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Hiring a renewable energy engineer

Find out how to find renewable energy engineers for the four most common types of renewable energy sources used in our homes; solar panels, wind turbines, and air/ground source heat pumps. 

Whether you’re looking for a renewable energy engineer to advise on a new heating system or to install solar panels on your roof, it’s never been more important to find the right engineer for your home.

Installing renewable energy into your home is often a costly investment, but worthwhile into the future. Poor quality work can have a long-lasting impact on your home, finances, and wellbeing.

In this guide, we’ll share the questions you should be asking a renewable energy engineer for the four most common types of domestic renewable energy before you hire them to work in your home. These are solar panels, wind turbines, and air & ground source heat pumps. 

What does a renewable energy engineer do?

Now more of us are looking to harness the earth’s sustainable power in our own homes, it’s important to find a good renewable energy engineer. Here’s a quick rundown of what a reliable renewable energy engineer will do:

  • Firstly, they will recommend a suitable energy solution based on your needs and location. 
  • Install the solution in your home or on your property; this often needs specialist qualifications and experience.
  • Maintain the solution as necessary.
  • Finally, they will fix any issues with the solution.

What to look for in a good renewable energy engineer

Renewable energy solutions can often be more costly than the traditional alternative, initially anyway. There are usually long term benefits to completing a renewable energy installation, which will positively impact your home and finances, and best of all, the world.

Not only are the costs higher because of there benefits, but renewable technology is durable and installed to last. For example, a ground source heat pump is designed to last up to twenty-five years.

A good renewable energy engineer will:

  • Be fully qualified (each renewable energy has its equipment which requires qualifications to install and maintain). For example, a solar panel engineer will have MCS accreditation or an equivalent which you can check.
  • Have experience in installing and maintaining a specific renewable energy solution.
  • Often be part of a vetted and trusted site, like Checkatrade.

How much does it cost to install a renewable energy solution in my home? 

Renewable Heating Installations Ltd

A service of a ground source heat pump and 2nd visit to fit some extra valves and re-pressurise system. Even went beyond to explain the system.
10/10 verified review from a happy customer
Stratford Upon Avon

The installation cost of renewable energy can vary depending on the type of energy solution you decide to install. However, the location of your home and the specification of the models you choose will also affect costs. For example, smaller, home-fixed wind turbines are often less expensive than a freestanding model.

For specific information on each type of renewable energy solution installation costs check out our detailed cost guides below:

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What to ask solar panel installer

Finding a solar panel installer who you trust to work on your home is essential. Here are some helpful questions to ask a prospective installer during the quoting phase:

  • Are you qualified to install solar panels? For example, an electrician will need to have attained their City and Guilds qualification and be Part P registered. As well as passing a Solar PV course.
  • Is my roof positioned to get enough sunlight? For example, the best results for solar panels are on south-facing roofs that have a tilt angle of 30 degrees. 
  • Can you organise the installation of scaffolding
  • Are you able to survey the integrity of my roof to check it can bear the added load of solar panels?
  • What insurance do you have? We recommend you find a solar panel installer with correct insurance, just in case the worst happens.

What to ask wind turbine installerRenewable energy installation - Solar panels and wind turbines

Whilst a wind turbine attached to your home is the most cost-effective way to install a wind turbine, especially if space is tight. But, attached wind turbines also generate less energy than a freestanding counterpart. 

Here are some helpful questions to put to wind turbine installers to help you decide on who to hire:

  • Have you attained an ABET-accredited degree?
  • Are you able to survey the ground and space available to see whether a wind turbine is suitable? 
  • Can you support me in getting planning permission? For example, if the wind turbine is going to be freestanding then this will require planning permission.
  • Will you manage the groundwork and laying of foundations? This is only required if you’re considering a freestanding turbine.
  • What are your recommended annual maintenance services? For example, wind turbines that are attached to your home will need annual maintenance and a wind turbine installer will be able to carry this out.
  • Are you aware of any restrictions on erecting a wind turbine? We recommend checking with your local planning authority for any restrictions on all wind turbines’ size and height. But, it’s a good way of finding out how much the installer knows of the area and how experienced they are.
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What to ask an air source heat pump installer?

Heating your home using the energy from the air outside your home is one the most efficient ways of generating clean heating. There are two main types of air source heat pumps and we recommend that a specialist installer help you with both types. 

The two types of air-source heat pumps are air-to-air and air-to-water. The most common type here in the UK is air-to-water as it replaces the traditional central heating system. 

Questions to ask an air-source heat pump installer are:

  • Have you achieved your NVQ Level 2 plumbing and your certificate for installing unvented hot water systems?
  • Do you have your WRAS? This is a water regulations qualification and is another necessity to work on air-source heat pump installations.
  • Are you able to check the size and location of my property and the proposed site of the air pump to see if it’s large enough? We suggest making sure your pump is put up between five-ten metres away from your neighbours’ property to avoid disturbance.
  • What air-source heat pump would you advise based on my location, budget, and property size?
  • Are you able to help me gain permission to install a geothermal system? 
  • When is the best time to install the new system? For example, air-source heat pumps must be after the ground is prepared and are not laid in winter months when there is a risk of frost in the ground. 

What to ask a ground source heat pump installer

The ground-source heat pump works by transferring heat from the ground into liquid within pipes laid under the surface of your garden. This then heats your home and hot water. 

Similar to installing a wind turbine, there is a need for ground preparation. Installing a ground-source heat pump is a technical and specialist job. 

To make sure you’re getting the best energy engineer possible here are some questions to ask before you commit to an installer:

  • How would you recommend laying the pipework? The size of your property and the surrounding ground will dictate how the ground is prepared for the pipework. For example, with a larger space shallow trenches can be dug, however, on a smaller site drilling, vertical boreholes would be the alternative option. 
  • What is your process to install the rest of the equipment? This includes the setup of the electronics and control equipment, the water pump, and the compressor.
  • Is there a certified gas engineer within your business? To connect the F-Gas components, you’ll need a gas engineer to do this before you can use the system.
  • Have you achieved your NVQ Level 2 plumbing and your certificate for installing unvented hot water systems? As with other heat pumps, the qualifications necessary are the same.
  • Do you have your WRAS? This is a water regulations qualification and is another necessity to work on air-source heat pump installations.
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General questions to ask all renewable energy engineers

  • What insurance do you have? We recommend you find a solar panel installer with the correct insurance, just in case the worst happens.
  • Do you have an MCS qualification? MCS aka the Microgeneration Certification Scheme is an assurance scheme that’s recognised internationally. The scheme ensures that renewable energy engineers and solutions, like solar panels, are fitted to a high standard.
  • Where are you based? Always get a physical address and contact details before you agree to work or make any payments.
  • What maintenance and servicing packages do you offer?

Finding a renewable energy engineer checklist

  • Use a trusted and vetted site like Checkatrade to find an experienced and qualified tradesperson.
  • Make sure your installer is accredited. Experience and expertise are needed to ensure a successful installation for your renewable energy solution. 
  • Do your research into what government-backed incentives you can qualify for. This is important because you may only be eligible for incentives if your installer has the proper qualifications.
  • A good renewable energy engineer/installer will want to come and do a site visit before agreeing to installation.
  • Any professional will provide you with a detailed written quote. We recommend speaking with 3 – 5 tradespeople to weigh up the comparable quotes. You can post your job on Checkatrade and we’ll match you up with 3 specialists near you.
  • Clarify whether you need advice on planning or local authority regulations.
  • Find a tradesperson who can provide maintenance and servicing when necessary.
  • Lastly, beware of rogue traders. No good engineer will ask you for cash payment upfront, beware of anyone who does. Checkatrade eliminates this risk!

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Les Cliff

Clear and sensible advice from a professional source.

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