How to choose a high quality solar panel installer…

Solar Panel companies are popping up all over the place at the moment due to the increase in interest. So, how do you decide on the best company to use when installing Solar Panels?  There are a few things that may help make this decision a little easier so check out our little helper points below:

  1. Location – It is advisable to choose a local business when installing solar panels because if you have any issues with the installation, or just need some maintenance support, having your installer just around the corner is far more reassuring than a company 80 miles away who may pop in if they’re passing.
  2. Certification – Ask your potential installer if they are certified. Make sure you find out the accreditations that the supplier has as this will highlight how qualified and professional they are. The Micro Generation Certification Scheme (MCS); Renewable Energy Consumer Code (RECC); Independent Warranty Association (IWA); NICEIC and The National Association of Professional Inspectors & Testers (NAPIT) are all accreditations to look out for when choosing a supplier.
  3. Company History – It is always good to research and find out a bit about the company – i.e. how long they have been established, client testimonials and the accreditations they have. Quite a few Solar Panel companies have only recently emerged so judging them on their time in the industry may not be reflective of how good they are as a company.
  4. Cost – Solar Panel installation costs will vary considerably so its advisable  to get quotes from more than one company that provide high quality installation of solar panels. It is also important to understand if a quotation is higher – why it is the case. It may be that a higher quality panel or invertor is being used – or indeed it may be a larger installation. Trying to get a true like for like quotation is tough, so it is worthwhile talking to the companies who provided the quote after receiving it to ensure that you understand fully what is being quoted for and how that may differ from their competitors.
  5. Warranty – Most high quality solar panel installers will give around 5 – 10 years warranty and the length of warranty that they are willing to provide will be reflective of the quality of their work. The more warranty that they give shows the confidence that they have in their product and installation therefore this is a great indication on whether they are a good company to use for your Solar Panel installation. It is highly recommended to find a company that provides a long warranty and support – as this will be invaluable during the lifetime of your installation.

Top 10 Solar Facts: Did you know…?

We have uncovered some serious and not so serious solar and sun facts that you may not have appreciated!


  1. Solar Energy is the main source of energy for all the plants and animals in the world and is the reason we are all alive today!
  2. Sun rays are a clean energy source, that produce no pollution and cause no harmful environmental effects, therefore is the ideal way to power our homes.
  3. The on-grid systems sense when solar energy is not being created, for example at night and switch over to the national grid.
    1. If a small area of the Sahara desert were covered in photovoltaic cells, then the whole world’s electricity requirements would be met.
    2. All TV and communications satellites are powered by solar energy using photovoltaic cells.
    3. Each hour, of each day, more energy from the sun reaches our planet than is used by the entire global population in an entire year. All we need now is a way to harness it effectively!
    4. Did you know that a solar storm on the face of the sun is so powerful – it can disrupt communication signals and even affect the weather here on earth?
    5.  Luckily for us in the UK you don’t need a sunny day to produce solar energy. Solar energy can still be produced on cloudy, overcast days.
    6. On average in the UK, a 1 kWp solar PV system will generate around 80 kWh – this is enough to run a laptop for over 1,000 hours and will save over 30 kg of CO2.

10. Did you know that a solar powered system can pay for itself at todays power rates almost three times over? Imagine what that figure will be in five years time!

There are so many reasons to use solar energy. Some are financial some are ecological, but to waste one of the most plentiful and ecologically friendly ways of producing power is a shame. So take the plunge and find out more from Cambridge Solar!

Choosing The Right Inverter

Many people who have just started looking into the possibilities of solar power often wonder what the magic is behind the process. How does that wonderful free resource get turned into something that we use and have historically paid for?

The answer is – inverters. An inverter takes the power from the solar panels in the form of DC (Direct Current) electricity and converts it to AC (Alternating Current) – which is the standard used by the national grid and most house hold appliances. The technology nowadays allows this process to take place with little overhead or loss to the original power supplied by the solar panel.

As one may expect, there are several different types of inverter and we have set out the types and their differences below:

Micro inverter

The Micro inverter was one of the first commercially available ways of reliably converting power into a usable format. In the early 2000’s – and due to their higher pricing and lower efficiency the micro inverter all but disappeared. In more recent times they have reappeared on the market. This has been due to massive improvements in semi-conductor technology that have improved efficiency and reliability. Because a micro-inverter is a relatively simple design, there is less to go wrong with it and in fact the Pentagon still has solar panels working on their 1994 installation – a testimony indeed as to how well this design can last. The main benefit of the micro inverter is that they can optimise solar panel arrays on a panel-by-panel basis, unlike traditional string inverters in which if one panel is shaded it effects the entire string. This results in higher yields than standard systems, especially if there are any shading issues.

String Inverters

String inverters have been the mainstay for solar installations – due to their established reliability; their accessibility as well has a high and sustained productivity. They are ideally suited to residential and small commercial installations. The technology is improving all of the time and continues to make these inverters even more efficient and reliable. The main benefit of the traditional string inverter over microinverters or using power optimisers is cost.

Central Inverters

Central inverters are normally geared towards more commercial use. They are normally floor or wall mounted. These leviathans normally convert anywhere between 50KW to 1MW of power. They can also use extra boost stages to increase the voltage range. Most installations normally use tranformerless – due to size, weight and cost implications.

String Inverters with Power Optimisers

You can improve the performance of string inverters by plugging each panel into a power optimiser. These are similar to microinverters in that they allow higher yields due to the fact that each panel will always be individually performing its best, despite shading on other panels. However unlike microinverters which directly convert from DC to AC on a panel level these keep the output power in DC and therefore you still need a string inverter to do the conversion of energy from DC to AC. The main benefit of these is that they can optimise panels individually at a slightly lower cost than the microinverters.

The other consideration is to decide whether you will be “grid-tied” or “off-grid”.

Choosing an off-grid inverter includes charging batteries – which means that the system can convert AC-DC as well as DC to AC. This means that the system can release the battery charge into the system when required. This would typically be when a grid-tied system would simply switch importing from the grid. These systems are generally more expensive – however as the technology moves on and production becomes more streamlines, they are becoming a little less expensive and a little more popular.


The other areas to look for are the analytical data you can retrieve from an inverter. Some systems give the customer full suites of data and comparative information. To make the most of your installation is important that this information is available to you. Also check for warrantees on inverters – as generally they may need replacing during the lifetime of your solar installation.

Not All Solar Panels Are The Same – Top Tips When Choosing Your Solar Panels

You may think that when you are buying a solar panel – there is little to choose between them. In reality this statement could not be much farther from the truth. If you want to get the best from your solar panel – this guide will give you an insight into the differences in solar panels and what to look for. Manufacturers are often vertically integrated – meaning production of the silicon, cells and the panels are produced in-house.

Firstly there are three tiers to quality solar panel manufacturing:

 Tier 1

 These are mainly manufactured by robots. The sterile and highly controlled environment ensures a high quality – longer lasting solar panel. The manufacturers must have been producing solar panels for longer than 5 years to even be considered for inclusion at this level. Tier 1 panels are usually priced at the premium end – however their quality and longevity of service normally makes up for the increased pricing. Only the top 2% of manufacturers fall into this category.

 Tier 2

Whilst panels manufactured at this level are still of a very good quality – they do not have the stringent and sterile conditions of a tier 1 panel. Also, research and development is a lot less than a higher-grade panel manufacturer. There are still many good producers of panels at this level and they have produced panels for a minimum of 2 and a half years.

 Tier 3

 At this level, many components are sourced on the open market and are assembled by hand. There is very little or no development investment. Quality of panels can vary wildly – even from the same manufacturer. Whilst there are some good tier 3 producers, it is important to approach with caution.


 Look for a panel that is likely to exceed or at least meet its rating value. Many lower grade panels will not meet the rating stamped on the panel. Also look for the temperature co-efficient. This shows what the impact heat has on the panel’s function after it has been installed. The lower the percentage per degree – the better is will be.

 Efficiency and Energy

 As mentioned before the more efficient a panel is at converting light into electrical energy – the more your system will generate – pay attention to this value. The embodied energy factor is important to ensure that you are getting a pay back on your solar investment.


 Check manufactures warranty period. The longer the warranty – the better the return on your investment. Please consider that the warranty is only as good as the manufacturer – therefore selecting a quality and long-established builder of panels will ensure a valid warranty period.

 Different Types of Panel:

 Mono crystalline silicon offers high efficiency and good heat tolerance characteristics in a small footprint.

Polycrystalline (or multi-crystalline) silicon cell based solar panels are now the most popular choice in residential installs. Recent improvements in polycrystalline panel technology have resulted in the development of modules equal to or better than many monocrystalline brands in terms of size, efficiency and heat tolerance.

Amorphous (or thin-film) silicon uses the least amount of silicon. While some thin film panels are among the least efficient solar cells, some manufacturers produce quality panels that buck those trends.

Finally – check the reviews that are frequently undertaken on solar panels to assess which panels are right for you. Cambridge Solar remove a lot of the hassle in this way as they have already selected both the most cost effective and efficient panels for your installation. Give them a call and find out what makes the panels they install fulfill your needs the best.

The Top 10 Reasons for Solar Being A Good Investment

Many people debate the fact that Solar is an investment worth making. From our experience and the feedback from our customers we have compiled our top 10 reasons as to why solar makes good sense as an investment in all senses of the word.

·  You are reducing the future impact of utility bill increases. Having your own system that generates power for your home prevents you from worrying about what the next price hike may be.

·  Solar panels regularly produce more electricity than predicted by MCS calculation – even in overcast conditions!

·  Having a solar system will save you money. Put simply – having a solar system reduces the need for you to buy electricity from an outside supplier. Over time the system pays for itself!

·  You can now make your system even more efficient and improve the systems return on investment with smart devices that switch on your hot water or other appliances when you are generating more electricity than you need. This means you reduce your need for gas or oil and improve your use of electricity without thinking about it.

·  Although the widespread installation of solar power systems is a relatively recent, in both Europe and the USA houses with a solar panel installation have sold for more than other houses in the locality without a solar system. In the UK early signs show an increase of up to 8% in house prices for those with a solar installation.

·  Investing in a solar system will return more than a bank account will in the current economic climate and according to analysts will continue to do so for many years to come.

·  Solar panels actually protect your roof from wear and tear.

·  Investing in solar panels means that you are investing into a greener future for you and your family. Solar panels have no health side effects and have no ecological impact on the earth. Its a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.

·  The more homes that take up solar energy as a viable source of power, the less need there will be for fossil fuelled power plants in the UK. And that has to be good doesn’t it?

·  You are also helping to create and maintain more jobs in the green power sector. Meaning – a better financial outlook in the UK.

If you want to get a better return than most investments, save money and create a greener future – contact Cambridge Solar and find what return you could be getting.

MCS Approved for the Fourth Year Running!

Cambridge Solar is now celebrating a successful fourth year of approval by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). The MCS run a rigorous audit from quotation to installation and were pleased to announce that Cambridge Solar have again met their high standards.

If an installation takes place and the installer is not MCS approved the customer would not be eligible for the feed-in tariffs and so it is vital that this is checked by a customer before an installation takes place.

Also all the products that installers use have to be MCS approved too. Again if a non-MCS product is used in the installation the system would not be eligible for the feed-in tariff.

One of the well-known facts about getting solar panels installed in your home is that you get paid for all the electricity you use in the home whether you use it or not! This is guaranteed to make a significant amount of money over the lifetime of the installation with typical annual returns of around 10%.

One of the lesser known facts is that you need to apply for an energy performance certificate (EPC) for your installation before you apply for the “feed-in tariff” (or FIT) and this need to be level D or above in order to get the best rates.

Because Cambridge Solar only use the highest quality components when installing your renewable energy solution – you can be sure that not only are they backed by the governing body – but also that you will get the best return year on year.

If you are considering investing in renewable energy – Cambridge Solar is the clear choice – getting your investment the best return.