A thorough structural survey, including on-site inspection prior to PV installation, is essential, NGRE managing director, Greg Bishop, is reminding homeowners, following a worrying experience a customer had with a national PV installer.
NGRE customer, John, from Kidlington near Oxford, said: “Before speaking to NGRE, we originally got in touch with a national firm. The young man who came was very knowledgeable but towards the end of the visit I asked him if he wanted a look in the attic. He said “no, no, no” and off he went.
“I was surprised. I’m sure he knows his job, but I got the impression he was more of a salesman than a technical chap.”
WORRYING IF INSPECTIONS NOT BEING DONE
Greg said: “The fact that this individual said they didn’t need to go into the loft made our customer suspicious and rightly so.
“If I’m being generous, I can only think a loft inspection would have been done on a follow-up call.”
PV installation is subject to standard building regulations and the ability of the existing roof to carry the weight of the panels needs to be checked and proven.
Greg added: “A structural survey is essential from a safety perspective and in terms of building regs, but this cannot be thoroughly accomplished without a physical examination of the loft-space.
“The fact that some companies might not to be carrying this out is worrying.”
YOU CAN’T JUST ASSUME
Greg said: “You can’t just assume that everything will be as it should. We can take some information, such as roof size, remotely but then we must get up there and have a look.
“The strength and condition of the structural elements need to be assessed with any problems identified.
“For example, the rafters might not be the correct dimensions, they could be riddled with woodworm or truss connector plates could be poorly fitted – without actually getting up there you don’t know.”
Greg added: “We take measurements of the various structural elements and then that gets sent to our structural engineer partner who compiles a report to determine the load capacity of the roof.
“We then use this to calculate the correct size of array suitable and type of fixings needed. If the structural survey isn’t done properly the roof could ultimately fail.”
NGRE RESOLVES ISSUES FOLLOWING SURVEY
John said: “When Greg did the survey in the loft, he had a look at the breezeblock walls and told us he wasn’t fully happy about fitting the battery and inverter to them.
“This allowed us to discuss a solution and we actually ended up having the inverter and battery installed in the garage.”
Greg said: “Conducting an on-site survey at the earliest opportunity benefits everybody.
“John was impressed with our thorough approach, particularly following his earlier experience, and by doing this we were able to identify an issue and design a solution very early in the process.”
USE ACCREDITED INSTALLERS
One way to ensure homeowners are getting the best service is to use an MSC certified installer.
Greg said: “Being MSC certified demonstrates to customers that we install to the industry-expected level of quality every time. It’s not easy becoming accredited but we think it’s worth it and it provides an added level of reassurance to the customer.”
He added: “Homeowners should also be aware that they can remove the need for a building regulations application if they use an installer who is a member of a Competent Person Scheme for microgeneration technology, such as NICEIC.
“Such installers can self-certify that their work complies with building standards and, after commissioning, provide homeowners with certificates to prove their work meets the required regulations.”
THE PV AND BATTERY STORAGE SYSTEM
Following Greg’s visit, John and his wife decided to invest in a 14 panel PV system, augmented with battery storage. The system comprises 14, high performance 355w LG solar panels (4.97 kWp) estimated to provide annual energy generation of 4,676 kWh. Combined with an 8.2kWh GivEnergy battery via a GivEnergy 3.6kW hybrid inverter, NGRE estimates the system will provide 80% of their annual electricity needs, offsetting nearly 2,500kg of carbon.
Are you interested in solar PV and/or battery storage solutions?
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NGRE specialise in the supply of the latest renewable solutions for architects, builders and homeowners in Oxfordshire and surrounding areas and have more than 10 years’ experience.
Solar PV systems come with a 25-year warranty. GivEnergy inverters come with a 10-year standard warranty and GivEnergy batteries come with a 10-year standard warranty or a throughput of 10MWh per 1kWh stored capacity (whichever comes first).