Sun Switch blog

Nov 01

Important announcement about Feed in Tariffs

Yesterday the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) released its Comprehensive Feed-in Tariff (FIT) Review. If you have had a proposal from Sun Switch to install solar PV we would urge you to take advantage of the higher rates by installing before 12 December.

DECC proposes to cut the feed-in tariff from 43.3p to 21p per kWh, for systems below 4 kWp. DECC has decided to apply the lower rate to all systems installed after 12 December 2011, meaning those considering solar power now have just a few weeks to install systems.

The consultation closes on the 23 December 2011 and it is expected that DECC will announce their decision in January 2012. Below we outline some key information:

Aug 31

Sun Switch Information Evening

Join us at the Sun Switch Information Evening 

On Thursday 22 September, Sun Switch are holding a free seminar where prospective customers can come along to find out more about solar PV, the benefits of feed in tariffs and the technology used (including the panels and inverters we offer at Sun Switch).  You’ll also have the chance to speak to previous Sun Switch customers about their experience.

The evening will start at 6pm and there will be drinks and nibbles followed by a presentation on solar PV and a chance to ask us any questions. To find out more about the information evening or to register your interest, please email info@sunswitch.co.uk or call 01908 442233. 

May 04

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Mar 17

Come and see us at the Green Buckingham Fair

Sun Switch will be exhibiting at the Green Buckingham Fair on Saturday 26 March 2011.

The organisers, the Green Buckingham Group, say that “the fair will be hosting a wide-ranging selection of environmental products and services, presented by organisations and companies involved with sustainability, energy efficiency, energy saving and environmentally friendly products”. More information can be found at the Group’s website.

The fair is at the Buckingham Community Centre at Cornwalls Meadow, Buckingham and runs from 10am to 4pm. Details of where to find it can be found here.

Our sales manager Alison Cutland (seen below at a previous exhibition) will be at the Fair in the morning, and Austin Baggett, general manager, will be taking over in the afternoon. If you’ve heard about feed in tariffs and ever wondered how much green electricity your roof could generate, come along and have a chat.

Sun Switch exhibiting

Mar 16

Feed in tariffs rise by 4.8% from April

Good news that Ofgem has announced the new feed in tariff rates to come in on April 2011.

Both generation and export tariff rates are index linked which means that they will increase with inflation. The tariff rates are adjusted annually by the percentage increase in the retail price index over the 12 month period ending on 31 December of the previous year. The adjusted rates will apply from 1 April 2011.

For retrofit PV systems under 4 kWp, the generation tariff increases from 41.3p to 43.3p - an increase of 4.8%. The export tariff increases from 3p to 3.1p - an increase of 3.3%.  The difference in % for the export tariff is due to rounding such a small number.

These new rates will apply to anyone who has already got a PV system and will be the new rates paid by your electricity company from 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012. You’ll be asked to provide a generation meter reading on 31 March 2011 to enable the correct tariff to be applied.  The new increased rates will also apply to anyone installing a solar PV system from 1 April 2011 onwards.

Feb 11

Huhne takes action on solar farm threat -

Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary, has moved to ensure that homeowners benefitting from the Feed-in Tariff scheme aren’t impacted by large-scale solar farms.

DECC, the Government department responsible for FITs, have announced a comprehensive review into the scheme. Huhne said:

“The renewables industry is a vital piece in the green growth jigsaw and this review will provide long term certainty while making sure homes, communities and small firms are encouraged to produce their own green electricity.

“Large scale solar installations weren’t anticipated under the FITs scheme we inherited and I’m concerned this could mean that money meant for people who want to produce their own green electricity has the potential to be directed towards large scale commercial solar projects.”

DECC have made it very clear that any decisions that come out of this review will not affect people who are already benefitting from FITs:

The Government will not act retrospectively and any changes to generation tariffs implemented as a result of the review will only affect new entrants into the FITs scheme. Installations which are already accredited for FITs at the time will not be affected.

So if you’ve already had a PV installation, and are making money, there will be no change. If you’re considering PV, this could be an opportune moment to do more research into potential suppliers. Why not read our questions to ask PV suppliers?

Feb 03

8 Questions You Must Ask Any Solar PV Supplier

There are lots of reasons for choosing to install solar PV panels on your roof, but how do you go about choosing a solar PV supplier? Here are some questions that we think you should aim to get answers for. Some will be apparent from looking at websites, others you will have to ask in person or over the telephone. It’s important that you are satisfied with the answers; while a solar PV system is a sound investment, it is a serious investment and should be treated as such.

1. How long have you been in the business?

Because the benefits of solar PV and energy efficiency are so great, lots of new companies have sprung up to take advantage of people’s interest in these areas. So find out how long they’ve been providing these, or similar services. Sun Switch is brought to you by National Energy Services, a well-established energy efficiency organisation based at the National Energy Centre in Milton Keynes. We have over 25 years’ experience of helping individuals and organisations to improve energy efficiency in their homes and commercial premises. So it’s safe to say we’ve been doing this for a while, and we know what we’re talking about!

2. Will you subcontract any of the work, and if so, to who?

Specifying and installing a solar PV system is a complicated job. There’s no reason why any PV supplier shouldn’t subcontract out part of the work, but you should find out who to. Sun Switch has partnered with J Tomlinson for installations. With over 60 years’ experience of designing and installing mechanical and electrical services, J Tomlinson is NES’s partner of choice to install Sun Switch PV systems.

3. Can you provide testimonials from existing customers?

Any good PV supplier will want to shout from the rooftops about their happy customers! If there aren’t any testimonials on the website, do ask. We’ve published a few testimonials on our website from genuine, happy customers. Make sure you can read quotes from customers and see photos of previous installations.

4. How much energy will the system generate, and for how long?

You should ensure that the system you are buying is of the highest quality and generates enough clean, renewable energy for your needs. Not only is this important now, but also in the years to come. Sun Switch only uses high-quality Schuco panels, with an output tolerance of +5% and -0%. By comparison, many Chinese panels are +3% and -3%. Schuco warrants the electrical output of the Solar PV Panels to be no less than 80% of their designed performance after 25 years. Read more about our guarantees.

5. What does the quote cover?

Ensure there aren’t any hidden surprises, and that the price you are quoted is the price you pay. Sun Switch will be glad to provide you with a free survey and proposal. The proposal covers the system cost along with any installation costs, such as special scaffolding requirements or other additional work, as well as giving a full breakdown of the energy and income the system is likely to generate.

6. Are you talking to a salesperson, or a PV expert?

Make sure that you talk to a person that understands the finer details of PV and of the system you are buying. All our Solar PV System Designers are professionally qualified energy assessors, passionate about energy efficiency, and can answer questions you have about the system and PV in general.

7. How long does the installation take?

You should ask how long the installation will take, and what to expect during that time period. For most Sun Switch systems, the full installation will take two days to complete, and we’ll need to access to various parts of your home. Before we leave, the system will be checked and fully explained to you. To ensure minimum disruption to you we will clear surplus debris and make arrangements for the removal of the scaffolding.

8. Are you and your products accredited by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme?

The Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) is an independent scheme that certifies microgeneration products and installers in accordance with consistent standards. The primary aim of the MCS is to provide consumers with confidence and protection by evaluating microgeneration products and installers against robust criteria. The MCS is the only certification scheme to cover all microgeneration products and services, and has support from the government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change. Sun Switch uses Schuco panels that are MCS-approved products. Our installation partner, J Tomlinson, are MCS-accredited for solar PV systems.

Summary

Make sure you get all these questions answered, as well as any others that are relevant to you. You aren’t expected to be an expert, but your supplier should be, so make sure you are confident in them and their services. And if you want to talk to us, or you’d like us to come round for a free site visit, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Jan 06

Despite the snow, my PV system has still generated more than was promised.
On 23 July 2010 my Sun Switch solar PV system was switched on.  It’s a 12 panel system rated at 2.52 kWp.  For the full year, using the standard government calculation, it is predicted to generate 1951 kWh of electricity a year.  Looking at my meter this evening, 798 kWh has so far been generated in the 167 days since it was switched on.  That’s all well and good, but how does that compare with the system’s predicted output for the full year of 1951 kWh?
To find out, my colleague Wilson has done a more complex prediction calculation which breaks the 1951 kWh figure down into daily amounts, taking into account the average solar radiance for each individual month.  This calculation says that after 167 days the predicted output is 747 kWh.  Great news!  The system is overperforming by 51 kWh or around 7%.  Not bad considering all the overcast skies and the panels being covered by snow for over a week.
We’d be delighted to provide a similar calculation to any of our customers who want to check up on their system’s performance to date.  Or we can give you the Excel spreadsheet so you can do your own calculation periodically.  Just get in contact.
Post by Austin Baggett, National Energy Services, 6 January 2011

Despite the snow, my PV system has still generated more than was promised.

On 23 July 2010 my Sun Switch solar PV system was switched on.  It’s a 12 panel system rated at 2.52 kWp.  For the full year, using the standard government calculation, it is predicted to generate 1951 kWh of electricity a year.  Looking at my meter this evening, 798 kWh has so far been generated in the 167 days since it was switched on.  That’s all well and good, but how does that compare with the system’s predicted output for the full year of 1951 kWh?

To find out, my colleague Wilson has done a more complex prediction calculation which breaks the 1951 kWh figure down into daily amounts, taking into account the average solar radiance for each individual month.  This calculation says that after 167 days the predicted output is 747 kWh.  Great news!  The system is overperforming by 51 kWh or around 7%.  Not bad considering all the overcast skies and the panels being covered by snow for over a week.

We’d be delighted to provide a similar calculation to any of our customers who want to check up on their system’s performance to date.  Or we can give you the Excel spreadsheet so you can do your own calculation periodically.  Just get in contact.

Post by Austin Baggett, National Energy Services, 6 January 2011

Dec 14

How people are benefitting from solar PV systems and Feed-in Tariffs -

We recently added a new page to the Sun Switch website, where you can see case studies and read testimonials from people that have had Sun Switch systems installed on their roofs.

Installing a solar PV system is a significant investment. While we hope the financial benefits are clear, on this page we hope to demonstrate some of the specific reasons our customers have for installing Sun Switch PV systems, and what sort of benefits they are getting from the Feed-in Tariff. 

For instance, Mrs Morris from Milton Keynes is expecting to generate £1,443 in savings and avoided costs, as well as saving 1,825 kg of carbon dioxide in the system’s first year alone.

Of course, it all starts with a free solar PV survey. So don’t forget to get in touch with us and a solar PV expert in your area will be able to specify the perfect system for your house and budget.

Nov 16

We’ve recently installed several Sun Switch PV systems in Milton Keynes and the surrounding area.
One of the installations (in Broughton Village, MK) is an 18 panel, 3.78 kWp system facing South West. The system is predicted to generate nearly £1,500 of income and savings in its first year.
See more in this set of photos on Flickr, and read more about Sun Switch on our website.

We’ve recently installed several Sun Switch PV systems in Milton Keynes and the surrounding area.

One of the installations (in Broughton Village, MK) is an 18 panel, 3.78 kWp system facing South West. The system is predicted to generate nearly £1,500 of income and savings in its first year.

See more in this set of photos on Flickr, and read more about Sun Switch on our website.