Solar Panel Installation
Getting solar panels installed is a lot easier than it may seem. With the right installer accredited by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS), you will be able to ensure that you get the right solution for your home.
It is important that wherever you intend to place your panels is south, south-east or south-west facing and unshaded by trees or other houses, with full sun exposure from 10am – 4pm at least. You can install your panels on your roof, on a wall or on the ground. You can fix the panels onto a frame if you’re installing them on the ground or a flat roof or if you want to adjust the angle of the panels to receive better sun exposure. The panels should ideally be angled at a 30 degree angle of incidence.
Each panel measures around 1.5m2, with an average system taking up between 6 and 20m2. Some panels can be fitted flush with your roofing tiles to be more aesthetically pleasing, but these do cost a little more. The solar panels produced today are designed for this use, and will give the same waterproof covering to your home as normal tiles. You can also install solar tiles, which are solar panels the size and shape of roof tiles which can be fitted in place of normal roof tiles. Again, these are more expensive and less efficient but are an option if there are strict planning restrictions in your area. They can be used to repair your roof, which could offset the cost of the tiles a little.
You will need to ensure the following:
- You have a metered electricity supply.
- You have access to your roof.
- Ideally you should have freehold of your property – If you have leasehold, you’ll need permission from the freeholder, or if you rent your property, you’ll need agreement from the landlord.
- If your home is a listed building, or in a conservation area you might need planning permission. Most homes don’t need planning permission for solar technology systems unless the panels protrude more than 20cm from the roof, but do check with your local planning officer, especially if your building is listed, or is in a conservation area or World Heritage Site.
- Check with your installer that the panels will not damage the integrity of your roof and that your roof is strong enough to bear the weight of the panels, as they can be heavy.
- Most insurers cover solar PV installations, however you should double check with your provider.
- If you are intending to apply for the FIT, it’s a good idea to check that your energy supplier is a FIT provider as they will be paying you the FIT.
3 days to install
Your installer will ensure that the panels are installed on your roof in the best arrangement to optimise electricity generation. The installer will also fit the inverter and make the connection to the Grid. A good solar PV array system will maximize the peak hours of sunlight, being angled so that the hottest, brightest part of the day will fall as fully upon the solar panels as possible.
We will only put you in touch with installers that are MCS accredited: Always use an MCS accredited installer. Only MCS accredited installers are able to sign off installations that will comply with the government’s Feed-In Tariff scheme.
- Do I need to inform building control that I intend to install a solar PV system?
- Yes, you should speak to building control about your intentions, and they will advise you if you need to take any further action with them. All installers should advise you that you need to contact building control.
- Is efficiency important when choosing solar panels?
- Often not, the efficiency of any given panel relates to how effectively it can convert the sun's light. Given that the sun's light is free a panel can simply be made larger to offset a lower efficiency. Only when suitable roof area is at a premium does it make sense to choose high efficiency panels, this will maximise the amount of power that can be generated from the limited space.
- How are solar PV panels fixed to the roof?
- This will depend on the roof, but typically solar PV panels are fixed using rigid stainless steel brackets that are fixed directly to your roof rafters. The brackets hook out from underneath your existing tiles. Tiles or slates should not be drilled to fit the panels, nor should mastic/silicone be used to weatherproof your roof. Solar panels can be fitted to any roof type except thatched roofs.
- How long does a solar PV panel installation take?
- A solar PV installation normally takes 2-3 days.
- Are solar PV panels fragile?
- Solar PV panels are very robust; they are designed to withstand the normal stresses and strains subjected to them by nature. You can ensure that your panels are robust by purchasing only MCS accredited panels.
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