Prices for solar pv panels can vary wildly depending on the size and structure they are to be mounted on. It is important that you find a reputable, reliable solar panel installer who can turn you home greener and keep your experience headache-free.
There are a number of points to consider when installing solar panels on your home, some that you can evaluate yourself and some that you will need to confirm with your chosen installer. Here we cover everything that you should check before enquiring further about solar panels and questions to ask your installer when you have a professional assessment on your house.
Is my house suitable for solar panels?
- Size of roof – The size of the solar panel installation is dependent on the area of roof available. This will vary of course, depending on the size of your house, among other factors. Also look for features on the roof such as windows or chimneys that may become obstacles to an installation.
- Shade – To get maximum efficiency from your solar panels you need to make sure that they are not going to be shaded throughout the day. Possible culprits can include trees, lamposts and power lines.
- Direction – Ideally, in the UK, your panels should be mounted on a south facing roof. If this is not posible, your panels will be less efficient as they will not be exposed to the sun throughout the day.
- Established energy efficiency – Recent changes to the Feed in Tariff mean your home needs to have an energy efficiency rating of band D or above to qualify for the higher rate. Without this, installing solar panels may not be financially viable.
An installer is coming to assess my house. What should I ask them?
There are a number of things that you should ask and look out for when inviting a solar panels company to your home for an evaluation and quotation. In 2011, Which? made an investigation and revealed that many of the 12 companies they invited breached the customer code that they signed up to, either by using pressure-selling tactics or unethical discounts as incentives. In addition to this, many did not ask simple questions that would affect the viability or efficiency of a solar panel installation. Here are some things you should find out:
- Engineer or salesman? – many solar panel companies simply send round a salesman who is not qualified to give an accurate quote. Instead they will try to sell you on an estimated quote that won’t necessarily be accurate or reliable.
- Subcontracting – some companies may only sell the solar panels and have them installed by a different company or provider. If this is the case, find out who they subcontract the work to.
- Itemised Quote – It is important that you receive an accurate quote detailing exactly where each part of the installation cost will be going and which pieces and quality of equipment you will be receiving.
- System size – Don’t just go for the standard size system that everybody else has. Ask for advice – a smaller or larger system might be more appropriate for you, depending on your lifestyle and usage.
- Generation estimate – Make sure you get an estimate of how much your system could generate. There are many things that can affect this including the direction your roof is facing, your geographical location (the South of the UK gets more sun) and the angle of your roof, so don’t just go on averages that the salesman/installer quotes.
Do I need Planning Permission to install solar panels on my home?
Fitting solar panels to a residential property does not require planning permission. There are certain restrictions that you need to work to though, beyond which, planning permission will be required. For example, if you intend to mount the panels on a wall and they project in excess of 200mm from the plane of the wall. Also, roof mounted panels, they should not project higher than the roof’s highest point. We always recommend you check with your local authority though, as regulations can differ between council bodies.