel installations completed between March and April 2012. You can also use one of the many online calculators to see how much money you could be earning on your potential investment.
The Feed in Tariff means that whilst your initial investment may be a big outlay, not only will you save money on your energy bills, but you will also generate an income. This takes the investment in solar panels way beyond most returns from other “normal” monetary investments. If you have money invested in savings accounts, maybe consider solar panels.
8. Solar Thermal and Photovoltaic Panels
Take some time to decide whether solar thermal or photovoltaic systems would be more beneficial to your property. Solar thermal generates hot water, whilst photovoltaic panels will generate electricity.
If you are unsure as to the system you want, contact companies and ask which system they would recommend. There’s no reason why you cannot have both systems installed and if you decide that solar thermal panels are your best option, still consider photovoltaic panels, if for no other reason than it could in theory pay for itself and your solar thermal panel system.
9. RHI – The Renewable Heat Incentive
The Renewable Heat Incentive does not provide such a good return on your investment as the Feed in Tariff, but it is still a good incentive that deserves careful consideration. The scheme’s aim is to encourage property owners to reduce their heating energy consumption and carbon foot print by providing the following benefits:
0.085p per kWh return for 20 years
energy consumption reduction
A Government payment contribution
10. Maintenance Costs
You will undoubtedly be told that there are no upkeep or maintenance costs involved with solar, and throughout life expectancy of a solar panel installation, there should in fact be little maintenance or upkeep in regards to the panels themselves. However, the inverter, which converts direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC), will, at some point in the 25 years, need replacing. The cost to replace your inverter will be somewhere near 1000, and so this should form part of your calculation and consideration for solar panels.
Normally, solar systems will be installed on rooftops or high up above the ground in order to get the best exposure to direct sunlight especially in San Diego. The result of this is that less able-bodied people may require assistance to have the solar panels cleaned or to clear any fallen leaves or debris from on and around the panels to keep them working at their maximum capacity.
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It is now the high time to do our own share in protecting Earth and her wonderful creatures.
Our planet is indeed gasping for breath right now, our harmful pollution is indeed choking her slowly and continues to strip off her ozone layer. I think it is about time to give our response to this alarming state of the only planet we live in, by doing our own share of protecting her with doing simple things that will surely stir big difference. For if not, we might be harming ourselves in the years ahead as well, for nature has its own destructive ways of getting back at us humans, the signs of earth's displeasure with inappropriate and harmful activities of humans are now seen and felt all across the globe like the global warming, climate change, acid rain, drought, flash floods and other forms of natural catastrophes.
Antarctic glaciers and ice sheets are melting at a fast rate, the populations of bees worldwide are dwindling down, numerous species of flora and fauna all across the world are becoming extinct as years go by, the ecosystem is continuously harmed, polar bears are getting hungry and the list goes on.
Here are some practical and small ways that could help our planet get a sigh of relief. Collective small efforts by those who are genuinely concerned with earth's welfare will inevitably help her by great leap and bounds.
1. Don’t allow your children to free those colorful balloons in mid-air. Teach your children not to release balloons. For balloons that escaped the grasps of your children that will hover the sky and eventually fell into oceans and seas will be mistaken as (irresistible meal) jellyfish by sea turtles. Sea turtles take a lot of years to mature and unfortunately some of them got killed by eating balloon or plastic bags. Sea turtles are part of the delicate cycle and if their population is affected other species of marine creatures are also under threat.
2. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Make it a habit to reduce the things we need or we consume. Purchase only things that we only need and eat only what you can. Let us do our share not to be part of the problem or should I say part of the garbage problem. Reuse all the things that can still be repaired/fixed or those things that are still okay.
Recycle things to conserve our resources, collect old newspapers, books, magazines, used papers, bottles (plastic and glass), and any other things that you could sell in junkyards. There is money in garbage and at the same time we’re doing our part in recycling process.
3. Be kind to trees. As much as possible use forests products and timber very well with optimum efficiency. You may use the back of coupons, use pencils until it become as small as possible, and don’t play with matches. Try to get involved in tree planting in your local conservation program. This could be fun as trees can give us added oxygen, shades for people and a refuge to different insects and birds.
4. Broken scientific apparatus like thermometer, barometers, manometers, sphygmanometers, and float valves and other things that have mercury on it should be disposed properly. Avoid throwing this in rivers for mercury is toxic and poisonous not only to the fishes and invertebrates but to the humans as well.
5. Minimize the use of refrigerators, foam blowers, solvents, aerosol spray propellants, fire extinguishers, and chemical reagents for these contains chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that are responsible to the climate change and depletion of our precious ozone layer. Do not burn plastic please this habit is also harmful to our ozone layer.
6. Do not buy exotic and endangered animals. These animals are intended to be in the wild not as mere decorations to your home, pets or playthings.
7. Educate our children, friends and even our local community about the harmful effects of dynamite fishing, illegal logging, animal poaching, over reliance to wood products and hos of other environmental issues.
8. Do not even bother to try eating exotic and endangered animals for they are not intended to be part of human’s diet. Let the other predatory animal do the stalking and eating hehehe you’re not fit to be a lion. One of the most badly hit by human's penchant for delicious foods are the sharks (shark fin soup), sturgeon (sturgeon roes - caviar- are valued for their great taste and one of the most prized eats in the world), snakes, sea turtles and many other animals.
9. Do not patronize things (coats, purse, belt, etc.) that are made up of an endangered animal or animal part (like skin, fur, bones, tusks, antlers, etc.).
10. Be responsible with your garbage, dispose them properly. Also try to use segregation scheme with your trashes, separate those decomposable from those that are not. You may utilize a compost pit to serve as haven for all of your organic trashes and eventually use this as your fertilizer for your backyard garden or trees.
11. Do the traditional way of helping to conserve our environment by virtue of avoiding smoke-belching.
12. Conserve electrical energy and water by employing tips such as regular cleaning of our bulb and fluorescent light in our home, use only appliances when needed, avoiding dripping of water from our faucets, and reporting any case of broken water pipelines to local government.
13. Support any environmental conservation in your community, you may give some donations if this will not bother you to support their cause. You may also join them in their information dissemination drive and campaign as well. You may also do things that can benefit our environment. If you're living in nearby beaches try putting old tires in the sea, this will serve as sanctuary for fishes to lay their eggs and for a place to hide from predators. You may have some vegetation (vegetables, trees or ornamental plants) in your own backyard, for extra oxygen in your area.
14. Support and visit eco-tours near you, these may promote awareness about the importance of ecology to your children, relative and friends.
15. When visiting any tourism site/protected parks please be responsible with your trashes as much as possible adhere to the rules and regulations of the park even if no one is looking at you.
16. Learn how to appreciate nature and her gifts to mankind and support any environmental campaigns that will help nurture and protect the only planet we live in.
This is my fifth entry to the hubchallenge...
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