Having solar panels on your house reduces your carbon emissions and saves you money on your electricity bills. If you live in Chippenham or surrounding areas, our Community Solar PV Buying Scheme aims to make it easier and cheaper for you to get solar panels installed on your home.
The scheme is run by volunteers here at the Zero Chippenham climate action community group. Zero Chippenham have identified recommended solar panel installers who we believe provide competitive prices, good quality product and high quality installation.
On the page below, you’ll find information on How to Apply (including the Form to request a quote) and then Frequently Asked Questions about the scheme and how solar panels work.
How to apply
The 3 steps to get a no-obligation quote for solar panels via the scheme are:
- Complete the form below which we will forward to our recommended installer. They will get in touch with you to discuss, advise and gather additional details to be able to send you a no obligation quote
- If you’re happy with a quotation, you can choose to accept it and go ahead with the installation.
- Help us track the success of the scheme by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know how you got on.
After the initial referral, your relationship is direct with the installer, and it is your decision whether to accept the quote and enter into the contract.
Form to request a quote
To be referred to our recommended solar panel installer, please complete the form below. If you have difficulties viewing it on this page, you can complete the same form here instead. If you still have difficulties, you can email Zerochippenham@gmail.com for help.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does the scheme work in practice?
Yes! More than 20 local people have had successful solar panel installations using the scheme. You can find a case study from one of them here.
How did we choose the installers we recommend?
We recommend installers who we believe can provide great value (discounted prices), good quality product and good quality installation.
Volunteers from the Zero Chippenham team with experience in the solar industry interviewed 7 local installers who cover the Wiltshire area. We chose installers who we recommend based on our assessment of their expertise, accreditations, track record and competitive pricing. We have ensured the installers can provide evidence of insurances, safety and quality accreditation. We checked that the installers are Microgeneration Scheme certified and are bound by the RECC consumer code. The recommended installers are also able to offer particularly competitive pricing because they know they will receive a number of leads via the scheme. This is what we’re referring to when we talk about “discounted pricing”.
The installation company will be the company you place an order with and who you pay to do the work. We recommend you seek independent financial or legal advice as is your right before signing any contract or order.
How does the discount work?
We interviewed 7 local installers who cover the Wiltshire area, all were asked to quote and we then shortlisted based on a comparison of their prices, accreditation, track record and advice given. The shortlisted installers were asked to provide prices that reflect being a supplier to the scheme (bearing in mind the number of leads they receive via the scheme). Their prices showed discounts ranging between 10% and 20% depending on the size and the selection of product used.
As you can appreciate, every house is different and so being able to offer a like for like comparison and be precise on the discounts possible is not a perfect process, which is why we quote a range of up to 20%. We appreciate you may wish to find prices from the local area to compare to the scheme as is your right. We will be conducting reviews with the installers to ensure we are listening to all feedback from residents and the installers and will make adjustments if there are changes required.
Who can take part in the scheme?
Residents of Chippenham and surrounding towns/villages (roughly postcodes SN11, 12, 13, 14 and 15).
What do solar panels do?
Solar PV (Photovoltaic) panels generate electricity when the sun shines on them, so panels are best installed on roofs that roughly face south, as these tend to get the most sunshine.
Panels generate electricity as Direct Current (DC) electricity. This is carried via cables into an “invertor” box (often put close to the panels e.g. in a loft space) which converts it into Alternating Current (AC) electricity. This AC is the same kind of electricity as you receive from the national grid. The AC power is fed into your consumer unit/electricity panel.
Will my electricity bills reduce to zero?
Almost certainly not, but your bill should be reduced.
When the solar panels are generating electricity, the power will be used first by any device that is switched on in your house. The power you use like this is electricity you don’t have to pay the electricity company to import from the grid, so that reduces your electricity bill.
Over the course of the year, the average house with a “typical” number of solar panels installed will use more electricity than the solar generates. However as you switch devices on/off and as the weather changes, you may be importing from the grid one minute and exporting the next. At some times of day, you may use more than you generate (so you’ll pay to import the balance from the grid via your electricity bill). At other times your solar may generate more than you are using at that point in time (a surplus).
What will happen with any surplus electricity?
There may be times of the day when the panels are generating more electricity than you are using in the house. When this happens, there are a few options:
• The default setup is that any surplus electricity is automatically “exported” back to the grid. If you have a 2nd generation Smart meter, you can sign up via the government’s Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme to sell the surplus electricity to an electricity company (this doesn’t have to be the same as your electricity supplier). This is the easiest option with the lowest up-front costs, but you should be aware that the price you’ll be paid for electricity you export to the grid will be much less than you will pay for electricity you import. You can supplement this option by also trying to use electricity when the sun shines (e.g. running the washing machine during the day).
• If you have a hot water tank, and alternative option can be to get a device installed that automatically uses any surplus electricity you generate to heat water in your hot water tank using an immersion heater.
• Another option that is less common but starting to gain in popularity is to invest in a battery system which stores any surplus electricity so it’s available for you to use when you need it. This is normally the most expensive option up-front, but helps minimise the amount of (more expensive) electricity you need to pay to import from the grid.
Our recommended installer will be able to give advice on the options to help you make a decision.
When you’re ready, submit the form above to get the ball rolling to get a no-obligation quote