Can You Install Solar Panels On Any House
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This article asks: can you install solar panels on any house? Find out how solar panels work and if solar panels are right for you.
Is my house suitable for Solar Panels?
While they may not seem appropriate for the UK climate, with our famous inclement weather, solar electricity panels are perfectly suited to Britain's rooftops. Solar panels can produce a significant amount of solar electricity even on a cloudy day, according to Energy Saving Trust and Solar Energy UK estimates.
Extremely hot weather is, in fact, not helpful for solar panels, as it can interfere with the chemical processes within the solar cells. Ultimately, a too-sunny climate limits a solar panel from generating electricity, reducing the amount of electrical power a solar panel can produce. A typical solar panel only needs a good amount of natural sunlight, which is easily achieved here in the UK.
Of course, not every home is suitable for solar thermal panels in terms of configuration or construction. Therefore, before installing any panels on your home, you'll want to check that your property can accommodate them first. But what makes a roof suitable for solar panel installations?
Consider the following to determine if your roof is suitable for the solar panel installation process.
The first factor determining whether your roof can have solar panels installed is its size. The size of the solar panel array (a series of panels installed together) depends on how much usable electricity your property consumes and how much roof space you have.
Solar panel prices and installation costs are another consideration, and you should determine how many solar panels you need to meet your needs.
Therefore, the first place to check is your own energy bills to find your average electricity use and your electricity costs.
Modern 400-Watt (W) solar panels are typically 1.75m x 50mm in size, weighing anywhere between 15kg to 30kg. Considering that an average 25-inch television requires around 150W to work, you'll need an array of several solar panels before they start to reduce your electricity bills.
You'll need to free up a little space in your loft to accommodate the solar panel power inverter and a solar battery to store the excess electricity generated.
The inverter is usually around the size of a microwave, and solar batteries used to store energy won't take up too much room, so only a small amount of space is required.
You'll ideally need a south-facing roof to get the most power out of your solar panels since they receive the most sunlight exposure throughout the day.
However, it's not impossible to install a solar array on a west or east-facing roof, but you will experience an output loss of around 15%. North-facing roofs are not suitable for solar panels, and neither are those largely shaded from direct sunlight by trees or other buildings.
The slope angle on your roof is the final thing to consider. The perfect angle would be between 35° - 40°, although anywhere between 10° and 60° will do.
If you have a flat roof on your property, you may want to use an angled mount for your solar panel array, which can improve efficiency.
Ensuring your roof is strong enough to hold a solar panel array is also a vital consideration. Older houses usually have weaker roofing structures, so this is something to bear in mind if you own a historic property.
In most cases, professional solar panel companies will have structural engineers they rely on to assess a roof's suitability. They can conduct wind load tests to determine if there are any signs of distress within your roof.
There is usually no need to apply for planning permission to install solar panels on your property. The only exceptions are if your property is a listed building, stands within a conservation area, or you plan to have your solar panels hanging out from the side of your property. If you are unsure whether you need to apply, your solar panel installation company can help.
How do solar panels work?
A solar PV panel consists of cells, which themselves are made from layers of semiconducting materials. The most common material to make these layers is silicon. When natural light shines on the surface of your solar panels, they convert it into electricity. You can then use this renewable electricity to reduce your carbon footprint in your home or commercial property.
Your solar panel cells do not necessarily need to be in direct sunlight and can even work in overcast weather. With several panels installed in an array, your solar PV system can generate electricity up to 355W of power when in strong sunlight. The average solar panel array is made up of ten panels, each generating energy as direct current electricity (DC)
However, most household appliances operate using alternating current electricity (AC), which is why you also need to have an inverter installed alongside your panels. Your inverter will convert energy from DC electricity into AC electricity, so it is safe to use in your home.
Once you have everything set up and running, you can use your solar-powered electrical energy throughout your entire home. Additionally, you can export any surplus energy your solar panels produce to the national energy grid, your energy suppliers or an independent energy company. Export tariffs on this extra energy can generate little profit or Feed-in Tariff payments on the energy market, alongside improving your house value, making solar panels worth the investment.
Are solar panels right for me?
Again, space is the main consideration when installing solar panels. The typical size of a solar panel system is 3,500W, which in spacial terms means solar panels covering 20 square metres of your roof area.
Remember, south, east and west-facing roofs are best suited to having solar panels installed, while north-facing roofs aren't. Heavily shaded roofs are also unsuitable, given the obstruction to natural light reaching the roof surface.
- Shaded Roofs
Whether it's overhanging trees, chimney stacks or other nearby structures, having any shade covering your roof will negatively impact your solar panel performance. Unshaded spots are naturally the most appropriate, but shade isn't always unavoidable.
Some solar PV systems can mitigate any shade through what are known as "optimisers". If you have no shade on your roof, there is no need for these optimisers, although they do offer increased monitoring of your solar panels.
Solar PV panels and arrays are considered "permitted developments" under the law, meaning you don't have to apply for permission to install them. Of course, checking first with your local planning authority is always best. Again, listed buildings, those in conservation areas and national parks have different restrictions applying to alterations.
However, if you are planning to install solar PV systems on your property, you have to register it with the Distribution Network Operator (DNO) for your area. Your local DNO is the company that supplies the electricity to your home. There is advice on the UK Government website about how to do this for those living in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Alternatively, if you're unsure how to do this, you can ask your installer to register your solar PV system on your behalf. They can also offer professional advice on which restrictions might apply to your property. Relying on their knowledge and experience is the best way to avoid any disasters down the line.
If you do need to apply for planning permission for your solar panels, your installers can offer expert advice on the best way to apply and have your application accepted.
Are Solar Panels Energy Efficient in the UK?
An array of the best solar panels will be more than efficient here in the UK. Naturally, solar panel systems operate best when exposed to direct sunlight, producing more electricity for a solar-powered home.
But, solar panels do not require direct sunlight in order to work. Even during cloudy days and throughout the winter months, solar panels can produce a considerable amount of electricity for your home or commercial property.
Again, solar panels are known to operate more optimally in colder climates where the direct sunlight isn't too overwhelming.
Solar panel owners have found their PV systems overheating in counties with warmer climates that see more sunlight than in the UK. Therefore, the average year-round weather here in the UK is perfectly suitable for energy produced by efficient solar panels.
The average commercial solar modules today have an efficiency rating between 15% - 20%. However, PV industry innovators and makers of renewable technologies are constantly trying to improve this rating while keeping the cost-per-cell of solar panels low.
Of course, environmental factors can affect your solar system's efficiency, such as the angle of your solar panels, shade and the changing seasons. But as long as you properly prepare and maintain your solar panels, they will produce a great source of solar power and your own renewable electricity all year round, as promoted by the Energy Saving Trust.
Are you considering solar panel installation in Essex, Suffolk and the surrounding areas? We have years of experience in providing tailored energy-efficient and affordable home heating solutions. So if you need any further assistance with solar panels, follow the link below.