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.
- Are solar PV systems a lot cheaper now?
- The cost of the PV cells and associated equipment is driven by international supply and demand. Prices of these components have fallen substantially over the past few years as larger manufacturing facilities have been set up in response to strong demand particularly in Germany and Japan. Installation prices have in turn fallen as a result of the reduction in system prices and as the industry has grown. This drop in prices is set to continue.
- What guarantees do solar PV panels come with?
- It does vary from manufacturer to manufacturer but typically Solar PV panels will come with an output guarantee in the region of 20 and 25 years. The Inverter will have a shorter life, and your should budget to have this replaced once during the life of your system (25 years or more) and therefore has a shorter guarantee, typically around 5 years. The labour guarantee will depend on your installer and your should ask or study the fine print in your quote; 5 years is fairly typical.
- Is there an approvals standard for solar PV panels?
- Yes, solar panels can be approved by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). In order to qualify for the Feed-In Tariff scheme you must ensure that you use MCS approved panels.
- Will solar PV panels affect my home's rateable value?
- Council tax is based on the 1991 values and the government shelved plans to revalue all houses a few years ago, so currently, no. It is likely that there will be a revaluation in the not so distant future. When they do, the value of the solar panels will be included in the valuation, but the rating could also account for your home's the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) which should reduce tax as you would have a lower EPC score.
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