Will I need planning permission?
Planning permission is not normally needed if you are planning a roof mounted system up to 1MW in size unless your property is a listed building, located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), a conservation zone or a national park. Further information surrounding planning permission requirements for solar installations can be found on the Planning Portal.
Is the UK sunny enough for solar systems?
The intensity of the midday sun in Britain is about 60% of its value at the equator. Even in the winter, solar hot water systems will contribute to your hot water requirements, thus saving you money off your bills, and the boiler will ‘top up’ the rest. This is similar with solar PV systems; although PV cells have a higher output in direct sunlight, they also work on cloudy days.
What is the expected lifespan of solar systems?
Solar equipment generally comes with substantial warranties. For instance, many solar PV panels come with a guarantee of at least 80% efficiency after 25 years. Solar technology has been in use for decades and thus has been thoroughly tried and tested. Similarly, ground source heat pump systems have been widely used in North America and continental Europe for many years.
What maintenance is required?
Solar systems are very reliable and low maintenance. Don’t take our word for it – the Energy Saving Trust states that they ‘require little maintenance’. You will need to ensure that nearby trees do not begin to overshadow the solar panels. PV systems have no mechanical moving parts so minimising potential faults. PV modules often carry a 25 year power output warranty; after this time the system would be expected to continue to function, but power output may be reduced. Heat pump systems are designed to operate for at least 20 years.
What about dust and dirt?
Any obstruction between the sun and a panel will cut down on it’s efficiency, so a very dirty panel would generate less power than a clean one. In agricultural areas we suggest having your panels cleaned every couple of years or so.
How do I decide on system size?
System size is dependent on a number of factors: (1) the amount of roof space available; (2) the amount of energy demanded; (3) the budget, but we’ll always be keen to suggest what seems to be the best size of system for your situation.