One of the main questions that we are asked at the initial point of enquiry is: Is my property suitable for solar pv? The simple answer is no, not every property is suitable for solar pv. There are a lot of influencing factors to this – e.g. roof size, shape, direction, shading, structure and composition, is the property listed, in a conversation area or in an area of natural beauty and does the property hold a valid EPC? All these factors are explored below.
Most of our customers enquire after a 4KW system; we use a 280w panel which measures 1m x 1.68m. To install a 4KW system using these panels you would need a surface area of approx. 25 meters square. This measurement takes into account the required spacing between each panel and at each roof edge. What we must also take in account are the likes of velux windows or skylights, chimneys, vent and Andorra roofs.
Of course, we are not limited to using a 280w panel; we can increase the wattage which would of course mean a smaller roof area would be required.
Square or rectangular roofs are by far the easiest roof to work with, however if your roof face is triangular in shape this would more than likely mean that we need to install over more than one roof and quite possibly use a stronger wattage of panel to get the maximum output.
The most obvious direction for installing solar panels is south as this is where the most energy is generated, but we’re not all equipped with a south facing roof. So, you’ll be pleased to hear that solar panels installed facing east and west can still generate a large amount of energy. Statistics show that the difference between a south facing installation and an east/west installation is only 15%
Shading is a problem! And is something that we must consider when putting together your proposal as this will have an effect on the output and overall return on your investment. There are two types of shade – natural shade as the sun rises and falls – this is already accounted for within the MCS calculations and then shade that occurs from large buildings, trees, chimney stacks etc. If a property incurs more than 50% shade on any roof it is our recommendation that solar pv is not suitable for your property.
Roof Structure and Composition:
To ensure that your roof is strong enough to withstand the weight of your solar panels a member of our survey team will call to visit the property. The visit takes place upon receipt of the deposit and order form and looks at: the size of roof, the structure, the substrate, the direction and obstructions. If any anomalies are found at the point of inspection and we advise that the installation cannot go ahead you will be advised accordingly and the deposit refunded. We are unfortunately unable to install solar panels on thatched, asbestos or felt roofs.
In general terms a property does not need planning permission to carry out a solar PV installation, however there are a few instances that DO need the relevant permissions. If your property is listed, in an area of outstanding natural beauty or in a conservation area YOU MUST seek prior approval before installing solar pv. If permission is not granted you will be asked to remove the panels and will not be granted further permission to re-install. Post installation you will receive a Benchmark Certificate. This is our accredited sign-off to say that our work complies with the current Building Regulations.
EPC (Energy Performance Certificate):
In order to claim the higher rate of feed in tariff the government stipulated in 2012 that your property must gain an EPC rating of grade A-D. Most new properties shouldn’t have a problem gaining the requested grade and if you’ve purchased the property in the last 10 years you will more than likely have a valid EPC certificate. If you would like to check the status of your EPC rating click here: https://www.epcregister.com/home.html
If you don’t have an EPC, don’t worry, an EPC can be sourced – we charge £100 (inc. VAT) or you can source one locally by searching for an EPC Surveyor on-line. An EPC survey usually consists of looking for the following: double glazed windows and doors, an energy efficient boiler, loft and cavity insulation, energy efficient light bulbs, no electric storage heaters and no LPG. If you cover these categories your grading is in the bag.