Chances are, you may have heard plenty about the pros and cons of installing solar panels. One huge benefit of solar panels is the cost to the environment: you will inevitably be reducing your carbon footprint. With large incentives such as this, you may be wondering if it possible to get solar panels installed. If solar panel installation is something you are weighing up in your head, then here are a few points to consider.
Do you need to have a south-facing roof?
There answer to this is yes and no. On the one hand, if you don’t have a south-facing roof, your solar panels won’t stop working. Wherever your solar panels are placed on the top of your home, they will still benefit from sun rays. However, to really make the most of it, they will ideally need to be on a mostly south-facing roof. This ensures that they are in a prime position to soak up as much of the sun’s energy as possible. A roof that is west or south-west-facing might get you less bang for your buck. Essentially, if your panels are facing away from a southerly direction, they won’t be as effective.
It’s worth remembering, too, that where you live can have an influence on how effective your solar panels are. For example, the further north you live, you will inevitably generate less energy than someone living closer to the equator. This is not a reason not to get solar panels, however.
What if I have a flat roof?
If you have a flat roof, this is easily resolved. Solar panels need to be installed at an angle to make the most of the sun’s rays, which means that cannot be installed horizontally. Instead, your solar panels will be fitted at an angle to ensure that they pick up the sun’s energy.
Will I need permission?
Generally-speaking: no. There is rarely a need to ask for planning permission for solar panels, as they generally won’t affect the overall structure of your home. However, this might differ if you live in an area that is protected by conservation measures, or of course, if you live in a listed building.
How big does my roof need to be?
For many people who invest in solar panels, the biggest incentive is the return of investment. Simply put, this just means making your money back in the long-run. In order to do this, you will need to maximise the amount of energy you generate from the solar panels. Truth be told, in order to make more energy, you will need a bigger surface area of solar panels. Don’t panic, though, as more panels does not necessarily mean more wires. The system will pretty much remain the same, irrespective of how many panels you install on your roof. Your supplier will work with you to work out how many panels can be fit onto your roof and at what cost. This is not something that you will need to work out for yourself.
Is my roof made of the right material?
Your roof will need to meet requirements to fit solar panels, but you won’t be able to identify this yourself. A structural report will usually be carried out before solar panels are fitted, to ensure that it meets these requirements. If your roof doesn’t quite meet these standards, the adaptations needed may affect the overall cost.
Will trees cause a problem?
If the trees are taller than your home, then yes, this could be an issue. What you need to avoid is trees, or indeed other tall buildings, casting any shade on your home’s roof. It’s wise to take your chimney into consideration, too. If you have a large chimney stack on your home that will cast a shadow, you will need to ensure that your panels are steered well clear of this. You will want your roof to be exposed to the sun during its most powerful point in the day, so between 10am and 4pm. If you’re concerned about whether the trees surrounding your home could post a problem, then arrange a consultation with your supplier. There’s no need to hire a tree surgeon until you know whether it’s a real problem or not.
Does it matter what type I get?
When it comes to whether or not you can get solar panels installed, it doesn’t really matter what type of solar panels you get. The ‘type’ of solar panel you invest in will be largely down to what you need them for. Here are the two main types:
- Photovoltaic: this uses the sun’s rays to generate electricity. This solar energy can be used to power everything from appliances, light to other electronic items plugged into the mains.
- Solar thermal: this heats a hot water cylinder instead, meaning that you can cut down on the cost of your heating and hot water bills. You can have a hot shower courtesy of mother nature.
Do I have to switch energy supplier?
No, in fact, it’s recommended that you stay just as savvy with your energy suppliers as always. Your current energy supplier will not be a barrier to getting solar panels installed. Hunt around for the best rates as you usually would, and see if those with solar panels will benefit from some sort of green reward scheme. Just because you have invested in solar panels doesn’t mean you will have to stick with one energy supplier.
Of course, there are a number of factors to consider before investing in solar panels. Many of these conditions, however, won’t be determined until you book a consultation or structural survey. Instead of fretting, it’s well worth chatting to your preferred supplier to find out what is achievable. While your roof may not be perfectly south-facing, you may still make plenty of savings. Or, your home may be surrounded by trees, but not to the extent where it would matter. It always pays to contact the experts first.